Whether you are a professional lovebird breeder or a beginning hobbyist, a hen rejecting her eggs is a frustrating and tragic event. Knowing what led her to this rejection and what to do when it happens can ease your mind, save the clutch of eggs, and allow you to foster her maternal instinct properly in the future.
Infertile or Deceased Eggs
A lovebird will not waste time and effort on a clutch that won't hatch. Sometimes eggs are infertile, even after you've seen a mating. This may be due to having two females who exhibited mating behavior, a loose perch that prevented contact between the male and female, or infertility of the birds. A bacterial infection or insufficient humidity can result in the early death of a fertile egg. If your hen abandons her eggs after a week of incubation, candle the eggs by shining a bright light behind them. If you see a red circle and a spiderweb-like appearance the eggs are fertile. If there is nothing, then the eggs have not been fertilized.
A lovebird hen often will wait to start incubating her eggs until after the second or third egg is laid, which can be two to three days after the first. This allows the eggs to develop at the same time and leads to more similar hatching times. Since lovebird eggs generally take around 21 to 26 days to hatch, many lovebirds will abandon the nest after 30 days have passed.
Nest Disturbed Too Often
Disturbing the nest too often may lead to your hen rejecting her eggs. This may include frequently handling the eggs or the hen. Predators outside the cage, such as a house cat or dog, also may cause the hen to become stressed and stop incubating.
Fostering Rejected Eggs
If your hen does reject her eggs, it is possible that another bird may foster them. If you or anyone you know has a hen who is incubating eggs of a similar age, whether or not they are fertilized, placing the rejected eggs with the other mother will encourage her to take care of them as well. Different species of lovebird will easily accept new eggs, and if no lovebirds are available, a cockatiel or red-rumped parakeet also may make a good foster mother. You also can purchase a mechanical incubator, but it can be difficult to care for newly hatched chicks successfully.
Whatever the cause of your lovebird rejecting her eggs may be, try to be patient. In cases of unfertilized or deceased eggs, rejection is normal and doesn't ensure she will reject future clutches.