Lovebirds' Egg-Laying Process: A Personal Experience
In this article, the following common questions and topics about egg-laying in lovebirds will be addressed in detail.
- When Will a Female Lovebird Lay an Egg?
- How Many Eggs Will a Female Lovebird Lay?
- Signs of a Pregnant Lovebird
- Finding a Suitable Nest Box
- Nesting Materials for Lovebirds
- Egg-Binding in Lovebirds
- Calcium Supply for Your Lovebirds (Table)
- A Healthy Recipe for Lovebirds
- Infertility in Lovebirds
- What are the Causes of Infertility?
When Will a Female Lovebird Lay an Egg?
Many novice breeders have this question in their minds at some point of time. A female lovebird will lay an egg with or without a mate, when she is around 9-12 months of age. Of course, without a mate, the eggs laid will be infertile. Sometimes people end up buying two females or two males. Housing them together may lead to a clutch of infertile eggs in the former case, while no eggs in the latter. When mating occurs between a true lovebird pair (male and female), the eggs laid will be fertile. Though infertile eggs are possible too, as it is in the case of my pets Mumu and Lulu.
How Many Eggs Will a Female Lovebird Lay?
Eggs will be laid within 7-10 days after mating. In my case, Lulu gave an egg exactly a week later on 6 October 2016. Interestingly, we had no idea that she was pregnant! Usually a hen (female lovebird) lays a clutch of 4-6 eggs, in a gap of 1-2 days. She then broods over the eggs, usually after laying the whole clutch. The incubation period is between 21-23 days, after which the chicks are hatched. There may be exceptions too. The chicks may even hatch out by the 24th or 25th day. Make sure you count the days, so that you can approximately calculate the hatching date.
Lulu had laid 4 eggs continuously every alternate days. Then after a gap of 7-10 days, she had laid 5 more eggs.
Signs of a Pregnant Lovebird
• She walks slowly
• She is unable to fly/flies with difficulty
• She shows slight weight gain
• Her body shows a clear "baby bump"
• She looks tired
• She sleeps a lot, fluffing her feathers
• The male feeds her rigorously
• She may bob her tail
My Female Lovebird Lulu Laid her First EggClick thumbnail to view full-size
Finding a Suitable Nest Box
A nest box is an essential component in lovebird breeding. Upon learning that Lulu laid an egg, we immediately bought a nest box. The pet owner had mistakenly given a round nest made out of steel, which was actually meant for canaries. Surfing the net, I realized that lovebirds need wooden nest boxes. The exchange was made and we bought a small nest box/English budgie nest, which my lovebirds readily accepted. Remember to provide your pets with nesting materials.
Placing the Nest Box
- The nest box can be placed outside the cage, attaching it to the cage wall.
- Attach the nest box inside (with S-Shaped hooks)
In my opinion, placing the nest box inside is better. My pets love to sit inside the box together, for warmth. They doze off too inside it sometimes; as the temperature here is cold. However, you can place it according to your wish.
(P.S. However, you can place it wherever you want, according to your pets comfort level. There is no hard and fast rule for that!)
Lovebird Nest BoxClick thumbnail to view full-size
Lovebird EggsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Nesting Materials for Lovebirds
Lovebirds require nesting materials to make their nests. These are required to keep humidity in the nest, as it is essential for egg laying. Both males and females make long strips of whatever material is available' carrying them in the nest box. While the female tucks them in her wings and tail, the male tries to do so, though remains unsuccessful. However, there can be exceptions (Mumu has mastered the ability of shredding paper and tucking it in his tail)!
You could buy nesting materials from a local pet shop or provide the following:
What Can Be Included in Nesting Materials?
- Palm leaves (Lulu simply adores these)
- Paper towels
- Dried grass
- Lovebird's own feathers (lost ones)
- Leaves of non-poisonous plants (lovebird safe)
Lulu Shredding Palm LeavesClick thumbnail to view full-size
My Male Lovebird Mumu has Mastered Nesting Behavior!
Egg-Binding in Lovebirds
The most common egg-laying problem in lovebirds is egg-binding. This means that your bird is unable to pass an egg easily. This can be fatal to your bird. A vet must be consulted immediately when this occurs. If a vet cannot be consulted, you could do a few things to help your bird expel the egg.
In my case, Lulu had passed 9 eggs easily. The 10th, 11th and 12th egg had been passed with difficulty, in a gap of 5-7 days. She didn't keep well, started vomiting and slept a lot. She stayed like this for one day. The next day her egg would be passed and she would be normal and active again.
Signs of Egg-Binding
- Fluffed feathers
- Sitting at the bottom of the cage
- Tail bobbing
- Difficulty in breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Large droppings/Minimal droppings
- Sleeping a lot (in Lulu's case)
- Vomiting (in Lulu's case)
- Fever (in Lulu's case)
Curing Egg-Binding at Home
- Place bird on a warm towel (heat allows the dilation of muscles, thus helping in passing the egg.)
- Placing bird in a bowl of warm water. Your bird is likely to pass the egg in water.
- Giving calcium supply (crushed egg shells and small pieces of egg-white).
- If your female bird is not eating, feed the male with the calcium supply mentioned above.
- Give plenty of rest without any disturbance.
- Keep the cage covered in blanket for warmth.
- Keep the cage clean. Your bird is likely to pass large droppings which may wet the cage floor, making it colder.
Using Egg as a Quick Calcium Supply for LovebirdsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Calcium Supply for Your Lovebirds
A Healthy Recipe for Lovebirds
• Boil 4-5 spinach leaves and an egg.
• Dry the spinach leaves in sun and crush them.
• Crush some of the egg shell into tiny pieces/powdery form and add to it.
• Take some egg yolk and egg-white too.
• Take fresh corn and dry them till they are hardened. Mash them into tiny bits and add to the mixture.
Toss all of them and serve it fresh to your pet/pets. Either sprinkle it over their food bowl, or give it separately. It solves weakness and strengthens your bird.
Infertility in Lovebirds
Infertility may be caused in a lovebird hen, leaving the eggs empty/without chicks. This is in the case of my bird Lulu. Till now she has laid 12 eggs in total, but there aren't any chicks hatched. She sat on all of them for a while, but her brooding wasn't continuous. It is very saddening yes, I had always wished to see what color would be inherited by their chicks. My male lovebird Mumu is a medium-green heavy pied peach faced while the female Lulu is a white-faced violet roseicollis peach faced lovebird.
A Clutch of Infertile EggsClick thumbnail to view full-size
What are the Causes of Infertility?
- Nutritional Factor
If the hen is lacking minerals and calcium, her eggs will remain infertile. A healthy diet with all the essential minerals and calcium may help in reducing infertility.
- Loose Perches
Ensure that the perches are fixed firmly. The hen needs support to carry the male on her back. If the perches are loose, mating won't happen properly.
If your bird is a mutation she may or may not be infertile.
If your bird is too young or too old, the eggs may remain infertile.
- Environmental Factors
There should be enough humidity for successful mating. Heaters and humidifiers may aid in creating such atmosphere. A nest box is also very essential for mating.
Have you Ever Seen a Chick Hatching?
Lovebirds are a beautiful species and their reproduction and egg-laying process a wonder of nature. Unfortunately, I am not lucky enough to see the hatching of my pets's chicks. Nevertheless, I still hope that one day I might see their babies, hopefully...
© 2016 Sakina Nasir