Ask Lafeber

Question:

December 28, 2021

Cockatiel doesn’t want to sit on her eggs anymore


My cockatiel laid 4 eggs for the first time and she was incubating them for a while but suddenly stopped. I think it’s because I held her when she stopped eating before she could get to her nest. I just wanted to hold her for a while because it’s been so long since I’ve seen her. She was hostile at all. I put her back down in her nest but after a while I saw that she didn’t want to be there anymore. I wanna know if that’s what happened. Was it wrong for me to hold her ?


Answer:

Hi Charlie,

Do you have a male bird? You didn’t mention a mate, and without a male, the eggs will not be fertile and will not hatch. If you only have the female, she should not have a house, nest, nest box or anything she can use as a nest. Female cockatiels are bad about becoming chronic egg layers in captivity. Forming and laying eggs is very hard on a hen, so there is no reason for her to lay eggs if she doesn’t have a mate. You should make changes to discourage more egg laying, which I will post below.

If she does have a mate, then yes, it was not good to handle her. Breeding birds can’t also be pets – at least not when they have a nest box and eggs. Breeding birds need a lot of privacy. If you handle one of them, it will make the mate very jealous, and it can cause them to fight, and abandon their eggs. You basically have to decide if you want your birds to breed, or if you want them to be pets.

So assuming she doesn’t have a mate, 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.

If 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 her head and neck – do not pet her on the body.

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,

Brenda

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