If a parrot lays a clutch of eggs and they don’t hatch, the birds likely didn’t breed, so 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. This is often caused by an inappropriate or unsanitary nesting environment, physical damage to the egg, or abandonment by the maternal parrot.
Laying eggs takes a significant physical toll on a female parrot (the hen), so ensure she has a balanced and nutritious diet, with a particular focus on calcium.
If you’re not actively breeding male and female parrots, deter the laying of unfertilized eggs.
Why Do Parrots Eggs Fail to Hatch?
Some parrots’ eggs were never meant to hatch as they were never fertilized.
As a result, there was never an embryo within the egg. If you bred a male and female, and this was the result, one of both birds may be infertile.
Mating doesn’t always result in healthy chicks. Embryo mortality (the death of a bird within an egg before it hatches) can arise, especially when the eggs aren’t appropriately cared for.
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, as 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, and keep her out of dark, enclosed spaces.
- Avoid interaction with other birds. A male can lead to egg-laying even if two parrots don’t mate.
- Be careful where you pet a parrot. Move away if she shows signs of stimulation during petting by lifting the tail and rubbing the vent against you. Focus any petting on the head, beak, and feet.
- Remove any toys from a 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?
If the parrot hasn’t interacted with a male, her eggs won’t be fertilized.
Parrots can’t reproduce asexually. However, if you want to be certain, 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 moment or two.
The name stems from using candlelight when no other light source was available. Today, you 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 sit on the eggs for 2-4 weeks until they should hatch.
Don’t attempt to remove unfertilized eggs the parrot is sitting on, as she may grow aggressive and protective. Wait for her to abandon the eggs.
Don’t provide a nesting box, as 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, as it’ll go 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 the conclusion of the hatching process.
Embryo mortality within days of egg laying is often due to a lack of warmth for the egg(s) or inappropriate nesting surroundings that lead to a fatal bacterial infection.
If the embryos survive these early days, they usually 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 by itself. 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 combated by putting small amounts of water onto each egg with a syringe.
Here are the most common reasons for embryo mortality in parrots:
Poor Nesting Conditions
The condition and maintenance of a nesting box are vital to ensuring the hatching of healthy eggs. Ensure the nesting box is kept clean and devoid of bacteria, as well as remaining level on the ground.
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 an appropriate size.
Neglect of Eggs
Some parrots neglect their eggs, leading to embryo mortality as the eggs are not warm enough.
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 this incubator to 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, especially by humans.
This is one of the reasons birds sit on their eggs – to protect them from external forces. Only intervene and handle eggs if the hen neglects them.
If you handle the eggs without wearing gloves, you may inadvertently cause bacterial contamination. This can spread, infecting the entire clutch if they’re nearby.
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 an influence.
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, as birds experience grief following the bereavement of bonded mates or owners.
However, many parrots will 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 as the chicks lack strength.
Calcium is the most important 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.
Offer extra calcium to gravid females by putting a cuttlefish bone in the cage.
Once the parrot is ready to start laying eggs, provide optimal conditions for her to do so. That involves providing a clean environment devoid of stress and outside distractions.
It’s always sad when a parrot’s eggs fail to hatch, but there are plausible explanations.