Bird eggs come in an astonishing array of shapes, sizes, textures, colours and patterns. Are you able to identify the species by the egg alone?

Ornithologist Warwick Tarboton has created two composite images that show a selection of eggs commonly seen in South Africa. He writes: “There was a time when… a serious collector, such as Austin Roberts, would have been able to put a name to virtually every egg shown here simply from the sum of their shape, size, colour and markings.”

How would you fare? You can test yourself with these images and answers below.

Eggs1-WarwickTarboton

 

1. Fiery-necked nightjar. 2. Orange-breasted bushshrike. 3. Cape batis. 4. Green wood-hoopoe. 5. African snipe. 6. Yellow-eyed canary. 7. Rattling cisticola. 8. Pied crow. 9. African hoopoe. 10. Kurrichane buttonquail. 11. Red-faced mousebird. 12. Cape penduline tit. 13. African jacana. 14. Black cuckooshrike. 15. Hadeda ibis. 16. Little grebe. 17. Hamerkop. 18. Cape crow. 19. Alpine swift. 20. Tawny-flanked prinia. 21. Fork-tailed drongo. 22. Sabota lark. 23. Golden-breasted bunting. 24. Bar-throated apalis. 25. Wattled starling. 26. Karoo thrush. 27. Violet-backed starling. 28. Cape white-eye. 29. Purple-crested turaco. 30. Brubru. 31. Cloud cisticola. 32. Lanner falcon. 33. Blue waxbill. 34. Scarlet-chested sunbird. 35. Black crake. 36. Chorister robin-chat. 37. Verreaux’s eagle. 38. Bokmakierie. 39. Black-headed oriole. 40. Ashy tit. 41. Sentinel rock thrush. 42. Green-spotted dove. 43. Arrow-marked babbler. 44. Cape sparrow. 45. Red-collared widowbird. 46. Blacksmith lapwing. 47. Woodland kingfisher. 48. Red-crested korhaan. 49. African paradise flycatcher. 50. Southern masked weaver. 51. Yellow-streaked greenbul. 52. Tawny-flanked prinia.

Eggs2-WarwickTarboton

53. Black-headed heron. 
54. Lesser flamingo. 
55. African cuckoo hawk. 
56. Bronze-winged courser. 
57. Dark-capped bulbul. 
58. Yellow-billed duck. 
59. Red-capped lark. 
60. Secretarybird
. 61. Fairy flycatcher
. 62. Karoo chat. 
63. Helmeted guineafowl. 
64. African finfoot. 
65. Karoo scrub robin
. 66. Southern white-crowned shrike. 67. Grey sunbird
. 68. Ground woodpecker
. 69. Blue crane. 
70. Cape sugarbird
. 71. Red-billed buffalo weaver
. 72. Hartlaub’s gull
. 73. Burchell’s courser. 
74. Three-banded plover
. 75. – 83. Southern masked weaver

Learn more

Warwick Tarboton is the author of Roberts Nests & Eggs of Southern African Birds, the definitive guide to identifying the nests and eggs of birds in the region.