Last Updated on: 22nd June 2023, 02:09 pm
To remain agile, female parrots have just 1 active ovary, which produces eggs in optimal conditions. Breeding taxes parrots’ bodies, so females lay eggs when they believe the time is right.
Small parrots like budgies and cockatiels start egg-laying at about 1 year old, whereas large parrots like Amazons and African greys start egg-laying at about 2-3 years old.
Smaller birds lay 4-8 eggs per clutch, and their young mature quickly due to their shorter life expectancies, whereas long-lived large parrots lay just 2-4 eggs per clutch.
The age parrots start laying eggs is species-specific. Females can lay eggs after 6 months, but early egg-laying activity should be discouraged because it can have life-threatening implications.
What Age Do Female Parrots Lay Eggs?
The table below shows when different parrot species start and stop laying eggs. It also shows the average clutch size, which gender incubates the eggs, and how long the hatchlings remain in the nest.
|Breed||Age to start laying||Age to stop laying||How often||Clutch size||Who incubates?||Time chicks in the nest|
|Budgerigars||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 parrots||2-3 years||10 years||1-2 times per year||2-5||Female only||2 – 3 months|
|Cockatoos||3 years||10-12 years||Once a year||2||Male and Female||2 months|
|Cockatiels||1 year||8 years||1-2 times per year||4-6||Male and Female||6 weeks|
|Budgerigars||1 year||4 years||2-3 times per year||4-8||Female only||4 – 5 weeks|
What Age Do Parrots Stop Laying Eggs?
Parrots can technically continue laying eggs into old age, but it’s ill-advised.
According to Science Direct, egg-laying should be discouraged because older parrots are likelier to experience osteoporosis, bone fractures, dystocia, and premature death.
Neotropical parrots like Amazons and macaws should stop laying eggs at 10 and 15, respectively. Smaller birds like cockatiels should cease laying at about 8, and budgies earlier, at about 4 years old.
Smaller parrots have shorter average life spans. They also have larger and more frequent clutches throughout their mating life, which takes its toll on their bodies.
How Many Eggs Does A Parrot Lay At One Time?
The clutch size depends on the species and health status of the parrot. As stated, small parrots produce large clutches (4-8 eggs), whereas large parrots have smaller clutches (2-3 eggs).
This is reflected in the time it takes to rear hatchlings, as budgie, lovebird, and cockatiel hatchlings leave the nest in 4 to 8 weeks, while blue and Gold macaws remain for 3+ months.
Parrots don’t lay their clutch all at once. Usually, 1 egg is released every 24-48 hours. Consequently, it can take days or even weeks for a female to lay all her eggs.
Budgies take about 10 days to lay all their eggs (usually about 4-8). This can leave the last egg vulnerable to trampling. Because this egg hatches last, it’ll be the weakest.
How Often Do Parrots Lay Eggs?
Most large bird species lay a clutch of eggs once per year in the spring when there’s warm weather and plentiful food. The exception is small psittacine birds which can have 2-3 clutches per year.
Wild African greys usually lay eggs once per year, but healthy birds can breed twice per year. According to Wiley, if a parrot lays eggs more frequently, it could have a metabolic or hormonal disorder.
Can Male Parrots Lay Eggs?
No, male parrots can’t lay eggs. If you’ve seen a male lay eggs, the male is a female. Interestingly, male and female cockatoos/cockatiels share incubation duties, but only females can produce eggs.
Parrot Egg-Laying Behavior
What Stimulates Egg-Laying Behavior?
Parrots have a reproductive system that keeps them lean and enables them to fly. The female has only 1 active ovary (on the left), and the reproductive gonads remain inactive until the breeding season begins.
When mating season arrives, this signals to the parrot that it’ could be’s time to produce eggs.
There are factors in the environment that specifically cause the female parrot’s HPG Axis to release reproductive hormones that trigger egg production.
According to Zoo Biology, these factors include the following:
- Heavy rainfall.
- Abundant food.
- Interaction with a mate.
- Longer days (more natural light).
- Availability of warm materials to line the nest.
Learning the causes of egg-laying activity can be utilized to encourage or prevent it.
How To Discourage Egg-Laying in Parrots
Unlike other pets, there’s no straightforward or entirely safe way to spay a pet parrot.
The right environmental conditions stimulate egg production in all bird species, so parrots are less likely to produce eggs when essential resources are in low supply or living conditions are sub-optimal.
You can adjust a parrot’s environment, food, resources, and care to discourage egg production. This can be achieved by making the following modifications:
Separate Bonded Birds
Once parrots have mated and produced offspring, they’re far more likely to mate again. To prevent a bonded pair from breeding, they must be separated.
However, the absence of a male parrot won’t necessarily prevent egg-laying activity. Female parrots can still lay unfertilized eggs, even if a male isn’t present.
Bonded mates, like a second female or a bird from different species, can also trigger egg production.
Increased daylight hours trigger egg production in parrots because spring has arrived. If a parrot remains awake longer, the bird will think it’s the perfect time to reproduce.
Avoid letting a parrot stay up later, putting it to bed at 5-6 PM to prevent the release of breeding hormones. Artificial light has the same effect, so cover the parrot’s cage to create darkness.
No Nesting Materials
A parrot will line its nest with anything that can be shredded for insulation and warmth. Avoid adding cardboard and paper, and remove stray feathers from the cage.
No Dark And Enclosed Spaces
Most (not all) wild parrots are cavity nesters, so they seek out areas that resemble tree cavities. So, avoid providing dark and enclosed spaces in the parrot’s cage.
During petting sessions, only pet the head, feet, and beak. Avoid straying from these zones.
If you pet a parrot’s tail, under its wings, and along its back, you’re likely to stimulate the HPG Axis, reserved exclusively for bonded partners. This can lead to a parrot becoming attracted to you.
Return the bird to its cage if a parrot engages in tail lifting, food regurgitation, and vent-rubbing.
No Love Toys
Lone birds can develop an unnatural attraction to certain items and objects in their cage, including lifelike toys, feeding/drinking bowls, bells, mirrors, swings, and perches.
Remove the offending item if you observe habits like vent-rubbing or regurgitation.
While parrots are neophobic and dislike change, a familiar environment is deemed more suitable for laying eggs. Don’t make wholesale changes, but make some occasional adjustments.
Some parrots are chronic egg-layers, which severely jeopardizes the health of birds. As well as specific dietary adjustments, a vet may administer hormone injections.
While hormone injections carry little risk, their efficacy is bird specific and difficult to predict in advance.
How To Encourage Healthy Egg-Laying in Parrots
After identifying a suitable nesting spot, a female parrot can take up to 50 days to lay eggs.
In addition to a safe home, a female will want to be free of stress before laying eggs.
Research from NCBI found that when the mother’s corticosterone (stress) levels are higher, her eggs are lower quality, and her young are more likely to have physical defects.
Giving a parrot nutritious and calcium-rich food, water, and sunlight (for vitamin D3 synthesis) will make her feel more relaxed, increasing her chances of healthy egg production and incident-free egg-laying.