Ask Lafeber

Question:

July 15, 2022

Bonded Conures displaying mating behavior


I have a 2 1/2 year old black capped conure and a 1 1/2 year old green cheek conure who have recently bonded. They are caged separately and groom and feed each other and are displaying mating behavior. I do not want her to lay eggs or to raise chicks. I want them to be happy but have no extra time to care for and find homes for babies. Is there part birth control? I don’t want to separate them because they keep each other company when I am required to work 10-12 hrs days, and 6 day weeks ( I am a professional Chef). What do you recommend?


Answer:

Hi Katrina,

Both birds are really too young to let them breed anyway, plus they are different species and would produce hybrids which is generally frowned upon. The best thing to try is to control their environment and exposure to light.

As for birth control, that isn’t necessary. If she does lay eggs, throw them away. Fertile eggs do not even begin any development until at least 48 hours of incubation. Without incubation, the eggs are never viable. So she can’t incubate eggs and hatch chicks unless you let her.

Hormones are such an issue with pet birds, that we have presented several webinars on the topic which I encourage all owners to view. Below is the list of changes that is recommended as well as the link to the playlist of hormone themed webinars.

You need to do all of these things to discourage breeding & egg laying. Keep in mind that to lay eggs, she needs longer daylight, warmer weather, abundant food, and a quiet, private environment. Your goal is to reverse these conditions.

Limit their light to 8-10 hours by covering the cage early each evening

Do not give them anything to use as a nest – no bird huts or tents, no box, bowl, etc. If she decides to sit in a food bowl, remove it and replace with smaller cups.

Do not give them anything to shred such as paper or cardboard.

Rearrange the toys in the cages frequently.

Move the cages to a different place in the room. Move the cages about once a week, or whenever she shows signs of nesting – settling on the cage floor for example. This disrupts her idea of having a stable place to lay eggs and raise chicks.

If you feed a lot of fresh foods, stop offering any for a couple of weeks, and then only offer them in small amounts about 2 or 3 times a week. You can resume normal feeding later when the birds aren’t being hormonal.

If she is let out of the cage, do not let her get in any dark cozy places and don’t give her free roam.

When you handle them, limit any petting to the head and neck – do not pet them on the body. Only a bonded mate is allowed to groom the body. We can’t be a mate, so touching the body is off limits.

If there is no metal floor grate, then do not use any bedding or paper in the cage tray – leave it bare and clean it daily.

The webinars in this playlist offer additional ideas for distracting a bird from hormonal behavior and laying eggs:

Pet Bird & Hormonal Issues Webinar Series:

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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