Every year many cockatiels’ eggs fail to hatch. I’m often asked “Why are my cockatiel eggs not hatching?” and in many cases, the problem is that the birds are young and inexperienced and simply don’t know what to do, or that they don’t have a suitable place for nesting. There are ways you can help your birds lay more fertile eggs, whether they’re currently well-nesting or not.
If you’ve got a cockatiel in need of hatching assistance, this post is for you. I’ll outline what causes infertile eggs, and offer tips on how to make sure your bird gets some fertile ones. It’s time to start thinking about the breeding season – these tips could be just what your cocky needs.
What Causes Infertile Cockatiel Eggs?
There are several reasons why cockatiel eggs are infertile. As the egg itself is an unfertilized egg or the bird’s age is not yet mature enough. Even the lack of material to make a nest can affect the infertility of the eggs themselves.
Here are some explanations for why your cockatiel eggs are infertile:
A few cockatiels lay infertile eggs even when they are fertile. Their eggs are simply not fertilized – the sperm never made it to where it was needed. Usually, these eggs are found in nests that aren’t a strong enough environment for raising young birds – often due to new owners who don’t yet have the birds well-established.
In fact, it is not uncommon for cockatiels to lay eggs in the feed or at the bottom of their cages. This usually happens when you only keep a female without a male partner.
Cockatiels are not mature enough to breed until about one year of age. Sometimes young birds will lay, but the eggs will be infertile. Fortunately, once your birds have reached breeding maturity, you can help them get fertile eggs more often.
Lack of Genetic Diversity
In order for an egg to be fertile, it must receive genes from both parents. If a pair of birds are closely related (e.g., bred from brother and sister), they may have an easier time than unrelated pairs, but some still won’t produce fertile eggs at all. If you’ve got birds of the same species, this is less likely to be a problem because their genes are more diverse.
The health factor of the bird itself also greatly affects the fertility of the eggs.
As you know, cockatiel eggs need several nutrients which are crucial in their development. Therefore, you are obliged to provide healthy food when the breeding season arrives. Providing egg food can increase the chances of getting fertile eggs.
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Lack of Nesting Material
Without adequate nesting material, birds may not be able to create a proper nest for laying eggs or raising chicks. Cockatiels typically need tree branches and shredded paper or cotton to build a suitable nest – if they don’t have what they need, they will sometimes lay eggs elsewhere, like on the bottom of the cage or in a corner where the cage touches the wall.
Too Young of an Egg
This can happen with inexperienced breeding pairs, in which case it’s not usually a problem. However, an egg that is too young may not have enough time to develop into a chick before it expires.
How to Get More Fertile Eggs
Don’t assume your birds have poor nesting habits because they’ve never laid fertile eggs before! Your birds may simply need to learn how to properly nest first.
Try the following to help your birds lay fertile eggs:
Sufficient Cage Size
Make sure there are at least three feet of cage space for them. This allows room for nesting material, some movement from the birds themselves, and plenty of space in case you want to put your bird in a different cage during the breeding season.
This allows room for nesting material, some movement from the birds themselves, and plenty of space in case you want to put your bird in a different cage during the breeding season.
Put more than one nest box in the cage. Cockatiels can be territorial and may prefer to move outside their nest boxes instead of using them for privacy. Also, you can sometimes see a female cockatiel’s eggs before they are fertilized by detecting the outline of a nest – she will often sit on top of her eggs for this reason.
If you have only one box, your bird may be less likely to use it. A good rule of thumb is to make sure there are at least two boxes per cockatiel on average during mating season.
Cockatiels can be territorial and may prefer to move outside their nest boxes instead of using them for privacy. Clean out old nest material as needed and replace it with fresh tree branches or paper towels.
If you have a “nest box” cage that uses plastic mesh, check the box on a regular basis to make sure it has no holes in the bottom.
Give Healthy Foods
Make sure your birds don’t have any fatty foods, like avocado or cheese. These can slow down their reproductive systems and keep them from breeding.
If you have some of your bird’s food in the cage, consider using a different type. Some foods contain oils that can dissolve feathers and make them fall off. By removing these oils, you can help prevent feather plucking and other stress-induced behavior problems.
Put your bird on a high-quality pelleted diet for breeding season to ensure good health and plenty of nutrients for laying eggs.
Keep it Clean
Clean any moss from the cage on a regular basis, as it can get moldy and mold can put stress on birds’ reproductive systems.
A New Nest Box is Better
If your bird has an older nest box, give it a new one to replace that one! Birds are known for breeding in anything from cardboard boxes to toy jars – so if your bird is used to nesting in that particular box, it’s probably better off with a new one.
Age is Matter
Never breed young birds (i.e., those under one year old). There is often too much of a chance that they won’t be healthy enough to handle breeding, or will otherwise not be mature enough to do so successfully.
If your bird has never laid fertile eggs before, give it at least two or three months before trying to breed it. This is a good amount of time for it to learn how to nest properly, as well as time for you to make sure the other birds in your home are able to lay eggs successfully.
As we have seen, there are several reasons why cockatiel eggs do not hatch. The most influencing factor is the readiness of the bird itself.
But don’t worry, the solutions above are an easy one to implement. And also patience is needed in this matter.
If your bird continues to lay infertile eggs even after trying the above tips, do consider that it may also be a sign of an underlying health or stress issue. If the problem is the health of your cockatiel, then the best solution is to make a visit to the vet.
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