Ask Lafeber

Question:

December 27, 2021

Infertile eggs


I have a male and female cockatiel both 3 years old. She keeps laying eggs, usually 2 a week but none of them are fertile. Why isn’t the male fertilizing them?


Answer:

Hi Melissa,

The more important issue here is that she is laying egg much too often. Cockatiels are only intended to lay eggs once per year. So laying eggs every week is very bad for her health. If this keeps up, she will die from laying too many eggs. Forming eggs and laying them take a lot out of a female – it drains her of calcium and protein, and it’s physically demanding. That’s why breeding season happens once a year in the wild – the hen needs to recover from it each year.

I would separate these birds and do not give her a nest. It doesn’t sound like they are bonded anyway. You need to make some changes to stop her from laying more eggs for at least 6 months. After 6 months, you can try putting the birds back together, without a nest box. A pair should not be given a nest box until you are sure they are bonded as a pair and are mating. If they start spending their time together, grooming each other, and you see them mating, then give them a nest box. But if not, then this pair is not bonded and they aren’t going to be good for breeding. You would either need to take the nest box away to discourage her from laying eggs, or split the pair up, or get her a different 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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