Red speckled bird eggs may seem rare and unusual, but there are plenty of bird species that lay them. Some examples include black-capped chickadees, tufted titmice, northern mockingbirds, Carolina wrens, and many others.
Their red color comes from a pigment called protoporphyrin which produces shades of red and brown and gives them their unique colors.
Whether you’re an avid bird watcher, farmer, or just someone that came across these eggs in their backyard, this article will provide you with the photos and information you need to identify them.
Table of Contents
Red Speckled Bird Eggs
1. Black-capped Chickadee
These small nonmigratory songbirds are the state bird of Massachusetts and Maine in the United States and the provincial bird of New Brunswick in Canada. Commonly found around deciduous and mixed forests, black-capped chickadees are a welcome sight at bird feeders across the northern USA and southern Canada.
They breed from Mid-April to late July and nest in nest boxes, small natural cavities, or abandoned woodpecker cavities; they might even excavate their own holes. Both partners will help dig or enlarge the cavity but the females are the ones that use moss and animal hair to build their cup-shaped nests (usually placed at ground level up to 23 ft above the ground).
Black-capped chickadees lay 1-13 white eggs with fine reddish-brown dots and speckles concentrated on the wide side. The eggs measure 0.6 inches long and 0.5 inches wide and only females incubate them – males will bring them food during that period.
After 12-13 days, chicks will hatch with their eyes closed and with 6 small patches of gray feathers on their backs and heads. These stunning birds with white stripes on their wings usually have 1 brood per year but a second brood is possible if the first one is lost.
2. Tufted Titmouse
These small gray North American songbirds are common in deciduous and mixed woods, orchards, parks, and suburban areas of the eastern USA. They are cavity nesters but can’t excavate them on their own. That’s why they use tree holes, either in natural cavities or those made by woodpeckers; including man-made nest boxes and fenceposts.
Tufted titmice will place their cup-shaped nests a few feet from the ground and will use leaves, moss, grasses, bark strip, wool, and cotton as building materials. They might also use pluck hair from dogs, woodchucks, and even humans.
Look for their eggs from April to June; tufted titmice lay 3 to 9 white eggs that are spotted with chestnut-red, brown, and purple. The eggs are 0.7 inches long and 0.6 inches wide and females will incubate them for 12 to 14 days.
During this period, males will feed them; the pair might also have “helpers” from last year’s brood that aid with raising the young. After 15 to 16 days the young will fledge; some will stay with their parents during the winter and even a year after hatching.
3. Northern Mockingbird
Northern mockingbirds, known for their intelligence and mimicking abilities, can be found throughout North America. They breed in southeastern Canada, the USA, northern parts of Mexico, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and the Greater Antilles.
These birds thrive in areas with open ground and shrubby vegetation, such as parks, cultivated land, and suburban areas. Northern mockingbirds use twigs, grasses, leaves, aluminum foil, and even cigarette filters to construct their nests.
Males often build the foundation of several nests, while females choose the main nest and complete the lining. Northern mockingbirds lay 2-6 pale blue or greenish eggs with splotches of reddish-brown concentrated at the larger end.
They usually lay the eggs 3-10 feet off the ground, sometimes even up to 60 feet. The eggs measure around 0.9 inches long and 0.7 inches wide.
Females incubate for 12 to 13 days. After hatching, the chicks are naked and blind, and both parents take turns feeding them. The young leave the nest approximately 12 days after hatching, but it takes them about a week more to learn how to fly properly.
Northern mockingbirds may raise 2-3 broods per year. Brown-headed cowbirds often parasitize their nests, and some studies have shown that mockingbirds are more likely to reject intruder eggs later in the breeding season. Other predators of their eggs include blue jays, fish crows, red-tailed hawks, snakes, squirrels, and cats.
4. White-breasted Nuthatch
The largest nuthatches in North America, white-breasted nuthatches are blue and white birds found in forests and open areas of most of the United States, and parts of Canada and Mexico.
The species is monogamous and after a courtship dance where males bow to females, spread their tails, and droop their wings while swaying back and forth, the pair will start building their nest in natural tree cavities or abandoned woodpecker holes.
