If your parrots lay eggs and begin incubating them, then you may think that this is the end of your breeding troubles. Unfortunately, there are still dangers lurking ahead. Depending on your cage set-up and the personality of your birds, they may destroy their own eggs. Parrots of every age and species may break their eggs for multiple reasons.
Parrots break their eggs due to fear or stress, inadequate nesting boxes, and a lack of enrichment. They may also be contending with nutritional deficiencies, be unprepared to brood, or even crush eggs purely by accident. However, you can identify the reason based on the evidence left behind. For instance, parrots will push eggs out of their nest under stress, eat their eggs to satisfy a nutritional deficiency, or crush their eggs by accident.
If your parrot is destroying its clutch, try providing a spacious environment, a protected nest, or fake eggs. You can minimize disturbances around the nest, and limit the parrot’s contact with other pets. If all else fails, you can try artificial incubation. Just make sure that you understand the underlying cause of your parrot’s behavior before you implement a solution.
Why Do Parrots Destroy Their Eggs?
Parrots are very protective mothers and fathers. This makes it baffling when parrots break their own eggs.
You may think it’s purely accidental, but that’s only one reason of many. In the wild and in captivity, parrots may choose to destroy eggs at any point. 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
In captivity, parrots mainly destroy their eggs for personal reasons. This won’t be a random whim. It may be caused by:
- Fear or stress
- Inadequate nest (too shallow or exposed)
Fear or Stress
Parrots will destroy their own eggs if they feel in serious danger. This may be caused by:
- Sudden noises
- Flashing lights
- New predators, such as visiting friends, other pets, or even pests such as mice or roaches
- Other birds ‘trying to steal’ their nest, such as when another pet parrot gets too close to the nesting box
- Changes to the environment, such as new smells, furniture, or painted walls
That’s because parrots are naturally wary and cautious. The parents will prioritize their own safety over the eggs, because:
- Eggs Often Attract Predators. If they’re drawing too many, it’s better to remove the eggs and start again at a safer time or place
- Eggs Are Hard To Defend. If the parrot thinks it cannot protect the eggs, it would rather destroy them.
- The Parrot Can Make More. If the parent survives, it can make dozens of more eggs, but dying for one clutch isn’t evolutionarily wise.
Aside from that, if the parrot knows that her offspring will be unable to hatch, tossing them out saves time and energy. Instead, the mother can forage for herself or find a better nest location. This time can also be used to produce another nest of eggs, where their health and safety are guaranteed.
It also protects her offspring from hatching in a bad environment. Pushing eggs out of the nest lets them die quickly, instead of falling victim to predators or terrible weather.
As such, feelings of discomfort or insecurity can manifest as captive parrots destroying their eggs. If you recently introduced the parrot to a new friend, or started playing the TV too loud, this could be the reason.
A proper nest is very important for laying and maintaining eggs. For wild parrots, choosing the right location and filling it with the right materials will take several days. For captive parrots, they can’t personally choose their location and materials.
If you do not provide the right nesting box, your parrot may decide the nest is a danger to itself and its eggs. It will destroy the eggs and try to start over at another time.
Parrots are considered “cavity-nesters.” They select holes or chambers for their nests that are sheltered from the elements. According to the Journal of Ornithology, the majority of parrots select their nesting sites 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 in large surfaces 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 parrot.
If the nest is inadequate, that will stress out your parrot. It will see the area as vulnerable to the elements, predators, and other birds trying to steal the nest. Rather than contend with this, the parrot will break its eggs and hope to start over.
Lack of Enrichment
Parrots may also destroy their eggs if they are suffering from pure boredom. Even a diligent parent will be unable to suppress its intelligent nature. If your bird feels isolated, lacks entertainment, and doesn’t have proper socialization, it will opt to break its own eggs as a toy.
Parrots are very active creatures. They will always want to perform foraging, tearing, and pecking behaviors. Thus, if they do not have the proper outlet for such habits, they will search for alternatives. 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 purely accidental. This happens if the 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 what motivates each individual type. Applying a catch-all solution doesn’t work on this destructive habit.
Why Do Parrots Push Eggs Out of the Nest?
In the wild, mother birds push eggs out of the nest to increase the collective survival of their offspring. The female may sense or experience a stressor that indicates her clutch will die off. This can be, for example:
- A predator that is housed nearby or is able to reach the nest
- Extreme temperatures
- A lack of food
Even though your parrot isn’t living in the wild, it may still experience these stressors. For example, there may be a cold draft in your home or a pet cat that’s lurking nearby. In response, the parrot will nudge its eggs out of the nest. Although this may seem cruel, it’s an adaptive response to save time, energy, and long-term suffering.
