Ask Lafeber

Question:

March 24, 2021

My male green cheek conure attacked the female


Why did he attack her? I have two green cheek conures for breeding. I’ve had these two for a few months now in hopes for them to mate with each other. I’ve never seen them to close until yesterday I saw them going at it. But today the male attacked the female until she bled. He ripped almost all of her feathers in her head and left side of neck. Her left eye seems hurt to. We are healing her up and took the male out of that cage. What should I do and why did he do that?


Answer:

Hi Jarelys,

I’m sorry this happened – I know it was very scary for you. If the female isn’t better today, you should go ahead and take her to an Avian Vet.

It’s not easy to breed birds – even species that are known to be “easy” to breed. There are so many factors and you can do absolutely everything right, and still not see any chicks from your efforts. This type attack often happens when one bird is ready to breed but the other isn’t. This can be because one or both birds are too young, one bird might be sterile, or the pair isn’t compatible. Green Cheeks will become sexually mature at a fairly young age in captivity, but the problem is they still need time to develop physically and mentally. It’s best to wait until the birds are 2-3 years old before you pair them and try to get them interested in breeding. It’s also best for the birds to be about the same age. If one bird is much younger than the other, the older bird can get frustrated when it is ready to mate and the young bird isn’t. This can result in a vicious attack like with your birds, and if not caught in time, the younger bird can end up dead. It is worse when the female is younger, because she can end up laying eggs when she really isn’t ready. It also happens if the birds are not truly bonded. A breeding pair needs to have a close bond – they should spend most of their time together, feed each other and eventually start to mate. If your birds aren’t too young, it’s likely they are not bonded in the way pairs need to bond. Some males, especially young ones, are only interested in mating, and not interested in settling down to care for eggs or chicks. Some birds simply aren’t compatible and don’t like the mate we choose for them. Choosing a mate in the wild is a big deal, and it takes time to find the right mate. Our captive birds don’t get this option in most cases. And while any of them do end up bonding, there are also a lot who will never accept each other. If these birds were hand raised and tame at some point, there can be a conflict in whether they truly want a bird mate or a human mate, and this can result in fights.

Of course you will need to keep these birds separated until the female has healed. If both birds are close to 3 years old or more, then once she heals, try placing their cages side by side. Give them time to get to know each other again. If they show interest by sitting close to each other and vocalizing to each other, you can then try both of them in the same cage. This needs to be under close supervision, and sometimes it’s best to allow this for a few hours daily, but then separate them at night or when you can’t keep an eye on them. If the birds show signs of true bonding, then you can think about putting the nest box back up. If you get to that point, you still need to watch them closely because of their history. A web cam is a great way to observe breeding birds without distracting them. A small amount of sparring or harmless squabbles are normal. But chasing, pulling out feathers, drawing blood are not good signs. If the male starts this again, then I would say these two birds are not compatible and should not be together again. However, he may also be a problem male. Some males are like this, and never make good breeders. This will take time and patience on your end and you need to be prepared that this pair is not going to work out.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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