ALBUMEN
The egg white, provides protection, water and protein for the developing embryo.
ALTRICIAL
Chicks that hatch at a very early stage in development. They are usually blind and naked upon hatching. Altricial chicks are dependent on their parents.
BICONICAL
Refers to the egg shape where both ends are tapered. Grebe eggs are biconical.
BILIVERDIN
Biliverdin and the zinc chelate of biliverdin are two of three pigments responsible for egg coloration. These pigments produce blue-green colours.
BLOOD SPOT
A red spot sometimes found on an egg yolk. The blood spot is also known as the meat spot. It is harmless and does not change the chemical or nutritive characteristics of the egg.
BROOD
The group of young hatched from a clutch of eggs.
BROOD PARASITISM
Also known as social parasitism or nest parasitism, refers to a female laying her eggs in the nest of another (host) bird, leaving to the foster parent the tasks of incubating and rearing the young. The parasite is thus spared these duties. Read More
ALBUMEN
The egg white, provides protection, water and protein for the developing embryo.
ALTRICIAL
Chicks that hatch at a very early stage in development. They are usually blind and naked upon hatching. Altricial chicks are dependent on their parents.
BICONICAL
Refers to the egg shape where both ends are tapered. Grebe eggs are biconical.
BILIVERDIN
Biliverdin and the zinc chelate of biliverdin are two of three pigments responsible for egg coloration. These pigments produce blue-green colours.
BLOOD SPOT
A red spot sometimes found on an egg yolk. The blood spot is also known as the meat spot. It is harmless and does not change the chemical or nutritive characteristics of the egg.
BROOD
The group of young hatched from a clutch of eggs.
BROOD PARASITISM
Also known as social parasitism or nest parasitism, refers to a female laying her eggs in the nest of another (host) bird, leaving to the foster parent the tasks of incubating and rearing the young. The parasite is thus spared these duties. North American cowbirds and European cuckoos are common brood parasites.
BROOD PATCH
The area on a bird's abdomen which loses most of its feathers and becomes engorged with blood vessels during the breeding season. When the brood patch is placed next to the eggs, the warmth of the parent can be transferred efficiently to the eggs. If both parents incubate, each develop a brood patch. Some gulls may have as many as three brood patches.

© 2006 Government of Alberta and © 1996-2006 Royal Alberta Museum.

CALCIUM CARBONATE
Also known as limestone, this compound is the major structural material in eggshells.
CHALAZAE
Spirally twisted rope-like structures attached to and surrounding the yolk. Chalazae suspend the yolk within the eggshell.
CRYPTIC COLORATION
Pigmentation that closely matches the colour and pattern of the surrounding environment.
CLEIDOIC EGG
A cleidoic egg is virtually a sealed container. All the nutrients, water and minerals for development are contained within the eggshell. The only exchange between the inside and outside of the egg is gaseous and occurs through pores.
CLUTCH
The assemblage of eggs laid in one nest. Clutch size is the total number of eggs in a clutch.
CUTICLE
A thin proteinaceous layer that covers the eggshell.
CYLINDRICAL
Refers to the cylinder-like shape of some eggs, such as those of the hummingbird.
DETERMINATE LAYER
A bird that will not replace eggs removed from the nest. She lays a fixed number of eggs.

CALCIUM CARBONATE
Also known as limestone, this compound is the major structural material in eggshells.
CHALAZAE
Spirally twisted rope-like structures attached to and surrounding the yolk. Chalazae suspend the yolk within the eggshell.
CRYPTIC COLORATION
Pigmentation that closely matches the colour and pattern of the surrounding environment.
CLEIDOIC EGG
A cleidoic egg is virtually a sealed container. All the nutrients, water and minerals for development are contained within the eggshell. The only exchange between the inside and outside of the egg is gaseous and occurs through pores.
CLUTCH
The assemblage of eggs laid in one nest. Clutch size is the total number of eggs in a clutch.
CUTICLE
A thin proteinaceous layer that covers the eggshell.
CYLINDRICAL
Refers to the cylinder-like shape of some eggs, such as those of the hummingbird.
DETERMINATE LAYER
A bird that will not replace eggs removed from the nest. She lays a fixed number of eggs.

