Why Do Pheasants Leave Their Eggs?

by Chukay Alex
Updated on

Pheasant hens are broody mothers and will usually sit on their eggs to incubate and hatch them. Sometimes, pheasant nests are found abandoned with their eggs still intact left in it.

Some of the reasons why pheasant hens sometimes leave their eggs include disturbance by humans, fear and harassment from predators, temporarily leaving to get food or waiting for the incubation period to start.

Finding seemingly abandoned nests with eggs doesn’t necessarily mean the hen has left the eggs for good.

A good observation of 2 weeks without seeing the mother is the only way to know if the nests have truly been abandoned before deciding on a course of action.

What Are The Reasons Why Peasants Leave Their Eggs?

Why Do Pheasants Leave Their Eggs
  • Fear of predators

If a pheasant’s nest has been attacked by predators successfully or unsuccessfully, the pheasant is likely to abandon the nest even with the eggs intact.

Because the pheasants are birds of prey, they always try to ensure their nests are in safe places where predators cannot reach.

If for one reason or the other the hen starts feeling unsafe she will abandon the eggs.

  • Disturbance by humans

If the nest has been disturbed by humans and the hen feels overly harassed or stressed, it is more likely to abandon the nest.

When humans encounter a nest, it is usually advised to let the nest be as touching it could affect the eggs or break them.

The eggs are usually delicate and moving them without being careful could risk them getting spoilt.

  • Gone to get food

Pheasants sometimes leave their eggs only to get food. Afterall mama pheasant would have to replenish her strength.

Not all seemingly abandoned nests have been abandoned as sometimes the hens just went to feed and will return to lay on the eggs.

  • The hen is not done laying

When a pheasant hen starts laying her eggs, she lays one egg per day until she has about 10, 12 or more eggs depending on her capacity.

While she is laying the eggs, the hen will not lay on the eggs as she will only start incubating once she is done laying.

The reason for this is simply that if the hen starts incubating the moment she beings laying eggs, the chicks will develop faster than each other and will not hatch closely together and this will stress the mother.

Related: Here is an article I wrote on where do pheasants sleep?

How Long Can A Pheasant Leave Its Eggs?

Once a pheasant hen has finished laying her eggs for a clutch which can range from 12 to 18 eggs per clutch, she will lay on the eggs and incubate them till they hatch. 

Most pheasant hens are broody in nature and will sit on their eggs till they are hatched and this incubation lasts between 23 to 30 days.

During this incubation, the hen will leave the eggs for a short period about 2 to 3 times in a day to get some food.

In some cases, the nests are protected by the male pheasants during that period. 

A male pheasant can have as a harem of between 3 to 8 females and once they get broody the rooster will take it upon itself to protect them.

Do Pheasants Eat Their Own Eggs?

Pheasants eat their own eggs for various reasons. Both the cock and the hen can eat the laid eggs depending on the reasons.

Most times the male pheasants peck the eggs out of curiosity or play around with them and once they get the taste, the flock owner has an egg eater on his/her hands.

Egg eating is a form of cannibalism amongst pheasants and should be curbed or the whole flock would get into the habit. 

Other reasons why pheasants eat their eggs include:

  • Diet imbalance
  • Overcrowding
  • Stress
  • Boredom
  • Hunger or thirst 
  • Inexperience
  • Curiosity

To avoid the act of egg eating among your birds, ensure they have a balanced diet which is high in protein, give them enough space feed and water, provide them with enough calcium to ensure top quality egg production and if possible separate the hens from the roosters while they are nesting. 

Why Do Pheasants Abandon Their Nests With Eggs?

Some people have reported finding pheasant nests abandoned with their eggs still in them.

Pheasants are birds of prey and are usually careful about where they lay their eggs and nests.

Once its breeding season and a hen has found a male mate, she will begin building a suitable site for nesting.

Most often the nests are placed in places where they feel safe, it could be in depressions where the hen is not easily sighted roosting on the eggs or perched up in trees.

A pheasant hen will abandon the eggs if it feels the nest is no longer safe. If humans are too close for comfort or have touched the eggs, the pheasant will most likely abandon the nest.

If the nest is also plagued by predators such as rats, mice or even others the pheasant might be forced to leave the nest and re-nest somewhere.

The hens have to go through a lot of stress to preserve their chicks when they are hatched so if they feel a nest is unsafe they will abandon it.

Humans are often advised not to go near a pheasant’s nest so as not to disturb the eggs.

Also, a nest of eggs that looks abandoned might not actually be abandoned. 

Pheasant eggs lay one egg per day till they are done laying all their eggs and during this period, they tend to leave the nests for long periods as they have not started incubation of the eggs.

Also check out this article I wrote on what are pheasants good for

Do Pheasants Leave Their Eggs Unattended?

Pheasants do leave their eggs unattended. This happens when they are laying eggs and they do not sit on the nests till they are done laying. 

Pheasants hens can lay about 12 to 18 eggs per clutch depending on the energy reserves of the hen and the time of the year.

During the period the hen is laying the eggs, she would not necessarily stay around the nest as she has not started incubation.

She gets broody and starts incubating the eggs only after she has laid all her eggs.

During that period, it might seem that the nest is unattended and abandoned. Once the hen starts incubation, she will only leave the nests 2 to 3 times a day mostly to get food to eat.

In the wild, most hens usually have their male counterparts with them to protect them. The roosters always try to protect the nests ferociously from any threat or danger.

However this is not always the case with every hen.

Will Pheasants Abandon Their Eggs If Touched By Humans?

Except the eggs and nests have been moved from their location or significantly altered by humans, a pheasant hen will not abandon her eggs because it has been touched.

Pheasants like most birds will usually figure it out if their nests have been touched since they left.

They prefer to situate their nests in areas where they feel safe and away from predators.

Humans are usually advised not to touch or move seemingly abandoned eggs or nests as the mother might be close by and still be laying.eggs and as such does not spend all her time with the nest.

If a seemingly abandoned nest is found with egs, it is best to watch the nest from a distance for a period of 2 weeks to know if the adult birds are still around.

The nest should only be moved after that period of time to save the eggs and incubate them so they can hatch.

Do Pheasants Sit On Their Eggs All The Time?

Pheasants do not sit on their eggs all the time. After laying all their eggs, the female pheasant will lay on the eggs to incubate them and this incubation can last from 23 to 30 days.

This is the period it takes for all the chicks to hatch. Pheasant chicks usually hatch within 24 hours of each other.

During the incubation period, the egg only leaves the nest about 2 to 3 times a day to eat.

This is basically the only period the pheasant hen leaves the eggs unattended, other than that, the hen remains laid on the eggs till they hatch.


Pheasant birds are quite different from chickens in a lot of ways. Sometimes pheasants can leave their eggs if they find that the nest has been disturbed. 

They also have a terrible habit of eating their eggs which if not curbed can have far reaching consequences including, loss of eggs and reduced chick population.

As a flock keeper it is important to be able to recognize these pheasant behaviors and nip them in the bud as at when due.

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About the author

Chukay Alex

Chukay is a season writer and farmer who enjoys farming and growing plants in his backyard farm. When he is not farming you can find him at the nearest lawn tennis court, hitting a mean backhand down the line.


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