If your parrot lays eggs and begins incubating them, you may think that chicks will soon follow. However, there are still dangers ahead. Unfortunately, some parrots destroy their own eggs.
Parrots break their eggs due to fear or stress, inadequate nesting boxes, a lack of enrichment, nutritional deficiencies, being unprepared to brood, or crush their eggs accidentally.
If your parrot is destroying its clutch, provide a more spacious environment, a protected nest, fake eggs, and minimize disturbances around the nest. If all else fails, you can turn to artificial incubation.
Why Do Parrots Destroy Their Eggs?
Parrots are protective mothers and fathers, so it’s baffling when parrots break their eggs.
You may think that it’s accidental, but that’s just one of the explanations. In the wild and captivity, parrots may destroy their eggs. Whether they’re newly laid or several days old, the mother or father could:
- Throw the eggs out of the nest
- Eat the eggs
- Peck or stomp on eggs
- Break the eggs accidentally
In captivity, parrots mainly destroy their eggs for personal reasons that affect them, such as:
- Fear or stress
- Inadequate nest (too shallow or exposed)
Fear or Stress
Parrots will destroy their eggs if they feel stressed or in danger. This may be caused by:
- Sudden noises
- Flashing lights
- New predators, such as visiting friends, other pets or pests, such as mice or cockroaches
- Other birds trying to steal their nest, such as another pet parrot getting too close to the nesting box
- Changes to the environment, such as new furniture
Parrots are naturally cautious and dislike change. They’ll prioritize their own safety over their eggs because:
- Eggs attract predators. It’s safer to remove the eggs than invite danger.
- Eggs are hard to defend. If the parrots don’t think that they can’t protect the eggs, it’s better to destroy them.
- Lay more eggs. If the parents survive, they can lay and care for more eggs in the future.
Aside from that, if the parents know that their offspring cannot hatch, throwing them out of the nest makes sense. The mother can forage or find a better nest location.
A safe nest is important for laying and caring for eggs. For wild parrots, choosing the right nesting place takes days or weeks. For pet parrots, they can’t personally choose their location and materials. If you don’t provide the right nesting box, your parrot may decide the nest is a source of danger and break the eggs.
Parrots are cavity-nesters. They select holes or chambers for their nests that are sheltered from the elements. According to the Journal of Ornithology, parrots select their nesting places based on:
- The size of the cliff side or tree
- Height of the nest from the ground
- Cavity size
- Nest entryway size
Researchers found that most parrots select nests on large surface areas that are high above the ground. The cavities need to be 1.6 to 3.3 feet deep. They must also have entryways that are appropriate to the body size of the parrots.
If the nest is inadequate, it will stress out your parrots. They’ll see the area as vulnerable to the elements, predators, and other birds. Rather than contend with this, the parrot will break its eggs and start again in the future.
Lack of Enrichment
Parrots destroy their eggs when bored. If a parrot feels isolated, lacks enrichment, and doesn’t have proper socialization, it may decide to break its eggs for entertainment.
Parrots are active creatures wanting to perform foraging, tearing, and pecking behaviors. If they lack the right outlet for such habits, they’ll search for alternative ways to keep themselves occupied. To satisfy their needs, they may:
- Knock the eggs around the cage
- Peck at the eggs
- Pick up and drop the eggs
Egg-breaking in parrots may not always be intentional. In fact, it can be accidental. This happens if a parrot:
- Jumps down onto soft-shelled eggs to protect or hide them
- Pushes the eggs too hard when rotating them
- Cleans the eggs too vigorously
- Bumps the eggs out of the nest when shifting around on top of them
How Do Parrots Break Their Eggs?
Whatever the reasoning behind this action, your parrot may break its eggs in several ways. This includes:
- Pushing eggs out of their nest
- Eating their eggs
- Crushing their eggs
Before you can stop this behavior, you need to understand the motivation.
Why Do Parrots Push Eggs Out of the Nest?
