Most species of parrots will not lay eggs unless it’s the breeding season. Even then, most parrots will avoid laying eggs if there is no nest or mate. So, many owners will never see their parrot lay an egg. However, there are times when all other factors are right, and the only thing missing is a male.
A female parrot can lay eggs without a mate. If the female has had no contact with a male before laying the eggs, the eggs will be completely unfertilized. No chicks will be hatched, and the eggs will be disposed of. In the wild, it’s rare for females to lay eggs by themselves. However, pet parrots may develop a habit of laying multiple clutches without a mate.
Laying eggs takes its toll. If your parrot repeatedly lays eggs without intending to reproduce, this can be damaging to its body. If it’s too old, doesn’t have a calcium-rich diet, or is sick, this may be deadly. By making tweaks to their environment and routine, you can stop this behavior.
Can Parrots Lay Eggs Without Mating?
Female parrots are capable of laying eggs with no mate. That’s because egg-production is triggered in females by:
- Warmer temperatures
- Light exposure, specifically for longer than a 10-hour cycle
- Access to nests and nesting materials
- Hormones naturally activated at certain times of the year
That’s just to name a few contributing factors. The most important element will be hormones. These activate the mating instinct in parrots and cause the females to begin developing the eggs within themselves. These hormones can be kicked into action by several factors, and they must coincide, such as:
- Getting touched along their tail and back
- Dancing or interacting with sexually mature parrots
- Being exposed to longer daylight hours
- Tearing apart paper or fabric into nest-appropriate pieces
- Being exposed to more bird calls, according to Scientific Reports
Individually, these factors don’t cause a parrot to lay eggs. Instead, when they all stack up together, or most of them are in place, the parrot misinterprets the signals. Your bird will:
- Think it’s mating season
- Believe there is a large availability of food and nesting materials
- Understand that it’s being courted
All of these elements are necessary to reproduce, so your female parrot will start making eggs. If there is no mate present, that alone may not be enough to discourage the female’s biology. Instead, she will simply make eggs that are not fertilized.
Parrots Laying Eggs Without a Male
Female parrots only create eggs to reproduce. According to Hormones and Behavior, they can even tailor how they care for the eggs based on their weight and the composition of the yolks. However, as mentioned above, sometimes the body gets confused. When this happens, a female will lay eggs whether or not they’re fertilized.
In order for a parrot to form a fertilized egg, sperm needs to travel to the ova through the oviduct tube. From there, the fertilized ovum travels back through the oviduct tube to an area where the outer shell is formed around it. According to Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, once the shell has been formed, the eggs will be more solid than other altricial or semialtricial species. At this point, the parrot will be ready to lay it.
If the sperm isn’t introduced, the egg will still be laid. However, it will not be viable and it will not hatch into a chick.
Do Female Parrots Lay Unfertilized Eggs?
Egg production is a multi-step process. The albumin (egg white) is formed around the ovum to protect it from drying out. Then, in another part of the oviduct tube, the shell membranes start to form.
When the ovum nears the end of the oviduct tube, the shell then forms even more. Just before the vent (which is where the egg is expelled), the bloom is created around the egg. The bloom is a protective layer that:
- Prevents bacteria from entering the shell
- Closes the shell pores
- Helps with moisture retention
This process is distinct from the way that humans reproduce. However, the way eggs are laid, regardless of if they’re fertilized, can be similar to humans. For example, whether an egg is fertilized in a human’s fallopian tube, the egg travels to the uterus. Every month, the walls lining the inside of the uterus thicken up in preparation for a baby. If no egg fertilization occurs, the uterus sheds away its thick lining.
Similarly, a parrot’s shell gland prepares itself for the arrival of a fertilized ovum. If this doesn’t happen, the parrot lays a non-viable egg. The shell is a case formed around the ovum, just in case said ovum is fertilized. However, while most humans with a uterus expel these non-viable eggs every month, female parrots do not. They do not even create the egg unless their body tells them it has a high chance of:
- Being fertilized
- Hatching into a chick
- Surviving once it’s hatched
If the female gets her wires crossed, then the egg will be laid anyhow. The presence of a mate isn’t necessary.
Is It Dangerous For Parrots To Lay Unfertilized Eggs?
Unless you are a breeder, it is recommended that you discourage your female parrot from laying eggs. Even if you like the idea of raising parrots from birth, they are extremely sensitive and difficult to care for.
Many chicks never reach adulthood due to a lack of proper care. You may be great at tending to adult parrots, but it’s far different from raising chicks.
As for owners with single female birds, many complications can arise from egg-laying. Fertilized or not, this can include:
Eggs are made of calcium. When a parrot is forming an egg, it takes this calcium from its own supply to make it.
