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How to: breeding parakeets
Everyone loves those little winged buggers! But am I ready to breed them?
Before you go ahead and plunge yourself into the world of parakeet (also called budgies or "budgerigars") breeding, you have to be sure you are ready. Are you in the correct living situation for baby birds? This may include living with someone who doesn't mind those noisy babies, or a place spacious enough and predator-free to make the most safe and comfortable environment for the chicks as possible. Are you in the best place, financially, to support baby birds who may need to be hand-reared, for health supplies for both the parents and the chicks, spare cages, vet trips, and much more? These are all things to consider when you begin breeding any animals- especially birds.
Your Breeding Pair
Next thing, and arguably the most important thing on your budgie-breeding-mission list: the parents! You need to observe and decide before introducing a breeding box that you have a healthy and well bonded pair of adult budgies.
First, considering genders, buy your pair! A budgie with a blue cere (and sometimes pink in lutino, albino, and juvenile) are male, otherwise a bird with a brown cere (also sometimes pink, which can be confusing!) is a female. When the female is ready to breed, the cere, or the colored "bump" above the beak, may have a crusty or lumpy look. This is absolutely normal, and should be considered when choosing the timing for your first-time breeding. This could be concerning if not prepared for it. Your pair should be at least six months old, which tends be hard to tell if the birds were bought from a store/rescue and not a breeder. A way you can tell is to make sure you can see the whites around the bird's eyes. This is a tell-tale sign of adulthood, and something you'll notice in the appearance of your baby budgies after they are a few months old.
Consider if the pair is bonded after having them for a while. Do they sleep cuddled up next to each other? Do they preen (groom) each other during the day? When the birds are preparing to breed, the male might also be caught feeding the female by regurgitating in her beak. This is something he will do until the babies are grown up. The father will eat enough for himself, the female, and in turn, all the babies.
Setting up for your little feathered friends to breed is fairly simple, but in turn, fairly costly. Your pair should be eating fresh greens every day, making up most of their diet, however, they also require pellets, seeds, the occasional millet spray, cuttlebones, other mineral blocks, and honey sticks (every other week). You should also consider purchasing egg-cite food to prevent egg-binding (a serious and somewhat common condition in which the mother cannot deliver the egg, thus fatally sustaining a state in which the egg is suspended in her cloaca). It should go somewhat like this list below, though this is very particular, and my personal formula:
- 50% vegetables
- 20% pellets
- 15% seed/egg-cite food
- 10% Cuttlebones (and other mineral blocks)
- 3% millet
- 2% Honey Sticks/other treats
Food is probably the most costly part of it all.
Other supplies include a variety of perches and constant introduction of new toys to promote healthy feet, optimal exercise, and increased happiness of both the parents and the future fledglings. As you can see, healthy, happy parents equal healthy, happy babies. Toys and perches don't always have to be brand new. It's as simple as taking away a specific perch or toy (even if they love it; I know its hard), and returning it a few days later and taking away a different one. This maintains their curiosity and makes them the silly, annoying little buggers we all know and love.
Show What you Know!
What is a a group of parakeets called in relation to breeding?
Nest boxes and introduction
When I bred my first clutch, a million questions flooded my head about nest boxes, though it seemed simple enough.
- When do I introduce the nest box?
- What is the best type of nest box?
- What should I do to properly prepare the nest box for the bird?
- When do I take the nest box away?
Introducing the nest box is honestly up to your judgement. You should be ready to breed before you introduce the nest box, the reason behind this being it can take a successful breeding pair anywhere from 1 day to 2 weeks for them to decide to use it. This means the nest box is a symbol of you being fully prepared for the challenge of breeding.
There is really no "best" type of nest box. I would recommend a classic wooden nest box, perch on the outside (though I recommend suspending some soft, untreated wood inside the nest for the growing babies to gnaw on), concave on the bottom (so the eggs don't roll), and a lift-up lid that is convenient for your cage set-up and requires minimal stress on poor mama when you come to check on the babies (which you should do only once a day).
To prepare the nest box for the budgies, simply fill it will wood chips; I find that aspen is most convenient to me, however you should check on a credible site if it is safe before using any other kind of wood. You can fill it right up to the entrance. Prepare yourself; budgies are notorious for throwing out the wood chips. If this is the case, do not add more, the way it is pleases Mom and she thinks it is best for the babies. The nest box should be placed as high as possible either on the outside of the cage or the inside, depending on your personal preference and the amount of room in the cage.
You should always take out the nest box as soon as the babies fledge [leave the nest box for good] in order to prevent the parakeets from breeding again. Laying again will tire them and most likely cause fatalities.
While most prefer the classic wooden box, I personally have had success in this Vision Breeding Box
Things to Consider
Consider the following:
- Do I know how to do everything I can to make the breeding process go smoothly and comfortably for my birds?
- Do I know the risks of Splayed Legs, Egg-Binding, and other complications and how to solve these problems?
- Do I have a reliable Avian Veterinarian in case of emergencies?
- Am I in the proper living conditions to keep the birds happy and stress-free?
Tutorial on Full Breeding Experience by hordygurdy on YouTube
They grow up so fast...
I wish you very good luck in your breeding experience!
Remember, this is only the beginning! This article lacks most of the information you need to start breeding, so keep researching, and don't be discouraged! If you stay determined, the sky is the limit.