Incubation refers to the development of the embryo within the egg under favorable environmental conditions. Temperature and humidity are vital to incubation, as is egg-turning.
Budgies’ eggs cannot self-incubate, nor can they ever hatch if they don’t receive incubation.
Fertile budgies’ eggs need to be incubated at 98-99 degrees Fahrenheit and 65% humidity to develop. Fertile eggs can stay viable for up to 7 days after being laid and before being incubated.
If you don’t incubate budgies’ eggs for 3 weeks after the female lays them, they’ll die.
If you want fertile eggs to survive without their mother, artificially incubate them. This can be done with a machine incubator with temperature and humidity controls.
Budgies’ eggs need to be rotated 4-8 times per day.
Do You Have to Incubate Budgie Eggs?
Under natural conditions, the role of incubating the eggs falls to the mother budgie.
She sits on her eggs and uses her own body heat, insulated by her feathers, to heat the eggs to the appropriate temperature.
When properly maintained, this allows the embryos inside to develop until a chick is formed. Budgies’ eggs cannot incubate themselves, nor can they develop without sufficient warmth.
This role falls to you when the mother budgie fails to incubate the eggs herself.
How to Incubate Budgie Eggs
It’s not uncommon for young female budgies to abandon their fertile eggs. If you want the eggs to survive, you’ll need to undertake artificial incubation.
You can discard infertile eggs since they’ll never hatch, but the fertile ones will hatch under the right conditions. For budgies’ eggs to hatch, they need to be incubated for at least 18 days.
This is a simple process with several different approaches:
Choice of Incubator
The purpose of an incubator is to maintain the ideal temperature and humidity levels. It’s the only viable option if you cannot somehow maintain a temperature around the newly-laid eggs of:
- 98-99 degrees Fahrenheit
- 65% humidity
The most advanced incubators have microprocessor controls that regulate heating, cooling, and humidity. They also come equipped with a self-turning timer, making the entire process easier.
A quality incubator will be fan-assisted and contain temperature and humidity control settings. It should also have a self-turning system to ensure that no one side of an egg receives more heat. Otherwise, this would result in the eggs failing to develop or deformed chicks hatching.
The ideal temperature range for incubating budgies’ eggs is 98.7-99.1 degrees Fahrenheit.
In natural conditions, it’s almost impossible for the mother to overheat her egg. If an incubator overheats an egg, it may not hatch or the resulting chick will be very weak.
An egg incubated below the optimal temperature range will hatch late. Because of the low temperature, the humidity level will also be affected. The chick may not absorb its yolk sac, which can significantly reduce its chances of survival.
Most incubators have built-in thermometers, but it’s always wise to double-check. Use a reliable electronic thermometer or an accurate glass-stem thermometer to verify the temperature.
Most breeders lose more chicks due to high humidity than low humidity.
The purpose of humidity control is to balance out the natural evaporation of fluid from within the egg as the embryo grows, increasing the air space.
The correct humidity level can be determined by air-space development or weight loss between the setting and internal pipping. However, there are no hard-and-fast rules, as humidity levels will depend on the ambient humidity in your location.
In most cases, budgies’ eggs hatch successfully, relying on ambient humidity alone. Your goal should be to maintain a humidity level of 65% ± 5% inside the incubator.
Egg turning is one of the most important parts of incubation.
It’s a necessary step that promotes vein growth and blood vessel development in the early stages (up to 10 days). Then, as the embryo develops, egg turning stops malformation and promotes even growth. Frequent egg turning becomes less critical once the egg has undergone full vein growth.
Wild budgies’ eggs are turned regularly during incubation, so you must do the same in an artificial setting. Ideally, you need to turn budgies’ eggs at least 4-8 times per day, or once hourly.
Most bird breeders practice manual turning, but getting a self-turning incubator is more reliable. If you can’t buy one to supplement the auto-turning feature, give the eggs a 180-degree turn once a day.
The yolk of the egg is small compared to the white part of the egg (albumen). So, you can only achieve optimum vein growth if you place the eggs on their sides.
If possible, get an incubator with a turning feature particularly made for budgie eggs. It’ll allow adjustable turning at set intervals, ensuring that the eggs are placed at the optimal angle.
How To Incubate Budgie Eggs Without Incubator
The key to successful egg hatching is maintaining a consistent temperature and humidity level during the incubation period.
In case of an emergency or unavailability of an incubator, you may have to create the ideal incubation conditions on your own.
Here are some ways to take budgie eggs from fertilization to hatching without an incubator:
If you don’t have an artificial incubator, your first step is finding a substitute mother. This will be a female budgie that can incubate the eggs.
If you do find a substitute mother, you should:
- Place the eggs near or underneath a female inside a nest
- The female will intuitively roll the eggs in her nest or place them under her body.
- Eggs will incubate as they’ll receive heat from the hen.
- The substitute mother will adopt the hatchlings.
There is a chance the mother will reject the eggs, and this may be for the same reason that the original mother abandoned them or for the new mother’s own reasons.
You can incubate the eggs yourself manually. This method requires only a few household items:
- Get a clean, medium-sized towel and place it in a cardboard box.
- Place the eggs in the middle of the towel and fold the towel around the eggs.
- Place a desk lamp with a 40-watt bulb next to the box, with the bulb facing the middle of the towel.
- Turn the lamp on and let it shine on the eggs for 12 to 16 hours every day.
- Roll the eggs yourself at least 4-8 times per day, or once every hour.
You can also substitute a lamp for a heating pad by doing the following:
- Place an adjustable heating pad on a heat-resistant surface.
