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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This article is dedicated to my little green gem Cleopatra and all the other wonderful female parrotlets out there.

Stopping unwanted eggs will require you to know what hormonal signs look like. You need to recognize them while they are happening and immediately take the necessary steps to control your bird’s environment by understanding their physiology. The sooner you intervene, the better success you’ll have stopping escalating hormones. You have some time before egg-laying occurs, but if you do not intervene soon enough; your bird could reach a point where they think of nothing else but laying eggs.


Signs that your female bird is hormonal
  • Increased appetite
  • Drinks more water than usual
  • Regurgitating of food
  • Shows more aggression than usual, including biting
  • Vent grinding
  • Plucking or barbering feathers (usually around the chest or between the legs)
  • More antsy than usual
  • Aggressively protective of chosen nesting area in cage
  • An increased interest in cuttlebone or other calcium sources
  • Rubbing against toys
  • Egg-laying
  • Fewer and larger watery poops
  • More than normal possessiveness over the cage
  • Increased shredding of paper or toys and increased chewing
  • Weight gain (know how much your bird normally weighs)
  • Swelling or bulge in the vent area

Light - To help curb excess hormonal behavior, you need to decrease the amount of light you expose your bird to every day.

Parrotlets normally require at least 12 hours of darkness per day, but if your bird is exhibiting hormonal signs, or laying unwanted eggs, put your bird to bed earlier, by adding 1-2 hours of darkness each night; preferably 2 hours. This helps convince your bird it is “wintertime” and not the best time to lay eggs. It will take about two weeks before your bird no longer displays any hormonal behavior. At that time, you can then gradually start returning your bird back to its regular sleep cycle of 12 hours per night.

Light triggers egg-laying in birds. By turning on lights when the days get shorter, we are creating a world for our birds where egg-laying can occur year-round, with or without a mate. To our birds, there is no difference between artificial light and natural light – both will get your female hormonal and wanting to lay eggs.

Darkness – Equally as important as reducing your birds light intake, is providing your bird with complete darkness and quiet at bedtime. This means turning off/covering up anything that produces light during the night, including TV, computer, power buttons, digital clocks, cable boxes and nite-lights.

A spare room with blackout curtains or blinds, and a cover over the cage should be sufficient. If your curtains or blinds are not dark enough, try throwing something over the window to block unwanted light.

You can put your bird in a sleep cage and move it to an inner room of your home, such as a spare bathroom, laundry room, or even a walk-in closet. If another room is not an option, place your bird as far away from any light and noise as possible, and place a dark cover over the cage. A sheer cover will not work. The darker and quieter you can make the room, the better; with darkness being the more important of the two. This is because your bird’s brain has what is called a pineal gland (sometimes referred to as “the third eye”) that ‘observes’ even the smallest amount of light and will interpret it as extended daylight. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland to help regulate sleep. As the days get longer, the pineal gland reacts by sending a hormone throughout your bird’s body to start producing eggs. And as the days shorten, it stops sending this hormone. Because the pineal gland is light sensitive, you can fool it by decreasing the amount of light, which helps return your birds hormones back to a normal level.

Diet – Do not give your bird food that is warm or soft because this kind of food simulates the regurgitated food that mates feed to each other, and to their young.

Avoid foods that are high in carbohydrates, calories and fat, such as bread, corn, sweet potatoes, meats, cooked whole wheat pasta, rice, dried fruits, crackers, or any human snacks. These foods will provide your bird’s body with too much excessive energy that will trigger your bird into thinking that food is abundant. Your bird will interpret this as a good time to reproduce.

Avoid starchy or sugary foods. Too many proteins are not recommended at this time. Pellets with high protein and processed soy should be avoided. Soy is a hormone disrupter that creates something similar to the hormone estrogen. Apples, bananas and grapes contain too much natural sugars and should be avoided during hormonal periods. Sunflower seeds and nuts should be given only sparingly.

