The incubation period for lovebirds is generally between 18 and 24 days. From the time that the egg was laid, it should take around this time before the egg will hatch. If it takes much longer than this, then the egg is most likely infertile.
During the incubation, your lovebird should be sitting on the eggs more or less constantly.
She will get up occasionally, but not very often.
Proper incubation is, naturally, crucial to the proper development of the eggs and the chicks inside, so it’s very time-dependent and sensitive.
Let’s find out more.
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How long do lovebirds sit on eggs?
The period of incubation for a lovebird is generally quite uniform, usually lasting 18-24 days.
This is obviously a somewhat wide spectrum, but you can expect the eggs to hatch at any time between the mark of 18 and 24 days.
This encompasses the whole period of incubation, from the moment that it first lays the egg.
This is the start of the 18 to 24 day period.
Some lovebirds may take a day or two to actually start incubating the eggs, in which case you can start the count from that day.
Generally, though, they’ll start incubating right away.
Once the lovebird has laid the eggs, in terms of how much it will sit on it in a single sitting, it really will not get up very much during the incubation period.
It can vary a lot between individuals and depend on circumstances, but she should really be sitting on the eggs for the majority of the day.
She may get up occasionally to stretch her legs and relieve herself, but she will mostly go into an almost semi-hibernation state.
The average incubation period is between 18 and 24 days, so there may be room for slight variation.
However, much less than 18 days is going to be extremely rare, and could cause problems for the chick anyway.
Equally, much later than 24-25 days is getting into uncertain territory. Nonetheless, remain patient and don’t jump to any conclusions.
Breeding lovebirds, and indeed any parrot, successfully can be notoriously difficult.
How can you know, during the incubation period, whether or not your lovebird’s eggs are actually fertile to begin with?
Let’s find out.
How do I know if my lovebird eggs are fertile?
There are a number of important things you can check to make sure your lovebird’s eggs are fertile.
Perhaps the most obvious thing to consider is just your lovebird’s behavior.
Obviously, your lovebird plays a vital role in incubating the eggs during the period before they hatch.
Your lovebird will have remarkable instincts about the eggs, and if they have any experience of breeding, they will likely know if an egg is infertile.
If they do, they will not incubate it.
If they are not incubating a whole clutch, then that clutch is likely infertile.
This isn’t a guarantee, of course—some lovebirds are just better parents than others, and they may not incubate just because they lack the instinctive drive to do so.
There’s not much you can do about this—try breeding her again and if she still doesn’t incubate, then you should not try to breed her again.
That said, there are some ways you can determine for yourself if the egg is fertile.
Firstly, get the egg when you can and hold it up to a light—preferably a flashlight, but a candle will work too.
Just be careful it doesn’t get too hot against the flame.
A fertile embryo will have networks of blood vessels as well as a clear shape at the larger end of the egg.
An infertile egg will look clear, without the blood vessels.
Fertile eggs can also stop developing, though.
The blood vessels may pull back because the embryo is no longer viable.
If the eggs float, this too tells you that they may be infertile.
Give it some time before running this test, though, as it is the heavy, developed embryo that will make it sink.
Be very careful doing this—don’t put it in ice-cold water, don’t leave it there for too long, and remember how fragile it is.
In any case, if your lovebird’s eggs have not hatched for a substantial time after the 24-day mark, you can safely assume they are not fertile or at least are inviable.
How do you hatch lovebird eggs at home?
For the most part, you’re just going to want to leave your lovebirds to it when it comes to hatching the eggs.
They will take care of the actual incubation, so all you need to do is set up the ideal conditions in which they can do it.
That said, you can also take the eggs from the nest and hatch them in an incubator.
If you are going to do this, ensure you find an incubator designed for small eggs.
Lovebird eggs need to be incubated at 98.3-98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Maintain humidity at 65% for the first 18 days, and increase it by 10% for the remaining incubation period.
If you’re not using an incubator, just make sure your lovebird has a cozy, isolated spot where she can lay and incubate.
Keep the temperature in the room at a good level, and make sure it isn’t too humid or too dry.
They will do the rest!
How many eggs do lovebirds lay at a time?
Lovebirds will generally lay clutches of eggs, usually between four and six at a time.
This isn’t set in stone, though, and there may be fewer or more.
Expect three at the very least, though, and perhaps seven at the very most.
It’s also important to keep in mind that, especially in a large clutch, the likelihood is that not all of them will be viable.
They may all be fertile, but even then they won’t all hatch, necessarily.
How do you tell if a chick has died in the egg?
Part of the reason lovebirds lay clutches of eggs is for this very reason—because it is very rare that all of them will survive to hatching, at least in the wild.
You lay a large clutch of eggs so that perhaps 75% of them hatch, and then another 75% of that figure can survive to maturity.
So, when breeding lovebirds, it’s important to be prepared for a death of one or two of the chicks.
As I said earlier, the blood vessels may retreat from what was once a viable embryo.
This indicates the chick is dead. On the other hand, you will be able to see a large black “eye” inside the egg if the chick has died, when the egg is held up against a light.
Don’t dispose of the egg immediately, though.
Put it back with the clutch until it’s clear the mother has rejected it.
She will eventually realize, but if you get rid of it before she does, she may become distressed.
Can eggs still hatch after 21 days?
Lovebird eggs can certainly still hatch after 21 days.
As I said, the general incubation period is up to 24 days.
While the majority of incubation periods are going to be shorter than this by one or two days, an egg unhatched after only 21 days is definitely not a cause for worry.
Give it a few more days before you start panicking.
Day 21 is generally considered to be the most likely day for your lovebird’s eggs to hatch, but it could well take longer in many cases.
What about the hatching process itself—can you help the chicks out with that?
Is it okay to help a chick out of its egg?
It is generally not a good idea to try and help the chicks out of their eggs.
This is a common mistake of those without sufficient experience in lovebird breeding, as it can be a big surprise just how long it takes for a chick to emerge fully from an egg.
From the point that the egg begins to hatch, it can take as much as a full 24 hours before the chick fully emerges.
This is completely normal—give them time and space to emerge on their own.
You can cause more problems by trying to help them out, so just leave them to it.
So, again, you shouldn’t be waiting much longer than 24 days for a lovebird egg to hatch.
If it has been much longer than this, then there may be something wrong.
That said, most of the time lovebirds will not incubate longer than the usual period—they can typically realize on their own that an egg is infertile.