Ask Lafeber

Question:

December 10, 2017

Agressive bird and breeding problems!


Hello, I currently own 2 birds, one male and one female, both 3 years old. I have 2 questions;

1. They recently started mating about 6 months ago and layed their first clutch of eggs at that time but none of the eggs had hatched. I removed the eggs about 2 weeks after their estimated hatch date and cracked them to check, one of the eggs had a dead baby bird inside that was not fully formed, so this means that the eggs were fertile. They have been constantly mating since then and are currently on their third clutch of eggs this year with not a single egg hatching, the female sits on some eggs but not others and often comes out of the nesting box for long periods of time. So, what can I do to help the eggs hatch? and why are they breeding so often?

2. My male bird has recently become EXTREMELY aggressive towards both me and his mate. He has been like this since the second clutch of eggs have been layed and I understand that he can be protective, hence the aggression towards myself. But I am very concerned about my female bird. At random times my male bird will run up to her and start physically attacking her, biting her head, slamming his beak on her, to the point where we either have to remove her from the cage and lock him in or vice versa to keep him from attacking her. He has done this both while she has been on the eggs and when she is on top of the cage. Whenever I get close he starts to hiss at me and runs out of the cage, climbing to get as close to me as possible just to bite me. I try to talk calmly to him to calm him down but nothing works, he had never been an extremely tame bird but he has never been this bad. When he finally begins to calm, I try to stick my finger out for him to come to me, but instead of jumping on, he violently starts biting me to the point of excruciating pain, and he won’t let go either. I know that being violent to your bird is bad for them but I have to physically smack him off of my hand just to get him to stop, he does not seem to realise that attacking me is the wrong thing as whenever I show discipline he just attacks more, his bites have even made me bleed. So, why could he be this aggressive towards me and his mate? and what can I do to do to improve it?
Thank you for your time.


Answer:

Hi Amy,

Once you set up pet birds as breeders, you should no longer try to handle them as pets. They need to be left alone to bond with each other without the confusion of having a human involved. It sounds like your male is torn between being a pet and being a breeder, and this is resulting in misplaced aggression. You may need to re-think breeding them at all. For now I would split the pair up into separate cages. The hen needs at least a 6 month rest from breeding and egg laying. If you still plan to try to breed them again, you can leave the cages side by side, but you need to stop handling them as pets. While in some rare cases former pets can still be handled when not breeding, it clearly is not working with this pair, or at least not with the male.

If you want him to continue to be a pet, and the female is not tame, you might want to find her a new home. If you want them to breed again, then after at least 6 months, you can try reintroducing them to the breeding cage. Remember that they need privacy, so the breeding case should be in a quiet area away from human activity. Give them time to bond again before you put the nest box back up. If they show signs of bonding, such as preening each other, feeding each other and mating, then you can put the nestbox back up and see how they do. If the male continues to show aggression towards her, then this pair is probably not going to be compatible. Possibly he is not going to be a good breeder – often former pets can’t make that transition.

Again, for now, she needs to be rested and kept away from the male. You have at least 6 months to think about their future and whether it will be as breeders or pets.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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