Single Parrots and Egg Laying

I had a call on my answering machine when I got home today:  “Hey, ummm, STANLEY just laid an egg. (laughter) One of us is really confused.”  That really made me laugh.  I clearly remember the day that my Henry laid a clutch of two.  Sometimes this is how we find the true gender of our parrots.  It’s that time of year.  The bird talk boards have egg laying posts all over them.  Someone I know just had to have what she called “the mother of all eggs” surgically removed from her cockatoo.  It was HUGE!

The question that most commonly comes up is: how can a “single” parrot produce an egg? Egg production is not the consequence of mating. A female parrot will produce an egg because her body reacts to certain stimulus that tells her it is time to do so.  In the wild, things like change of season, increased daylight hours and more availability to certain foods signal the breeding season. 

In our homes, our parrots react to the same stimuli. The way that we physically handle them and even a bath (reminiscent of spring rainfall) can bring on the hormones which can result in egg laying.  These eggs will not be viable, as there was no fertilization by a male, and will not produce babies.

So your parrot has laid an egg, now what do you do?

If yours is a single female parrot, and there is no chance that this is a viable egg, let her keep it (or them) for a few days.  She may choose to incubate and turn it, like a doting mom, and might lose her interest after a while, and if she doesn’t, take it away from her in her absence.  Removing the egg immediately will only serve to cause her to lay more to replace it instinctually, which can lead to health problems.  Some choose to remove the eggs right away and replace them with similar sized pebbles or plastic eggs.  Strangely, they often don’t seem to notice and continue to incubate them.

The shell of an egg is made primarily of calcium that comes directly from calcium stores in the female’s body.  Their bones and muscles provide almost all of the calcium needed to produce the shell.  Excessive or chronic egg laying can profoundly deplete the body’s calcium (hypocalcemia) causing improper body function.  Hypocalcemia can lead to egg binding, where the uterine muscles do not expel the egg .  It can also cause seizures and brittle, easily fractured bones.

Egg binding can be the result of a number of things including obesity, large or poorly formed eggs, bad diet, even bad genes, and it requires immediate vet attention. This is not uncommon with cockatiels, lovebirds and budgies.  Signs of egg binding might be lethargy, sitting at the bottom of the cage, large or excessive droppings or none at all, straining, standing/perching with the legs further apart than is normal or a swollen vent area.  Often the vet can “coax” the bird along with the aid of warmth, a lubricant, and  the injection of fluids, calcium, antibiotic and steroids. 

Sometimes the egg can be palpated out (only by your vet), being very careful not to break the shell.  Sometimes, depending on the location of the egg,  a needle is used to extract the contents of the egg, and the shell is crushed so it can be passed.  If the egg breaks, or breaks down inside the abdomen, it can lead to a serious inflammation called egg  yolk peritonitis, which is life threatening.  These are all very good reasons NOT to let your parrot overproduce eggs.

If your parrot is laying eggs, excessively or otherwise, there are environmental changes you can make to deter her.  Keep her away from  dark enclosed areas that can be perceived as nesting spots.  Limit her daylight hours to 8 – 10 per day.  Avoid warm, mushy foods like mashes.  Bathe her less frequently. 

Be careful to touch her around the head and neck only, and if she has a favorite toy that she is behaving sexually with, remove it.  Be mindful of her diet.  If she is laying excessively, and until you get it under control, she needs nutrients to handle the task.  An all seed diet will not provide her with the calcium she will be needing.  If these methods don’t work your vet might choose to administer hormones.

A bird laying an egg is the most natural thing in the world, and as long as your bird is healthy, it isn’t a cause for concern.  It’s just one more of the many incredible things they do.

Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.

14 comments

Ana

My Senegal we had since 1990 at 8 months. She’s been laying eggs for months now. 🙃

Ana
Sandy

HELP – - My husband hand raised a beautiful female Blue and Gold McCaw. He loved his bird her name is Sunny blue. She’s verbal and full of tricks. And somewhat needy…, But what do you do when your spouse dies you begin to care for thier beloved pet. I am not as good as my husband was, but… She is now 21 and for the 1st time she just laid over the span of a week 4eggs, Sunny has a large cage and it’s in the corner of my bedroom near my windows. She also has a large stand in the living room and I take her to her stand 1st thing in morning snd back to get cage toward last thing at nite. But 1nite 2weeks ago ..Sunny walks on floor some but does not fly…… she suddenly flew more of a large Jump into my bed and begin to lay eggs. She took very suddenly a blue blanket I had on My bed it and that became her nest in the next morning, So Need suggestions on what to I do and begin to read everything I can Soooo basically I am willing to read everybody’s advice : Here is a few of my questions ❤️ Do I leave her be, she has stayed in my bed now for two weeks I can pick her up and take her to her cage and she’ll go to bathroom there, but refuses to eat and drink so I have now brought her food and water to her nest site ( Does not Worry me) But my question for anybody reading this how long do I leave her in my bed she is eating but it’s minimal she looks exhausted she falls asleep with her big down on my bed because she’s got the four eggs underneath her and you know she’s got to be miserable trying to spread her tiny little legs around all four eggs to keep them warm. If the eggs were fertile she would end up being a good mom but of course they’re not …she does not have a mate and has never had a mate. I can get her to take a bite or two of table food IE: bite of bread . But what is concerning me is her continuous biting into this blanket and now has probably a zillion holes in it but I’m thinking that the blanket is helping her posture over these eggs. So here’s my questions nutrition, nesting, and how long do I wait before I take the eggs away. When I move her to her cage to go to the bathroom or to stretch she has got her eyes on that clutch of eggs like she just knows I’m gonna go and get them And I have yet to touch them and 2 days ago I Introduced her to a couple of plastic eggs that she has kicked away.but she does allow them to stay in her Blanket -Nest .Any Help – Suggestions etc I will take and try to apply. Thank you All

Sandy
Amy

My African Grey Parrot has laid 3 eggs within the last week or two. I’m starting to get worried about her. Of course she doesn’t have a mate. This is the first year since I’ve had her that she’s producing eggs. I got her some protein and calcium included bird food. I haven’t taken the eggs out yet because it says on the internet that will only make her to want to produce more. Should I contact my vet and see what he says?