Female parrots push eggs out of the nest to increase the chances of the collective survival of their offspring. The female may feel that her clutch will die off. Examples include:
- A predator has housed nearby and is able to reach the nest
- Extreme temperatures (hot and cold)
- A shortage of food, meaning that not everyone will be able to survive
Domesticated parrots may still experience these stressors. For example, there may be a cold draft in your home or a pet cat watching its cage. In response, the parrot could push eggs out of the nest. Although this may seem cruel, it’s an adaptive response to save time, energy, and long-term discomfort.
This also happens if the parrot is not ready to brood. In avian species, brooding refers to the act of a mother bird incubating her eggs by sitting on them. There are instances where the mother will lay her eggs without being ready to brood. So, the mother will push eggs out of the nest until she’s feeling ready.
Why Do Parrots Eat Their Own Eggs?
Parrots may crack open their eggs and eat them. All parts of an egg are edible to parrots, from the yolks to the shells. This destructive behavior is usually due to:
- Nutritional deficiencies
Similar to pushing eggs out of the nest, parrots eat their eggs due to stressors. If they feel insecure about the location, they’ll choose to eat the eggs instead of subjecting them to an alternative demise.
Unlike egg-pushing, captive parrots may also eat the eggs if they have nutritional deficiencies. Specifically, your parrot needs the calcium, which eggshells have in abundance. If your parrot lacks a balanced diet, it will seek out alternatives sources. When eggs are available, the adult’s survival takes priority over the offspring.
This is common among female parrots. Calcium is a nutrient that’s responsible for maintaining strong bones and healthy nerve function. It’s also needed to form and produce eggs. A lack of calcium can lead to:
- Severe eggshell deformities
- Skeletal deformities
- Improper heart and cognitive functions
- Inefficient intake of other nutrients
As such, there is a high requirement for calcium in parrots’ diets. So, give your parrot supplements or a cuttlebone.
Why Do Parrots Crush Their Own Eggs?
Parrots may crush their eggs accidentally or purposefully. This can happen because the parrot’s eggs are soft-shelled. This can be due to:
- High temperatures or extreme humidity levels
- Parasites or toxins
- Nutritional deficiencies
Soft-shelled eggs are easy to crush by accident. Parrots that sense weak-shelled eggs may destroy them and start over with a new clutch. Vitamin deficiencies and stress may cause eggs to be laid with weak shells. Deficiencies include:
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
High temperatures of around 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit can lead to soft-shelled eggs. Low and high humidity levels may compromise the eggshells, causing them to soften as they age.
An unclean nest can damage the eggs. If infected, the integrity of the eggshell can break down, causing it to turn soft. A lack of cleanliness and the resultant egg softness can lead to:
- Internal worms
- Skin parasites
How To Stop Parrots From Breaking Their Eggs
Several methods are used to discourage parrots from breaking their eggs:
- Minimize disturbances
- Protective nest of sufficient depth
- Artificial incubation
- Spacious environment
- Fake eggs
Provide a secure environment to ensure that the parents don’t damage their eggs out of stress or fear. Also, minimize disturbances and give your parrots covered nesting boxes. A good nest size is 10 inches long and 4 feet deep.
Incubate The Eggs
Artificial incubation can protect your parrot eggs from being:
- Pushed out of the nest
- Infected by parasites and mold
Incubation allows you to better control the environment of any developing eggs.
However, this doesn’t resolve any nutritional deficiencies or feelings of stress that your parrot is already experiencing. So, you may still contend with soft-shelled eggs.
Soft-shelled eggs can’t hatch healthily, even under artificial incubation. Therefore, you must ensure that your parrots are fed a well-balanced diet and feel safe in their living environment.
More Space And Fake Eggs
Providing a spacious environment and fake eggs will reduce egg destruction caused by boredom. Parrots sometimes crush their eggs for entertainment purposes, so purchase or craft fake eggs to prevent this from happening.
Parrots break their eggs because they sense that something is wrong and don’t feel that it’s the right time or place to incubate them. By keeping your parrot well-fed, entertained, and happy, parrots are less likely to destroy their eggs.