Chicken and the Egg

by Drs. Foster and Smith on January 26, 2010

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Parrot is mightier than pen

Parrot is mightier than pen

**Guest post from Keith G.**

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The classic causality dilemma has puzzled some of history’s greatest thinkers, from Aristotle to Stephen Hawking, but we know the answer: It was Chicken, our (nearly) seven-year-old female green-cheeked conure.

Every year in early spring, Chicken, like many other female birds, begins to lay eggs. The eggs aren’t fertile, and even though she shares a cage with a male maroon-bellied conure named Kiwi, they’ve never successfully mated. She averages about four eggs per spring. She lays them, sits on them for a bit, realizes they aren’t fertile, and then forgets about them. At that point, we take them out of the cage, since taking them out sooner could cause her to start laying more eggs.

This year things were different. Something caused her to start laying eggs in early January, which in northern Wisconsin is far from spring. Not a lot had changed in terms of environment or diet or interaction for her, but we suspect the addition of a UV light to the bird room might have jump started the behavior.

It began about three weeks ago when she started laying eggs, at a normal pace of one egg every other day. Female birds can lose a significant amount of calcium when they are laying eggs so we immediately began supplementing her water with liquid calcium concentrate. After two weeks and six eggs, we began to worry.  Although anywhere between two and six eggs is a normal clutch, she had never laid this many.

After another week and two more eggs, she began to appear weak and sickly. She laid the eighth egg on Thursday but none over the following weekend. We became incredibly concerned because Sunday night it looked like she still had an egg inside her, and she was breathing hard, had diarrhea, and a fluffed appearance – troubling signs that she might be egg bound.

Egg binding occurs when the egg does not pass through the reproductive system at a normal rate, and because of the complications involved, can be a life-threatening problem for birds. We immediately made a vet appointment on Monday morning and thanks to some flexible scheduling with work, I was able to drive her two hours south to the nearest avian vet. The vet performed a physical exam and then did an x-ray. The x-ray revealed what we had suspected and feared – that there was indeed an egg still inside her that she was having trouble passing. It was at this point that the vet leveled with me very clearly: Chicken’s life could be in danger.

UPDATE: Chicken and the Egg, Part 2

Other Posts About Pet Birds:


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Leopard Gecko World » Blog Archive » Laying Eggs & Signs Your Bird Might Be Egg Bound
January 26, 2010 at 9:31 am
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January 26, 2010 at 5:38 pm
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Bonnie Ramba January 26, 2010 at 9:08 am

I hope “Chicken” will be ok :( I have a male and female black capped conure. We’ve had them for 4 years – no eggs, which is fine with us. Please keep us posted about “Chicken” ~
Thanks,
Bonnie

LINDA STYS February 6, 2010 at 7:39 am

I AM AN EMPLOYEE HERE ALSO. CAN YOU PLEASE TELL ME WHERE THE NEAREST AVIAN VET IS? I DON’T KNOW OF ANY. I THOUGHT DR RUEPERT HERE IN RHINELANDER WAS ONE BUT I THINK HE IS RETIRED. DON’T NEED A VET RIGHT NOW,BUT SURE WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHERE THERE IS ONE.

Keith G. February 8, 2010 at 10:53 am

I’d highly recommend Dr. Diane Scott at the Oakview Veterinary Medical Center in Plover. We’ve been going to her for years for both our conures and our Amazon and she’s been wonderful. Her hours are somewhat limited and its a bit of a hike from Rhinelander (almost 2 hrs) but well worth it in my opinion. She has a bird, so she’s very familiar with how to interact with them and is always very thorough.

A little bit closer in Mosinee is Dr. Robert Pope at the Mosinee Veterinary Clinic. He has seen one of our conures before, but it was just for a nail trim.

If you have the option, I’d go with Dr. Scott.

bonnie courchaine February 9, 2010 at 9:53 am

is there anyone out there that is willing and has the knowledge on breeding and hand raising baby cockateils?? i am looking for someone that has the time to answer several questions that i have, i perfer someone that has done this in the past and can offer sound advice. please e-mail me at MJERBO@AOL.COM thank you BONNIE

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