Challenges involving eggs aren’t limited to the Easter season. The pictures below are of songbird egg shells I came across in early July of 2018. Each fragment hints at a different outcome for the developing bird that once occupied the structure. My speculation about those outcomes is mainly informed by details about the places where the shells were found, critical information not captured in the photographs.
This northern cardinal egg shell fragment rested on a brick sidewalk near a forsythia bush where a pair of the birds had been observed nesting. Blue jays frequented the area, as did eastern chipmunks. Either could have removed an egg from the nest, broken the shell, eaten much of the contents, and left drying yolk for ants to scavenge.
It’s likely this wood thrush egg fragment was deliberately dropped by a parent bird as part of routine post-hatch nest-keeping duties. The blue shell rested on a gravel State Game Lands road inMercer County, a place that echoed with flute-like Wood Thrush song. The fragment’s spotless interior was evidence that this egg had almost certainly been opened by its occupant rather than a nest visitor.
Patrick McShea works in the Education and Visitor Experience department of Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Museum employees are encouraged to blog about their unique experiences and knowledge gained from working at the museum.