Last Updated on: 10th November 2023, 10:03 am
If a parrot lays eggs and starts incubating them, you may feel confident that chicks will soon follow. Unfortunately, risks remain because some parrots destroy their eggs.
Parrots break their eggs due to fear or stress, inadequate nesting boxes, a lack of enrichment, nutritional deficiencies, being unprepared to brood (inexperience), or accidentally crushing their eggs.
If a parrot is destroying its clutch, provide a more spacious cage with a well-positioned nest and minimize disturbances. If all else fails, utilize artificial incubation to eliminate parental judgment.
Why Do Parrots Destroy Their Eggs?
As good parents, it’s confusing when parrots break their eggs. You may feel confident that egg breakage is accidental, but that’s just one of the explanations.
All parrot species, including budgies, lovebirds, Amazon parrots, and cockatoos, sometimes destroy their eggs in captivity and the wild. Egg destruction is higher among pet birds.
Whether the eggs are newly laid or several days old, the mother or father may:
- Knock the eggs out of the nest.
- Eat the eggs for nutrition.
- Peck at or stomp the eggs.
- Break the eggs accidentally.
Pet parrots usually destroy their eggs for reasons that affect them, such as:
- Fear or stress.
- Substandard nest.
Fear or Stress
Parrots destroy their eggs when they feel stressed or in danger for these reasons:
- Sudden noises, like roadworks or a loud argument.
- New visitors, other pets, or rodent pests like mice and rats.
- Other birds move too close to the nesting box.
- Night frights due to actual and perceived disturbances.
- Environmental changes, like switching wall color from white to orange.
Parrots are neophobes and dislike change. They prioritize safety over their eggs because:
- Eggs attract predators, so they’ll remove the eggs to avoid inviting danger.
- Eggs are hard to defend. If a bird doesn’t think it can protect its eggs, destroying them is better.
- Lay more eggs. If the parents survive, they can lay more eggs.
If the parents are sure their eggs won’t hatch, throwing them out of the nest makes sense.
For wild parrots, choosing the right nesting place can take days.
Pet parrots don’t have the opportunity to choose a nesting location and materials. The parents may deem the nest unsafe if you don’t provide what they want.
Parrots are cavity-nesters, selecting sheltered holes or chambers for their nests. According to the Journal of Ornithology, parrots choose their nesting places based on the following criteria:
- The size of the cliff side or tree.
- Height of the nest from the ground.
- Cavity size.
- Nest entryway dimensions.
Researchers found that most parrots select nests on large surface areas above the ground. The cavities were 1.6 to 3.3 feet deep with body-size entryways.
If the nest is inadequate, it’ll stress out parrots, who see the area as vulnerable. Rather than contend with the challenges, the parents may break their eggs and try again in the future.
Lack of Enrichment
Parrots destroy their eggs when bored. If a parrot feels isolated, lacks enrichment, or doesn’t have proper socialization, it may destroy its eggs for fun.
Parrots are active birds who enjoy foraging, climbing, and exploring the world with their beaks. They’ll seek alternative ways to keep themselves busy if they lack things to do. They may:
- Knock the eggs around the cage.
- Peck at the eggs.
- Pick up and drop the eggs on the cage floor.
Ensure that parrots have enough food, toys, and activities to stay occupied.
Egg-breaking isn’t always intentional. It can be accidental, which happens when a parrot:
- Jumps onto its eggs to protect or hide them.
- The eggs were ‘addled’ (pushed too hard when rotating them, leading to trauma).
- Cleans the eggs too vigorously.
- Bumps the eggs out of the nest when shifting around on top of them.
- Embryo misorientation, where the large end of the egg (where there’s a bubble) is below the small end. This causes the chick to drown while pipping.
Some eggs are more resilient to well-meaning attention than others.
Birds can determine that the egg contains a diseased or dead chick. For example, the hen may realize the embryo is malformed, and the eggs will never hatch.
To avoid affecting the entire clutch and to focus her attention on the healthy, she may destroy her weakest, most vulnerable eggs to protect the others.
Females may lay eggs without a male. If the hen realizes that her eggs are infertile, she may break them because she realizes they’ll never hatch.
How Do Parrots Break Their Eggs?
A parrot may break its eggs in these ways:
- Pushing eggs out of the nest.
- Eating the eggs.
- Crushing the eggs.
Before this behavior can be stopped, you must understand the underlying motivation.
Why Do Parrots Push Eggs Out of the Nest?
Female parrots remove eggs from the nest to increase the likelihood of the collective survival of their offspring. The female may fear that her clutch will die. Examples include:
- A predatory animal is nearby and could reach the nest.
- Extreme temperatures (hot and cold).
- A food or water shortage means some won’t survive.
Domesticated parrots may experience these stressors. For example, there may be a cold draft from an open window or a pet cat stalking the cage.
Egg-breaking also happens if the parrot isn’t ready to brood. Brooding refers to a mother incubating eggs by sitting on them. She’ll push eggs out of the nest until she’s ready.
Why Do Parrots Eat Their Eggs?
Parrots may crack open their eggs and eat them. All parts of the egg are edible, including the yolks, whites, and shells. This behavior is usually due to the following:
- Stress and anxiety.
- Nutritional deficiencies.
Similar to pushing eggs out of the nest, parrots eat their eggs due to external stressors. If birds feel insecure or fearful, they’ll eat their eggs rather than subject them to an alternative demise.
Captive parrots may consume their eggs if they have nutritional deficiencies. Specifically, a parrot needs calcium, which eggshells have in abundance.
If the parrot isn’t fed a balanced diet, it’ll seek alternative sources of vitamins and minerals. When eggs are available, the adult’s survival takes priority over the offspring.
- Severe eggshell deformities.
- Skeletal deformities.
- Improper heart and cognitive functions.
- Inefficient nutrient intake.
Give the parrot a cuttlebone during the breeding season to avoid egg binding (dystocia).
Why Do Parrots Crush Their Eggs?
Parrots may crush their eggs accidentally or purposefully for the following reasons:
- High temperatures or humidity levels.
- Internal and external parasites.
Nutritional deficiencies (vitamin D3 and calcium) cause weak eggshells. Also, high temperatures of 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity cause soft-shelled eggs due to mold and bacteria.
How To Stop Parrots from Breaking Their Eggs
There are methods to discourage parrots from breaking their eggs:
- Minimize disturbances.
- Protective nest with sufficient depth.
- Artificial incubation.
- Spacious environment.
- Fake eggs.
Provide a secure environment to ensure the parents don’t damage their eggs out of stress or fear. Also, minimize disturbances and give the parrots covered nesting boxes.
Incubate The Eggs
Incubation provides a more controlled environment, reducing or removing the risk of the eggs being:
- Pushed out of the nest.
- Infected by parasites;
- Harmed by mold.
Consequently, a parrot’s eggs are more likely to hatch.
More Space And Fake Eggs
Providing a spacious cage and fake eggs reduces the likelihood of egg destruction due to boredom. Parrots sometimes crush their eggs for enjoyment, but fake eggs can assist.
Parrots break their eggs because they fear something is amiss, so they don’t incubate them. Keeping a parrot well-fed, entertained, and happy means it’s less likely to destroy its eggs.