This Easter, the trendy design that seems to be everywhere is speckled eggs. There are so many sweet treats along the speckled egg theme, from cupcakes to cookies, macaroons, and obviously the original speckled egg product, mini eggs! That’s not to mention all the Easter decorations: wreaths, table centre pieces and even nail art! Speckled eggs are definitely in!
As with many of our trends, speckled egg products are something that we’ve taken the idea for from nature. As many birds produce eggs during the Easter period, it’s makes sense that we associate eggs with spring and Easter. The beauty of speckled eggs has not gone unnoticed until now though, they were first made popular by Victorians trying to obtain many specimens for their collections. Many of these collections are now kept safe in private collections and museums. Due to the law of 1981, all wild birds eggs are now protected and must not be taken from the nests, so if you do come across any wild bird eggs, please don’t go moving them (for more info see the RSPB website).
There are many birds that produce speckled eggs, including some breeds of chickens, robins, blackbirds and many ground dwelling birds, such as quails.
It is commonly thought that they produce speckled eggs to help with camouflaging the eggs and concealing them from predators that would see them on the ground. Quails have this down to an art, by selecting an area to lay their eggs in that matches the speckled pattern on her eggs (summary of the study here). However, new ideas have arisen that suggest that the specks indicate where the shell is at its weakest and actually help to strengthen the shell, as seen in great tit eggs (for a summary of the study click here).
Cuckoos are possibly my favourite example though of why their eggs are speckled. If you’re not aware, cuckoos lay their eggs in another species’ nest so that the cuckoo offspring are raised by the host parents and not the real cuckoo parents. To ensure that the egg is not detected, cuckoos can imitate other bird eggs right down to the speckled patterning to conceal their egg’s identity within a host nest! More information on host species and cuckoo egg mimicry can be found here.
Whilst pretty to us, speckled eggs are an adaptation to the environment and situation that the birds are in. Hopefully with the protective laws, they’ll be around for us to admir for years to come (and make tasty chocolate treats that look like them)!
From us all at Hannah’s Hens, we wish you a Happy Easter!