Instead, offer more vegetables and leafy greens to ensure your bird receives the proper nutrients needed. Provide good quality seeds. Sprouts, hemp seeds and wheat germ are good. Berries should be given as treats.

Egg-laying depletes calcium in your bird’s body. Provide a cuttlebone and finely crushed dried eggshells in their food bowls daily. Other sources of calcium are broccoli, peas, cabbage, celery, carrots, kale, and zucchini. If your bird will not touch the cuttlebone, you can purchase a calcium supplement. Just be sure not to give too much calcium, or you will risk your bird getting hypercalcemia, which is when there is too much calcium in the blood.

Vitamin D3 is important for your bird’s health. It helps your bird’s body absorb nutrients and calcium found in their food, and is beneficial for the health of your bird’s feathers, skin and bones. You can provide Vitamin D3 by taking your bird outside for some sunshine; all that is needed is 15 minutes, three times a week. The only drawback is availability. Be careful not to put your bird’s cage in direct sunlight when it is too hot, your bird can overheat quickly, which can lead to sunstroke. Never leave your bird outside alone – your bird’s safety and well being should be your top priority. Another alternative for housebound birds is full spectrum lighting which is specifically made for birds. Both of these options will help maintain your bird’s overall good health.

Environment – Objects in your bird’s cage such as sleep tents, happy huts, and coconut huts are a strong stimulus for egg-laying and should be removed, along with any cuddly/soft toys. No mirrors, as your bird may become too infatuated with their own reflection. Better choices are toys made of hard plastic, wood, metal or natural materials. If your bird displays any mating behavior with a toy – it needs to be permanently removed.

If you observe your bird shredding paper, this is one of the first warning signs of wanting to lay eggs. Remove all paper from the inside of the cage and place papers under the grate to prevent your bird from having access to nesting material. Shredding is a strong indication that your bird’s hormones are going into overdrive.

Cage Arrangement – When your bird wants to lay eggs, they want an environment that is comfortable and undisturbed. They do not like change. There is more of a greater likelihood that your bird will lay eggs in a cage that you have not rearranged in a while. So, at the first sign of active hormones, you need to reorganize the cage by moving your bird’s bowls, toys and perches to different places. This should be done weekly, so as to shake up your birds comfort zone. Try alternating one toy every day. Your bird will not lay eggs if it feels that its surroundings fail to provide a stable environment.

If necessary, put your bird in a different cage, or change the location of her regular cage every couple of days. If your bird gets too stressed by this, simply move the cage to the other side of the original room. You never want your bird to feel anxious, but you do not want them to be so relaxed that they have everything figured out.

Even before your female begins showing any sign of hormonal behavior, it is a good idea to completely rearrange the inside of her cage regularly, as it serves to prevent nesting behavior. The more consistent you are doing this, the more effective it will be discouraging egg-laying.


Cage Mates - As a rule, parrotlets normally do not make the best cage mates. If your bird is hormonal, this is especially problematic. Being true parrots, parrotlets are aggressive and territorial by nature and can inflict injury to another bird, or even worse, kill it.

Nature’s call on our females to lay eggs is so strong that any companion in the same cage will be seen as a potential mate; regardless of its sex, or even that it’s an entirely different species of bird altogether. This arrangement often leads to egg-laying, or if not that, a problem of over active hormones.

It is best to keep your birds in separate cages, with each bird having its own possessions. The cages can be placed next to each other, for company, as long as your birds get along. If they do not, place the cages farther apart or put one bird in another room to avoid quarreling and combative behavior.

Allow your birds playtime together outside of their cages as long as it is closely supervised. Providing a communal play area will give your birds a place to hang out and socialize with you, and so they can interact with each other. There is a decreased chance of conflict if they are in a neutral location, away from each other’s cages and belongings – which they can be fiercely possessive about.

