With their large, hawk-like eyes, flattish head profile, downward turning beaks and striking feather patterns, Easter Egger chickens are often described as looking like hawks. Easter Eggers are related to Ameraucanas, which also have a somewhat hawk-like appearance.
Easter Eggers are not considered to be a true breed, because they lack uniform conformation and plumage colors, and the hens lay eggs with a wide range of shell colors. The term Easter Egg originated in 1948, thanks to a National Geographic Magazine article by that name, describing Ameraucana-cross hens that produced eggs with a rainbow of pastel shells ranging from green to greenish blue, from pinkish to brown, and from white to pale yellow or gray.
Some Easter Eggers available today are still developed by crossing Ameraucanas with other breeds. Further, not all producers of Easter Egger chickens breed for the same specific characteristics.
By contrast, the Easter Eggers offered by Cackle Hatchery have been bred from the same pure bloodlines since 1971. “We breed our Easter Eggers for a wide variety of feather colors and patterns, full tail, full beard and muffs, assorted egg shell color, good production of medium to large eggs and some broodiness,” explains Jeff Smith of Cackle Hatchery.
“Our stock lay 85% blue/green eggs, with shell colors varying from pale blue to dark blue to various shades of green. The other 15% are light brownish/pink eggs,” Jeff says. Note that, although Easter Egger hens lay eggs in a variety of shell colors, each individual hen’s eggs are all the same color. The “Easter egg” effect derives from the combination of colorful eggs laid by the flock as a whole.
For those who prefer smaller chickens, Cackle Hatchery offers Bantam Easter Egger chickens bred from pure bloodlines established in 1978. Like the full-size Easter Eggers, the bantams display a wide range of mixed feather colors and produce eggs with shells of varying shades of blue and green, along with a few brownish/pink eggs. Bantam Easter Egger hens brood easily and are great mothers.
Whether full-size or bantam, Easter Egger chickens make a colorful backyard flock that yields eggs in an awe-inspiring assortment of shades. And they’re perfect for free ranging, with their diversity of color patterns to help them evade those other birds they look so much like — the real hawks.
And that’s today’s news from the Cackle Coop.
Gail Damerow, author, Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens