1. To breed? or not to Breed?
2. Nest boxes
3. What to look for when buying nestboxes
5. Setting the right mood
6. Courtship and copulation
7. Finding the perfect nestbox
8. Laying the eggs
9. Candling eggs
10. Egg binding
11. When the chicks hatch
12. Feeding the chicks
13. Hand feeding the cicks
14 Leg Bands
NOT TO BREED
If you breed for money more than your love of budgies, than you will likely be unsuccessful. Its hard work, and if you do not enjoy the breeding process, then you won’t make a good living off of it either. It also costs a lot of money. The costs of the parakeets
themselves cost $10-$35 each, the cages cost $30 and over, all the food will cost $50+, the nest boxes are often $10+ each, and Even if you breed you will still need toys to make to parents happy ($50+). As you can see, breeding is very expensive, and that’s just basic supplies. Chicks are also messy, noisy, and high maintenance. The bottom line is, I do not recommend it.
Budgies can be intelligent, funny, and fun. Although I don’t recommend it, breeding still discourages parrots being captures from the wild to be sold as pets. Before you think you can breed budges successfully, answer these questions first;
• How much space can I devote to the birds?
• Do I have even more extra space for quarantined (sick) birds?
• Do I have even more extra space for nursery birds?
• Do I have enough money to devote to the birds throughout my business?
• Do I have enough money for vet bills?
• Do I have enough time to devote to the chicks care?
• What is my main reason for breeding?
• Where will all the chicks go when they are grown up?
• What if my business is unsuccessful?
• Do I know any hand-feeding techniques for if the parent abandons their chicks?
• Do I know how to properly out on a leg band, clip wings and toenails?
If you answered these questions honestly, and you’re willing to devote almost ALL your time and money to the birds, then breeding budgies may be for you.
Nest boxes are almost as necessary for breeding as the birds themselves. You should be able to buy them at your pet store for ten dollars. They are fairly small and should be specifically for parakeets. The presence of a nest box may produce mating and nesting behaviors in budgies. There are often different types of nest boxes to choose from. If you have a large cage or aviary, get a nest box or two that can be attached inside the cage. If you are using a smaller cage for breeding, get a nest box that can be fitted outside the cage.
There are a few things you should look for in a budgie’s nest box. The top should open upward on a hinge. Do not buy nest boxes that open on the sides, or this will greatly disturb the birds when you open to check on the chicks. The bottom should have a small dip on the bottom to help hold the eggs in place. Parakeets do not need any nesting material either. In the wild they nest in empty tree hollows. The entrance hole should be exactly 2 inches in diameter, and there should be a perch outside for the parents to sit on.
A pair of birds is one male and one female. A female parakeet is called a hen, and a male is called a cock.
Obviously, in order to be able to breed budgies you need to have at least one pair of birds to start with. You can tell the sex of budgies by looking at their cere, (the fleshy thing above their beaks was the nares or nostrils are located). But your birds have to be at least 6 months or older to tell. This is when they are sexually mature and able to breed. Males have purplish to bluish Ceres, and females have pinkish or brownish colored Ceres. A female parakeet that is in breeding condition will have a crusty, flaky cere and her cere will turn dark brown. But don’t worry, this is perfectly normal.
Setting the right mood in a room is fairly important. It acts as a stimulus for breeding. First, it’s a good idea to have the cage near a window, but make sure there are absolutely no drafts. Parakeets in the wild breed shortly after it rains a lot. This is mainly because if they breed at that time, when the chicks hatch there will be plenty of food and water to go around. It’s also a good idea to start encouraging breeding in the spring time because it rains most often at that time. There needs to be extra food and water around the cage at easier access than normal. It also has warm and sunny in the bird’s room. Extra calcium and healthy foods need to be given to the female before laying eggs because the eggs shells and insides take a lot of it out of her.
Before mating (copulating) occurs, the cock must woo the hen into letting him mate with her; this is called courting or courtship. Courtship can last less than a day or months before the female gives way, if at all. In the beginning, the female is either aggressive towards the male, or tries to run away. Then the male slowly gains the females trust and eventually gets the privilege to preen her. The male will then rapidly sing to the female and vigorously bob his head, doing the “courtship dance” (see Common parakeet behavior). This means he is getting ready to feed the female. This is so the male can show the female what a good provider he is and even to pacify the female so he can, hopefully, mount her. If the males wooing is successful, the female goes into the mating position. Her eyes are pinned, head thrown back, feathers slightly puffed, and tail cocked upright and to the side. This is a signal for the male to mount her. The male starts walking back and forth along the length of the perch and then puts one foot on the female and stands on her for a brief moment. Then he climbs up with both legs, rocks back and forth to get perfect balance, and lowers his tail to touch the females, so their cloacas can touch. The male spreads one wing over the female to keep his balance and the mating begins.
In budgies, the choice of which nest box they use to totally up to her. She will start to approach the nest box as soon as she is done mating. The first few visits are brief, but she soon starts chewing on the entrance and walls. Parakeets in the wild do this around their tree cavities to make the hole the perfect size, big enough for the other parent to come in and out at easily, but small enough to not let predators in. Budgies don’t really need to do this in captivity, but it’s an instinctive behavior. Avoid doing anything that might disturb her during this period .Any loud and/or potentially dangerous noise may startle her into abandoning the box all together.