Females are the ones that do all the work – using fur, bark, and dirt they will first line the nest cavity before building a nest cup of grass, bark, feathers, and other soft materials. Similar to tufted titmice, they will use ready-made ones and rarely excavate them entirely on their own.
White-breasted nuthatches lay 5-9 creamy white eggs that are speckled with red, brown, gray, or purple. The eggs measure 0.7 inches long and 0.6 inches wide and females incubate them for 12-14 days while males bring them food during that period.
They will produce only 1 brood per year that both parents feed after hatching. The main predators of their eggs include woodpeckers, small squirrels, and snakes (like the western rat snake).
5. Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine falcons, also known as duck hawks in North America, are large, crow-sized falcons found almost everywhere on Earth. Peregrine falcons are monogamous and mate for life; they also use the same nesting spot each year.
After a mix of aerial acrobatics, precise spirals, and steep dives, the pair will nests in a scrape, usually on cliff edges, skyscrapers, bridges, silos, etc. Females are the ones that select the nesting sites and the scrapes are around 9 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep.
In North America, these birds of prey lay their eggs typically from February to March. Peregrine falcon eggs are mottled with dark reddish-brown spots and are slightly smaller than chicken eggs (2 inches long and 1.7 inches wide).
Females incubate the eggs for 32-35 days while the males feed them during that period; males might also help with incubation. After hatching, females will stay with the chicks while males bring them food; after a while, females will also start hunting.
The young will fledge after 42-46 days but will remain dependent on their parents for 2 more months. Peregrine falcons raise one brood per year.
Read More: Examples of birds that lay red eggs
6. Scarlet Tanager
Scarlet tanagers are medium-sized songbirds found in thick deciduous woodlands and suburban areas of North America. While they primarily breed in oak-rich deciduous forests in the eastern parts of the continent, they can also be found in woodlands, suburban areas, parks, and even cemeteries.
Male scarlet tanagers arrive at the breeding grounds from May to June, and females join them approximately a week later. After courtship, females build nests several feet above the ground in trees. They construct their shallow open-cup nests using twigs, weeds, grass, and roots.
Scarlet tanager eggs are pale blue-green with reddish-brown spots concentrated at the larger end. The eggs measure around 0.9 inches long and 0.7 inches wide.
Females incubate the eggs for 12-14 days. Both parents participate in feeding the chicks, and the young leave the nests approximately 9-15 days after hatching. Females continue to care for the chicks for another 2 weeks.
Scarlet tanagers are susceptible to brood parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds. If you spot a cowbird egg in another bird’s nest, it is important not to remove it, as brown-headed cowbirds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and taking their eggs without a permit is illegal.
Read More: Examples of blue eggs that have brown marks
7. Song Sparrow
Song sparrows are one of the most widespread and familiar North American sparrows. They can be found in various habitats such as thickets, brush, marshes, roadsides, and gardens across the USA and Canada.
While nest placement can vary, most song sparrows nest on the ground under grass and shrubs, typically within a foot of the ground and near water. Both males and females search for nest sites, but it is the females that construct the nests.
They use grasses, weeds, tree bark, and animal hair to create a simple and sturdy cup-shaped nest, which is completed in approximately 4 days. The nests have a diameter of 4-8 inches and a depth of 2.5-4 inches.
Song sparrows lay 1-7 blue, blue-green, or gray-green eggs heavily speckled with reddish-brown. The eggs measure 0.8 inches long and 0.7 inches wide.
Females incubate the eggs for 12-15 days. The chicks hatch underdeveloped, naked, and with their eyes closed. Both parents participate in feeding them, and the young leave the nests after 9-12 days.
They stay with their parents for another 3 weeks. Song sparrows may have 1-7 broods per season. Brown-headed cowbirds have similar eggs to song sparrows and frequently parasitize their nests.
Read More: Examples of birds that lay green eggs
8. Eastern Towhee
Eastern towhees, large New World sparrows, are found in brushy areas across eastern North America. They breed in the northeastern parts of the USA and then move south for the winter; eastern towhees will nest either low in bushes or on the ground under shrubs.
