Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Help! My Parrot Laid an Egg

A veterinarian once said to me there are two times in birds life when it looks like it is dying. When it is dying and when it is laying an egg. It is no wonder I sometimes get emails from panicked parrot owners when they see their feathered friends “give birth” to an object that seems to be as big as their bird.

Egg laying can be problematic. Therefore if you would prefer your parrot be a companion bird and not a breeder, first be sure to avoid doing things that lead to reproductive behaviors. There is a great article about this in the free sample of the digital publication Good Bird Magazine.

But what do you do if your bird does lay an egg and you have no intentions of adding more parrots to the household? Here are a few tips to help you out.

If your parrot lays an egg, leave it alone for a few days. Watch your bird to see if she shows any interest in the egg. She may ignore it as first. Parrots often take a few days to lay a full clutch of eggs. This can be as many as three eggs. Leaving the egg alone for awhile gives your bird time to lay more if she is going to, and then wait and see if she decides to sit on them. Many parrots will simply ignore the eggs as times passes. If this is the case, go ahead and remove the eggs and throw them away.

However if your bird does show interest in the eggs, you will want to try another strategy. Parrots often show strong aggressive behavior when they have eggs. Wait for a moment when your parrot is not attending her eggs. Remove the eggs and addle them. This means to shake them vigorously. The goal is to break the yolk inside the egg. This will prevent the eggs from hatching if they are fertile. Then put the eggs back. Handling the eggs will not cause your parrot to abandon them. If you know the eggs are not fertile (for example there is no male around) addling is not necessary. Just let your parrot sit on the eggs.

During this time your parrot may stay tight to her eggs most of the time. She may eat and poop infrequently. And when she does eliminate it is usually in large amounts and sometimes smelly (from holding it for long periods of time.)

The reason you do not want to pull the eggs is that this can stimulate your parrot to lay even more eggs. To make the shell of the egg your parrot must pull calcium from other parts of the body. Too much egg laying can cause your parrot to be calcium deficient which can be life threatening for your bird.

Eventually when the eggs do not hatch your parrot will abandon them. Once this happens you are free to pull them and throw them away. It may take several weeks for your bird to give up.

Remember your first line of defense is to prevent egg laying by avoiding doing things that encourage reproductive behavior. Do this and you won’t ever have to worry about your parrot laying an egg. Of course if your parrot is a boy and he lays an egg, you might want to get your money back on your DNA sexing test.

Barbara Heidenreich
Copyright 2011


oceanmock said...

The most important thing to remember is 'Don't Panic". Egg laying is a normal, natural behavior for a female bird.

My umbrella cockatoo hen laid her first egg when she was 10 yrs old. I am not sure who was more surprised - her or me!. She played around with it for a bit, then just ignored it. She has laid a few more times but never seems to show much interest.

I just wait until she ignores it, then remove it. No worries.

keivan said...

Hi ,Barbara.
I can't download your digital magazine offline version.

Barbara Heidenreich said...

Hi there,

Please send a note to with your email and name. He can sort out what might be happening there. Thanks!

Patrick Gracewood said...

I moved from a dark studio into one in the city, at the same time I made a big change in my birds diet. The switch from seeds to a healthier balance of pellets, fresh greens and vegetables (and street lights) led to my macaw being healthy enough to have a cycle. She's now laid three eggs this summer. Every time she starts to act hormonal, I think it would be easier if she went back to seeds, as she is very aggressive to anyone else entering the room. I take her out to put on her play stand but after a short while she is very anxious to return to her cage and egg. Any suggestions?

Patrick Gracewood said...

With diet changes-switched from seeds to pellets, fresh greens and vegs and rice/quinoa mix daily-
my bg macaw now has her cycles back.This summer she's laid three eggs. She's very aggressive to anyone new entering the room.
Is there anyway to short circuit the egglaying once I notice her hormonal behavior? Change her diet back to just seeds seems crazy...but so are entire summers with her on eggs.
Any suggestions

Barbara Heidenreich said...

Hi Patrick
Do read the article in the free sample of Good Bird Magazine. That will help. The link is in the blog post above : )

Anonymous said...

My African Grey laid her first Egg at age 18. We always thought SHE was a BOY I guess I know now.

Bentley Knotts said...

My African Gray (max) laid an egg last week. I guess she is a Maxine and not a Max.I dont know how old Maxine is.

Anonymous said...

our nine year old male (dna) cockatoo just laid an egg. Freaky

Barbara Heidenreich said...

I'd get my money back on that DNA test :)

Tracy D. said...

what ARE the things that encourage/ discourage mating behaviors? my solitary macaw is laying eggs...ty!

Chicago Nick said...

My White capped pionus laid three eggs (one broke). I've let her sit on the two. She's healthy (eats, drinks, poop is normal) but has been on those eggs for nearly three months. Anything that can be done to get her to realize they're never going to hatch? Is this normal? If so I guess I just have to wait to have my little buddy back.

Barbara Heidenreich said...

Since it has been 3 months I would pull them. Also read ther article by Pam Clark at to prevent her from wanting to lay more.

Carolyn Weir said...

My 27 year old Yellow Nape Amazon laid her first virgin egg! Kinda surprised me this morning!