Like their dinosaur and reptilian ancestors, birds have evolved the ability to lay eggs. This is especially useful for flighted animals, enabling the offspring to continue development without weighing down the mother. All sexually mature female birds are capable of laying eggs, though not all do. This is a totally natural process, just like childbearing in humans. Female birds are capable of laying eggs even if there is no male bird present, though the eggs are not fertilized and will not hatch.
Under normal circumstances, if a female bird (hen) is consuming a healthy diet, egg-laying is a natural process that requires no assistance from humans. However, if a hen is eating a poor nutrition diet (i.e. seed-only), egg-laying can become dangerous. A diet deficient in calcium and the correct form of vitamin D3 often results in “egg binding,” with the hen unable to produce a proper eggshell and/or to be able to successfully pass an egg. Egg binding is a medical emergency and the bird needs to be seen immediately by an avian veterinarian. In addition to problems due to malnutrition, some companion bird species have been “bred to be breeders” as they say, and these species can get into chronic egg-laying cycles, which can become life threatening, especially with single hens. Birds that produce clutch after clutch with no break need assistance in stopping the cycle. Owners are advised to leave the eggs with the hen as long as she is caring for them, only throwing them out when the hen loses interest in them. If chronic egg-laying continues, owners should consult an avian veterinarian to assess the bird’s nutritional intake and get help with stopping the cycle. Note: Please reference the medical index on this site for further information about egg laying and egg binding.
Disclaimer: BirdChannel.com’s Bird Behavior Index is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health if you suspect your pet is sick. If your pet is showing signs of illness or you notice changes in your bird’s behavior, take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.