Scritches - Never touch your bird below the neck. If you touch your birds back, chest, vent area, or under the wings, your bird will assume you are interested in being its mate. This will bring on a hormonal response to lay eggs. In nature, birds only display this type of affection during courtship or when preparing to reproduce. Limit petting to the head and neck. Feet are okay.

If your bird’s hormones start to spike, you will notice a shift in their behavior. Your bird will likely become more ill-tempered, aggressive, territorial and nippy. This is why it is important to decrease physical contact at the first sign of hormonal behavior. Ease up on those cuddles and scritches!

Your bird may start displaying mating behaviors like regurgitating food, vent rubbing or tail lifting. If your bird tries to mate with you, simply put your bird back to its cage, playstation or refocus your bird’s attention to something else.

Exercise – As soon as you recognize any hormonal behavior, try to encourage your bird to exercise. Keep your bird busy with fun activities such as flying, foraging and training; it will help divert your bird’s mind on other things besides egg-laying. Exercise helps burn off the excess energy that your bird is starting to experience from rising hormones. A fun area like a playstation, with lots of toys, swings, ropes and ladders will give your bird the opportunity to climb, explore and stretch her wings and legs. An active bird is less likely to lay eggs than one that isn’t active.

When to Seek Professional Advice – If your bird continues to lay eggs, consult with an avian veterinarian. Chronic egg-laying is a serious matter that can cause various health risks for your bird. Your avian veterinarian will provide you with medical options that are available to help stop unwanted egg-laying from occurring.
 

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Very well written! It is a complex problem and from the many, many many articles I read, you covered a lot of ground! You are correct! The key is to recognize the hormonal changes as soon as possible and act quickly!


David ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Very well written! It is a complex problem and from the many, many many articles I read, you covered a lot of ground! You are correct! The key is to recognize the hormonal changes as soon as possible and act quickly!


David ;)
Thank you, David. I’m so glad you liked it! :)
 

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Percy is laying eggs. Your post is really helpful. I have a question about the wheat germ and the hemp seed. I'm ordering it and the hemp seeds from Amazon. There's raw and toasted wheat germ which is best? The hemp seeds shelled or not shelled.
Percy is my first parrotlet and my first bird to ever have unwanted eggs.
Thanks for the post,
Peggy
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Hi Peggy,

Of the two, raw wheat germ is healthier because toasted wheat germ loses nutrients from over toasting. The raw wheat germ is flakey and has a blander taste than the toasted, whereas the toasted has a nuttier taste. If for some reason your bird does not like raw wheat germ, you can try toasting it yourself. Just place the raw wheat germ in a heavy skillet and toast over medium heat. Make sure to constantly stir it and then remove from the pan right away when it is toasted the way you want it. This way you get the nuttier taste without over toasting and losing nutrients.

I am sure that either the shelled or unshelled hemp seeds are fine to give to your bird, but the shelled hemp seeds are supposed to have more nutrients. This is because when the hemp seeds are taken out of the shell they must be heated and they lose nutrients.
 

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Male parrotlets can get hormonal like females parrotlets and attempt to mate with you. When they happens, you can discourage it by putting them down or back in their cage to break the cycle. Tents, happy huts, and coconut huts should be avoided for them as well, in addition to soy products.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Anya, I don't have a female parrotlet, but found this a really interesting read, so thank you so much for writing it! :) If I ever do have a girl parrotlet - this will be my go to for info! :ThumbsUp:

I'm wondering - do the male parrotlets have the potential to get ... hmm ... let's say enthusiastic .... as male budgies can? (I have had them try to mate with my hand for example :eek:).
Thank you! That is a very nice thing to say. :)

Yes, if Squirtles becomes too amorous towards you, you need to change the "subject" right away. :rolleyes: Cleopatra on a few occassions has let me know she sees me as her mate. I just put her on her playstation and she thankfully has snapped out of it quickly and shown no other signs of hormonal behavior.
 

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This is the first time I have seen this, it is wonderful! I'm so glad to see that it is a sticky, thank you so much for posting it Anya!
 
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