an African grey parrot laid an egg

How Often do African Greys Lay Eggs?

Learning how often African greys can lay eggs will help you out if your bird ever produces an egg. Some birds will make a few eggs over a few weeks, and other African greys will produce eggs all year round. Having eggs all year round is not the norm for this species. In the wild, they do not lay eggs year-round but instead do it during a breeding season.

How Many Times A Year Will an African Greys Lay Eggs?

An African grey will lay eggs in the wild during a breeding season between April and May. Each clutch will have between 2-5 eggs. On the other hand, African grey parrots who are pets may produce eggs more than one breeding cycle per year.

However, egg-laying causes stress on the African greys body due to the energy and nutrients to make the egg. The African greys don’t produce eggs without a mate in the wild. It is probably best to discourage your bird from laying eggs since no mate is present.

From 2011 through 2013, a comprehensive study took place on the Congo African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) and their breeding biology. Their aim in this study was the conservation of the species. Since clearcutting is driving the parrots out of their natural habitats, they are endangered.

Often people think they have a male parrot until one day they find that their “male” bird laid an egg. The best way to determine if an African grey is male or female is through a DNA test, which any avian veterinarian can perform.

There is more data on the Congo vs the Timneh African grey when it comes to egg-laying and breeding.

The nesting cycle includes mating, egg-laying, and incubation. African Grey Egg Laying Cycle

Most African greys have an egg-laying cycle between April and May in the wild. How often an African grey lays eggs will depend on environmental factors and outside stimuli. The average length of the nesting cycle in African grey parrots is 147 days. 

an African grey parrot sitting near their clutch of eggs

What Should I do when my African grey parrot lays an egg?

First and foremost, don’t panic. How often African greys lay eggs varies among each bird. Some will lay eggs only once or twice in their entire life, and others lay eggs every year. One person wrote us to let us know that her bird was 36 years old and had never laid an egg until now. You can let them sit on the egg until they get tired of doing it; they will sit on the egg anywhere from 2-4 weeks.

If you take the egg away, it’s probably a good idea to give them a fake replacement egg. Otherwise, they may keep laying eggs every time you take one away. They will have to get plenty of calcium in their diet when they lay eggs because egg production puts added stress on their body and bones.

An African grey parrot diet should always consist of fresh veggies, fruits, pellets, nuts, and seeds, however, when they are laying eggs make sure to add some foods that are higher in calcium.

Can Male African Greys Lay Eggs?

No, male African Grey Parrots cannot lay eggs. Only female African Greys produce eggs. The only way the male bird contributes to the initial reproduction is by fertilizing the female African Grey Parrot’s egg. However, the male bird contributes by foraging for food, bringing the mother hen meals every day, and protecting the nest.

African greys lay eggs only once a year, usually between January and March. Sometimes if conditions are favorable, they can lay as many as two clutches during this time of year. However, it may be more beneficial for them to wait until the next season to lay eggs.

Do only females lay eggs?

Yes, only female African grey parrots lay eggs. The male African grey parrots will fertilize the female’s egg to start a clutch of eggs.

We want to discourage them from egg-laying so much because it adds stress on their body and bones, and they need to be getting enough calcium.

Do all female African greys lay eggs?

No, not all-female African greys will lay an egg. If they lay multiple eggs, you may need a calcium supplement like Calcivet or Zolcal-D.

Help, my bird laid an egg without a mate! Why do birds lay eggs without mates?

When birds begin laying eggs, they are usually in a very comfortable place. It is not a conscious choice; instead, when a parrot lays an egg, it’s a biological one. In the wild, when the days get longer, and it stays light for more hours in the day, this is a biological cue for the birds to begin mating. We don’t recommend using the UVB lights during the possible mating season (spring). Changing their cage around to make them less comfortable in their environment will also help disrupt their comfort zone.

Some birds experiencing chronic egg laying may need to get a hormone injection, which will help in suppressing the unwanted egg-laying. The hormone that most vets use is called Lupron. Veterinarians use the hormone Lupron in extreme cases of chronic egg-laying, where there is a risk of the bird becoming egg-bound.

When a bird becomes egg-bound, it’s because its body is producing too many eggs, and one of them gets stuck in the oviduct. It is a life-threatening occurrence, and your bird may need to go straight to the emergency animal hospital. Lupron is a fast-acting hormone that lasts for 6-12 months. It’s only suitable for extreme cases of chronic egg-laying.

At what age do most parrots lay eggs?

The majority of parrot species will begin laying eggs after two years old. However, many people are surprised when their older bird lays their first egg at 12 years old. Many parrots will live 40+ years old and continue laying eggs throughout their lifetime.

It’s important to provide your bird with a good night’s sleep. Can you bird sleep with noise? A noisy environment may cause your bird to become stressed out, which could cause them to begin laying eggs.

At what age do African grey parrots lay eggs?

Some African grey parrots will not lay their first egg until between 12-30 years old. However, they can begin laying eggs after seven years old. An African grey usually reaches sexual maturity after seven years of age. More importantly, most African grey parrots don’t lay eggs past 40. However, there are always outliers who surprise us.