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, however, in which a mother bird will lay eggs without being ready to brood. As such, the mother will push eggs out of the nest until she is ready.
According to Cambridge University Press, this prevents eggs that are laid too early from dominating the nest. Your parrot will need to brood all of her eggs for about the same amount of time. This maximizes the energy and time she spends on her nest. If she does not push out early-laid eggs, they will force her to brood for longer periods of time. This is not efficient for the mother and can lead to viable chicks dying off unnecessarily, since her attention is divided.
Why Do Parrots Eat Their Own Eggs?
Parrots can also crack open the eggs and eat them. All parts of an egg are edible to parrots, from the yolks to the shells. This destructive behavior is usually motivated by:
- Nutritional deficiencies
Similar to pushing eggs out of the nest, parrots may eat their eggs because of stressors in their environment. If they feel insecure about the location, they will choose to eat the eggs instead of subjecting them to a different, potentially painful death.
Unlike egg-pushing, however, captive parrots may also eat the eggs if they have nutritional deficiencies. Specifically, your parrot will be after the calcium, which eggshells have in abundance. If your parrot does not have a balanced diet, it will seek out alternatives. When eggs are available, the adult’s survival takes priority over potential offspring.
This is very common among female parrots. After all, calcium is an important nutrient that’s responsible for maintaining strong bones and healthy nerve function. Even more importantly, it’s needed to both form and produce eggs. A lack of calcium can lead to:
- Severe eggshell deformities
- Skeletal deformities (in both the mother parrot and her offspring)
- Improper heart and cognitive functions
- Inefficient intake of other nutrients
As such, there is a high demand for calcium in parrot diets. They may seek out their own eggs for consumption in order to live comfortably.
Why Do Parrots Crush Their Own Eggs?
Parrots may also crush their eggs, either accidentally or purposefully. The primary reason is that your parrot’s eggs are soft-shelled. This may be caused by:
- High temperatures or extreme humidity levels
- Parasites or toxins
- Nutritional deficiencies
Soft-shelled eggs are very easy to crush by accident. Parrots that sense weak-shelled eggs may also destroy them to try and start over with stronger eggs.
Both nutrient deficiencies and stress may cause eggs to be laid with weak shells. The main deficiencies include:
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
High temperatures, such as 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, can also lead to soft-shelled eggs. Low and high humidity levels may tamper with the eggshells, causing them to soften as they age. That’s especially true if they’re exposed to such conditions for long periods of time.
An unclean nest can also damage the eggs. If infected, the integrity of the eggshell can break down, causing it to turn soft. Factors include:
- Internal worms
- Skin parasites
How To Stop Parrots From Breaking Their Eggs
Of course, you don’t have to sit back and hope that your parrot won’t harm its clutch. There are several methods for discouraging parrots from breaking their eggs:
- Minimize disturbances
- Provide a protective nest with adequate depth
- Artificial incubation
- Provide a spacious environment
- Utilize fake eggs
Secure Their Environment
You must prioritize giving your parrots a secure environment. This will ensure that your birds do not damage their own eggs out of stress or fear.
After that, try to minimize disturbances when possible, and give your parrots covered nesting boxes. A good nest size is 10 inches long and 4 feet deep. Of course, you may need to adjust these measurements depending on:
- The size of your parrot
- The size of its eggs
- The size of its clutch
Incubate Them Yourself
Artificial incubation can protect your parrot eggs from being:
- Pushed out of the nest
- Infected by parasites and mold
It allows you to better control the environment of your developing eggs. This saves both you and your parrots the stress that nesting can bring.
This does not, however, fix any nutritional deficiencies or feelings of stress that your parrot is already experiencing. As such, you may still contend with soft-shelled eggs.
Soft-shelled eggs cannot hatch in a healthy manner, even under artificial incubation. Therefore, you must first and foremost make sure that your parrots are:
- Fed a well-balanced diet
- Feel safe in their home
Otherwise, artificial incubation will not help your situation.
Provide More Space And Fake Eggs
Providing a spacious environment and/or fake eggs will significantly reduce egg destruction caused by boredom. Oftentimes, parrots are highly motivated to crush eggs for entertainment purposes. Therefore, you can purchase or craft fake eggs to avoid this.
In general, larger housing with a wide variety of enrichment toys will distract them from breaking their own eggs. After all, they will have better things to do.
Parrots break their eggs because they don’t feel it’s the right time or place to incubate them. By keeping your parrot well-fed, entertained, and happy with its environment, it’s less likely to destroy the eggs.