Last Updated on: 1st October 2023, 08:25 am
If a parrot lays a clutch of eggs that don’t hatch, the birds likely didn’t breed. The eggs are unfertilized. Lone female parrots in captivity sometimes lay unfertile eggs due to hormonal triggers.
If you actively sought to breed two parrots and the eggs haven’t hatched, shine a small flashlight on an egg or use an egg candler. This will reveal if an embryo is growing inside the egg.
Some parrots’ eggs don’t hatch due to embryo mortality, which happens when the chick dies before it can grow strong enough to hatch. Embryo mortality can be due to an inappropriate or unsanitary nesting environment, damage to the egg, or parental abandonment.
Laying eggs takes a toll on a female parrot (the hen), so ensure she’s fed a balanced and nutritious diet, with a particular focus on calcium.
If you’re not actively breeding male and female parrots, do your best to deter egg-laying.
Why Do Parrots Eggs Fail to Hatch?
Some parrots’ eggs were never intended to hatch because they weren’t fertilized.
Consequently, there was never an embryo within the egg. If you bred a male and female, and this was the result, one of both parrots may be infertile.
Mating doesn’t always result in healthy chicks. Embryo mortality (the bird’s death within the egg before it hatches) can arise. This is most common when the eggs aren’t cared for appropriately.
Lack of Fertilization
Sometimes, captive female parrots lay unfertilized eggs without a male. This should be discouraged because her health will suffer if she lays too many clutches.
Female parrots are likeliest to lay unfertilized eggs in the spring because this is the breeding season for parrots. As the days grow longer and warmer, parrots experience hormonal shifts.
To discourage egg laying at this time, follow these steps:
- Cover the cage and keep the room quiet. The more light, the likelier a female is to lay eggs.
- Remove anything that could be used as a nesting box. Also, keep her out of dark, enclosed spaces.
- Avoid interaction with other birds. A male can lead to egg-laying even if there’s no mating.
- Be careful where you pet parrots. Move away if the female shows signs of stimulation during petting by lifting the tail and rubbing her vent against you. Focus on petting the head, beak, and feet.
- Remove toys from the cage that the parrot uses to simulate mating.
If this isn’t effective, relocate the cage to a different part of the home and rearrange the contents.
How Can I Tell if Parrots Eggs Are Fertilized?
The eggs will be unfertilized if a female parrot hasn’t mated with a male.
Parrots can’t reproduce asexually. However, if you want to be confident, the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery recommends ‘candling’ to determine the presence of an embryo.
Candling involves holding a bright light against an egg for a few moments.
The name stems from using candlelight when no other light source was available. Today, you can use a small flashlight or an egg candler.
Focus the light on the bottom of the egg. If an embryo is visible, you’ll see a dark mass. Over time, blood vessels will form and become increasingly prevalent. Then, return the egg to the nesting box.
If the light is bright and there’s no sign of a shadow, the egg is unfertilized and can be thrown away.
Will a Parrot Sit on Unfertilized Eggs?
Often, a parrot can tell the difference between a fertilized and unfertilized egg and will ignore the latter. Some parrots instinctively continue to incubate their eggs for 2-4 weeks until they should hatch.
Don’t attempt to remove unfertilized eggs the parrot is sitting on because she may grow hostile and protective. Wait for her to abandon the eggs. voluntarily
Don’t provide a nesting box because this will encourage her to continue laying unfertilized eggs.
What To Do with Infertile Parrot Eggs
Remove unhatched eggs as soon as the parrot allows you to do so. Once the parrot loses interest in the eggs, throw them away.
Don’t leave an unhatched parrot egg in a cage for longer than 4 weeks because it’ll turn bad.
If the parrot’s eggs were fertilized but failed to hatch, the cause is embryo mortality.
This means the chick died before it could fully develop and hatch. Most embryo mortality occurs at the onset or conclusion of the hatching process.
Embryo mortality within days of egg laying is often due to a lack of warmth (incubation) for the egg(s) or inappropriate nesting surroundings that lead to a fatal bacterial infection.
If the embryos survive the initial days, they’ll likely grow and develop healthily. As the hatching date approaches, the embryo will once again become vulnerable.
The chick inside the egg will have a fully developed chorioallantois. The chorioallantois is a parrot’s equivalent of a placenta, delivering air to the embryo.
Toward the conclusion of incubation, the chick must start breathing oxygen independently. It achieves this by making a small hole in the egg and breathing through it, which is why you can sometimes hear vocalization from an unhatched egg.
The chick needs an appropriate temperature and humidity during these final stages of hatching. The chick will dehydrate if the nesting box is too warm and arid.
This can be prevented by adding small amounts of water to each egg with a syringe.
Here are the most common reasons for embryo mortality in parrots:
Poor Nesting Conditions
The condition/maintenance of a nesting box is vital to ensuring the hatching of healthy eggs. Ensure the nesting box is on level ground and remains clean (bacteria-free).
A titled nesting box can cause eggs to fall and crack, killing the embryos. In addition to checking the shape of the nesting box, ensure it’s of an appropriate size.
Neglect of Eggs
Some parrots neglect their eggs, leading to embryo mortality as the eggs are unincubated.
This is common in first-time egg layers, who are inexperienced and don’t understand their role. Most parrots learn to care for their eggs appropriately as they gain experience and maturity.
Some parrots also neglect eggs if they’re deemed defective. If the eggs are unviable, the embryos will likely develop into chicks with genetic abnormalities that wouldn’t survive.
External stressors can also cause a parrot to neglect her eggs. Ensure the parrot is kept calm and relaxed immediately after laying her eggs.
Consider an incubator for parrot eggs to minimize this risk. Set the incubator at a temperature of 99OF, and periodically mist the eggs to increase humidity and prevent dehydration.
Mishandling of Eggs
Eggs must be handled with care before hatching. This is why birds sit on their eggs – to protect them from external forces. Only intervene and handle eggs if the hen neglects them.
If you handle eggs without wearing gloves, you may inadvertently cause bacterial contamination. This can spread, infecting the entire clutch.
Shaking and jarring of eggs can also cause fatal harm to the embryos. Ensure that a parrot’s nesting box is in a secure location where external forces aren’t a factor.
Do Parrots Know If Their Eggs Are Dead?
As with unfertilized eggs, most birds can distinguish between dead and living embryos. If one embryo dies, the hen may reject the clutch and start over anew, fearing the other eggs will be impacted.
You may find the parrot’s behavior changes after the death of an egg because birds experience grief following the bereavement of bonded mates or owners.
However, many parrots take a more pragmatic approach to the demise of their unborn.
How Can I Help My Parrot Lay Healthy Eggs?
As Animal Nutrition explains, the quality of the laying parrot’s diet will impact her eggs.
If the parrot isn’t fed appropriately before laying, she may become egg-bound (called dystocia) or infertile, or the eggs may not hatch because the chicks are weak.
Calcium is the most essential nutrient for any egg-laying female parrot. A calcium deficiency in parrots could lead to infertility, or if eggs are laid, the shells will be too weak and become compromised.
Once the parrot is ready to start laying eggs, provide optimal conditions for her. That involves providing a clean environment devoid of stress and external distractions.