Ask Lafeber


March 16, 2023

Cockatiel does not want to hatch her eggs

I have 3 cockatiels, 2 males and a female- all of them live together in the same cage, mated a couple of times. A couple of days ago, I could see that the female was feeling uneasy and had a bulge on her back near the beginning of the tail and dropped hints like she was trying to lay eggs. I kept a box for her in the cage, she did check out the box, but didnt know when to lay the egg, she went on to her swing and dropped the egg and it cracked. I removed dirty sheet and the cracked egg from the sheet and placed a fresh paper sheet, she layed another egg outside the box, unbroken and healthy. Tried pushing the egg under her chest herself, sat there for a few seconds and gave up and went playing with her mate until she fell asleep. I observed for 1 whole day to see if she or her mate would sit on the eggx none of them did, they ignored the egg completely. Today I tried removing the egg with a tissue, didn’t touch it, the pair was protective and looked at me as if they wanted the egg to remain, I kept the egg back at the same place that it was, she again tried to check it out and push it under her chest for a few seconds and pushed the egg away, ignored it and got busy with her other activities again. I live in India and it is mild summer here, the cage is kept in the balcony covered with thin cotton sheets to protect them from extreme heat. Has a mineral block and fresh water and adult cockatiel food with seeds, millets and other grains the entire time and fresh veggies that they ocassionally enjoy. I do spend some time with all the 3 of them everyday, they fly freely and play around in the balcony during the day and sleep in their cage from sunset to sunrise. I’d like to know the next step- should I remove the egg or keep it?


Hi Yamini,

Having an odd number of birds in the same cage usually is not a good idea. It may work out when they are younger, but once they mature and start mating, one bird is going to be left out. I would take the egg and box out of the cage and take away any new eggs. You really should separate the extra male. The problem is the pair will start getting more and more territorial and this puts the extra male in danger. If you were to leave the box and eggs in the cage, and the pair got serious about the eggs, they would be very likely to attack and kill the extra male. Also, they would get more aggressive towards you and stop wanting to be handled. If you want them to remain tame, you can’t let them breed, and you need to make changes to discourage more egg laying. If they are under 2 years old, they should not be breeding yet anyway. If you ever decided to breed them, you would need the right kind of nest box, the extra male would have to be moved away from them, and you could no longer handle them or let them out of the cage. It sounds like everyone is happy with how things are, so I wouldn’t recommend letting them breed.

You need to do all of these things to discourage egg laying. Keep in mind that to lay eggs, she needs longer daylight, warmer weather, abundant food, and a quiet, private environment. Your goal is to reverse these conditions.

Limit her light to 8-10 hours by covering the cage early each evening

Do not give her anything to use as a nest – no bird huts or tents, no box, bowl, etc. If she decides to sit in a food bowl, remove it and replace with smaller cups.

Do not give her anything to shred such as paper or cardboard.

Rearrange the toys in the cage frequently.

Move the cage to a different place in the room. Move the cage about once a week, or whenever she shows signs of nesting – settling on the cage floor for example. This disrupts her idea of having a stable place to lay eggs and raise chicks.

If you feed a lot of fresh foods, stop offering any for a couple of weeks, and then only offer them in small amounts about 2 or 3 times a week. You can resume normal feeding later when the birds aren’t being hormonal.

When she is let out of the cage, do not let her get in any dark cozy places and don’t give her free roam.

When you handle her, limit any petting to only her head and neck – do not pet her on the body. Only a bonded mate is allowed to groom the body. We can’t be a mate, so touching the body is off limits.

If there is no metal floor grate, then do not use any bedding or paper in the cage tray – leave it bare and clean it daily.

Thank you for Asking Lafeber,


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