Ask Lafeber


July 23, 2020

Cocktail bird is not breeding

I have 2 males cocktail and one female …the female doesn’t get familiar with any of them …she is always standing alone. I isolated one male and left the couple with the nest but the female is still standing alone and not communicate with the male…what shall i do ??


Hi Mina,

The first thing you need to do is remove the nest box. This pair is nowhere near being ready to breed. Adult birds do not need a nest except for during breeding season. If they ever do breed, the nest box should be removed after any chicks are weaned and the parents allowed to rest for several months.

As to this pair – are they old enough to breed? The male should be at least 18 months old and the female at least two years old. If these birds are younger than this, then you need to separate them until they are old enough to breed. You should never pair up a female who is too young or she will end up laying eggs at too young of an age and this is risky to her health.

Were the two males bonded to each other? If so, and they can still hear each other, the male in the pair may not accept the female because he wants his old mate back. It doesn’t matter if they are the same sex – same sex birds in captivity can bond the same as a male and female.

If the pair is old enough to breed, then you need to give them time to bond. Not all birds will accept the mate we choose for them, and not all bonded pairs will be good breeders. There is a lot that can go wrong with breeding birds, so you need to have a lot of patience and be prepared for a lot of work, with no chicks to show for it. You can set up everything perfectly, and still not end up with chicks. You need to be feeding them a nutritionally balanced diet like pellets or our foraging diets. A loose seed mix does not provide enough nutrition, especially for breeding birds. You should also offer chopped veggies, fruits, multi grain bread and cooked eggs with the shell crushed and cooked with them – wash the eggshell thoroughly before breaking the egg and using the shell. Breeding birds need to know they have abundant food and a safe breeding environment. Without all of these extra foods, the birds will feel like they do not have enough to feed chicks so they will not breed and lay eggs. They also need privacy – the cage should be in a quiet room or area of the house with very little interaction with people. If you are constantly checking on them, they will not feel safe and will not breed. They also need warmer temperatures and longer days. If they do not get enough light each day, they will not go into breeding condition.

If they have abundant food, a safe quiet environment, longer days and warmer weather and they still show no interest in each other, then this pair is probably not compatible. But this takes place over time – don’t give them a few days or weeks, give them months. If there has been no progress after several months, no signs of the pair interacting, then you can assume this pair is not going to bond. As to why, there is no way to know. Again, not all birds get along, so just putting a random male and female together does not guaranteed compatibility and mating.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


Subscribe to our newsletter