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What is Egg Binding?

In many instances, a bird may be unable to expel the egg due to lack of contractions or weak contractions from inadequate calcium intake. If you have been feeding your bird seeds only, with no other supplements, you will need to administer vitamins right away. However, it is best to let the veterinarian tell you what amount of vitamins to give her. The complications of egg binding include damage to the kidneys from pressure of the retained egg, peritonitis from a ruptured egg, and prolapse of the cloaca or reproductive tract. It is important to get your bird to the veterinarian if you believe she is egg bound.

Egg binding in birds is a common but possibly life threatening condition in which a bird is having a hard time laying an egg. It is more common in small birds such as canaries, finches, parakeets, budgies, lovebirds, and cockatiels, but the most common reason for egg binding is a lack of calcium or other vitamins. It is also more often seen in birds that are already ill or have other health issues such as advanced age, lack of exercise, and obesity. Another risk factor is inadequate environmental conditions such as not enough nesting materials, too cold or hot, and not enough water or feed.

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Symptoms of Egg Binding in Birds

In all birds, the symptoms can vary, especially with the cause of the condition. However, the most often reported signs of egg binding include:

  • Tail wagging or bobbing
  • Straining
  • Visibly swollen abdomen
  • Fluffed up appearance
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Inability to balance on perch
  • Paralysis of a leg or lameness
  • Weakness
  • Decreased or absent droppings
  • All white droppings
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Depression
  • Sitting at bottom of cage
  • Death


Egg binding in birds is sometimes referred to as:

  • Post-ovulatory stasis
  • Impacted oviducts
  • Egg retention
  • Dystocia

Causes of Egg Binding in Birds

  • Physical deformity of the reproductive system
  • Lack of calcium or other vitamins such as selenium, vitamin E, vitamin A, or protein are at higher risk
  • Infection
  • Trauma
  • Inadequate nesting area
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive egg laying
  • Obesity
  • Stress from overcrowding or unsanitary living conditions
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smaller birds like canaries, finches, budgerigars, lovebirds, and cockatiels

Diagnosis of Egg Binding in Birds

The veterinarian will usually be able to feel the egg with palpation and see the distended abdomen. A complete physical examination will include checking the eyes, skin, beak, feet, weight, comb, nares, feathers, breast, crop, wings, glands, and vent. The most essential diagnostic procedure is radiographs (x-rays) because most eggs contain a large amount of calcium and will show up nicely. However, if the x-rays are inconclusive, an ultrasound may be done. In addition, a CBC, plasma biochemical profile, and ionized and total calcium levels should be checked.

Treatment of Egg Binding in Birds

Egg binding requires immediate emergency care by an experienced avian veterinary professional. Immediate warming and fluids are usually needed in these cases. Other treatments may include an intraosseous catheter to administer fluids if she is in shock, medication to help induce muscle contractions, deflating the egg while it is inside the uterus (Ovocentesis), manually expelling the egg, or surgical removal of the egg.

Warming and Fluids

The veterinarian will immediately check your hen’s body temperature and place her in an area specifically kept at 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit to increase her body temperature. Fluids will be given by injection or with an intraosseous catheter to reduce the chance of shock or dehydration.


The veterinarian may decide that your bird needs a calcium injection or another medication that promotes contractions such as oxytocin, prostaglandin, or arginine vasotocin. Another option is to apply prostaglandin gel rather than an injection. Antibiotics to reduce the chance of infection and steroids to help with pain may also be beneficial.


If the veterinarian is unable to get your bird to lay the egg herself and she is in distress, an ovocentesis will be performed. This is done by inserting a syringe into the egg to remove the contents. Once the egg is smaller, your hen should be able to pass the egg with no problem. Lubrication will be applied to help with this process.  

Removing the Egg

If your bird is unable to expel the egg herself, the veterinarian will try to remove it by applying lubrication and gently trying to ease it out. If this does not work, the veterinarian will have to surgically remove the egg.

Recovery of Egg Binding in Birds

Once your hen has laid the egg, you should try to keep her in a cage by herself to recover. This is especially important if your bird had to undergo surgical removal of the egg. Continue to monitor her daily to check for complications and call the veterinarian if you suspect anything is wrong. Be sure to provide a healthy diet and fresh water for your bird on a daily basis.

Egg Binding Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

1 Year
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

tail on angle
fluffed up,

My zebra finch was eg bound a week ago, she passed half a deformed egg nd then (i think) the rest the next day. its now been a week and she is still showing symptoms, her vent is not enlarged (as if there was an egg in there) and she has been passing droppings regularly, although the last day shes had watery urates.
ive been giving her heat and calcium daily and ive tried warm baths but she does not seem to be improving since she laid the last part of the egg.

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22 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms


I'm curious what the care should be for a Umbrella Cockatoo that the egg had to be surgically removed, and the bird had not pottied since 3 days prior, and has yet to do so a day after other than a bit of dripping as it was doing before. Would that not be an alarming scenario? Especially if it won't drink, is listless, & puffed up.

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2 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

blood on tail feathers and chest

My female budgie has laid 2 eggs and has been sitting in the nest box for approx 12-15 days now.I went to check on them now and discovered blood on the perches. The blood seems to be on her chest under the beak and around her tail feathers. What could have caused this. When i opened her nest box she flew out and is now sitting with the male on a perch and has not gone back to the nest now for about 2 hours. If she abandons her eggs can they be put under a love bird which is sitting on infertile eggs?She seems ok i just do not know what happened.

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16 Months
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

My hen had an egg hatch inside her. She had problems for quite a while I took her in to wash her backside and noticed she was trying to (I thought) poop. What I saw was a deformed leg. I pulled it out and a hairless deformed chick came out. I washed her some more. but she even looked better. I put her back in the pen. Should I have her somewhere else? Have you heard pf this before?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
Egg binding is caused by a few different causes with nutrition being a predisposing factor, if this is the case where a retained egg has broken/hatched then you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination (there may have been some abdominal laying) and for supportive and symptomatic treatment. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Rainbow Lorikeet
4 Years
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Feather plucking
Loose Vent

Medication Used

Calcium supplement

My four year old lorikeet laid her second egg three days ago. She had a lot of trouble getting the egg out and she was bleeding from her vent. Today the vent is not bleeding but she is not pooping right. It is getting on her tail. She also has plucked the feathers around the vent.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
Silvia may be egg bound, and should be seen by a veterinarian. They'll be able to examine her, determine what might be going on, and give her any needed treatment.

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White Fang
1 Year
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen Abdomen

she layed her 1 egg about 1 to 2 months earlier and second exactly 1 months old. now she gave third egg the day before yesterday. she has mated perfectly but the male is sitting on her.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
Without examining White Fang I cannot determine whether or not she is suffering from egg binding, you may be able to palpate the egg but most of the time the symptoms are depression, sitting on the bottom of the cage, difficulty defecating and bulging of the vent. Birds can die from this and you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination and an x-ray to be on the safe side, especially since you’re seeing bulging. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

My budgie is eggbound. However I can't take her to the vet until tomorrow. Will she make it that long?

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