Ask Lafeber

Question:

March 3, 2021

Conures breeding


I have a pair of pineapple conures, the girl is 1, and the boy is 3. They are really happy together. There are signs that they want to mate, but there is no nesting box. Will they still mate without a nesting box?


Answer:

Hi Ellie,

Yes, birds will mate and even lay eggs with or without a nest or nest box. I am concerned about the female’s age. She really should not be paired with a male until she is at least 2 years old, but 3 years old is better. Captive bred birds tend to become sexually mature at a younger age than in the wild. However, they are still developing mentally and physically. When a young hen is paired with an older male, this can result in her laying eggs when she is really too young. While some breeders will let young birds breed, it really is not a good idea and is a case of putting profit ahead of their well-being. Young hens are at a higher risk of becoming egg bound and dying. And young pairs in general make more mistakes than a truly mature pair. With this male being older, he is just at the perfect age for him to start breeding, but she isn’t. Young birds tend to be more interested in the mating part than settling down and caring for eggs and chicks. And bad habits can include breaking eggs or eating the eggs. When a bird starts eating their eggs, this habit can stick with them and ruin them for being a good breeder. I would be inclined to keep them in separate cages until the female is at least 2. If you keep them together, I would not give them a nest box yet. It would be best to do things to discourage breeding for now. Limit their light to 8-10 hours by covering the cage early each evening. Keep rearranging toys and perches in the cage, and move the cage to a busy place in the house. Move the cage to a new spot once a week if possible. Limit fresh foods to a few times a week, and limit the amount. Do not give them anything that can be used as a nest – no boxes, bird huts or large food bowls. And nothing they can shred like paper or cardboard. If you have these birds just as companions for each other, and have no plans to breed them, then it would be best to keep them caged separately and let them play together when they are out of the cage.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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