- Turn the heating pad to the appropriate temperature setting.
- Place the eggs in the center of the heating pad
- Make sure to keep turning them.
Rice-Filled Tube Sock
This method is rather unconventional, but according to some breeders, it works. Follow these steps:
- Fill a tube sock with rice.
- Tie the end of the sock with a string to hold the rice inside.
- Place the rice-filled sock in the microwave and heat it on a medium setting for one minute.
- Set your egg on a flat dish or saucer.
- Wrap the warm sock around the egg.
- Repeat these steps when the sock cools down to room temperature.
What to Do If Your Budgie Not Incubating Eggs
If your female budgie is not sitting on her eggs, she may be too stressed.
It’s not uncommon for young mothers to abandon or neglect their eggs for this reason. You may be able to encourage her to accept the eggs once again if you remove the source of stress.
If you have more than one female budgie in an aviary, they may force themselves in, interrupting the incubation or even damaging the eggs. In this case, you should isolate the mother and her partner into their own cage to give her space to calm down and focus on rearing her offspring.
Poor diet might also lead to your female budgie failing to incubate her eggs successfully. Take a closer look if the eggs failed to hatch. Soft shells indicate that the hen didn’t get enough calcium in her diet.
You can remedy this by offering her fruits and vegetables rich in calcium. This won’t save the failed batch, but it can ensure future eggs are healthier.
How to Look After Budgie Eggs
If the mother accepts the eggs again, there are ways to ensure she takes good care of them. By helping her, you raise the chances of all the eggs hatching successfully.
You just need to ensure that they’re kept in the proper conditions, away from all potential dangers:
- Offer a proper nesting box that has high sides to prevent the eggs from falling and breaking.
- Keep the nesting box in a temperature-controlled environment with the right humidity levels.
- Remove broken shells and bad eggs from the cage or aviary.
- Incubate some of the eggs in an artificial incubator to take the pressure off the mother.
How Big Are Budgie Eggs?
At the widest point, an average budgie egg measures 1 to 2 cm (0.4 to 0.8 inches). It will be roughly 2 to 3 cm (0.8 to 1.8 inches) long. It’ll have an oval shape and be wider at one end. Occasionally, eggs can be more circular than oval.
Can You Move Budgie Eggs?
Moving budgies’ eggs should not cause harm. As long as you handle them gently, it should not result in any damage or jostling to the chicks inside.
Your biggest concern will be stressing the parents. If the mother is distressed by your intervention, she may reject the eggs for a short time. The best approach is to distract the budgie with treats or new toys while removing the eggs.
How Long Does It Take for Budgie Eggs to Hatch?
The budgie egg incubation period varies, depending on the type of breed. According to General and Comparative Endocrinology, in most cases, incubation begins after the first egg is laid, lasting for 18-21 days.
The average budgie egg hatching period is then 24-26 days. However, many budgies eggs hatch in 18 days, so research your breed beforehand.
18-Day Budgie Egg Hatching Chart
If you’re new to breeding budgies, you might be unfamiliar with an 18-day egg hatching chart (see below).
Note down the date when the female budgie laid the egg. On the next line, the number directly below is the expected hatching date for that particular egg. However, some hens don’t sit on their eggs until they have laid the others, which might delay incubation and hatching. So, this is an estimation only.
When to Remove Unhatched Budgie Eggs
You should wait for at least 24-26 days of total incubation to remove any unhatched eggs.
Some may be late bloomers, and you don’t want to throw out viable eggs accidentally. After 26 days, the remaining unhatched eggs are likely infertile or have gone bad.
How to Tell If Budgie Eggs Are Fertile
According to the International Zoo Yearbook, there are 4 eggs in an average clutch, but not all eggs will be fertile.
It can be hard to differentiate between fertile and infertile budgie eggs. After all, they look similar. However, these ways can enable you to tell if an egg will ever hatch:
If you only own a single female budgie, you don’t need to check her eggs. They won’t be fertile. Eggs are only fertilized in the presence of a male. Infertile eggs won’t be viable, so you don’t need to incubate them.
Candling the Eggs
During the incubation period, a fertile egg goes through several stages of development. You can witness the development by candling the egg after at least 14 days.
To perform this procedure, gently hold the egg against a flashlight and observe what lies inside:
- If you see that a portion of the egg is black against the light, then your egg is developing and is viable. You might also be able to see blood vessels originating from the growing blastoderm.
- If a portion of the egg is clear and has yellow yolk on one side, then that egg is probably infertile.
- If the whole egg is black, then it was previously viable and going through developmental stages, but somehow it died and is now a rotten egg.
As a fertilized egg grows into an embryo and develops into a chick, it becomes heavier. A heavier, denser egg will sink to the bottom in a bath of water, while an infertile egg will float.
However, using this method may be risky, as you might accidentally shake the egg too much. The viable embryo may end up dying. Dipping an egg in cold water or for prolonged periods might also damage it. If you’re conducting this test, use lukewarm water and remove the egg from the water bath as soon as possible.
The floating test doesn’t provide accurate results because a fertile egg may float.
What to Do with Unwanted Budgie Eggs
Unwanted budgie eggs are a common problem. A female budgie can lay eggs without the presence of a male and without breeding.
If you only have a single female budgie, you can take and discard the eggs she lays. The egg will be infertile and won’t hatch. You can throw them away.
However, if the female budgie lays fertile eggs in the presence of a male, you can remove them and replace them with dummy eggs for 3 weeks. This way, your budgie won’t realize her eggs are missing and produce more. The fertile eggs won’t develop without incubation.