Ask Lafeber

Question:

May 21, 2022

Budgie breeding


I saw my male budgie trying to sit on his offspring’s (female) back. The female is 6-7 months old only. Is it ok to let them do it? Or how do I discourage them without separating them?


Answer:

Hi Ojas,

Unfortunately, you have no option other than to separate them for quite a few reasons, which I will explain. But it is very important that you separate them immediately, because your young female’s life is as risk right now.

I realize that sounds dramatic, but even if they were not related, a young female should never be in the same cage with a breeding age male. This goes for any species, and even if the sexes were reversed. But when the younger bird is the female, she is at the most risk. In the wild, a young bird like this would not be interacting with a breeding age adult. She would be with other young flock members until she is at least 2 years old, which is the earliest she is ready to breed.

Your male is going to keep trying to mate with her no matter what you try to do – it’s just instinctive and you can’t change instinct. When she isn’t receptive, he is likely to get aggressive with her, and he might end up killing her. If he attacks her when nobody is around to save her, he will kill her, because he is frustrated that she won’t breed and he has no use for her. In the wild, the parents either leave their chicks as soon as they are independent, or they force the chicks to leave their territory. This is nature’s way of preventing inbreeding. In captivity, parents normally start picking on weaned chicks. But if the chicks are not removed, then you end up with what is happening now. They do not seem to recognize the young birds as offspring once their hormones kick in.

At your young chick’s age, her hormones could be triggered by these breeding attempts. If this happens, an egg may form, and she most likely will get egg bound and die. She needs time to finish developing physically and mentally. Right now her muscles are still developing, and it takes a lot of effort to pass an egg through the reproductive system. So young birds tend to not have the strength to push out an egg, and end up dying because of this. She should not be in the same cage with a male until she is two years old, and of course it should be a male she is not related to.

Weaned chicks should always be removed from the parent’s cage as soon as possible. And you can’t have opposite sex birds that are related in the same cage. No mothers and sons, fathers and daughters or brothers and sisters. If related bird breed, it usually results in weak chicks with serious issues. Most suffer and die within a few days, others have internal issues you can’t see and die within the first year and some end up with physical deformities that plague them for their short lives.

Of course you can keep related birds together if you discard all eggs and do not allow any to be incubated. But this is only if all the birds are breeding age – which again with budgies is 2 years old or older. So sadly, this pair needs to be separated and ideally not within sight of each other. I’m not sure if something happened to the mother? If she is still in the cage, she could also end up attacking and killing her own daughter out of jealousy. A breeding pair rarely tolerates other birds in their territory.

I know you wanted to keep them together, but for their health and safety, please separate these birds.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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