© 2006 Government of Alberta and © 1996-2006 Royal Alberta Museum.

EGG
A chamber that provides nourishment and protection for the growth and development of the embryo inside it.
EGG TOOTH
A temporary tooth on the bill of a chick. It is used to help the hatchling break the shell.
EMBRYO
The young bird, beginning with the earliest stage of development within the egg until it hatches.
ENDOCRINE GLAND
A gland that secretes hormones into the blood stream.
FABERGE EGG
Famous jewelled and lined goose eggs created at the House of Faberge in Russia around the turn of the century.
HATCHING SYNCHRONY
When all the chicks in a clutch hatch at the same time. Although eggs are laid one at a time, the parent begins incubation after all the eggs have been laid.
HATCHLING
A chick from a recently-hatched egg.
HORMONE
A biochemical that is secreted by an endocrine gland into the blood stream. It has a specific action on the body.
HOST
Bird species conned into incubating and raising the young of another (parasite) sp Read More
EGG
A chamber that provides nourishment and protection for the growth and development of the embryo inside it.
EGG TOOTH
A temporary tooth on the bill of a chick. It is used to help the hatchling break the shell.
EMBRYO
The young bird, beginning with the earliest stage of development within the egg until it hatches.
ENDOCRINE GLAND
A gland that secretes hormones into the blood stream.
FABERGE EGG
Famous jewelled and lined goose eggs created at the House of Faberge in Russia around the turn of the century.
HATCHING SYNCHRONY
When all the chicks in a clutch hatch at the same time. Although eggs are laid one at a time, the parent begins incubation after all the eggs have been laid.
HATCHLING
A chick from a recently-hatched egg.
HORMONE
A biochemical that is secreted by an endocrine gland into the blood stream. It has a specific action on the body.
HOST
Bird species conned into incubating and raising the young of another (parasite) species.
INCUBATION
The process during which the heat required for the development of the embryo is applied to an egg after it has been laid.
INCUBATION PERIOD
The time during which incubation takes place.
INDETERMINATE LAYER
A bird will lay replacement

© 2006 Government of Alberta and © 1996-2006 Royal Alberta Museum.

MARKINGS
Spots, blotches, speckles, scrawls, or lines of colour applied to the eggshell while in the oviduct.
MIMICRY
Imitation of the size, shape or markings of eggs of another species. Mimicry occurs among some brood parasites, such as cuckoos.
NEST
Not a bird house, but a receptacle for eggs laid by birds.
OOLOGY
The study of eggs.
OVIDUCT
A portion of the female bird’s reproductive tract. The oviduct is a tube. The egg is fertilized in the upper part of the oviduct before albumen, membranes, shell and cuticle are added as the egg descends the tube.
OVUM
The egg released by the ovary.
PARASITE
A bird that lays its eggs in the nest of another (host) bird, freeing the parasite from the duties of incubation and rearing.
PENDULOUS
Refers to a nest type constructed by some birds, like the Baltimore Oriole, where the cupped nest hangs by its rims and has very flexibly woven walls. As a result, the deepest part of the nest swings freely.
PENSILE Read More
MARKINGS
Spots, blotches, speckles, scrawls, or lines of colour applied to the eggshell while in the oviduct.
MIMICRY
Imitation of the size, shape or markings of eggs of another species. Mimicry occurs among some brood parasites, such as cuckoos.
NEST
Not a bird house, but a receptacle for eggs laid by birds.
OOLOGY
The study of eggs.
OVIDUCT
A portion of the female bird’s reproductive tract. The oviduct is a tube. The egg is fertilized in the upper part of the oviduct before albumen, membranes, shell and cuticle are added as the egg descends the tube.
OVUM
The egg released by the ovary.
PARASITE
A bird that lays its eggs in the nest of another (host) bird, freeing the parasite from the duties of incubation and rearing.
PENDULOUS
Refers to a nest type constructed by some birds, like the Baltimore Oriole, where the cupped nest hangs by its rims and has very flexibly woven walls. As a result, the deepest part of the nest swings freely.
PENSILE
Refers to a nest type constructed by some birds, such as vireos, where the cupped nest hangs from a branch by its sides and has very stiffly woven walls.
PESTICIDE
A chemical designed to kill pests. DDT is one pesticide used extensively in the past.

