Long embryonic periods are assumed to reflect slower intrinsic development that are thought to trade off to allow enhanced physiological systems, such as immune function. Yet, the relatively rare studies of this trade-off in avian offspring have not found the expected trade-off. Theory and tests have not taken into account the strong extrinsic effects of temperature on embryonic periods of birds. Here, we show that length of the embryonic period did not explain variation in two measures of immune function when temperature was ignored, based on studies of 34 Passerine species in tropical Venezuela (23 species) and north temperate Arizona (11 species). Variation in immune function was explained when embryonic periods were corrected for average embryonic temperature, in order to better estimate intrinsic rates of development. Immune function of offspring trades off with intrinsic rates of embryonic development once the extrinsic effects of embryonic temperatures are taken into account.