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Question:

April 26, 2022

Budgie pair and first potential clutch


Our budgie pair have mated and so far the hen has laid 2 eggs. We aren’t prepared as we thought we had 2 girls (we adopted them from an elderly neighbor who got them when they very young and told us they were “sisters” though not biologically), but based on their behavior over the last 10 days they are definitely not 2 girls!

We’ve already discovered that Blue has laid an egg but we removed it because it fell out of her coconut house and cracked.

Would like to build her a proper nesting box but not sure what size to make it. Any advice on dimensions?


Answer:

Hi Abby,

The first thing to do is throw out the coconut house and discard any eggs. As you have already found out, it isn’t suitable for a nest and will just end up in broken eggs, or even crushed or smothered chicks. Unfortunately there are a lot of items sold online that are inappropriate for pet birds. They do not need a nest or anything to sleep in. In the wild, a nest is used only during breeding season for the eggs and chicks. Adult parakeets do not sleep in a nest the rest of the year. The main problem with these little houses/huts/tents is they trigger hormones in pet birds, and they can cause a female to start laying eggs whether there is a male present or not. If you have seen the two birds mating, then most likely one is a male, but even two females in captivity will bond like a pair and go through mating behavior. So you definitely have one hen, but the other is not necessarily a male.

Since you do want to breed them, there are some things you need to do first. It’s important that both birds are at least 2 years old. If you feel they are younger, then it’s much too early to let them breed. Again – no more coconut house. 🙂

They need to be on a nutritionally balanced diet like pellets or our foraging diets. A seed mix will not provide the nutrition they need to raise healthy chicks. They also need leafy greens, chopped veggies and some fruit. Later, when it’s time to give them a nest box, you will start feeding an egg food. This can be a commercial mix, or you can cook an egg with the shell washed, crushed and mixed with the egg. There should also be a cuttlebone in the cage. It takes a lot of protein and calcium from the hen’s system to form eggs, so she needs a protein and calcium source to replenish what she loses to the eggs. Many hens will eat their own eggs if they are not getting enough nutrition while breeding.

As for the nest box, there are plans you can find online. But I would recommend buying one that is made for parakeets. The box needs to be the right size, but also built securely without gaps or cracks. And you have to be careful about how to assemble it – you can’t use a strong glue, for example or have nails where they can get hurt. It seems every breeder has their preferred size anywhere from 9in X 7in, 12 x 9, 12 x 12. It’s best to have it longer than tall & wide, and the entry needs to be near the top on the shorter side. The best boxes have a hinged lid that can be lifted to check on the pair and any eggs or chicks. The box should be attached to the outside of the cage, as high as possible. And you want a short perch under the entry hole. They are fairly inexpensive, so usually you will spend more on materials trying to make one. Just be careful because some of the commercial boxes are too small in my opinion.

Since she has laid eggs now, wait 6 months before giving them the nest box. This gives you time to convert them to the right diet if they are only eating seeds now. The box should be removed after every clutch, whether the eggs hatch or not, and the pair rested for 6 months. You can’t allow them to keep having clutch after clutch without resting them or the hen will end up dying eventually from laying eggs too many times a year.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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