© 2006 Government of Alberta and © 1996-2006 Royal Alberta Museum.

PIGMENT
A chemical that produces colour. There are three pigments responsible for all of the colours, both background and markings, that we see on eggs: protoporphyrin, biliverdin and the zinc-chelate of biliverdin.
POROSITY
Refers to the holes or channels through an eggshell; allows the exchange of gas and water vapour between the egg and its environment.
PRECOCIAL
Chicks that hatch with down-covered bodies and open eyes. These chicks are independent of the parents soon after hatching.
PROTOPORPHYRIN
One of the three pigments responsible for egg coloration and markings. This pigment results in colours ranging from yellow to red to brownish buffs and pink.
PYRIFORM
Refers to an egg shape, pointed at one end and more blunt at the other. Common Murre eggs are pyriform.
SALMONELLA ENTERIDITES
A bacterium found in the intestinal tracts of a variety of animals. If it is consumed in high enough doses, it may cause illness in a human.
SCRAPE
A shallow depression in the ground made to contain eg Read More
PIGMENT
A chemical that produces colour. There are three pigments responsible for all of the colours, both background and markings, that we see on eggs: protoporphyrin, biliverdin and the zinc-chelate of biliverdin.
POROSITY
Refers to the holes or channels through an eggshell; allows the exchange of gas and water vapour between the egg and its environment.
PRECOCIAL
Chicks that hatch with down-covered bodies and open eyes. These chicks are independent of the parents soon after hatching.
PROTOPORPHYRIN
One of the three pigments responsible for egg coloration and markings. This pigment results in colours ranging from yellow to red to brownish buffs and pink.
PYRIFORM
Refers to an egg shape, pointed at one end and more blunt at the other. Common Murre eggs are pyriform.
SALMONELLA ENTERIDITES
A bacterium found in the intestinal tracts of a variety of animals. If it is consumed in high enough doses, it may cause illness in a human.
SCRAPE
A shallow depression in the ground made to contain eggs; a type of nest.
SPHERICAL
Refers to a rounded egg shape. Owls and kingfishers have spherical eggs.
YOLK
The main nutritive portion of the egg. It is spherical in shape and light yellow to orange in colour.

© 2006 Government of Alberta and © 1996-2006 Royal Alberta Museum.

"A Bird is just an egg’s way of making another egg."

Fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and even some mammals lay eggs. Eggs are thought to have evolved from the need to protect the embryo from the effects of a harsh, dry environment. Reptiles and birds produce a cleidoic egg, virtually a sealed container. All of the nutrients, water and minerals the embryo needs for development are enclosed within the egg. The only exchange that occurs between the inside and outside of the egg is gaseous. The cleidoic egg may be laid on land, it does not require water as do the eggs of fish and amphibians.

Over time, eggs have become both larger and more complex. A great amount of energy is required to produce large, complex eggs. How do you think the greater investment in an individual egg affects the number of eggs that can be produced?

In some fish, amphibians and reptiles, eggs are kept inside the body until the young are ready to hatch. Birds however, lay eggs long before the young are about to hatch. By laying eggs early in the development of the embryo, the female frees her body from the added weight of the eggs. Why would this be advantageous t Read More

"A Bird is just an egg’s way of making another egg."

Fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and even some mammals lay eggs. Eggs are thought to have evolved from the need to protect the embryo from the effects of a harsh, dry environment. Reptiles and birds produce a cleidoic egg, virtually a sealed container. All of the nutrients, water and minerals the embryo needs for development are enclosed within the egg. The only exchange that occurs between the inside and outside of the egg is gaseous. The cleidoic egg may be laid on land, it does not require water as do the eggs of fish and amphibians.

Over time, eggs have become both larger and more complex. A great amount of energy is required to produce large, complex eggs. How do you think the greater investment in an individual egg affects the number of eggs that can be produced?

In some fish, amphibians and reptiles, eggs are kept inside the body until the young are ready to hatch. Birds however, lay eggs long before the young are about to hatch. By laying eggs early in the development of the embryo, the female frees her body from the added weight of the eggs. Why would this be advantageous to a bird?

