Ask Lafeber


July 22, 2020

Is it health

I have a 25 year old female Cockatoo. She has never laid an egg is that normal or should we worry?


Hi Sherry,

Unless a bird is a breeder bird with a mate, it is definitely best if she never lays eggs. Forming an egg and then laying it can take a lot out of a hen. And single pets who do this can often become chronic egg layers which puts their health at risk. Pet Cockatoos have the tendency to get very hormonal, both the males and females, because of the way we care for them. Cockatoos are known for being cuddly and enjoy being petted all over. But we have learned that this is not the best way to handle them. In the wild, a young bird will engage in mutual preening with a flock mate, but the contact is limited to the head and neck. Once the bird has a mate, the contact with flock members is over, and the mates only groom and preen each other. But this will include all areas of the body and eventually result in mating and egg laying. Obviously we do not want our single hens to do this, and we don’t want our males to become aggressive due to hormones. So it is best to limit physical contact to head and neck scratches and avoid the full cuddle that we love to do with them, since petting the body is a hormone trigger. It is best for the bird’s mental and physical health, since we can’t be a true mate.

Hopefully your girl will never be inclined to lay eggs. But don’t count her out due to age. There are cases where an older bird suddenly lays eggs for the first time. If this happens, you need to try to reduce the hormonal triggers, do not give her anything to use as a nest and find other ways to keep her busy so she doesn’t get into a chronic cycle of laying eggs. We recently hosted a 2 part webinar on hormones and pet birds, which can be viewed on our website. I’ll give you the links in case you want to learn more.

Webinar: “Spring Is In the Air: How To Deal With Your Pet Bird’s Hormonal Behavior!”

Webinar: “Pet Birds & Hormonal Behavior: Part 2!”

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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