As far as I know, no rabbit has ever left an egg in my backyard during Easter. But birds have, and with spring arriving earlier than usual this year, some of our feathered friends have been busy for days ahead of their normal schedules, building nests on my property.

Clearly, I’m not alone in seeing this atypical pattern. A recent study found that the mild winter has set the clock ahead for nesting season throughout much of the nation. And that means many of us could have a treasure trove of some of nature’s finest eggs hidden in our yards this holiday.

Not Your Typical Eggs

Ostrich and Egg by Janet Gatto
Bird eggs come in a dazzling array of colors, shapes and sizes. The largest is produced by the ostrich, a native of Africa that can grow as tall as 9 feet. Weighing more than 3 pounds, its egg is the size of a medium cantaloupe. The smallest is laid by Cuba’s bee hummingbird, which, appropriately, is about the size of a bee. According to one source, more than 4,000 of its .02-ounce eggs could fit inside a single ostrich egg.

As these two species demonstrate, egg size usually is related to the size of the bird that lays it. But there are exceptions. New Zealand’s kiwi, for example, is only half as big as a white pelican, but its egg is several times larger than the pelican’s. A kiwi egg equals about a fourth of its parent’s body weight, which explains a female’s enormous belly during the gestation period and the egg’s strange, oblong shape. If the egg was round, the bird could not lay it.

Welcoming Birds to Your Home

Bluebird Eggs by Kathy Grant
While you won’t attract ostriches or kiwis, you can entice a wide range of native birds to your yard not only during nesting season but throughout the year by participating in National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat® program. By following the easy steps outlined on our website, you can join the thousands of other property owners whose yards have been officially certified by NWF, and in the process provide wildlife with good sources of food, water, shelter and places to raise young. The website also includes dozens of natural-gardening tips and information about native plants. May is Garden for Wildlife Month, so there’s no better time to join.

And while you’re at it, take lots of photos of the wildlife that you entice to your yard and see elsewhere, and then submit your favorite images to National Wildlife’s 42nd Annual Photo Contest. The deadline is July 16, so there’s still plenty of time to enter. This year’s competition features some great prizes and you can submit photos in seven categories, including one devoted just to birds and another to baby animals. Happy bird—and egg—watching this Easter!

Certify Your Garden as a Wildlife HabitatYou can create a haven for wildlife in your own backyard and have it designated as an official Certified Wildlife Habitat® site today!>>