Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman
Hello, I am in a bit of a situation and I’m hoping that you can help me. I have had three parakeets for almost 6 years now.
Recently one of the birds has started to lay eggs. At first we were excited, we didn’t think they would actually lay eggs since we have had them for so long.
Alex laid 6 eggs of which only 3 made it. So we now have 6 parakeets. She then laid more eggs, and we now have 8 birds.
We have had to buy another big cage so they would not be cramped and we hoped that they would not lay any more eggs because we don’t have any more space.
However now, we currently have 18 eggs! Alex layed 11 eggs and one of the birds that she hatched also laid another 7 eggs in the other cage where we separated them.
At this point we are a bit overwhelmed. So after the eggs hatch we don’t want them to lay any more eggs. We have family who are willing to take in some of the baby birds who will hatch.
Is there any way to prevent the birds from laying more eggs. We had thought that we had separated the girl and boy birds but I guess we didn’t do it right.
Is there any sure way to tell if it’s a male or female bird? We love our birds but there are too many! Any help or advice is appreciated!!
Generally speaking male budgies have a blue cere (nose/nostrils) – females have a brown,pink or white cere.
Alex’s chronic reproduction is causing a lot of drain on her body. Please make sure she is getting a calcium supplement either in her water and/or her food.
She needs at least one cuttlebone that she can draw calcium from.
In order to stop her excessive egg-laying you need to segregate her in a separate cage and put a full spectrum light over the cage.
The light needs to stay on from between 72 to 168 hours. She must remain in the cage for the entire period. You can wrap the sides of the cage at nighttime and uncover it during the day but she must be directly under the light for that extended period of time.
This is where we start to break down her circadian rhythm tricking her body to stop laying eggs.
Her food dish should only have a little food during the day enough to feed her comfortably but at night remove the dish so she has no food.
If a bird thinks that food is abundant they think that they have plenty of food to feed babies. Always keep plenty of fresh water available.
Remove anything from the cage that could be a brooding trigger like nesting material, sleep sacks, huts and so forth.
Lastly if you don’t want any more babies pull the eggs immediately after they are laid and discard so as not to remind the bird that she is about to become a mom.
Now that we have put the cart before the horse I like to back up a bit and talk about budgie breeding basics (say that five times fast)
Typically hens lay 4 to 8 eggs approximately every two days and each egg requires about 18 days of incubation although sometimes a little longer.
If an egg is unhatched after 23 days chances are you’ll not see a chick from that egg.
As you found out, beyond the sixth egg a chick can be trampled by older siblings that have already begun to grow.
I’ts important to watch for chicks laying on their own legs possibly causing a condition called “splayed leg”
This can damage the young chicks and in a best-case scenario any chicks over the number six can be given to a foster mom to keep them safe from being crushed by older larger brothers and sisters.
Budgies are usually pretty good parents and will be happy to take on fostering duties.
The chick having the original eggs will still be territorial in her nest box but probably won’t count the eggs nor register the loss in her mind. Then get rid of the nest box.
Hope that helps
How do I stop my Lineolated parakeet from laying eggs?
My name is Janyce F. I’ve bought food for my Lineolated Parakeet (Lulu) from you and I look forward to receiving your Sunday Birdie Brunch email every week. I am a first time bird owner and I need some direction.
Lulu is almost 10 months old, my only bird and she started laying eggs today! I put a fleece tent in her cage for the winter so she would have some place warm to hang out and sleep.
The past few days she has spent a lot of time in her “house” rearranging and making new little squeaking noises. My husband said she was just “housekeeping”.
I thought so too until it seemed to be quite obsessive and then I realized she was probably nesting. I’m at a loss as to what to do.
I’ve searched all evening for information but everything I found was related to breeding pairs, not a single bird laying unfertilized eggs.
Is this normal bird behavior? Do I need to remove the eggs? Will she continue to lay eggs?
Do I need to be giving her vitamins and feeding her something other than her regular food? Do I need to remove the fleece tent from her cage? I’m really scared that she might become egg-bound! Any advice you could give me would be most appreciated!
- No heavy petting (nothing below the neck)
- No beaking (rubbing the beak between your fingers)
- No shreddable toys (used for making nesting material)
- Calcium (added to food or water)
- Rearrange everything in the cage
- No boxes, sleep tents or huts ( like nests)
- Pull any eggs that have been laid and discard
- Use full-spectrum lighting on top of the cage with a timer
The light needs to stay on from between 72 to 168 hours. She must remain in the cage for the entire period.
You can cover the cage at nighttime and uncover it during the day but she must be directly under the light for that extended period of time.
It’s also a good idea not to try to “kiss” your bird during this hormonal time, as they may lash out inadvertently hurting you.
Watch the bird when you reach in its cage to do any maintenance or feeding, as they may be territorial and react.
Further the fleece tent likely made it just too comfortable for her and she did what nature planned. She is trying to start a family.
Without a male however, it is a wasted plan. Female budgies and captive birds in general do not need to have birdie sex in order to lay eggs as you have found out.
The hut has to go.
Mitch. I have a question. My female Jenday conure, each year when it is time to nest, she pulls her feathers out on her legs, back and under her wings.
I have two, a male and female. Brother and sister.
