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Older Macaw Begins To Lay Eggs

An older female macaw is protective of her cracked eggs.

Q: I have a female blue-and-gold macaw that is 17 years old. I have only had her for about six months. She was given to me by some close friends. She seems very happy and healthy. For the first time, she has begun to lay several eggs over the last few weeks. Since she does not have a mate, they are obviously infertile. They drop to the bottom of her cage or perch and generally crack open. She appears somewhat protective of them at first, but then gets over it. Is this behavior normal for a hen? Should I be concerned about her diet (i.e. calcium etc.)? Any assistance or suggestions is appreciated. Thanks.

Kashmir CsakyKashmir Csaky explains:

In captivity, it is not abnormal for a mature macaw hen to lay eggs and protect her eggs. Yet it can be troublesome for people with pet birds. Therefore, you should closely examine her environment for what is encouraging her to lay eggs. Macaw hens confined to small cages might view their surrounding as a nesting area. By taking her beyond her reproductive comfort zone, you can help prevent further egg laying. When she is not cycling, take her for rides in the car or to the home of a bird-friendly acquaintance. If her wing feathers are recently trimmed or with the use of a leash and harness, she can go out for picnics or to a park. Only go to places that are safe for birds. Avoid dog parks or areas that are particularly noisy and active. Teach her some tricks and keep her busy to help draw her attention away from laying eggs. Move her cage to a different location each night so that she is less likely to ovulate.

Blue & golds often lay multiple clutches and produce too many eggs. She is less likely to lay another clutch if she sits on her eggs. Leave her eggs with her until she abandons them. Pad the area under the perch with clean straw or shredded newspaper to prevent the eggs from breaking. If an egg cracks, paint the cracks with clear nail polish or white glue to prevent bacteria from entering the egg. Discard any egg at the first signs of bacterial growth. If an egg breaks, replace it with a ceramic egg of similar size.

Macaw hens with poor muscle tone run the risk of becoming egg bound. Egg laying hens should be well muscled and eating a healthy diet. Although egg laying can deplete calcium and other nutrients from the body, it is risky to add vitamin supplements to her diet. If you add an overabundance of vitamins, the result can be vitamin toxicity. Your best chance of getting the correct balance of nutrients into her system is by feeding her a good breeder pellet. When she stops laying eggs, resume feeding her a maintenance diet. If she will not eat pellets, then increase the amount of vitamin- and calcium-rich foods in her diet. Broccoli and almonds are examples of foods rich in calcium, and broccoli has many other nutrients that are beneficial for egg laying hens.  

There are medical treatments to manage excessive egg laying. I recommend that you take your bird to an avian veterinarian for a thorough examination and a discussion about how many eggs your macaw hen can safely lay.

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Older Macaw Begins To Lay Eggs

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Reader Comments
my bird of 15 years just started laying eggs even though shes supposed to be a boy so i kept her away from my other boy. does anyone know whats the time limit on fertilizing her egg. I wanna mate her with my boy.
faye, romulus, MI
Posted: 12/13/2013 10:40:19 AM
I also have a 17yr old female B&G Macaw. I have always known she was female as she was checked by a vet and sexed when she was a baby. I have a leg band too but never had it put on her, I just keep it on my keychain. So I have had her 16yrs and she just laid an egg this morning for the very first time. I thought she had been acting strangely the past month. Anyways I noticed it when I went into her room to feed her before I went to work today. This has been our routine since day 1. I clean out her bowls and replensish them give her a hug and off I go for the day. So as I was doing this I saw the egg..there it was, on the bottom of her cage, brokem, yolk on the paper below it. She may have layed it from the highest branch in her cage so it broke. So I took it. I did not think twice about it. She seemed ok she was no where near it. She was perched and happy to eat the new treats I had just put in her bowl. I wish I had read this article first! I didnt know not to take it was broken I just thought it should be discarded. I hope she doesnt lay another one. I know this is not a good cycle to get into. Oh dear. Guess I will watch her and see if she lays anymore.
Connie, International
Posted: 1/3/2013 1:25:55 PM
My 20 year ole B/G Macaw just started laying eggs every 4 days... what to do with the eggs? Also is this going to continue??
Doug, Tallahassee, SC
Posted: 6/3/2012 7:34:26 AM
Surprise! It's a girl. My brother and I adopted a B/G Macaw from a friend who has had the bird since it was a baby. He swore the bird was male however we all know he couldn't tell. To our surprise, SHE layed 2 eggs last week just before Christmas. She doesn't seem any different. Her eating may have slowed a little but she is just as happy and active as she was before the eggs. She didn't show any interest in the eggs at all and had no problem with me removing them from her cage. I hope to have her checked over by an Aviary Vet and maybe breed her next year.
Jen, Racine, WI
Posted: 12/27/2011 4:03:48 PM
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