Ask Lafeber

Question:

July 12, 2022

Time duration for a female to sit on the eggs


My lovebird’s pair is almost 5 years old. Last year they hatched 3 eggs and then after a few months 2 more. They all died. This year in February she laid 5 eggs out of which 4 chicks came to. Unfortunately, 2 died soon d 2 are still alive. They are healthy and playful. Now she has laid 3 more eggs 6th, 10th, and today 11th of July. She sits on eggs rigorously but sometimes leaves them and comes out to stretch and relax. I feel she’s a little exhausted too. As this is the third time in almost one year she laid eggs. Is it ok to leave the eggs? Will the babies come out or not?


Answer:

Hi Roma,

She is definitely tired at this point. You should only allow two clutches per year, with a 6  month rest in between. The nest box needs to be removed each time – you can’t leave it in the cage year round. So if this is what you did, this is why she didn’t stop breeding. In the wild, they only breed once a year, and then the season changes and breeding season ends until the next year. They leave their nests and do not use a nest again until breeding season. In captivity, they do not get the environmental signals to stop breeding, so we have to make sure they stop. Removing the nest box usually works. But with some birds, you need to make additional changes to make them rest until they are ready to breed again.

Coming out and stretching is perfectly normal. She may do fine with these eggs. It’s up to you as to whether to let them finish out this clutch. Laying the eggs is the hardest on her, and that part is done. But once the chicks are weaned, you need to take down the box and make some changes to make her rest for at least 6 months.

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.

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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