Females are the ones that build their 4-inch wide nests using twigs, leaves, tree bark, and animal hair to line everything up. It takes them around 5 days to finish everything.
Eastern towhees lay 2-6 eggs several times per year (1-3 broods). Their eggs measure 0.9 inches long and 0.8 inches wide; they are mostly creamy white with reddish-brown spots and speckles concentrated on one end.
Most females lay their eggs around August and will spend 12 to 13 days incubating them. After hatching, both partners will feed the young – they leave the nest after around 11 days and depend on their parents for another month.
Just like with many birds from this list, brown-headed cowbirds will also lay their eggs in towhees’ nests; towhees show no ability to recognize or remove the imposters and will incubate the eggs and rear the cowbird hatchlings as their own.
Different animals will prey on eastern towhee eggs, including northern raccoons, domestic cats, eastern chipmunks, bullsnakes, rat snakes, weasels, various owls and hawks, and blue jays.
9. Carolina Wren
Common in open woods and backyards in the Southeast, Carolina wrens are shy songbirds with rich musical songs. They are easy to recognize by their rich cinnamon plumage, white eyebrow stripes, and long upward-cocked tails.
Carolina wrens are monogamous and stay together for life. They nest in open cavities 3-6 feet off the ground, in natural tree hollows, old woodpecker holes, nest boxes, crevices in buildings, and even garage shelves.
Both partners will use twigs, leaves, and weeds to build the nest while females will add most of the lining using moss, grass, animal hair, feathers, and even pieces of snakeskin. The finished product is a cup-shaped structure with a side entrance and a woven extension that resembles a porch – the nest is 3-9 inches long and 3-6 inches wide.
Their clutch size and egg-laying date depend on the region: in southern parts, they lay from the end of February to the end of August while in more northern parts, it ranges from late April to June.
Carolina wrens will attempt up to 3 broods a year with each of them containing 3-7 creamy pinkish-white eggs with fine reddish-brown speckles and spots, more towards the broad end. The eggs are 0.7 inches long and 0.6 inches wide and females incubate them for 12-16 days.
Their nests are susceptible to brood parasitism by the brown-headed cowbird. Some studies in Oklahoma and Alabama discovered that almost a quarter of Carolina wren nests had cowbird eggs inside. Raccoons and black rat snakes will also feed on wren eggs.
10. Eurasian Blue Tit
Eurasian blue tits are brightly-colored residents of woodlands, parks, gardens, and even city centers of Europe and parts of the Middle East.
These birds nest in tree holes and bird boxes, often fighting with house sparrows for the site. They nest from April to June and have one brood per year.
Eurasian blue tits lay on average 8-10 small cream-colored eggs with red speckles that are the size of a fingernail (0.6 x 0.5 inches) – the clutch can sometimes exceed the female’s body weight!
Females incubate the eggs for up to 16 days while males feed them. After hatching, both parents will feed the young.
11. Red-whiskered Bulbul
Red-whiskered bulbuls, also known as crested bulbuls, are songbirds native to Asia. They got their names after the patch of red feathers behind each of their eyes.
Red-whiskered bulbuls nest 3-9 feet off the ground, on brushes, thatched walls, or small trees. Using twigs, roots, grasses, tree bark, paper, and plastic bags, they will build their cup-shaped nests where they lay 2-3 eggs.
Red-whiskered bulbul eggs have a pale-white base color with dense reddish-brown speckles towards the broad end. The eggs are oval in shape and weigh just 0.09 oz!
Both parents incubate them for 10-11 days and the chicks that hatch naked and with eyes closed will fledge 10-13 days later. This species may produce 2 to 3 broods per year and their eggs are mostly preyed on by crows and greater coucals.
With this guide, birdwatchers can better understand and appreciate the birds that lay red speckled eggs. Observing these unique nesting behaviors and delicate eggs adds to the wonder and joy of birdwatching in North America.
Whether you’re a bird watcher, farmer, or just curious about these stunning eggs, we hope you found this article helpful. If it did, feel free to check out our ID guide to brown speckled bird eggs.