Many cockatiel owners buy a pair of birds in hopes of breeding cockatiel babies. Because cockatiels are such popular pet birds, there is always demand for these engaging and cuddly birds.
But breeding cockatiels is not as easy as it sounds. And more than a few new owners have been surprised when their supposedly male bird suddenly drops an egg – or their supposedly senior female cockatiel deposits an egg!
Are you wondering what age do cockatiels stop laying eggs? This is the article you need to read.
What Age Do Cockatiels Stop Laying Eggs
Cockatiels generally remain fertile for up to 10 years after reaching sexual maturity. But it is not unheard of for a female cockatiel to lay eggs into the middle teen years!
However, egg-laying late in life can create certain health dangers. Chronic egg laying is also potentially dangerous to your cockatiel.
This article will take a look at all the facets of egg-laying and what to consider first if you want to breed your cockatiel.
Learn About Egg Laying in Female Cockatiels
This short YouTube video addresses egg-laying in female cockatiels from a variety of angles.
Learn about common triggers that may prompt egg-laying. Find out how many years a female cockatiel remains fertile (on average). Discover ways to limit egg-laying for your bird’s overall health.
When Is a Female Cockatiel Ready to Lay Eggs
Overall, cockatiels become sexually mature at anywhere from nine to 12 months of age.
As Tail Feathers Network explains, male cockatiels typically become ready to breed earlier than do female cockatiels.
Let’s say you have a male and a female cockatiel who was born at the same time. Your male cockatiel may begin to exhibit breeding behaviors and readiness as early as six to 10 months old.
In contrast, the female cockatiel may not become mature and ready until 12 months of age.
Experienced cockatiel breeders caution against permitting young cockatiels to breed before the age of 12 months for males and 18 months for females.
The main reason is because of how nutritionally draining this be for breeding birds. In general, you can expect your breeding pair to lay and rear healthier cockatiel chicks if you can delay breeding up to 18 months of age.
What Age Will a Female Cockatiel Stop Laying Eggs
Female cockatiels can remain viable for a surprisingly long period of time!
Avian Avenue explains that an adult female cockatiel generally begins winding down breeding activity around the 10-year mark.
But just because your hen cockatiel is 10 years old or older and has never laid an egg up until now does not mean you are in the clear.
In fact, cockatiels look to their surrounding environment for cues that it is time to breed and lay eggs. In fact, this is the first thing to look at if you have a senior female cockatiel that suddenly starts laying eggs.
This is what we will discuss in the next section here.
What Triggers a Female Cockatiel to Lay Eggs
Even if your female cockatiel is 10 years old or older, if your bird suddenly starts picking up on signs that it is time to mate and breed, she may well start developing an egg inside her body.
The most commonly reported environmental triggers that can cause a female cockatiel to become broody and start to lay eggs are triggers like these:
- Warmer temperatures.
- Longer daylight hours.
- Physical contact with the back, chest, belly, or tail areas.
- Introduction of a simulated “mate” (such as a mirror or plastic bird).
- Introduction of any kind of bird bed, hut or dark corner that looks nest-like.
- Introduction of a male cockatiel to the environment or to the female’s cage.
- Removing any eggs she has already laid (which will stimulate her to lay more).
What Are the Dangers When a Female Cockatiel Lays Eggs
As Cockatiel Cottage points out, allowing a female cockatiel to lay eggs always comes with a risk to your bird and to you.
This holds true whether your bird is laying unfertilized eggs or has mated with a male cockatiel and is laying fertilized eggs.
These are the main dangers you and your bird may face if your female cockatiel begins to form an egg inside her body.
Egg impaction or egg binding
Egg binding or impaction occurs when a female cockatiel cannot pass an egg on her own. Egg impaction occurs when the egg forms so quickly and becomes so large and thick it cannot pass down the oviduct to be pushed out the cloaca.
Either situation is immediately life-threatening to your female cockatiel and requires emergency veterinary intervention.
Forming eggs requires an incredible amount of calcium. When a female cockatiel lays an egg, she will need calcium supplementation in some form to replenish what her body needs.
Female cockatiels that are chronic or continuous egg layers are in danger of severe calcium depletion that can affect not only the adult cockatiel’s health but also the viability of the eggs.
Forming and passing eggs is incredibly taxing for a female cockatiel. This is part of why experienced breeders recommend delaying a young female cockatiel’s first clutch and doing your best to limit clutches to one or two per year.
When a cockatiel reaches the senior years – generally regarded as age 10 or older – the physical demands of egg laying and chick rearing can quickly deplete the bird’s available resources.
Whether the female cockatiel is laying “blanks” (infertile eggs) or fertilized eggs, there is also a tremendous psychological toll that comes from incubating and tending to the eggs.
This only increases if the eggs are fertile. The chicks will need feeding, warming, and round-the-clock protection and care for a period of many weeks.
Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital explains that cockatiels can develop a variety of reproductive injuries such as uterine or cloacal prolapse from egg laying, uterine rupture, ovarian cysts, and tumors.
Reproductive diseases can also occur from the internal pressure and disruption of normal elimination functions. Kidney failure, cloacal inflammation, oviduct metritis, salpingitis, and other infections are all too common in egg laying female cockatiels.
Can You Stop a Female Cockatiel From Laying Eggs
Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue outlines the steps you can take if you want to stop your female cockatiel from laying eggs.
The most important thing you want to do is create an environment to send your female cockatiel the message that now is not a good time for egg laying.
Limiting daylight hours, serving less palatable food, removing all nest-type areas inside the cage or nearby, keeping the temperature on the coolish side, removing any mirrors or mate-like toys or cage-mates, and removing nesting materials may help.
Never pet or touch your female cockatiel anywhere below the neck to discourage the stimulation of breeding hormones.
Do not remove existing eggs if your cockatiel has already laid one or more eggs. This will simply tell her body to lay more eggs.
Consider purchasing fake eggs (eggs made to look like real cockatiel eggs) and replacing her natural eggs with these fake eggs.
If you see any signs of egg binding, illness or nutritional depletion, always take your female cockatiel to a qualified avian veterinarian without delay.