Amy
Lori

I have a 29 year old Meyers, Dickens, it was my mom’s parrot and I took him 2 years ago when she went to memory care. Their lifespan is average 25, so he is elderly. ‘HE’ just laid two eggs for the first time ever! Is this normal for a parrot that old?

Lori
Amy

My Sun Conure Petrie was a bird that we adopted from a friend because they got annoyed and she kept tearing up their pictures. I know that she likes tearing things apart, it’s enjoyable to her. She’s been laying eggs for 3 years now. I have also noticed that she has a rope ball that she’s enjoying way too much so I’m going to remove it. I’m going to change her diet also, she looks very small compared to others like her. I can tell when I hold her that she has an egg inside. I hope I don’t traumatize her too much when I take her ball away. Should we never give it back or yes we can.?? I’ve got results and knowledge from watching you guys. Thank you🙂

Amy
Linda

Hi, our female parrot is 5/6 yrs old, she laid a egg which broke at bottom of cage, she laid another on couple days later which broke, since then she kept sitting on her feeding pot with head down & tail up, after a few days we removed feeding pot when not feeding as we wondered if she thought she needed to lay like phantom, its been a week now sometimes she seems ok other times sits down on her feet on her on perch instead of up on her legs or she sits with her body down on bottom of cage with head low, we have been taking her out of cage to try & break this situation, we have been able to handle & interact with her before but now she has pecked a few times when we go to handle her, completely out of character, would be grateful for any advise how to deal with this situation, she ( paris ) shares a cage with a male ( harry )

Linda
Jennifer

My blue/gold macaw just turned 21 in February and tonight she laid #64. 63 was 2 days ago. 2 months before she did the same thing , but 2 1/2 weeks after eggs 62&63 were laid, she literally threw them off the perch with a couple of high-yah karate kicks! Now 1 month later, 2 eggs. Is there holistic remedies I can give her, I really don’t want to resort to shots. But I can’t lose my Jazzmen!! ANY ADVICE WILL HELP!! THANK YOU!

Jennifer
Jefferson

We had two green and red amazon parrot. We are trying to let them to mate and lay eggs but still no signs of seeing them doing it. What’s the problems? How to help them lay more eggs? Is it due to environment? Need to make a nest box for them? What kind of wood is suitable? We put a metal box in the cage. Sometime the red female amazon parrot goes in to sit. Is it due to too exposed in the cage and they don’t lay eggs or mating as well? We are confused. Haha.

Jefferson
Alli Lara

I’m babysitting an African Grey, she’s laid 3 eggs over the course of about a month and a half. I removed the first two a few days after she laid them. This one I will also leave for a few days. I’m nervous because I don’t know if this is normal. There is no male the eggs are not fertile. I don’t want her to get egg bound from trying to produce another one, or anything. She gets a balanced diet, with vitamins. She has a mineral block, and gets fruits and veggies on a daily basis.

Alli Lara
Sazia Farouk

My macaw laid an egg. I’ve had her for five years now. Three days later laid another one. I don’t know what to do. Will these eggs hatch. Can I use incubator to hatch them? Do the eggs need to be fertilized?

Sazia Farouk
phyllis

My african grey has been not talking as much last week. will to my surprise there was an egg in her cage the other morning. it has been 3 days since she laid the egg. she is no talking as much, is this normal? i am not breeding. her egg was not fertilized.

phyllis
Sara

Hello, I have a pair of cockatiels that “mate” but never fertilize the eggs (to my relief). The thing is that the female is laying an abnormal amount of eggs this year, 10 so far, and I am concerned about her calcium levels. They eat all natural parrot pellets, but should I put an extra source of calcium? And if so, which one?

Sara
Vi

I had experence with my conoure,she is in her 2yr of egg laying. The vet told me that,I should leave the egg in for a short period. If you don’t she’ll never leave her nest to eat,as long as she’s sitting on her egg. I was told on line,by experts,when I first got her that the egg laying wouldn’t start,until she’s 5yrs,she is 3. I give her calcium in her water,while she’s laying.

Vi
Patty

Hi Vi, Yeah, the experts…my experience is that there are none really. Science is always learning new and surprising things about parrots, and we are as owners as well. From the info you’ve given, your conure started producing eggs at around one. It is early, but certainly not unheard of. Jamieleigh has a larger parrot that is showing VERY early signs of sexual maturity. It happens. I agree with your vet that you should leave the eggs in the nest for a little while, but only because you don’t want her clutching again for health reasons. With regards to the bird not leaving the nest to eat while she’s on an egg, don’t worry about it. Think of it this way: humans are the only species that mate for pleasure, the rest of the animal kingdom does it instinctually for the continuance of the species. A mother bird also knows instinctually how long she can leave the eggs before it will cool down to a critical level. She also knows that if she is dead from starvation the chicks will not survive. She will find a way to sustain herself for the lives of the chicks. You may not see it, but she’s eating. Patty

Patty

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