Q: I have green-cheeked conures that have laid eggs for the first time. The first egg hatched on Sunday night, the second one on Wednesday. On Thursday, the second one had died when we checked it. There are four eggs left, and one has a dark color to it. Will it hatch soon, or is something wrong? How long should we leave the eggs in the nest to see if they will hatch? If another one hatches, do you think we should pull it? I'm afraid they didn't feed the second baby and that is why it died.
Margrethe Warden explains:
Typically, the eggs hatch every day or every other day, thus, they should hatch within eight days if they are viable. Without seeing the eggs, it is hard to determine. However, when an egg appears “dark,” it often means the egg is no good. There are several reasons for this. Sometimes, the chick dies before it is fully developed, and the causes are numerous. Other times, the shell becomes cracked or has a tiny hole in it, and this can cause the developing embryo to become dead in the shell.
First-time parents, especially if they are imprinted on humans or raised alone, can have trouble figuring out how to be parents. It is not uncommon for the first timers to fail to feed the chicks — in some instances they even forget to incubate their eggs. One important thing to keep in mind when working with green-cheeked conures is that Pyrrhura conures are sensitive to nest-box intrusions. Frequent inspections can spook the parent birds when they’re incubating. This might account for egg damage or failure to feed the chick. If any of the remaining eggs hatch, either pull the chick right away or monitor it carefully to determine if the parents are feeding it. If the crop is not full, pull the chick from the nest immediately for hand-feeding.