All illustrations by Mike Langman
Starling eggs Sturnus vulgaris (above)
30 x 21mm. Starling eggs are smooth and fairly glossy. They’re pale blue eggs with no markings. Sometimes found whole.
Song thrush eggs Turdus philomelos
31 x 22mm. Song thrush eggs are smooth and glossy. They’re very pale blue eggs with a few large dark speckles, mostly at the wider end.
Blackbird eggs Turdus merula
29 x 22mm. Blackbird eggs are smooth and glossy. They’re green-blue or blue eggs with heavy red-brown freckles that can make them seem brown overall.
Robin eggs Erithacus rubecula
20 x 15.5mm. Robin eggs are smooth but with a matte finish. They’re white eggs with variable fine brown freckles; the whole egg may seem buff.
Dunnock eggs Prunella modularis
20 x 15mm. Dunnock eggs are smooth and glossy. They’re bright blue eggs that are unmarked; smaller than superficially similar starling eggs.
House martin eggs Delichon urbica
19.5 x 13.5mm. House martin eggs are smooth and slightly glossy. They’re plain white eggs. Sometimes found under eaves near predated nests.
Pheasant eggs Phasianus colchicus
46 x 36mm. Pheasant eggs are the size of a small hen’s egg. They’re usually olive-brown eggs, but can be brownish or have blueish tones.
Mallard eggs Anas platyrhynchos
57 x 41mm. Mallard eggs are smooth with a matte or ‘eggshell’, rather than a glossy, feel. They’re typically pale blue-green.
Canada goose eggs Branta canadensis
86 x 58mm. Canada goose eggs are one of the largest eggs you’re likely to encounter. They’re white or cream, not glossy, and have no markings.
Great tit eggs Parus major
17.5 x 13.5mm. Great tit eggs are slightly glossy. They’re white eggs, with variable amounts of reddish or purplish speckling.
House sparrow eggs Passer domesticus
22.5 x 15.5mm. House sparrow eggs are slightly glossy. They’re white eggs with variable, often heavy, speckling in browns and blue-greys.
Herring gull eggs Larus argentatus
70 x 48mm. Herring gull eggs aren’t glossy; their surface is minutely sculptured. Brownish or blue-green with variable flecking.
Is it legal to take British birds’ eggs?
Laws will vary between different countries, but in the UK, taking eggs is illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 – and rightly so. The only exceptions are for a few ‘pest’ species.
However, you don’t need to break the law to be an egg-detective at this time of year – the signs are all around us. What are those fragments of speckled eggs on the garden path? Who laid that bright blue egg dumped on the lawn? Remember, eggshells don’t just fall out of a nest. Predators such as foxes or magpies may carry them away, as do parent birds, often to help conceal the location of vulnerable babies.
And once you’ve found an egg, you can always come back here if you need a hand with the identification.