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Q&A: How Can I Stop My Macaw From Laying More Eggs?

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Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He works with dogs, cats, exotics, and livestock.

Female parrots don't require a mate to lay eggs (though said eggs will be infertile). How can you discourage egg-laying?

Female parrots don't require a mate to lay eggs (though said eggs will be infertile). How can you discourage egg-laying?

How Can I Stop My Parrot From Laying Infertile Eggs?

"My Severe Macaw is 22 and recently started laying eggs. The first time was about 4 months ago, and it was a single. However, last week she laid another egg. We removed it shortly thereafter, but two days later, she laid another, which broke as it fell to the bottom of the cage. After another couple of days (so she wouldn’t lay another), we removed it. Then she laid another egg and has been lying on it, trying to hatch it. It was intact, and we haven’t removed it for fear she’ll try to lay another. Do you have any advice to stop her from laying more?" —Sherry

Discouraging Egg Laying in Pet Birds

Since your macaw is already sitting on that last egg she laid, she may not produce anymore. (Since it is not going to hatch, it has to be taken out after about 3 weeks, though, as nesting birds lose weight, and if the eggs do not hatch will sometimes just stay on top of the nest.)

Birds do not usually sit on a clutch until they are finished laying (so that the young are hatched at the same time.)

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5 Ways to Stop a Parrot From Laying Eggs

There are a lot of other things you can try to stop her from laying more, but keep in mind that they may not be necessary.

  1. Simulate shorter days. The most effective way to stop a parrot from laying eggs is by tricking the bird into thinking that it is no longer appropriate. (They want their young to hatch when food is most abundant.) You can do this by making her days very short and covering the cage in the late afternoon (4 or 5 o'clock). This does not always work if the parrot is still in a living room where she can hear the TV and people moving around, so I recommended putting her in a quiet bedroom where there is not much movement.
  2. Isolate her. Keep her in a separate space, away from other birds. I understood from your question that she is already alone, so if this does not apply, just ignore it. If you have another bird, even if it is a different species, she may think of them as her mate. (My Pionus used my Amazon as a substitute mate, so size and behavior does not matter either.)
  3. Discourage mating behavior. If she is alone and thinks of you as her mate, do not encourage it. Macaws and other parrots will rub their vent on your leg or shoulder, lift up their tail, and sometimes even try to feed you. If your bird acts like this, it is time to put her back in her cage.
  4. Remove "tempting" toys and accessories. If she has a stuffed toy, a mirror, or a feeder that she thinks of as a mate, that thing has to be taken out of her cage. If this is a problem you have probably noticed your Macaw rubbing her vent on the toy, lifting up her tail, or regurgitating on the mirror.
  5. Consider hormone injections. It is also possible to take your bird to see your regular avian veterinarian for an injection of a hormone that will stop the bird from ovulating and laying more eggs. This is a stop-gap measure, and it may need to be repeated. Call your vet and speak to a technician or receptionist to find out if they have the medication on hand before taking your bird in for a visit.

When to See a Vet

Birds usually lay in clutches, so it is unusual to lay one egg and then four months later lay another. If she lays another egg before or after that egg she is sitting is gone, or if you notice that she is eating much less, please take her to see your regular avian veterinarian for a physical examination.

Source

Kim L. Joyner, 1994. "Theriogenology." In Avian Medicine: Principles and Application, edited by Branson W. Ritchie, Greg J. Harrison, Linda R. Harrison, pp.748-804. Lake Worth: Wingers Publish-ing, Inc.

This article is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from your veterinarian. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Dr Mark

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