The female can spend up to ten days in the nesting box before she produces any eggs. During this time she will emerge to poo and to nibble on her mineral block - an ideal time to check up on the progress and remove any broken eggs or dead chicks. (Always make sure to have clean hands whilst doing this.)
The hen will lay four to eight eggs, with one every two days, and each egg needs incubating for 18 days (sometimes a little longer), after which they will hatch. Sometimes she will only get the hang of full time incubating after the second egg has been laid. Any egg unhatched after 23 days will not hatch. An emerging chick can take several hours to fully emerge from the egg. This is perfectly natural, so don’t try to intervene.
Any egg laid after the sixth one is in danger of having its chick trampled by larger, older siblings. This could damage the younger chick's fragile body, or prevent it from receiving food. In these circumstances you should give the younger birds to a foster mother, if possible. If this is not an option you can try hand-feeding them (see Feeding Baby Parakeets, below).
A single hen may occasionally lay an infertile egg. This is just a sign that her hormones have gone through the mating season process in the absence of a male. This is nothing to worry about. The hen will not fret or attempt to incubate the egg. Simply remove it and that’s that.
Parakeet Eggs Not Hatching
There can be a few reasons that your bird’s eggs may not hatch.
- Females may sometimes lay eggs without a male to fertilize them.
- A young pair of birds may not be successful in their mating attempts, but the female may still lay eggs.
- Single eggs may fail to hatch due to a chick failing to develop properly inside, or the egg may have somehow just avoided fertilization.
- It is not uncommon for young mothers to just neglect their eggs.
- The egg may have fallen onto the floor, either from a perch or from over the side of a cramped nest box.
- The male bird could simply be infertile
- If you happen to have lots of birds in a single cage, overcrowding may be the cause of your problem. A hen may be too stressed to sit on her eggs, or other female birds may muscle in and interpret the incubation or maybe even damage the eggs.
- Nutrition is important. If eggs fail to hatch it may be due to soft shells, a sign that the hen didn’t get enough calcium (from cuttlefish bone or a mineral block, for example).
Parakeet chicks, newly hatched
Candling Budgerigar Eggs
At first glance the word “candling” may seem like a simple spelling error. It is, however, a useful method for finding out whether your birds’ eggs are viable. It should only ever be carried out if you have young birds, or if the egg has been pushed out the nest by an older sibling or another bird. In any other circumstance it counts as unnecessary interference.
To candle an egg, you need to shine a small, bright torch on it. You can perform this investigation without actually moving the eggs from the egg box. If this is not possible, hold the egg gently between your finger and thumb. Perform this whilst wearing gloves. The room will need to be dark for successful candling.
The light from the torch will expose the interior of the egg. If you see red veins showing through, it is a sign of a healthy egg. If it’s well developed,you’ll be able to see the outline of the young bird inside. If all you can see is the shape of a chick without the red veins, the egg is dead.
Parakeet Eggs Thrown Out of Nest
A hen ejecting an egg out of the nest is unlikely to be accidental. Eggs are discarded in the same way an intruder would be. This behaviour is usually down to her instinct for things not being right, normally in the case of an infertile or damaged egg. It may also be due to the fact an egg has been handled by the bird’s owner and no longer smells like her own. Always wear clean gloves when handling the eggs. Better still, don’t handle the eggs at all.
A stressful cage may cause the hen to take these drastic measures. It’s her way of abandoning ship.
Sometimes another hen will throw the eggs out. There is no malice involved, she simply just wants the nesting place for herself. Usually to lay her own eggs or maybe simply to just snuggle up somewhere warm on a cold night.
Budgerigar Eggs Care
Parakeets are normally very good parents, and there will be no need to interfere and try to help them in raising their young. Hen birds will happily incubate another bird’s eggs, if such a thing proves necessary. Hens have a strong sense of territory in her nest box, but is still unable to count her eggs or recognized individual ones. A loss or gain will pass her by, she will simply keep on boarding until the clutch has hatched.
There is no particular need to mark or number any of the eggs (this was a common parakeet keeper quirk in days gone by). At best you’ll gain nothing that a few notes or a simple spreadsheets document can't address. At very worst you’ll cause the hen to ejects her eggs.
Incubating Budgerigar Eggs
If you happen to find yourself in the position of needing to incubate the eggs yourself. Incubation and hatching the eggs is actually the easy part, keeping the newborn chick alive is where the challenge comes in.
Buying an incubator is the only thing you can do in a situation like this, unless you can somehow maintain a room temperature of 98.2 F and a 65% humidity around the eggs. A decency incubator with temperature settings and a self-turning system does for egg-hatching what a breadmaker does with flour and water.