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Kimberley Hancock

Winder, GA, United States


This is the third unsuccessful/unfertilized brood by our Bluebirds this year. We’ve never had unfertilized eggs before, and this year unfertilized eggs in 3 nesting attempts is all we have. Every other year, they’ve been 100% successful in hatching/raising/fledging young – sometimes 4 broods per year! Today woke up to see this – apparently a raccoon? But I was somewhat gladdened to at least know it didn’t happen with a viable set of eggs. ANYONE ELSE seeing unfertilized Bluebird eggs this year?! I don’t know what to do… The only change to the environment this year is that I’ve waited to introduce live mealworms for the eggs to hatch (having done that way to yearly in each previous year).


Nests in boxes

Unfertilized Bluebird Brood Nest Destroyed

Aftermath of something (raccoon?) pulling out nesting material of unsuccessful Bluebird brood. 1 egg taken, 2 eggs cracked, 1 egg left. All eggs unsuccessful/unfertilized.

21 responses to “Unfertilized Bluebird brood nest destroyed”

  1. Robyn Bailey says:

    With three unhatched clutches in a row, I would suspect that you may have a new pair this year (or a new mate for one of them), and one of them is infertile. And that does appear to be raccoon damage. Yikes, at least no bluebirds were harmed.

  2. Julia says:

    I would agree with Robyn. New parents. Try a critter guard. That raccoon will come back, if he’s still living….
    Your meal worms are a wonderful addition, but your waiting to put them out in no way affected this
    Maybe contact the Dr. in Rome at Berry College. I’m here in GA too and she gives good info on her UStream.

  3. amy eddy says:

    i have a nest in my boston fern it had baby birds while we were on vacation there was a storm, pehaps the babv birds flew before the storm the days oould have been about right but then we came back from vacation & there was a new egg in the nest that didn’t hatch, it’s still there.

  4. Joy says:

    I am having the same problem with infertile eggs. This is the 2nd year. Prior to last year, I had a pair that had many successful nestlings hatch and fledge. Last year, I had a new pair and had only 1 egg hatch out of probably 19 or 20 eggs. This year, she laid a clutch of 5 eggs – due to hatch 03/29 to 03/31. Today, 04/03, still no hatch and the eggs look very dull instead of the beautiful blue when first laid. How long would you let them stay in the nest? I feel so bad for them incubating and watching that nest and no babies.

    • Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

      Hi Joy, We recommend waiting at least four weeks from the day the last egg was laid. this gives two weeks fo the incubation period and another two weeks to account for possible delay in incubation (some eggs can be viable for up to two weeks before incubation). We realize it can be disheartening to witness infertile eggs, but it is a natural occurance – in fact, just over half of all bird nests fail, and that is one of the reasons they lay so many eggs and several clutches per year – they are accounting for these inevitable losses.

    • elaine says:

      Ive have two sets now with no eggs Have 4 eggs in one and 5 in another nothing happening yet it ha been 5 weeks for one set and 1 week and a half in other house nothing yet

  5. Jeanette Porter says:

    Three times the blue bird eggs have disappeared from the nest, one week from hatching. We have a predator guard, netting and snake repellent around the pole on the ground and essential oil(cinnamon&clove) on the netting. Could the eggs be infertile and mom is taking them out? Had infertile eggs before but were left in nest.

    • Holly Grant, Project Assistant says:

      Hi Jeanette, it’s hard to tell, but there are other predators that can sometimes get around predator guards, depending on the style, such as mice and chipmunks. If you do not have a baffle (cone or stovepipe) for example, this can allow climbers like raccoons and squirrels to access the box. Additionally, if the box is near to branches or other “jumping-off points”, this can allow some animals to reach the box from above. In regards to infertile eggs, this is usually determined after the adult has been sitting on the eggs for awhile. While some birds remove their eggs from their own nest for unknown reasons, one reason we do know of is when an egg is cracked – some birds will dispose of those eggs. Alternatively, some competitor birds will remove eggs if they want to use the box themselves, such as invasive House Sparrows, or the native House Wren (wrens are more common if the box is located near shrubby habitat). If you have more questions about this, please email us at These comment sections are not monitored regularly.

  6. Paul says:

    Hi I think I am having a un-fertilized problem too. Out of 5 eggs only 1 has hatched. The expected date was the 24 ..I think the first hatch was the 21st. Mom and dad are taking good care of the little one. I wonder if there’s still hope for the other 4

    • Holly Grant, Project Assistant says:

      Hi Paul, It’s possible that the other eggs are nonviable, since most songbird eggs usually hatch within the same 24 hours, but there are several reasons why eggs may not hatch. You can learn more in this FAQ. IF the other eggs have not hatched as of today, it’s more likely they are nonviable. In this case, you don’t need to do anything. Let the nest progress as normal and then you can dispose of the unhatched eggs after the young have fledged.

  7. Sharon says:

    There are 6 eggs in the BB nest, the last egg laid last Thursday. Mom had been sitting on the nest but she’s not been around since Monday. I caught a glimpse of 2 females 2 days ago, but neither showed interest in the nest. Dad has been around every day and keeps guard. I’ve not encountered this situation in the 6 years I’ve been a BB landlord. How long are the eggs viable without incubation and how much time to I give this before removing the nest is f she doesn’t return. Could be something happened to her.

    • Holly Grant, Project Assistant says:

      Hi Sharon, We recommend waiting at least 4 weeks from the last day you saw an adult before determining a nest is abandoned. You can read more about this in our FAQ here.

  8. Jody says:

    I’ve had the same problem this year -2022. Three different sets of bluebird eggs and none hatched.

  9. Leslie Tancredi says:

    My bb pair has had three totally non viable eggs (5 1st brood, 6 2nd and 4 3rd) Is it even possible for this pair to have successful broods? They work so hard to have their family…heartbreaking to see.

  10. Patti says:

    Have had BB houses up for 3 yrs, finally this year on May 13 5 eggs, looked in house 2 weeks later all eggs gone! On June 21 5 more eggs never hatched still in nest, on July 1 more egg, on July 31 looked in another 3 eggs!! I have a total of 9 eggs in this nest!!! Have not dared to remove…this female or male must be infertile or something is going on…should I now remove eggs and nest? It’s August 29 2022
    Very strange and disturbing
    Atkinson, New Hampshire

    • Robyn Bailey says:

      Hi Patti,
      Yes, it sounds like infertility could be the issue. It’s okay to remove the eggs and clean out the box once you’re sure these eggs will not hatch. I usually wait 30 days after expected hatch date, just to be safe. Best, Robyn

  11. Pam says:

    I believe a raccoon killed the female BB while sitting on her nest found the proof of that. There are still 2 eggs remaining in nest the male had been back looking around. What should Zi do with eggs?

    • Holly Grant, Project Assistant says:

      Hi Pam, It’s best to leave the eggs for now if you see adults in the area. Give it about 4 weeks past the last day you saw an adult at the nest, and then after that period they would be considered abandoned. You can clean the nest and its contents out of the box after that, again, as long as the nest does not have any activity around it.

  12. Peggy says:

    I had 4 abandoned bluebird eggs – I looked inside them and saw bright egg yoke lumps . Does that mean that were unfertilized ?

    Thx and sad 😞

    • Holly Grant, Project Assistant says:

      Hi Peggy, Not necessarily but if they were, they certainly didn’t get very far in the development process. IF you’re interested, we have a full FAQ about the many reasons why a nest might fail, including reasons why eggs fail to hatch. Check it out here.

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