Egg forming and laying is a highly-taxing process that diminishes a parrot’s nutritional values. When a parrot’s calcium levels are low, it can cause health issues, such as:
- Bone fractures
Egg binding occurs when a parrot is unable to lay an egg that has already been formed internally. If the egg remains inside for long periods of time, it can lead to infection and organ damage. The egg can also potentially break while inside the parrot. The shell shards can scratch the oviduct tube, leading to further infections.
Parrots that lay eggs can become hostile and protective. The caring, lovable bird that would never hurt you won’t hesitate to lunge for your fingers if you dare get close to its egg. This can affect how receptive it is to training. It may even regress to previous behavior issues.
Parrots become hostile after egg-laying because they don’t want anything to happen to the clutch. The stress of having to care for eggs may cause serious behavioral problems aside from just hostility. Lethargy, unwillingness to eat, and feather plucking are all things that result from a parrot getting stressed.
Egg Yolk Peritonitis
Egg yolk peritonitis occurs when the ovum passes through the body cavity instead of the oviduct tube. This happens due to illness or excessive egg-laying. Egg yolk peritonitis may cause the parrot’s abdomen to fill with liquid, as well as cause inflammation.
Excessive egg laying may also cause a stroke. Nutrients that circulate through the bloodstream to help the development of the egg can thicken the blood. Eventually, circulation issues arise.
How To Prevent a Parrot from Laying Eggs
Bringing egg-laying to a stop depends on how many parrots you have and what species they are. It’s also important to understand how often, how many eggs, and when your parrot can potentially lay. Take a look at the following chart:
|Parrot Species||Breeding Periods Per Year||Clutch Size||Gestation Period||Breeding Season|
|African Grey parrots||1-2||5 eggs||30 days||July-January|
|Parakeets (budgies)||1||4-8 eggs||17-20 days||October-March|
|Cockatiels||2||6 eggs||20 days||March-September|
|Cockatoos||1-2||2-3 eggs||29 days||August-January|
|Hyacinth macaws||Every 1 to 2 years||1-4 eggs||24-28 days||November-April|
|Sun conures||2||3-5 eggs||22-28 days||February-June|
|Ringnecks||1||2-4 eggs||23 days||December-February|
If the parrot is single, you can discourage egg-laying by:
Giving The Bird An Early Bedtime
Breeding season is usually during the spring and summer for most parrots. The days are long during that time of year. Trick your parrot’s body into thinking it’s still winter by making it go to bed early in a dark room.
Avoiding Mating Behavior
Parrots form strong attachments to humans. Sometimes, they believe their owners are their mates. Avoid mating behavior, such as touching your parrot anywhere but the top of the head.
If your parrot displays mating behavior, like regurgitating food in front of you, then discourage it. Give your parrot a time-out in its cage until you can train the habit out of it.
Keeping The Parrot In Wide, Open Spaces
For most species, it’s the female’s job to find a suitable nest to lay eggs when it’s breeding season. Most parrots like to lay eggs in enclosed spaces. If your pet finds a nice, cozy spot, that could encourage her to lay eggs.
Keeping The Parrot Away From Toys It “Bonds” With
Parrots get attached to toys and use them as a substitute mate. They often do this when they are sexually frustrated, especially if they’ve confused you as a mate. If you notice your parrot being inappropriate with its toys, remove them until breeding season is over.
Move The Cage Every Once In A While
Parrots dislike change, even if it’s something as simple as their cage being placed in a different spot in the house. The discomfort they feel from this change will discourage egg-laying. They will not want to be vulnerable while uncomfortable.
If you have more than one parrot, you can discourage egg-laying by keeping them separated, at least during the breeding season. Keep them in separate cages and make sure there’s no physical contact between them. Even parrots of the same gender can trigger egg-laying. Don’t think you can keep the birds together just because they are both females.
What Do I Do If My Parrot Laid Eggs?
If your parrot surprised you with an egg, it may even be an accidental good sign. Parrots don’t lay eggs unless conditions are optimal, such as with:
- Good weather
- An abundance of food
- Good health
It usually means your parrot is healthy enough to produce an egg. However, laying eggs has its risks and puts your bird in a weakened state. If you find an egg at the bottom of the bird cage, you should:
Leave The Egg Where It Is
Some species lay multiple eggs per brood. If you remove the egg, there’s a chance that the parrot will not stop laying eggs until it can sit on an entire clutch. If the parrot does not stop after 5 eggs have been laid, call an avian vet. You can remove the eggs once your parrot has lost interest.
Provide Foods Rich In Calcium
As mentioned, egg-producing and laying are extremely hard on a parrot’s body. Make sure to give your parrot extra food during this time. It should be especially rich in calcium, such as with almonds and broccoli.
Monitor Your Parrot’s Health
Keep a close eye on your parrot after all the eggs have been laid. If you think something is wrong, call a vet.
Parrots do lay eggs without a mate. Females only require a male to fertilize the eggs, not to create them. Even if it’s natural, this isn’t behavior to encourage. By arranging its habitat and routine in a way that discourages breeding, it will stop laying eggs.