Budgies will lay up to 6 eggs, one a day until they are all laid. They are all white, and weigh about two grams. The mother incubates them for about 18 days while her partner feeds her. The hen’s behavior changes when her eggs are laid. She leaves the box only to deposit droppings, which are called stool pellets; they can weigh up to 10% of the hen’s body weight. Be careful when opening the box to check on her, which you should only do two or three times a day. Only open the box a tiny bit so as not to disturb her as much.
Candling the hen’s eggs, when they are 10 days or older, can tell you whether they are fertile or not. There are special flashlight type things you should be able to buy at your pet store, which are specially
Designed for candling. Regular flashlights are not good enough for accurately candling. Candle the eggs only when the hen is off of the clutch. Fertile eggs will be translucent, and have a bluish opaqueness. Infertile eggs will be all dark. Remove all infertile eggs, but only if the clutch is large (4 or more eggs), of the female will notice some of her eggs gone and possibly make her abandon them.
Egg binding occurs when the egg does not pass through the reproductive system at a normal rate and gets stuck. Dystocia occurs when the bird has difficulty in laying an egg because of an obstruction. Both are pretty common, but often preventable problems. Both can occur in female birds develops eggs without a male (without copulating). If diagnosed and treated early, the outcome is generally very good. If either condition goes on for too long, permanent damage and death may result. Young birds lying for the first time, and Old birds, and birds that are on a seed-only diet are more prone to becoming egg bound.
Signs that your parakeet is egg bound are;
• Abdominal straining
• Bobbing or wagging of the tail
• Wide stance
• Loss of appetite
• Lameness or leg paralysis (the egg puts pressure on the nerves going to the legs and cuts of circulation)
• Droppings stuck to the vent area
• Fluffed feathers
• Difficult breathing (the egg puts pressure on the air sacs)
• Sitting on the floor of the cage
• Occasionally, sudden death
The risk of egg binding may be greatly decreased by:
• Providing the correct diet
• Using proper breeding technique
• Treating excessive egg laying
• Providing adequate exercise opportunities and preventing obesity
• Administering special Hormones to stop egg laying.
The effort the baby birds make to hatch out of an egg is not always successful, and takes a lot of hard work. About a day before hatching, baby parakeets will chirp inside their eggs. The mother then starts to check to eggs more frequently. She may lick the shells, looking for the first hole. Baby birds hatch out of their eggs by using what’s called an egg tooth. A horny obstruction on the tip of a baby bird’s beak, which falls off a couple hours after hatching. Some mothers will help the babies hatch by gently nibbling on the shell. Chicks are born naked and blind, and usually make their way to the mother’s body to stay warm and feel safe. They also weigh as much as their egg did, about two grams. The hen will get rid of the empty shells by throwing them out of the box. Chicks hatch in the order in which they were laid, one every day or every other day.
The mother budgie’s method of feeding her chicks can be disturbing at first, but it is perfectly normal. When a chick starts calling and kicking its legs to be fed, the mother will stroke her beak on the chick to get it to lie on its back. The chick then starts calling louder and more demanding. The hen then secretes a slimy mixture of seeds and saliva in the baby’s mouth from her crop (a “pouch” in a bird’s throat were food goes when it’s first swallowed, and later moves down to the stomach). The chick then calls louder and shriller than the first time when it’s full to tell the mother to stop feeding it.
Occasionally the mother bird may die, or abandon her chicks. This is when you need to step in and start hand feeding them. Unweaned baby birds should not be sold or given to inexperienced hand-feeders , it is very hazardous and If not done properly it can kill the chicks. As if administering medicine, you feed the birds with a needle-less syringe. Fill it up with the required amount of formula, then put the tip of it in the bird’s mouth. Make sure it is on the left side pointed towards the right side of the bird’s throat. That way you won’t put medicine down the airway. It’s much better if an expert show you how to do this first hand. You need to know how to hand feed chicks properly if you want to breed. Some breeders will even hand feed all of their chicks, motherless or not. This helps the chicks become more social, and better pets. Hand fed chick usually cost more to. Risks of not properly hand feeding babies are;
• Crop burn; This results when the formula is too hot and burns a hole through a baby bird’s crop. This can be deadly.
• Food is at too low of a temperature; The formula must not be given too cold either, resulting in a slowed down gastrointestinal tract, which can also be fatal.
• Aspiration pneumonia; When formula gets down the air tube and into the lung. This will result in the baby suffering for days, trying desperately to breathe, before it dies. And is incurable.
A leg band is put on birds when they are very young and their toes are extra bendable so you can slide it on with ease. Putting leg bands on chicks are required in some states. If you are thinking of entering your budgie in any shows they need to be banded with specially issued bands Leg bands tell the bird’s birth date, the state or country they were bred in, and the breeder’s initials. Sometimes the bands will be a certain color depending on the year they were born. They come in yellow, green, purple, gold, silver, red, and orange, ect. If your budgie came from Canada, sometimes the bands will have a bear on it. Sometimes, the band is blank with no letters or numbers. This is called a "family band". It won't tell you anything about the bird, unless you are its breeder. These are just to help the breeder know the year it was born and the genaration it was born in, so He/she doesn't crossbreed. Don’t remove this band your self as this can be very dangerous. If you really want it removed, have your vet do it instead