My single female Solomon Island eclectus laid her first egg in December of 2011 when she was 7 years old. When I first saw it, I could not believe my eyes. The egg shell had been smashed, but I was certain it was an egg because the yolk was sitting at the bottom of the cage. Could you say I was shell shocked?
Many single female parrots will lay an egg at least once throughout their lives. It is perfectly normal and generally nothing to be too worried over. If your bird has had no contact with any other birds in the last few months, you can be certain the egg is unfertilized. If your parrot were a chicken, you’d probably be harvesting these eggs for breakfast!
From the time the egg is released from the ovary, it takes three weeks to mature before it is ready to be laid. During this period of cycling, your parrot will use up a lot of her calcium stores to form the outer shell of the egg. It is important to make sure your bird is getting adequate levels of added calcium in her diet when you suspect an egg is forming. Good sources of calcium-rich foods acceptable for parrots include crushed egg shells, egg biscuits, almonds, spinach, oranges, soybeans, and sesame seeds.
Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium. Because most foods that are high in vitamin D are generally not recommended to feed to parrots, it is important that your bird be in an area receiving plenty of natural sunlight. Because I live in Alaska and we get very little natural sunlight during the long winter months, I keep my parrot’s cage situated right up against a window.
Though you cannot see whether your bird is brewing an egg, you may be able to tell by taking note of her behavior. She may become more affectionate toward her toys and even try to regurgitate and feed them. My parrot, Lucy, becomes particularly affectionate toward a blue stuffed duck, sits on it, guards it, gurgles at it, and pats it with one foot like a chicken digging for scratch. Right before Lucy lays an egg, she is especially docile, sleepy, and hangs out near the bottom of her cage.
Birds lay eggs for many reasons. You may notice your bird is sensitive to daylight changes or seasons. New toys can stimulate egg production. I experimented for several months and learned that the infamous stuffed duck I placed at the bottom of her cage was her “mate” and triggered her to lay a clutch of eggs. She would lay a series of 3 to 4 eggs, about one a week, until I removed the toy out of fear she was becoming calcium deficient. If your bird does not stop producing eggs, she may need to be seen by a veterinarian to get a hormone blocking injection.
There are two conditions to watch out for — egg binding and egg peritonitis. Egg binding is when an egg becomes stuck. Symptoms include excessive straining, your bird hanging out at the bottom of the cage an unusually long time, and excessively large droppings. Without immediate veterinary care, your parrot will likely not survive because of the pressure of the bound egg on internal organs. At the veterinarian’s office, an x-ray will determine the location and size of the egg in order to determine appropriate action. Sometimes a vet may prescribe a medication to induce contractions to help pass the egg and other times he may need to insert a need to drain the egg to alleviate pressure.
Egg peritonitis is when the contents of the egg leaks into your bird’s stomach. Symptoms include an enlarged stomach, loss of appetite, and respiratory distress. This condition can be fatal because the yolk can damage the liver. A vet may prescribe a diuretic to drain excess fluid build up.
If your bird suddenly starts laying eggs “out of nowhere,” consider any recent weather, seasonal, or other environmental changes that may have triggered it. Remember to add extra calcium to your parrot’s diet and provide them with plenty of natural sunlight. Aside from the rare event of binding and peritonitis, egg laying is generally considered normal and harmless.