Ask Lafeber


July 26, 2022

Male cockatiel will not let female into nest.

Hen has laid four eggs. Male guards nest and won’t let female in nest box. The male goes in for brief periods and spends time out of nest. Is this normal?


Hi Bill,

Some captive breeding males will do this, and unfortunately the eggs will never hatch with just part time incubation. Some males start this after incubation begins. When this happens, you can try removing him and letting the hen sit all day, then rotate them and let him sit at night. She can’t sit day and night – they always take turns. If he fails to sit at all, then the eggs won’t hatch. Some pairs do not make good breeders. They may be too young – they should both be 2 years or older. They may just be learning and will do better next time – first clutches almost always fail. Or they may not be fully bonded. If they do not work things out for these eggs, then go ahead and remove the box and discard the eggs. Rest the pair from breeding for at least 6 months and then let them try again. If he exhibits the same behavior, then probably he is not cut out for breeding. She might do better with another male and form a better bond with another male.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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