Ask Lafeber

Question:

July 15, 2022

Mated female cockatiel


My female has laid egg no4 2 days ago and now today. But she and the male both aren’t sitting on them since I moved them to a cage of their own


Answer:

Hi Jodie,

It sounds like this pair was in a cage with other cockatiels? You are correct that they need their own cage, but if you move a breeding pair while they have eggs, they will almost always abandon them. However, you could not have left them with the other birds. The best thing would have been to move the other birds out, but even that may not have worked.

There are many potential problems with allowing breeding in a group cage. Breeding birds get very territorial, so the breeding pair would have started to attack other birds in the cage, and might even kill them. Other birds in the cage might want to breed, too, and they do not want competition so they are likely to destroy eggs from other pairs. You also have no control over which birds mate with each other.

If you want this pair to successfully breed, then they need to remain in their own cage with a nest box. But since the hen just laid eggs, she really should not be allowed to have another clutch right now. Pairs need to be rested for 6 months between each clutch, whether the eggs hatch or not. Forming and laying each egg takes a toll on the hen’s health, so she needs time to recover. In the wild they actually only breed once a year and raise one clutch. In captivity, if you provide a nutritious diet, they can be allowed two clutches per year, with a 6 month rest in between.

All of that being said, unless she lays the rest of this clutch and they start to sit on them, then just plan to wait 6 months. If they have a nest box now, remove it as soon as you are sure they aren’t going to care for these eggs. Return the nest box in 6 months and let them try again.

As for the group cage, never provide a nest box or any type of nest. If any of the birds try to nest in a food bowl, replace it with smaller bowls. If they try to claim a corner of the cage as a nest, block it off with some toys. If any eggs show up, it is best to discard them to avoid territorial fighting.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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