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What is Considered Chronic Egg Laying in Parrots?

Why Does My Parrot Keep Laying Eggs? (Chronic Egg Laying)

Last Updated on February 5, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

Chronic egg-laying occurs when a female parrot often becomes gravid and lays clutches of unfertilized eggs. The hen can still produce and lay eggs even if breeding hasn’t happened or no male is present.

A chronic egg layer is more at risk of mineral deficiencies, which can result in egg binding (dystocia), egg yolk peritonitis (EYP), and cloacal prolapse. The dangers posed by these conditions rise with age.

Medication to reduce egg-laying isn’t guaranteed to resolve hormone-related issues. Also, a veterinarian won’t spay a parrot due to the health risks unless a medical condition gravely threatens her life.

To stop chronic egg laying, determine the triggers and make adjustments. This may involve reducing light exposure, warmth, food, and contact with other birds in the breeding season.

Why Parrots Lay Eggs Without Mating

While parrots reproduce sexually, meaning the presence of a male is required to produce sperm that fertilizes the egg, not all parrots’ eggs have embryos. Female parrots can lay unfertilized eggs.

Female parrots ovulate regularly but don’t menstruate. If environmental factors are right, ovulation will result in eggs. The absence of a male’s sperm means the eggs won’t contain an embryo.

Factors that lead to parrots laying eggs without breeding include:

  • Increased light exposure, indicating warmth and abundant food.
  • Opposite-sex, same-species parrots, even if they don’t share a cage or interact. The mere presence of a male parrot in the same room can result in egg-laying.
  • Petting from a bonded owner provides stimulation.
  • Easy access to nesting materials within the cage.

You must control hormonal responses if you don’t want the parrot to lay eggs without a male.

how often do birds lay unfertilized eggs?

How Often Parrots Lay Eggs

A healthy parrot with no reproductive issues may lay 1-2 clutches of eggs per year. Depending on the species, these clutches may have 1 to 8 eggs, usually laid every other day.

Laying eggs drains a parrot of nutrients and vitality, so it needs an adequate break between clutches.

If not, minerals are taken from the skeleton, putting the parrot at risk of bone decalcification. This can lead to life-compromising conditions like arthritis (osteoporosis.)

Chronic Egg Laying in Parrots

Chronic egg-laying symptoms are defined by a parrot laying excessive eggs in a single clutch or when a parrot lays multiple clutches of unfertilized eggs in a year.  

The species most prone to chronic egg-laying are as follows:

  • Amazons.
  • Budgies.
  • Cockatiels.
  • Lovebirds.
  • Macaws.

The concern can arise in all parrots, especially those hand-reared by human owners as hatchlings.

Implications of Chronic Egg Laying

Laying eggs takes a heavy toll on a female parrot’s body. A healthy parrot that doesn’t encounter complications while gravid may withstand this if she lays eggs gradually over many days.

If a parrot continually lays eggs, she’s at risk of health concerns, including:

Dystocia (Egg Binding)

If the parrot lacks calcium and vitamin D3, the eggshell will be weak and misshapen, potentially becoming lodged. Egg binding occurs when the egg can’t be released through the cloaca (at the base of the tail).

Old age, or wear and tear on the body due to chronic egg laying, can also increase the risk. Sometimes, the oviduct and uterus don’t contract sufficiently.

If an egg becomes trapped, the hen will be restless and in pain, straining to expel the egg.

Egg Yolk Peritonitis

Egg yolk peritonitis (EYP) is known as internal laying.

EYP occurs when an eggshell breaks or ruptures inside the parrot’s body. The yolk becomes trapped in the coelom (a cavity in the abdomen).

EYP causes pain and inflammation. Bacterial infection (septic egg peritonitis) is also common.

A parrot may experience EYP once, but the risk drastically increases if it constantly lays unfertilized eggs. If EYP isn’t detected early, it can have life-threatening implications.

Hypocalcemia

A female parrot will utilize her calcium reserves. If diet and supplementation don’t replace the calcium that has been used, the parrot is at risk of hypocalcemia.

The symptoms and impact of hypocalcemia include:

  • Infertility and substandard shell production.
  • Elevated risk of dystocia.
  • Muscular weakness.
  • Brittle bones and osteoarthritis.
  • Neurological disorders.

Oviduct Prolapse

Every time a parrot lays an egg, the cloaca turns itself inside out.

This cleans the egg as it’s released, ensuring the pores that allow oxygen through the shell aren’t blocked. Once the egg is laid, the cloaca returns to its natural position.

Oviductal prolapse occurs when the cloaca doesn’t return to the body, remaining prominent and exposed. The more frequently a parrot lays eggs, the higher the risk of oviduct prolapse.

This is dangerous for various reasons:

  • Bacteria can enter the cloaca, leading to infection.
  • Another bird may peck or bite the exposed cloaca, pulling out part of the intestines.
  • The cloaca can bleed, which can be fatal.

An avian surgeon must return a prolapsed cloaca to the body.

Age Parrots Stop Laying Eggs

Parrots don’t experience menopause. This means a female can lay eggs throughout her life. Even if the parrot is made infertile by ill health, she may continue laying unfertilized eggs.

How To Stop Chronic Egg Laying in Parrots

Chronic egg-laying shouldn’t be ignored. Take steps to minimize this behavior:

Distractions

Chronic egg-laying is often reported in bored and understimulated parrots.

Ensure that a parrot has sufficient mental and physical stimulation in the cage. Give the parrot the chance to search for food to encourage its natural foraging instincts.

why does my bird lay eggs without mating?

Control Hormonal Activity

As laying eggs is due to hormones, reduce hormonal spikes through lifestyle modifications.

Long, warm days trigger a hormonal response, so cover the cage earlier.

While a parrot is hormonal, be mindful of where you touch and pet it. Focus on the parrot’s head, feet, and beak, avoiding the back, under its wings, and tail region.

Touching these parts of parrot anatomy can cause sexual stimulation, especially if a parrot grows attracted to you and considers you its mate.

Remove toys the parrot rubs its vent against and relocate the cage away from males.

Medication

Medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), called Depo-Provera (DEP), is a hormonal contraceptive that frequently halts egg production.

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists can reduce egg laying. The most commonly prescribed GnRH agonist is leuprolide acetate through the drug Lupron.

Lupron aims to prevent the parrot’s uterus from producing reproductive hormones and is considered safe for birds, but it isn’t always practical and can be expensive.

Deslorelin is a rival GnRH agonist administered as an implant roughly the size of a grain of rice. While deslorelin lasts the parrot’s lifespan, it isn’t authorized for use on birds in the U.S.

Spaying

Spaying may be the only solution in severe cases of chronic egg-laying. This will involve an ovariectomy (removing the ovaries) or an ovariohysterectomy (removing the ovaries and uterus.)

Parrots respond poorly to anesthesia, and the surgical procedure is dangerous. Parrots’ ovaries are located near their blood vessels and vital organs.

Chronic egg-laying must be controlled because it negatively impacts female parrots. Most vets recommend understanding triggers and making lifestyle changes.