Egg collecting is a dangerous and illegal activity that began when Victorian-era explorers returned to the U.K. with exotic treasures from around the world, including bird eggs. Today the ‘sport’ is practiced by an alarming number of furtive obsessives who break the law each time they add to their collections.
A special police task force dubbed Operation Easter was started in the late 1990’s, when egg thieves appeared to be on the rise. At that time, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds received about one nest theft report per day. Last year, the RSPB received just over 50 reports. Taking wild eggs has been illegal since 1954, and imprisonment became a possible punishment in 2001. Still, the threat of fines and jail time does not discourage the most hard-core egg collectors, some of whom have been living with their obsession since childhood.