Ask Lafeber

Question:

June 24, 2020

African Grey breeding couple


Hi. I have a 4 years old African grey that has beed very sexual/hormonal in the past two months so i have decided to get him a female so that he might bond with her. I know it might never happen but i dont mind trying. The female is 10 years old. Is this age gap going to be an issue or not? I am really confused cause i have read contradictory perspectives on this point. Thanks.


Answer:

Hi Hussein,

Getting a mate for a hormonal bird is not necessarily the best solution. All pet birds will get hormonal at least once a year. This will pass until the next season. There are things you can do to reduce hormonal triggers and shorten the amount of time he acts this way. In his case, he is probably just getting sexually mature. And he is very young to be this way. Captive bred birds will become sexually mature at a much younger age than in the wild. This is a problem because while he is physically ready, he is not mentally developed enough to be set up for breeding. He is just starting to be hormonal but probably not ready to settle into breeding, care for a mate and care for eggs and maybe chicks. African Greys are hard to breed under the best conditions. Allowing a young bird like this to breed is a mistake. He is less likely to even be accepted by the older hen as she will recognize his immaturity and even if she accepts him, he is much more likely to lost interest in her or the eggs, or not help care for the chicks. Both parents participate in incubation and feeding chicks and he isn’t ready for this.

Is he a pet bird that you handle? If so, you need to understand that if you get a female and they bond, you will no longer be able to handle him. Both birds will get aggressive and territorial and will bite to protect their nesting area. Do you have enough room for a large breeding cage and the right kind of nest box? They need a very large cage with a nest box affixed to the outside of the cage. The nest box will be very large and very heavy, so the cage must be large and heavy to support the box and to give the pair room to court each other and mate. If he isn’t receptive enough to her, she might turn on him and chase or attack him. Breeding birds is complicated and requires more than just a male and female that get along. They also need a special diet – a nutritionally balanced staple like pellets as well as fruits, veggies, multi grain bread & cooked eggs, with the shell cooked with them – wash the eggshell thoroughly before breaking it and cooking it with the egg. And you need to know how to hand feed in case the birds don’t feed the chicks. Of course eggs and chicks are simply speculation because it remains to be seen if the birds will even get along.

So if he is indeed a pet and you wish to keep him that way, there are some things you can change that will help reduce hormonal behavior. When you pet him, stick to his head and neck – any petting on the body will be a hormonal trigger because only a bonded mate will be allowed to groom him on his body. Do not give him anything to shred and nothing he can get inside of – no bird tents, boxes or anything similar. Reduce the mounts or stop offering fresh foods during breeding season – basically when the weather warms up and the days are longer.

We recently hosted two webinars on hormonal pet birds that you might want to view. Here are the links:

Webinar: “Spring Is In the Air: How To Deal With Your Pet Bird’s Hormonal Behavior!”

Webinar: “Pet Birds & Hormonal Behavior: Part 2!”

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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