Budgies aren’t shy when it comes to breeding and the turnaround from mating to chicks is very quick. Buying a pair of budgies is very popular, and minds begin to wonder about breeding from healthy, happy pairs. It is not as easy as simply having a male and a female, if your pair do not bond it is game over! Ensuring you also have the correct environment for a pair is imperative. The guide below will show you how to breed budgies, from selecting a pair to breed from, to looking after the chicks once they arrive.
The very first step to breeding budgies is to make sure that you have a proven male and a proven female.
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When deciding on a pair of budgies to breed from, you must ensure that they are not related. Breeding budgies that a close relatives can result in genetic mutations, resulting in still born or deformed chicks.
It is best to breed from budgies that are in exceptional health and at least one-year-old. If you have a pair that have already bonded, this is fantastic. You can tell if a male and female have bonded if they preen each other or hold beaks. This will ensure that mating and eggs will come sooner rather than later.
If you want to breed a particular colour of budgie it is best to read information on budgie colour genetics. There has been lots of research into colour mutations in budgies and how to achieve them. However, like anything in the natural world, this is not always guaranteed!
Once you have a specific pair that you would like to breed from, separate them from the rest of the chatter. This will ensure that no other amorous cocks (male budgies) get to the hen when she is in the breeding condition.
Furthermore, it gives the pair time to bond and mate in private, away from the prying eyes of their aviary mates.Ideally, your budgies need to be alone in a large cage, 24 inches by 16 inches is ideal, with a height of around 18 inches.
If you have a pair of budgies who have always lived in a cage of this size, you will just need to make a couple of easy changes. The most important addition to any budgie cage is a nest box on the side of the cage. Often this requires a little DIY; cutting the wire or removing a door so that the entrance hold can be reached. The kind of nesting box you use for your mating pair is completely down to personal preference.
As long as it has a hinged lid, so that you can check on the eggs and the chicks, it can be of any design. Many budgie breeders use a wood conclave in the base of their nesting boxes. This stops the chicks getting splayed legs. Owners just place the conclave in the bottom of the box, along with pine shavings. The hen will then arrange this as she deems fit when she is broody.
As with any daily budgie care, you must ensure your pair has a cuttlefish, mineral block, and at least two perches. Food and water must be provided as per usual, with the quantity increasing during her broody period, pregnancy, and when the chicks are born. You can give your pair lots of fresh vegetables and specialist pellets during mating.The hen will also benefit from having some soft wood to gnaw on, this will help encourage her to breed.
Furthermore, budgies naturally breed in the rainy season. You can help get them feeling frisky by frequently spraying them with water.
Once paired, budgies reach peak fitness when the cock’s cere is a vivid blue and the hen’s is chocolate brown. They begin to perch, feed and preen together. Providing bathing water helps get them in the mating mood. The male displays to his mate, with lots of head-bobbing and feather-fluffing, his pupils often dilating to pinpricks.
He accompanies this with a bubbling, liquid song, often working himself into a hyperactive state of all-singing, all-dancing eagerness.
The female watches and listen to these antics closely, but does not join in. She has her own mating season chirrup, and the male often joins in with her when she shouts it. Budgie Mating The male persistently courts his mate, tapping her beak with his own to stimulate her.
The female eventually lifts her tail in the air, raising her wings a little to let the male know that his wooing efforts have been successful. The cock bird then ‘treads’ the hen by performing the ‘cloacal kiss’ touching the vent or cloaca (an all-purpose repository for sperm, droppings and egg-laying, common to most birds), and rubbing from side to side. The process is swift, but will take place several times that day.
There are several factors to consider when breeding a budgie and one of them is their behaviour.
If there’s no action, it may be that the birds are too young, or too old. If they’re still bickering after a few days together, they simply don’t get on.
Occasionally a bird will opt to be celibate, probably due to suppressed hormones. This may be a temporary condition, or it may be a saintly lifetime’s commitment.
Budgies make very little fuss about nesting. The female will inspect the nesting box; or, if one is not provided, she will start scratching around in the corners of the cage or aviary for a suitable spot. Other members of the parrot family like to shred paper and collect dried grass and line their nests, but not budgies. If you put these items in the nesting box to make it warmer and softer, that’s fine, but don’t think the hen is going to help you!
