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Patricia, Parrot Consultant
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 1759
Experience:  Published author, free lance bird behaviorist, adviser to the parrots at Sarasota Jungle Gardens.
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My cockatiel seems to be eating her eggs. How do I prevent this.

Customer Question

She has been laying eggs since July. At one point she had 21. I have found empty shells in their cage. She now has about 10.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Patricia replied 8 years ago.

Hello. It may not seem so but this may very well be a blessing in disguise, at least for this time around. I'll explain that and I'm sure I can help with the situation but it will help me to give you better help if I can get a bit more information. The problem right now, is she is seriously over laying and her health is in great danger. We have more than one problem to work with here.

Does she have a cuttle bone?

Please tell me about her diet.

Is there a male bird also so we can assume the eggs are fertile? Is so, how old is he?

Does he seem to assist her with sitting on the eggs and do you ever see him feeding her?

Are her eggs in a nest box or where?

Thanks, Patricia



Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Reply to Patricia's Post: Yes she has a cuttle bone, she is with a 3 year old male and he did would help her sit on the eggs. Not so much now. She does it herself and when she's eating he generally eats with her. they get apples, treats that I make with bird seed, egg whites, cheerios, all this is baked into a shape of a bell. They have a nest box. What do I do?
Expert:  Patricia replied 8 years ago.

Okay, thanks for that information. It's very helpful. The first thing that has to happen is you have got to get the laying to stop, for the next several months if possible. Cockatiels are what we call opportunistic layers. Many of them seem to think it's their job to lay as many eggs as possible, regardless of what it's doing to their health. And your little lady is way over laying. Her health is much in danger and she is at great risk of becoming egg bound. She has to be using her calcium faster than she is replacing it and if she runs low, she is going to have eggs that are too soft for her to pass. That will be life threatening so you must try to get it stopped before it's too late. Most of what I have been doing the last several days is trying to help folks with egg bound birds and the outcome is not favorable, all that often. The first thing is to get rid of the nest box. That only inspires more and more laying. However, you can't just take her eggs away because she will do her best to replace them, further complicating matters. She needs a way to keep them undamaged, if possible, until they grow bored and abandon them completely. I suggest giving her one of the clear plastic, shoe box size storage boxes like you can find at WalMart, KMart, etc. Leave the lid off, line the box with many layers of plain white paper towels, and ever so gently, (while you are probably being pecked and fussed at) move her egg/s into the box. I would also strongly suggest that as you move them, take them a couple at a time, gently bring them to just short of a boil, cool them back down, mark the ends with a dot from a felt tip pen and put them in the non-private box. If these were pet store birds, it's not a good idea to ever allow them to actually hatch any chicks anyway but even if they were both top of the line, genetically speaking, she is not currently in a health position to be able to take care of them. That could put you in the position of having to take some quick, hands on lessons in hand feeding and all the rest that is involved with saving them. Not an easy task and not for the novice. Once this clutch of eggs has been abandoned, do not put the nest box back up. Other steps you can take to discourage laying will be to rearrange things inside the cage, move the cage itself, even if only across the room for a few days and then back, and cut back on their "daylight" hours. Use a dark cage cover and cover them earlier in the evening and/or uncover later in the morning. Try to keep them down to about 10 hours of daytime. You are doing a much better job with their diet than most Tiel owners and congratulations on that. But, there is more they should be getting. The apple is okay but it has no nutritional value. Plain Cheerios are okay for a snack and a treat but should not be a large portion of the diet. They need a good seed mix that does not contain sunflower seeds and they need a good brand of pellets mixed with them. The ideal to aim for, gradually, is to have seeds as no more than about 30% of their entire daily intake. And they should be getting a big variety of veggies (raw or steamed) and leafy greens, every day. I'll give you links below for greater detail, but for starters, they can have cooked brown rice, cooked pasta, well cooked bean mixes. hard boiled or scrambled eggs, well done bits of chicken breast with all fat and skin removed and squares of toasted, whole grain bread. The greens they need include endive, kale, mustard, turnip and collard greens and romaine lettuce. No ice berg and no spinach. Above all, make sure she never runs out of cuttle bone. When her calcium reserves get low, her body will start robbing it from her bones and the danger of broken bones shoots sky high. To get back to the original question, she is eating the eggs due to the shortages in her diet. That's why I said it's not totally a bad thing this time. She is after the calcium in the shells. That's another way you can increase her intake. Fix them some scrambled eggs but pulverize the shells and cook right along with the eggs. The links I'm going to give you will also include some that will explain the health consequences you can expect from a diet too high in fat, (seeds) and there will be some for locating a proper Avian vet in case you don't already have one. There will also be some that are just basic safety info about household products. It it's information you already have, no harm done but it not, some of it may be informative. With her overlaying like that, I urge you to get a vet located asap and put the information with all your other emergency numbers. With all birds, the odds are, when we need one, it is an emergency and you will be glad you have the info. at your finger tips. I hope all this is helpful to you but if you have any more questions at all, just let me know by hitting the reply button. Good luck with them. Patricia

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