They don’t mate but the female lays eggs each year. They will be 15 in July. I have paper in the bottom of the cage (they sleep in separate cages) and they tear up the paper.
I tried taking it out but it causes the female to pull more feathers. Any suggestions?
Thanks, Sarah A
Having two birds of opposite sex together or even next to each other can still contribute to egg-laying behavior. They don’t care that they are siblings. Given the chance, they could very easily mate.
The male nearby is definitely causing your hen to go through these brooding type actions.
To prevent possible severe feather destruction, leave the paper in the cage as an alternative.
Perhaps put up a visual separator so the hen can’t see the male and proceed to follow the steps outlined above.
Mitch. My Jenday who will be 16 July 1st just laid her second clutch of eggs since April.
They aren’t fertile but the pet store I take them to for wing and nail trims said her eggs should not be round, that they should be more pointed on one end. Should I take her to the vet for this or is it ok…Thanks, Sarah
Do the eggs appear thinner shelled than normal? You might not be able to tell until she abandons them.
Remove all bedding materials and rearrange her cage some, with new toys and fun treats to find, just not shreddable toys which can act as nesting material
That your conures eggs are more round than oval is not a problem. You will want to uptake her calcium.
Are you making sure not to give her any nests or bedding materials in general?
Are you keeping the light on longer? It should be set to be on 12 hours light and off 12 so to avoid dark places for brooding behavior.
Also no petting from the neck down. Only pet her from the neck up, she will love all the scritches just placed on the head.
If it happens again soon, you may want to try the extended light treatment. The bird stays in her cage under bright light for 72 to 168 continuous hours.
This breaks their circadian rhythm and they may lose all interest in mating, laying, masturbating. They are fine afterward. It worked for our cockatiel after a couple years of increased egg-laying.
You can take her to the vet, but I doubt they will do more than suggest expensive lupron shots which probably does more harm than good.
I hope some of this helps.
Q – What do I do when my one and only lovebird laid eggs?
The first thing we want to do the is remove the eggs begining to get her out of brooding mode.
Leaving the eggs in the cage signals that now is the time to have babies She will remain in the brooding mode something we want her to get out of for her own health.
We want to remove anything that could represent a nesting area be it a tent a box or any area that is dark and can be interpreted by your bird as a good place to have babies (think hallowed out tree)
We want to get the bird under artificial light no higher than 6 inches above the cage in place in a timer providing 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.
Make sure bowls of food are no more than a third full as plentiful food is another signal that now is a good time to have a baby.
Lots of forging and enrichment toys to keep her mind off of egg production.
Supplement with calcium be it in powdered form and/or a cuttlebone to help replenish calcium loss.
A good commercial bird food preferably a fruit and pellet mix to ensure she gets the proper amount of protein.
A small bird like a lovebird can have upwards of 3000 to 4000 feathers. Feathers are built from amino acids which are derived from protein.
A gestating bird burns more protein and should this occur during a molt, protein needs can be increased by as much as 30% or more.
However, once a molt kicks in the breeding activity should stop.
That would be a good start, if she lays another clutch in the near future we’ll talk about light therapy to shut down her circadian rhythms that are misinforming her about when breed.
Hope that helps
The Incredible Egg
Dr. Greg Burkett, Diplomate ABVP in Avian Practice
Consider the egg, simple and elegant; perfect. But, is it so simple? I say, no. The egg is a complex structure with an interesting physiology. Consider the largest single cell, encased in a hard protective shell; self-contained and filled with everything it needs to develop into the beauty of nature we call a bird.
Consider the complexity. The shell of an egg is what everyone relates to when discussing eggs. It is elegant with a smooth texture, and even slick. This coating you feel is the cuticle.
It is actually a layer of dried mucoid secretions. The cuticle helps to protect the calcified shell underneath and helps to control movement of water across the shell. Consider the strength, yet fragility of the shell. On end, the egg is said to be able to support the weight of the world; but on its side, it easily is crushed.
Consider the shell. This remarkable structure is made up of three separate layers. One layer contains fibers to strengthen the shell. Another layer is a matrix of columns to give rigidity, yet allow the shell to be porous and permeable to air and water. Another layer contains the pigment, giving color to the shell.
Lining the interior of the shell are the two shell membranes. The inner and outer shell membranes separate at the large end of the egg to form the air cell. The air cell is the point of exit for the chick, and is filled with its first breath.
These two membranes surround several layers of albumen, which provide protection, hydration, and nutrition to the growing chick. A specialized type of albumen forms a thin membrane surrounding the yolk and yolk membranes, which thickens and twists at the poles of the yolk, then attaches to the poles of the shell. These membranes keep the yolk suspended in the center.
Suspended in the middle of all of albumen, the yolk is where the real business is happening. Consider the yolk. It is rich in fats and protein. There are several different layers and types of yolk material. It is the main source of nutrition for the embryo.
Atop of the yolk sits a germinal disc. It contains cytoplasm and a remnant of nuclear DNA. The germinal disc is the largest single cell and can even be seen with the naked eye.
In a fresh egg, it can be seen on the surface of the yolk as an opaque white spot approximately 3-4mm in diameter. This disc is destined to be the chick if it has been fertilized.
What a need and tidy package the egg is. Consider all of the physiology that must happen for that germinal disc to grow and develop into such a wonder as a bird.