It’s been a regular avian grumpfest around here lately. The falcons are on an all-you-can-eat diet and the molting has commenced, meaning falcons who have no use for me and are nearly impossible to handle. The pigeons or making ostentatious and impossibly loud overtures to one another. Meanwhile, the parrots are touchy and feathers abound in the house. Tis the season. What I wasn’t expecting though, was Loki’s first egg. Fifteen years old and my little hen Senegal parrot decided this was the year to settle down and get to business.
I watched her closely as soon as I realized she had made herself a newspaper nest and that she was bulging about the cloaca. I expected aggression, but what I got was adoration and regurgitation. She turned to goo, literally. I tried not to encourage her while watching for signs of egg binding. I was relieved when the first egg arrived and then the second. I might have one more to look forward to and then hopefully we’re done.
Egg laying can actually be dangerous business. An egg the parrot is unable to pass is a death sentence and not uncommon. First time egg layers and older birds may be more likely to become egg bound so keep an eye out. Egg binding can also occur because of compromised health, poor nutrition or simply because of genetics. If your bird is puffed, bright-eyed, interactive, but obviously just nesty, she’s probably fine, but watch closely for signs of distress. Watch for a distended abdomen and straining to pass something through the vent, drooping wings, fluffed feathers, loss of appetite and difficulty breathing. And if there is any question at all in your mind, best just to get to the vet!
Here are a few tips to avoid egg binding:
- Get your bird DNA sexed so you know whether or not to suspect egg-laying
- Try not to encourage nesting and bonding behavior during the breeding season.
- Make sure your parrot has a nutritious well balanced diet with sufficient calcium (smooth muscle requires calcium to function and of course, calcium is required to create fully formed shells)
- Get that bird some exercise! Obese birds are more likely to become egg bound.
- Talk to your vet if your bird lays eggs excessively. Your vet may suggest hormones to get the egg laying to cycle more normally.
If your bird does become egg bound get to the vet right away! Your avian veterinarian can help the egg pass or remove it surgically if necessary before the situation becomes deadly.
Hope you all have a great Spring. It’s gonna be a long one around here…