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Cockatiel trio laying lots of eggs - need advice

caspin22

Walking the driveway
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11/10/22
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Christine
We have a total of 4 cockatiels, three females and one male, but the three involved in this saga are two females and a male who live together (the third female is caged separately in a different room). "The Trio", as we call them, has lived together since we brought them home as just weaned babies, and they get along great.

A couple of months ago, both females started laying eggs on the bottom of the cage. We've seen the male trying to mate with each of the females, but he looks ridiculous, and I'm not sure he really knows what to do. :) So we have no idea if any of the eggs are actually fertile.

At first, based on what I've read, we'd replace each new egg with a dummy egg, and everything I read said that they would eventually lose interest in the eggs, and at that point, I could pull them. After a few weeks, I pulled the eggs, but they laid more to replace them. At this point, there are 8 eggs at the bottom of the cage (although they've each laid probably 8 or 9 each total including the ones I pulled), and all three of them take turns sitting on them, sometimes all three are down there sitting at once, but sometimes nobody is on them. They still come out of their cage every day, remain tame and enjoy our presence, everyone is eating well, playing, etc. They are all on zupreem natural and get fresh chop and sprouts every day, which all of them eat happily.

I brought this up with the vet tech when I was at my avian vet the other day, and he said don't use dummy eggs, don't worry about pulling the eggs, let nature take its course. I said - and what if they hatch? He said that's fine, the parents should feed them, I should just stay out of it. The problem is, we have no interest in breeding, or handfeeding. And I know for a fact my husband won't be able to handle losing a baby, or any of the potential emotions that would bring.

Any advice? They aren't trying to make a nest, there are no "nesty" places in their cage, they get 10-12 hours of dark sleep per night. Right now the eggs are just on the bottom grate of the cage, and that's where they sit on them. Should I put a washcloth or something down there to make them more comofrtable? I want them to be ok, but also don't want to encourage additional egg laying, so I'm not sure which way to go at this point. Any advice would be appreciated.
 

Rebel

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Put the male in his own cage if you dont want babies. Its your only option. And dont let the male out when the females are out.
I have a bonded pair. It was heartbreaking to separate them but you have to do what you have to do. Separating them doesn’t necessarily mean the egg laying will stop. It didnt in my case. She lays eggs and doesn’t bother with them. She did lay on them when there were only a couple but after a few she gave up. I use printer paper in the bottom of my cages. If you’re worried about their comfort, i wouldnt do any more than that.
 
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caspin22

Walking the driveway
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Christine
I’m more concerned with the chronic egg laying right now than I am with babies. I will separate them if needed, but I’d really like to keep them from laying continuously.
 

Rebel

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I’m more concerned with the chronic egg laying right now than I am with babies. I will separate them if needed, but I’d really like to keep them from laying continuously.
We are in the same boat. My girl is also a chronic egg layer. She laid her 17th egg today. Vets offer things like hormone's shots and implants. Otherwise all you can do is change their living quarters around, change their diet etc. Whatever takes them out of their comfort zone. Meanwhile provide them with necessary calcium . Im taking my girl to the vet on Tuesday for a separate issue but will be discussing the egg laying.
FYI , the boy in close proximity isnt helping matters.
 

sunnysmom

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I would replace the eggs with dummy eggs. You can also try increasing their hours of darkness by 2 hours for 2 weeks to make them think it's "winter" and not time to lay and also frequently rearranging the cage. Typically birds don't like to lay eggs in a new environment.
 

Zara

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I brought this up with the vet tech when I was at my avian vet the other day, and he said don't use dummy eggs, don't worry about pulling the eggs, let nature take its course. I said - and what if they hatch? He said that's fine, the parents should feed them, I should just stay out of it.
That's pretty cruddy advice.

And I know for a fact my husband won't be able to handle losing a baby, or any of the potential emotions that would bring.
I vividly remember finding my birds two day old chick dead the day after christmas. Even though I spent literally minutes watching over that bird in the check ins, it was still an awfully sad experience. Me and my partner sat on the floor crying.

Put the male in his own cage if you dont want babies. Its your only option. And dont let the male out when the females are out.
Not true, the dummy eggs make sure that chicks don't happen.

I have a bonded pair. It was heartbreaking to separate them but you have to do what you have to do.
Separating bonded birds is an extreme last resort that should not be done lightly. Unless one bird is harming the other, they should be allowed to stay together while other steps are taken first to try.

Some things to try;

Like @sunnysmom said, increase the nighttime to 13-14 hours darkness.
It is important that those hours of daylight have bright light, so if you live in a grey or cloudy area, or don't have many windows, then a nice LED lamp can help.
When you remove eggs, it is important, especially if you are removing before the birds abandon them, that you rearrange their living quarters at the same time. Get the birds out for a fly and set to work on the cage, move the perches around, the toys, the food and water bowls. Add in a new toy for them to explore, add in some foraging activities to entertain them, if you can get some safe branches or leaves, flowers, things like that to enrich their space.
Be sure there are no nooks in the cage, or darker spaces. (Also be sure there is no access to nooks and dark spaces out of the cage)
If you can move the cage, that also usually helps a lot, even just a metre. If not, try rotating the cage.
Keep a diary, notebook or mark on a calendar all of the eggs by which bird, and monitor closely. Cockatiels are a species that can easily become chronic egg layers. As @Rebel said above, the vet can provide options like implants or injections, again these are steps to try after trying the things above first.
It goes without saying, but keep using the dummy eggs. They are a safe way to avoid unwanted breeding.
 

caspin22

Walking the driveway
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Arizona, USA
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Christine
That's pretty cruddy advice.
Thank you, it didn't feel right and I needed to hear this. Will continue to replace the eggs with dummies as we had been doing, and will do a big cage re-arrange today.
 
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