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Old 11-28-2020, 10:52 AM
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Advice needed (egg laying)

hello!

I'm the proud mama of 2 cockatiels. A boy and a girl. They've shared a cage for about 5 years and while they like each other well enough, they've never shown any sign of actual bonding or an interest in mating which suits me just fine. My girl had never even laid an egg in all those years and I never encouraged her to (no nest box or nesting materials in the cage).

This morning I woke up to find one single egg at the bottom of the cage. She obviously laid it from way up on her sleeping perch and it was broken. I'd read quite a bit about how to handle egg laying and signs of egg binding when I first got her so I'm not completely in the dark here but I just want to make sure I'll proceed correctly. I was thinking to provide a nest box and some materials for her to finish up her business and let her sit on her eggs (if she does end up making more) for a while before removing them but I'm worried this will encourage her to make this a habit. I'm also worried that if I DON'T provide her with those things she'll keep laying in random places and just not stop laying if I keep removing eggs. I'm just wondering what the right course of action may be here.

I think it's worth noting that I don't believe these eggs to be fertilized. As I said, in 5 years they haven't seemed to bond all that much beyond accepting each other's presence and this hasn't changed at all recently. My girl only ever "flirts" with low hanging toys in the cage and never with my male.
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Old 11-28-2020, 03:57 PM
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Re: Advice needed (egg laying)

I think the first thing to try to observe here is whether your hen is showing any interest in that egg at all - although that may be difficult since it is broken. Sometimes hens will lay one egg and show no further interest in it and never lay again. I would definitely not recommend providing any type of nest box or nesting material as that may only serve to increase the behavioural responses in both of your birds and even more eggs may result.

It might be worth your while investing in some plastic or ceramic dummy eggs to have on stand-by in case your hen does start to lay again. These are great because they allow her to sit on them for as long as she likes and work off all her maternal yearnings safely. I also recommend dummy eggs because the hen can't accidentally break the shell over several weeks of determined sitting, which leaves you with a nasty smelly mess to have to clean up if the shell on a natural egg does rupture.

I wish you and your hen the very best and hope you will keep us updated
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Old 11-30-2020, 10:43 AM
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Re: Advice needed (egg laying)

Thanks for the advice! So far everything is going well. She's her usual cheery self and no other egg in sight for now. Here's to hoping it was just a fluke. She's still trying very hard to get at the liner at the bottom of the cage so I'm still a little concerned she may be trying to make a nest since she usually leaves it alone.
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Old 11-30-2020, 04:15 PM
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Re: Advice needed (egg laying)

Oh yes, that's definitely nesty behaviour. If she does lay another egg and doesn't break it, you can boil it for about 5 minutes, let it cool and return it to her to sit on. She may still lay another after that but you can repeat the procedure and let her sit on them until she realises nothing is hatching and loses interest. Boiling the eggs ensures that a) nothing will hatch and b) if it's an infertile egg it makes it tougher and more likely to withstand several days or weeks of her sitting on it. Having those dummy eggs on standby is the better option though.

Unfortunately mating does not necessarily have to have taken place in order for your hen to start laying. Sometimes they respond to cues by the male that are imperceptible to us and those hormones can start to run away with themselves, and the same is true vice versa. I had a beautiful female cockatiel called Twinkle who my male, Fang, fell hopelessly in love with and he would go absolutely crazy hormonal over her if she gave him even the slightest "come-hither" type glance. Hopefully this phase will pass for you without further issue!
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