This page describes some of the ways that birds protect their eggs and chicks (from both predators and harsh weather.

Examples feature a few birds that manage to do this without laying eggs in nests. It's a common misconception that a nest is a bird's home, while it's really a place where some – not all – birds care for their eggs and chicks.



Eggs are simply too heavy for a bird to carry around in their body and still be able to fly. All birds lay eggs, and most eggs need care – being kept at the right temperature, and turned – and protection from hungry and opportunistic predators. For many birds, raising chicks requires both parents, which may be why birds have such elaborate courtship and pair-bonding rituals.



In this activity students will build a camouflage diorama to illustrate the ways birds use camoflace to protect/hide their eggs. Students will make paper-mache eggs, and paint them a variety of colors, and place them against a variety of backgrounds to illustrate how the markings fool the eye, and make the egg hard to see.


chicken wire, in about 6' squares
paper-mache craft materials, or newsprint and glue
(glue can be made of flour and water)
paints of various colors, and brushes
collected rocks and stones
dried grass
box for diorama (shoebox is a good size)

STEP ONE: Make eggs out of paper mache.

Make glue by mixing flour and water to a runny paste (the thickness of cream). Make the form of your egg by shaping the chicken wire into an egg shape. On top of this you will apply layers of paper mache. Craft stores sell kits, or you can use newsprint and glue: Tear the newsprint into strips, and coat with glue, and wrap it around the chicken wire, smoothing out any wrinkles. Apply layers until your egg is stiff and strong, then let dry.

STEP TWO: Build a diorama.

Create an environment in your shoebox that might be like one in the wild. Put in rocks, grasses, anything you like, to make a place where your egg will be hidden.

STEP THREE: Camoflage your egg.

Consult the resources listed on this web page, and use different colors and markings to make your egg hard to see against the background of your diorama. When the whole class is done, you can put your eggs in each others' dioramas and observe that what works in one place may not work at all in another.

Click the icon to the left to download a printable version of the activity


  Hunters & Hunted
  What's for Lunch?
  How's the Water
  Beaks are Tools
  Backyard Birdfeeder
  Shapes & Sizes
  Lift Off
  A Big Enough Wing
  Migration Hopscotch
  Sing Out Loud
  Virtual Incubator
  Dance of Love
On the Egg
  Becoming a Bird
  The Big Deal: The Feather
  Dead or Alive
  Are Birds Dinosaurs?

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