The killdeer's eggs are buff and heavily freckled with brown. The eggs of the mallard duck are pale green or grayish buff. The gaily colored flicker lays eggs of glossy, spotless white. Birds' eggs, it seems, come in a wide assortment of colors. They have a beauty all their own but this is not why Mother Nature tints them with delicate tones and. bedecks them with freckles and specks. Nor is it to help a mother bird recognize her own eggs. The real reason is protection.
Mother Nature goes to great pains to protect her small creatures‑especially their babies. A good way to protect a bird's egg is to make it invisible. Strange to say, color is one way of making an object invisible, or nearly so. It is no easy job to spot a white rabbit in the snow, or a brown rabbit in a plowed field. Nature is full of these tricks which we call protective coloring.
Mr. and Mrs. Killdeer make their nest of pebbles on the ground. The four eggs, each an inch and a half long, are placed neatly, nose to nose, in the center of the nest. There are plenty of pebbles around the killdeer home and, as you walk along, your eyes become used to pebble colors. You expect to see a blend of tans, buffs and browns. A patch of bright blue or red would catch your attention.
But the killdeer's eggs, lying right out in plain sight, are buff and heavily freckled with brown. These are the colors of your surroundings, the colors your eyes expect. In fact, you may look right at them and not see them.
The mallard ducks build their nests of reeds and grasses. They too build on the ground, but their home is among the reeds and. high grasses not far from the water. In these surroundings, your eye has become used to greens and greenish greens and greenish grays. There nay be a dozen mallard eggs in the nest, each over two inches long. But if you walked right by the nest, chances are your eye would not spot them, For their palish gray to grayish buff tones blend in with the surroundings.
Human eyes are very sharp but some of the hungry creatures of the wild have even keener eyes. Weasels and cats are but two of the hungry ones out egg hunting. :it seems, however, that even they are fooled by Natures s method of making her birds' eggs invisible. For, every season, a certain number of each kind of bird grows up to become parents,
What of the snow white eggs, those with no protective coloring? There are quite a number of white birds' eggs, but most of them are very well hidden. The flicker's nest is a gourd‑shaped hole dug into a tree trunk. Inside it is too dark to see even glossy white eggs, The kingfisher's nest is in a burrow and lined with fishbones. His white, unmarked. eggs are safe from prying eyes. The colored eggs are those out in the open and their beautiful paint jobs are designed to make them as invisible as possible.