Ask Lafeber


June 19, 2020


Why do cockatiel parents pluck feathers out of their babies?


Hi Rita,

This is not uncommon at all. It probably doesn’t happen in the wild, but we don’t know for sure why some captive birds do this to their chicks. It could be over zealous grooming, hot or crowded nest box, an inexperienced male or female, inadequate nutrition for the parents, or the parents are just tired of the chicks. Some may do it if they feel the chicks are taking too long to leave the nest box. Some birds decide they would rather breed again and get impatient that they still have chicks. And some birds can get over bred and start doing things like this. In the wild, they would have one clutch per year in general. If a breeding season lasts longer or they got an early start or something happens to the first clutch, they might have a second clutch. But then the weather changes, days get shorter and food is not as abundant so this signals the end of the season, nests are abandoned and the birds go elsewhere until the next year when breeding season starts again. In captivity, we provide an ideal breeding environment all year long, so it is very important that you remove the nest box after each clutch and rest the parents from breeding for about 6 months. I don’t recommend allowing more than 2 clutches per year for a pair. Many people make the mistake of allowing their pair to breed all year and eventually the adults health will be compromised, the clutches will get smaller as in fewer eggs, and the chicks will not be as healthy. Adult birds do not need a nest to sleep in, so after these chicks are weaned, be sure to remove the box and rest the pair for 6 months if you haven’t already been doing this.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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