To remain agile, female parrots have just one active ovary, which will release eggs under the right conditions. Indeed, breeding is taxing for parrots, so they’ll only lay eggs when the conditions are right.
Small parrots like Budgies and Cockatiels start laying at around 1 year old, whereas larger parrots like Amazons and African Greys start laying at 2-3 years old. Small parrots lay between 4 and 8 eggs per clutch, and their babies grow up fast, whereas large parrots lay only 2-4 per clutch.
Occasionally, parrots can lay eggs even earlier (6 months) and may also lay eggs into old age (20 years+). Both extremes can be dangerous, so you might need to dissuade your parrot from laying eggs.
What Age Do Female Parrots Lay Eggs?
The age at which a parrot lays her first eggs depends on the type of parrot she is.
For larger parrots like macaws and African greys, egg-laying starts between 2 and 5 years old. However, egg-laying starts at around one year old for parakeets like budgies.
Parrots can sometimes lay eggs earlier than the times mentioned below, but this should be discouraged as the parrot might not have reached full maturity.
The table below shows when different types of female parrots should start and stop laying eggs. It also shows the approximate size of the clutch, who incubates the eggs, and how long the hatchlings stay in the nest.
|Breed||Age they can start laying||Age they should stop laying||How often||Size of clutch||Who incubates?||Time chicks spend in the nest|
|Amazons||2-3 years||10 years||Once a year||2-5||Female only||Up to 2 months|
|Blue and Gold Macaws||5 years||12-15 years||Once a year||2-3||Female only||3 months|
|African Grey Parrot||2-3 years||10 years||1-2 times per year||2-5||Female only||2 – 3 months|
|Cockatoo||3 years||10-12 years||Once a year||2||Male and Female||2 months|
|Cockatiel||1 year||8 years||1-2 times per year||4-6||Male and Female||6 weeks|
|Budgie||1 year||4 years||2-3 times per year||4-8||Female only||4 – 5 weeks|
What Age Do Parrots Stop Laying Eggs?
This is a tricky question because parrots can technically keep laying eggs into very old age.
According to Science Direct, this shouldn’t be encouraged because older parrots are likelier to suffer complications from laying eggs.
Neotropical parrots like macaws and amazons should stop laying eggs around age 15 and 10, respectively.
Smaller birds like cockatiels should stop laying at about 8, and budgies much earlier, at about 4 years old. This makes sense as the smaller parrots tend to have shorter life spans. They also have bigger and more frequent clutches throughout their mating life, which can take its toll on their bodies.
How Many Eggs Does a Parrot Lay at One Time?
Again, the size of the clutch depends on the breed as well as the health status of your parrot.
Small parrots like budgies and cockatiels will have quite large clutches (4-8), whereas larger parrots have smaller clutches (2-3).
This is reflected in the time it takes to rear hatchlings – budgie and cockatiel hatchlings are out of the nest quite quickly (in 4 to 6 weeks), so it makes sense that these parrot parents could handle a large brood of 4-8 chicks.
Blue and Gold macaws stay in the nest for three long months, so they only lay 2 per clutch.
How Many Eggs Can a Parrot Lay at One Time?
Parrots don’t lay their clutch all at once. Usually, eggs are laid over days or even weeks.
According to Omelet, budgies take about 10 days to lay all their eggs (usually about 4-8). This can leave the last egg vulnerable to trampling, as it will hatch last and therefore be weakest.
It would be unusual for a parrot to lay more than one egg per day (while laying her clutch), but it might occasionally happen.
How Often Do Parrots Lay Eggs?
In the wild, most parrot breeds will lay a clutch of eggs once per year during the breeding season. The exceptions are budgies, cockatiels, or small Psittacine birds who may have multiple clutches yearly.
In the wild, African grey Parrots would lay eggs once per year, but it’s usually okay to let them breed twice per year in captivity.
According to Wiley, if your parrot is laying eggs more frequently than this, it could signal a metabolic or hormonal disorder. In this case, you should see a vet for advice.
Can Male Parrots Lay Eggs?
No, male parrots can’t lay eggs. If you’ve seen your male lay eggs, your “male” is a female. Interestingly, male and female cockatoos/cockatiels share incubation duties, but the female lays the eggs.
Parrot Egg-Laying Behavior
Parrot egg-laying behavior is fascinating and one of the reasons people love to breed parrots at home. Learning the ins and outs of egg-laying behavior can help make the breeding process much smoother.
What Stimulates Egg-Laying Behavior?
Parrots have a streamlined reproductive system that keeps them lean and can fly for hours.
For example, the female has only one active ovary (the left side), and the reproductive gonads remain inactive until breeding season.
When breeding season arrives, this signals to the parrot that it could be time to lay eggs.
There are factors in the environment that specifically cause the female parrot’s HPG Axis to release reproductive hormones that initiate egg production.
According to Zoo Biology, these factors include:
- Rainfall and plentiful water – most significant for budgies, cockatiels, and small Psittacine as they’re from water-deprived regions.
- Plentiful food (including fruit).
- Stroking – especially on the tail region.
- Interacting with a “mate.”
- When spring arrives (breeding season) or sunlight hours mimic spring.
Perhaps the strongest factor that stimulates egg production is when the female finds, excavated, and prepares a nest. “making a home” releases hormones that prepare the female for egg-laying.
Can Egg-Laying Be Stopped in Parrots?
Egg-laying can be discouraged in parrots, whether your parrot is very young, very old, or has a serious health problem.
It’s not always possible to stop egg production. For example, it is not unheard of for a female macaw to randomly lay eggs when she’s 20 years old. That said, it’s possible to discourage egg-laying.
Egg-laying should be discouraged in parrots with a calcium deficiency (or poor diet), as they are likely to suffer from egg binding (dystocia).
How To Discourage Egg-Laying in Parrots
Environmental conditions stimulate egg production, so the reverse is probably also true. In other words, when resources are scarce, parrots are less likely to lay eggs.
You can tweak your parrot’s environment/care slightly to discourage egg production:
Avoid Petting Near the Tail
When petting your parrot, stick to petting its head only. You’re more likely to activate the HPG Axis if you pet its tail.
Don’t Provide Paper or Cardboard
Your parrot may try to make a nest with anything that can be shredded; making a nest is the number one trigger for laying eggs.
Ensure everyone in the household is involved in your parrot’s care. This will discourage her from choosing a “mate” (favorite) and then laying eggs.
Separate Pairs Who’ve Already Mated
According to the Zoo Biology study (mentioned above), once parrots have mated once, they are much more likely to mate again, regardless of whether the conditions are optimal.
For this reason, you’ll need to separate bonded pairs if you don’t want them to keep breeding.
How to Encourage Healthy Egg-Laying in Parrots
If you want your parrot to lay eggs, remember to be patient. It can take a female parrot up to 50 days to lay eggs after she’s found a suitable nesting spot.
In addition to a safe “home,” a female parrot will want to be free of stress before she lays her eggs.
Research from NCBI has shown that when a mother’s corticosterone (stress) levels are higher, her eggs are lower quality, and her babies are more likely to have defects.
Giving your parrot high-quality, calcium-rich food, water, and sunlight (vitamin D) will make her feel more relaxed and less stressed, boosting her chances of egg production and making her eggs healthier.