The phylogenomics and comparative functional genomics of avian species were investigated in the Bird10K project because of the important evolutionary position of birds and their value as a research model. However, the systematic profiling of transcriptional changes prior to oviposition has not been investigated in avian species because of the practical difficulties in obtaining pre-oviposited eggs. In this study, a total of 137 pre-oviposited embryos were collected from hen ovaries and oviducts and subjected to RNA sequencing analyses. Two waves of chicken zygotic genome activation (ZGA) were observed. Functionally distinct developmental programs involving Notch, MAPK, Wnt, and TGF-beta signaling were separately detected during cleavage and area pellucida formation. Furthermore, the early stages of chicken development were compared with the human and mouse counterparts, highlighting chicken-specific signaling pathways and gradually analogous gene expression via ZGA. These findings provide a genome-wide understanding of avian embryogenesis and comparisons among amniotes.