Do parrots lay unfertilized eggs?

Yes, they can lay an unfertilized egg. If the female parrot does not contact a male parrot, the male will not fertilize the eggs.

Can an African grey lay eggs without mating?

Yes, an African grey, just like other parrots, can lay eggs without mating with a male bird. However, most African grey parrots only lay eggs after mate in the wild. There are rarely times when they will lay unfertilized eggs in the wild.

Do all birds lay eggs without mating?

Yes, all birds can lay eggs without mating. However, the wild birds will rarely lay eggs without a mate present; usually, in the wild, if a bird is ready to lay eggs, there will be a male bird nearby. On the other hand, we all eat chicken eggs unfertilized eggs. Chickens lay eggs without mating regularly, although if there were a rooster nearby, the chicken would be laying fertilized eggs instead of unfertilized.

Why do some birds lay eggs without a mate?

Many triggers can cause a bird to lay an egg without a mate. Some triggers are the length of the day, the light stimulus, petting your bird, and nesting signals.

What birds lay unfertilized eggs?

All birds can lay an unfertilized egg; however, only the domestic bird we usually find doing this regularly. In the wild, the birds will fertilize the majority of the eggs. 

What month do parrots breed?

African grey parrots usually breed between March and April; then, they lay their eggs between April and May. Then the next step is the incubation period. On average, an African grey egg will need to sit on the egg for 25-31 days.

How can I tell if my parrot is about to lay an egg?

Here are a few signs to watch out for if you think your parrot is about to lay an egg.

  • Your African grey is biting or attacking you or your other birds more frequently.
  • Is your bird hanging out on the bottom of her cage more often?
  • She is scratching around on the bottom of the cage.
  • Is your bird becoming territorial of a particular area in the cage?
  • Does your bird lower her body and spread her wings out when near humans or other pets? This behavior could be a sign that she is trying to mate.
  • Your bird has become quieter and more reflective. If your African grey is usually loud, and suddenly they are sitting on the bottom of the cage, not making much noise, check for an egg.
A parrot with eggs she just laid

What happens if my African grey lays an egg?

If you are not intentionally trying to breed your African grey, you can either take the eggs away or leave them for two weeks. Some veterinarians suggest that you immediately take the eggs away. However, your grey may just lay more eggs to replace the one you took away if you do. We will go over the pros and cons of each method. Your bird will need a nutritious diet and perhaps a well-rounded parrot pellet as well.

Things to look out for if you take the eggs away: 

Often if you take the egg away, they will just lay another egg in a day or two. Laying too many eggs can cause them to lose calcium. Your African grey may become obsessed with the egg and might turn aggressive and try to bite your hand. You will need to add food or pellets with a higher calcium ratio into their diet. Laying eggs takes up many nutrients, and often, a parrot will not eat when they are sitting on their eggs. The male African grey will be out foraging and bringing food to their mate in the wild. Make sure you place food on the cage’s bottom, close to where they are sitting on the egg. IF you take the egg away, it’s best to replace it with a dummy egg; the bird can finish sitting on it instead of producing more eggs.

 

Things to look out for if you let your bird sit on the eggs: 

Allowing your parrot to sit on the eggs until they get tired of them is an option. However, if your bird is sitting on the egg for more than a month, it might be time to take them away. When the hens are sitting on their clutch, they are not eating and drinking as much as they usually would, which can, in turn, cause health problems.

6 Things to do That Will Discourage Egg Laying in African Greys.

  1. Do not pet or stroke your bird below the neck near its back. Doing this may cause your bird to want to mate.
  2. An artificial UVB light has been known to promote egg-laying in some birds. You can remove the UVB light until the breeding season is over.
  3. Ensure they get 12 hours of sleep per night in a dark room.
  4. Don’t add boxes to the bottom of their cage. In the wild African greys nest inside the hollows of tall trees, a box can simulate this instinct to nest inside a small area.
  5. Change their cage around frequently. Adding new toys and new puzzles regularly can help keep their mind active.
  6. Remove any toys or mirrors that your bird may be displaying ritualistic mating behaviors near. Sometimes just removing these triggers will be enough to decrease the hormones.

Are African greys monogamous?

In the wild African greys are known to mate for life with one partner. They are monogamous, which means they have a lifelong mate. When they breed, they lay their eggs inside pre-existing tree hollows in the rainforest.

Final Thoughts for How Often do African Greys Lay Eggs?

A domesticated African grey can sometimes lay more than one clutch of eggs per year. However, some female birds never lay eggs. African Greys are monogamous, which means they have a lifelong mate. When breeding, African Grey Parrots lay their eggs inside preexisting tree hollows in the rainforest.  Ensuring your parrot has enough sleep and doesn’t get too many egg-laying triggers is essential. If you are not trying to breed your bird, then it is best to take away the egg after a few weeks or when she begins exhibiting signs of aggression. Finally, if you notice any changes in your bird’s behavior, such as scratching at the bottom of the cage with wings spread out, this could indicate that she wants some attention from another animal – most likely a male bird.


Read More About cage liners for birds and what to put on an African Grey’s cage.