Ask Lafeber

Question:

September 7, 2021

Keeping a cockatiel hen with her daughter


Hi!

We have had a cockatiel pair for about 5 years now. We never intended to breed them, so we haven’t installed a nestbox. However, they have been nesting and laying eggs on the cage floor. The eggs never hatched until this time and the pair is now caring for four chicks. We want to prevent them from raising more chicks in the future preferably without medical intervention. We would therefore like to keep the female cockatiel together with one of her daughters and rehome the male and the rest of the chicks. Is this a good idea or will the female try to drive her daughter away and is it unlikely for them to bond well?

Thank you in advance!


Answer:

Hi Maartje,

It would be cruel to split up this bonded pair. She would not be satisfied with her daughter – she would be likely to attack her out of frustration, because she would want her mate back, not a baby bird as a companion. It would be very stressful and upsetting for the male and female. They have been bonded and together for a long time – if one died, the other would grieve and eventually accept it, but ripping a pair apart is never a good thing to do. That doesn’t mean you have to let them hatch chicks again. There are changes you can make to discourage more egg laying. And you should prevent them from making a nest. If your cage doesn’t have a metal grate, then you should just take any eggs away before she starts to sit on them. Cockatiels should only be allowed to lay eggs twice a year with a 6 month rest in between. So even if you were breeding them on purpose, you have to make changes to make them rest in between clutches. In the wild, the weather changes and this signals them to stop breeding. But in captivity, it is the owner’s responsibility to limit breeding for the hen’s health. It takes a lot of protein and calcium for each egg to form, so it depletes the hen’s health. She needs at least 6 months to recover after each clutch, whether the eggs hatch or not. Also, even if you took the male away, does not mean she would stop laying eggs. You would have to make these changes no matter what – female cockatiels are notorious for becoming chronic egg layers in captivity even if they have never been around a male. You need to make and maintain all of these changes – and this applies to both birds.

Keep in mind that to lay eggs, she needs longer daylight, warmer weather, abundant food, and a quiet, private environment. Your goal is to reverse these conditions.

Limit her light to 8-10 hours by covering the cage early each evening

Do not give her anything to use as a nest – no bird huts or tents, no box, bowl, etc. If she decides to sit in a food bowl, remove it and replace with smaller cups.

Do not give her anything to shred such as paper or cardboard.

Rearrange the toys in the cage.

Move the cage to a different place in the room. Move the cage about once a week, or whenever she shows signs of nesting.

If she is let out of the cage, do not let her get in any dark cozy places.

If you handle her, limit any petting to her head and neck – do not pet her on the body.

If there is no metal floor grate, then do not use any bedding or paper in the cage tray – leave it bare and clean it daily.

If she continues to lay eggs anyway, then you may have to take her to an Avian Vet for a hormone implant or shot. The implant seems to be more effective and lasts longer.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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