A hen who has felt the hormonal surge of the mating season may start searching for nesting opportunities beyond the cage, if she is allowed free-flight in a room. The space behind the books on a bookshelf, or that cobwebby area at the back of the hi-fi are the sorts of places that will appeal to her.
This behaviour is sometimes accompanied by heightened aggression. You can take her mind off nesting (if that’s what you want) by confining her to the cage for a couple of days. Check her diet, too, and go easy on the high protein foods, as these tend to bring on the nesting urge.
Once mating has finished, the hen will install herself in the nest box, arranging the minimal furnishings, and emerging to eat and feed on the mineral block and cuttlefish.
The male will start to feed her with regurgitated food as soon as she is nest-bound. Her abdomen will be visibly swollen as the eggs develop, as will her vent. Her droppings may be larger than usual, with a slightly different hue as she stocks up on the protein and minerals she needs. This is perfectly normal.
After mating has taken place, female budgies will start to focus on their nesting site. The hen will spend most of her time in the nest adjusting it to her liking. You will notice that her abdomen will be swelling and her droppings will become larger. It will be till about 9 days that she will lay her first egg, don’t worry if she lays her first egg outside the nest box. This type of behavior is common among fist time hens. If the egg is still intact place the egg in the nest box so that she will get the idea that eggs are supposed to be in the nest box.
Hens will usually start to incubate the eggs after the second or third egg has been laid. Incubation can take from 17 to 23 days to hatch and feeding usually starts within 24 hours. Do not fret if you notice that the baby chick has not been fed after hatching. The baby still has to absorb all nutrients from the yolk sack before it starts to beg for food. If you notice that its been past a day and the chick has not been fed try transferring it to another laying hen. If you do not have any other hen sitting on eggs then this is the time to start hand feeding.
After about the 18th day or so of incubation you can expect your first egg to hatch. It can take hours for a baby budgie to make its way out of its egg shell.
I strongly recommend that you try not to tamper with the hatching baby unless an emergency arises. Since the female lays her eggs on alternate days you can expect your eggs to hatch in that manner. Baby budgies hatch with their eggs closed and will not open their eggs until about the second week after hatching. Newborn budgies are fed very often and grow very fast. It is always rewarding to see how the parents care for their young.
Chicks sometimes wait 24 hours until chirping for food. This is because the nutrients from the egg yolk are keeping them satisfied post-egg. If, however, there is no sign of feeding after the first day, you will have to transfer the chick to another chick-rearing hen, or begin the delicate process of hand-rearing (see Feeding Budgie Chicks, below).
The cock will feed the hen while she’s sitting, and the feeding of the chicks is down to her, until they leave the nest at five to six weeks old. The cock may then join in the chick-feeding, but often the hen will do the weaning single-handedly.Once the chicks have all hatched, droppings will start to accumulate rapidly. You need to clean out the nest box at least once a week, with clean hands. Remove as much of the soiled wood shavings as you can, but don’t shove the chicks around too much as you endeavour to clean their nest. If older chicks develop dirty feet, clean them.
The chicks should not be handled before they are two weeks old. After this, however, you can gently lift them from the nest when you’re cleaning it. They will still need handling with care, as all baby birds are very fragile. Don’t worry about the parent bird panicking and abandoning their chick after handling - this very rarely happens with captive budgerigars.If you start handling the budgies at two weeks old, they will be relatively hand-tame by the time they fledge. This will make it easy to finger-train them in later life.
The most important thing you will buy for your bird is its cage. Since this is where it will spend the bulk of its time, a cage must be large enough for the bird to move about freely; otherwise, the bird will be an unhappy creature. If your looking for bird cage, birds toys and other product for your birds just visit online store like aviariesdepot.com.au. At minimum, the cage should be 14” long x 11” wide x 12” high. Remember, once food dishes, perches, and toys are added, the actual space in which your pet has to move about will be diminished. Please resist the “starter kits” some pet stores offer if the cage they include is smaller than the above dimensions. I know it will seem like a good deal at the time, but it will not be good for your bird in the end. If you can afford an even larger cage, then get it.
Your bird will thank you. We as humans go through busy times when we cannot give our pets as much playtime as they want / need, so if the bird has a bigger play-space it will not mind some alone-time quite so much. Whatever size cage you buy, make sure the bars are no more than half an inch apart. This will prevent your budgie from getting its head caught between the bars. Also, try to find one with bars made from heavy wire, as the bars tend to bend easily on cages with thin bars.
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