Egg Binding in Birds
Did you know female pet birds can still lay eggs, even if a male is not present? However, you can be assured that if there is not a male present, the egg will be infertile. Although egg laying is a normal behavior for birds, the process does take a toll on the bird. Eggs take calcium from the bones, and birds who lay eggs need extra nutrition, especially calcium. In addition, female birds may suffer from egg binding if they try to lay eggs.
What is Egg Binding?Egg binding is a common reproductive problem that results when a female bird is unable to pass the egg. Instead, the egg becomes trapped inside the bird's reproductive tract. Cockatiels, lovebirds, budgerigars and overweight birds commonly suffer from egg binding. Egg binding is generally due to a shortage of calcium in the bird's diet. If a bird has recently laid too many eggs or if she is too young or old, an egg can become bound within her. The egg may be malformed or soft, or the bird may be too weak to expel the egg.
Signs of Egg BindingThere are several different signs of egg binding. The bird may have a swollen or enlarged abdomen, or she may have fluffed feathers. Another sign could be if your bird is on the bottom of the cage, showing distress or having trouble breathing. She may wag her tail feathers repeatedly or have trouble perching. Her droppings may be larger than normal, or she could have no droppings at all.
How to Prevent Egg BindingTo try and prevent egg binding, it is crucial your bird receives a nutritious diet. A seed-only diet does not provide birds with all of the nutrition that they need, so a varied diet with plenty of calcium, protein and vitamins is important.
To encourage your bird to stop laying eggs, decrease the amount of light she receives (to less than 12 hours) and remove all material that can be used for nesting. If she does lay an egg, you may let her sit on it for a few days but then you should remove it from the cage.
Egg binding can be a deadly condition. If you suspect that your bird is having trouble expelling an egg, consult your avian veterinarian immediately.
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