SomersetWanderer's picture

Egg identity please

Observed: 28th May 2010 By: SomersetWandererSomersetWanderer’s reputation in BirdsSomersetWanderer’s reputation in BirdsSomersetWanderer’s reputation in BirdsSomersetWanderer’s reputation in Birds

Egg found at Messingham - would appreciate ID please. £2 coin shows relative size.

Species interactions

No interactions present.


tootsietim's picture

the marks look part of the egg to me.

I'm not convinced that this is a pheasant egg, as they are always plain in my experience.
Unfortunately I know very little about eggs of other birds.
The size could indicate crow family or some raptor perhaps?? but I'm only guessing.

foxy's picture

pheasant eggs

I am confident that size and colour would match pheasant eggs if darker spots are debris, sometimes hen eggs (freerange) have these marks which I think happen at time of laying,in commercial egg production such marked eggs would go to manufacturing i.e bakeries, egg powder etc as consumers want the perfect shape,colour ,size in all the eggs in a carton.



Kluut's picture


Unfortunatley, the coin is in focus, not the egg, so you can't tell whether the spots are actual spots or debris.
I have seen pheasant eggs with a few spots (blood - as are all surface spots on all eggs), but it is rare.
Another possibility is red-legged partridge, but the ground colour is rather dark, the spotting is unusual - rather sparse - and the shape is wrong - too long and thin.

The egg has been predated so a ground-nester would always be favourite.

Carstairs's picture


Looks more like coot egg to me.

Kluut's picture

Coots eggs are grey, very

Coots eggs are grey, very grainy and have a sprinkling of tiny black spots concentrated towards the blunt end. They are also nearly twice this size.

Read "Notes" in the ID.

RoyW's picture

I agree with Coot.

Looks like a typical Coot egg to me in every respect.

Kluut's picture

Even though coot eggs are

RoyW's picture

Size and colour.

You are correct that I have overestimated the size here - I was wrongly under the impression that £2 coins were a bit larger than that and hadn't made any attempt to check (28.4mm apparently!). This makes the egg in question approximately the size that you give (I would say 40-42mm x 28-31mm), which would be below the average size for a Coot egg, and slightly under the lower end of the size range quoted in Birds of the Western Palearctic.
I still think that it looks like a Coot egg (colour is not a problem because there is a range of variability between buff and grey), but would change my identification to 'It might be this' if I could (as well as deleting the duplicate ID!).

If it is not an unusually small Coot egg I would think that your Moorhen suggestion is the correct one (size is good, markings may be a little unusual). I am certain that it is not a Pheasant egg - I have no doubt at all that the numerous dark spots are real markings on the shell.

Kluut's picture

Coot eggs

I should be very interested to see any record of a coot egg that is not a reasonably pale shade of grey. Of the hundreds that I have seen over the years, all have been grey. Of all the books and records that I have seen or own, all quote the ground colour as grey. Even allowing some poetic licence, the egg certainly isn't buff. Coot eggs are also extremely matte, which this one is not.

It is not especially likely to be a rail egg as rails and allies tend to lay eggs that have little or no sheen, leave alone shine, to them; though few match the matte finish of coot eggs. This egg is reasonably shiny. It is also very dark for a moorhen's egg - they are more normally dark cream/pale buff with reddish-brown smudges and/or spots.

By far the most likely is a dirty pheasant egg - everything fits well - size, colour, sheen, shape - with no need to rely on something about it being unusual.

RoyW's picture

Colour & gloss.

Both BWP and the Collins 'Field guide to the nests, eggs and nestlings of British and European Birds' describe Coot eggs as being smooth and slightly glossy, with the ground colour described as "buff to stone" or "pale buffish-stone". In both cases the use of 'stone' seems to mean a brownish-grey colour.
As for the colour of the egg in this observation, I strongly suspect that it is not quite as dark and richly coloured as it appears - a slight colour adjustment removes the vaguely orangey hue and gives the coin more typical gold and silver colours, sutlely affecting the colour of the egg and the surface they are both on at the same time.
Of course, this is only speculation (perhaps Somerset Wanderer can say if the colours are true?) - but sometimes it is important to bear in mind that digital photos do not always give a true impression of colours.

As I have said previously, I really cannot believe that this is a pheasant egg though. There are far too many well defined spots for me to believe that it is a dirty egg (the egg is covered in fine brown speckling, in addition to the more obvious larger dark spots).

Just my opinions of course - I'm certainly not going to try and say that I'm right.