By laying eggs at an early stage of embryo development, birds must provide heat, protection and periodical turning to make sure the embryos survive. Adult birds commonly have brood patches to help transfer their body heat to the eggs. They move and turn the eggs. As well, they build nests which provide warmth and protection from predators.


© 2009, CHIN-The Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

The complete table, from The American Oologists’ Exchange Price List of North American Bird’s Eggs, 1922, can be viewed at: http://www.royalalbertamuseum.ca/vexhibit/eggs/vexhome/prices.htm

Common Tern $0.15

Blue Jay $0.15

Arctic Tern $0.45

American Crow $0.15

American White Pelican $0.65

Red-winged Blackbird $0.10

Mallard $0.40

Northern Oriole $0.25

Canada Goose $2.00

White-crowned Sparrow $1.00

Trumpeter Swan $50.00

Swamp Sparrow $0.30

Whooping Crane $45.00

Bohemian Waxwing $25.00

Semipalmated Sandpiper $11.00

Cape May Warbler $25.00

Spotted Sandpiper $0.20

Yellow Warbler $0.10

Long-billed Curlew $5.00

Connecticut Warbler $30.00

Ruddy Turnstone $15.00

Catbird $0.10

Wild Turkey $10.00

Hermit Thrush $1.00

Bald Eagle $10.00

American Robin $0.10

Peregrine Falcon $3.50

Great Horned Owl $2.00

This is a list of some of eggs listed in the Read More

The complete table, from The American Oologists’ Exchange Price List of North American Bird’s Eggs, 1922, can be viewed at: http://www.royalalbertamuseum.ca/vexhibit/eggs/vexhome/prices.htm

Common Tern $0.15

Blue Jay $0.15

Arctic Tern $0.45

American Crow $0.15

American White Pelican $0.65

Red-winged Blackbird $0.10

Mallard $0.40

Northern Oriole $0.25

Canada Goose $2.00

White-crowned Sparrow $1.00

Trumpeter Swan $50.00

Swamp Sparrow $0.30

Whooping Crane $45.00

Bohemian Waxwing $25.00

Semipalmated Sandpiper $11.00

Cape May Warbler $25.00

Spotted Sandpiper $0.20

Yellow Warbler $0.10

Long-billed Curlew $5.00

Connecticut Warbler $30.00

Ruddy Turnstone $15.00

Catbird $0.10

Wild Turkey $10.00

Hermit Thrush $1.00

Bald Eagle $10.00

American Robin $0.10

Peregrine Falcon $3.50

Great Horned Owl $2.00

This is a list of some of eggs listed in the 1922 Exchange Price List. We have images of most of these eggs in our Eggs of Alberta exhibit at http://www.royalalbertamuseum.ca/vexhibit/eggs/vexhome/faberge.htm.

So, if you are curious to see what the most expensive eggs look like, check them out!


© 2006 Government of Alberta and © 1996-2006 Royal Alberta Museum.

1. To do the quiz, go to http://www.royalalbertamuseum.ca/vexhibit/eggs/vexhome/ques1.htm


© 2006 Government of Alberta and © 1996-2006 Royal Alberta Museum.

Fabergé eggs are famous jewelled eggs that were created in Russia around the turn of the century. These goose eggs were lined in silk, adorned with jewels and mounted in precious metals. The eggs were commissioned by the royalty to exchange at Easter. The eggs were created at the House of Fabergé, however Peter Carl Fabergé did not make the eggs himself. Rather, Michael Evtampievich Perchin and Henrik Wigstrom created the eggs.
Fabergé eggs are famous jewelled eggs that were created in Russia around the turn of the century. These goose eggs were lined in silk, adorned with jewels and mounted in precious metals. The eggs were commissioned by the royalty to exchange at Easter. The eggs were created at the House of Fabergé, however Peter Carl Fabergé did not make the eggs himself. Rather, Michael Evtampievich Perchin and Henrik Wigstrom created the eggs.

© 2006 Government of Alberta and © 1996-2006 Royal Alberta Museum.

Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Develop and maintain an interest in science
  • Understand that science is affected by time and culture
  • Understand that eggs are subject to the laws of evolution and are the product of natural selection over time

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