Ask Lafeber


January 4, 2021

Cockatiel Egg Laying

My Cockatiel unexpectedly laid an egg at the bottom of the cage. I haven’t gotten her a nesting box yet but once I do, how would I make her go in the nesting box? Should I move the egg she laid?


Hi John,

If this is a single bird, then she does not need a nest or nest box. Single cockatiels can become chronic egg layers, to the point that they need a hormone shot or implant, so you should not ever give them a nest or anything to encourage egg laying. You can leave the eggs on the cage floor until she loses interest and then throw the eggs away.

If you have a male and female, and both birds are at least 2 years old, then you can give them a nest box. When the birds are allowed to breed too young, they make mistakes or fail to settle down to care for the eggs. A young female is also at a high risk of becoming egg bound and dying. Cockatiels need a nutritionally balanced diet, especially if you want them to breed. They need to be eating pellets or our foraging diets – a loose seed mix will not provide the nutrition they need to produce eggs and healthy chicks. In addition, you should offer dark leafy greens, chopped veggies and to get them in breeding condition, you should also offer cooked eggs with the shell washed, crushed and cooked with the eggs and some multi grain bread. These last two foods should be given to them from the time they have the nest box until the chicks are weaned. Cockatiels need privacy for breeding, so don’t check on them too often each day. The nest box should be attached to the outside of the cage as high as possible. If the pair does lay eggs in the box and hopefully hatch chicks, the nest box must be removed as soon as the chicks leave it. If the eggs do not hatch, the nest box should still be removed. The pair needs to be rested for about 6 months between every clutch. You can allow them to lay eggs twice a year, which is one more time than they would in the wild. If you do not control how often they breed, they will literally keep breeding and laying eggs year round, and this will eventually kill the female. It takes a lot of patience to breed birds. You should make sure they are eating a good diet and have everything they needs, and then all you can do is wait and hope they breed and lay eggs. Most first clutches do fail, and since she is already laying eggs, she may not use the next box this time.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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