Budgies are one of the popular parrot species used as pets. They are also the most popular pet bird by a large measure after dog and cat, due to the fact that they are small and they are not expensive to manage. Budgie and other parakeet species are native to Australia, where they are still found in huge flocks in grasslands. Their wild species are slightly smaller than the birds normally found in pet stores, which have now undergone decades of captive breeding.
There are two types of budgies common to the pet trade which are the American budgie or parakeet and the English budgie. The American variety is the one most commonly found in pet stores, while the type often seen in exhibitions and shows is the larger English budgie. English budgies have a different appearance than American budgies, but both types belong to the same species.
Breeding budgies is a very interesting thing to do but some things as to be considered and put in place for successful breeding.
After getting your breeding pair it is important to inspect them. They will need to be healthy, over 10 months, and well bonded. Bonded means they are a mating pair, so display mating behavior such as holding beaks. If they are from the same family, it is best to split them up and introducing another make or female to breed from. Breeding to a close relative can cause genetic mutations and result in chicks being born deformed, with weak immunity or even dead.
If a particular color in desired, research on the desired trait should be done before buying the breeding mate. A lot of research has been done in identifying the different color mutations and how they are created.
It is necessary to separate the pair you want to breed from any other birds you have. This will ensure it is the pair you want mating and also given them the privacy to bond and mate. You will need a large cage, which is at least 24 inches by 16 inches, and 18 inches tall.
Breeding Environment Of Budgies
Once you have decided to breed, you need to provide your birds with a nest box, making sure it meets the requirements of the female. Darkness is required to ensure the female hormones for ovum maturation are stimulated. Your budgies do not need any materials, as they do not build nests, but the box should contain a tray in which the bird can lay her eggs. This may require you to cut into the wire to attach it, or removing a door so the entrance can be reached.
There are many types of nesting boxes so it is a matter of personal taste; always make sure they have a hinged top so you can check the eggs and chicks when hatched. Budgie breeders have developed a wooden insert that helps stop chicks in nests getting splayed legs – it is a simple wooden conclave that forms the base of the nest. Place pine shavings on the bottom of the box and the conclave nest, the female will then arrange them as she gets broody.
As with your normal daily care, you will need to provide a cuttlefish, mineral block and at least two perches. Food and water must be provided, and you will need to increase the volume as the female gets broody and when the chicks are born. Improve their diet with a lot of fresh vegetables and the addition of Egg Food (a special pellet).
Be careful not to check the nesting box too often
After all, the pair has been separated and the suitable nest as being provided is very important to see if there was a successful mating, If you don’t see them mating, you will need to watch for the signs. The female’s cere (the nose at the top of the beak) will change when she is ready to breed – normally it is light brown, but it will become less crusted and thicker when she is broody. If the mating has been a success, you will start to notice the female is nesting. She will rearrange and remove wood chips from the nesting box, making the area perfect.
After fertilization, the first egg will appear roughly 10 days later. The birds then lay an egg every other day until all are produced. During this time the hen will be sitting on the nest, so you will not see her often. Be careful not to check the nesting box too often and disturb them. It is also not advised to touch the eggs, as any bacteria on your hands can be absorbed through the shell.
If you want to check their development, you can shine a light through the shell to see their growth, movement, even their heartbeat. The male will protect his partner during this time, feeding her and guarding his young.
Between 18 and 23 days, after the first egg is laid, the first chick should hatch.
Hatching start after about 18 days, things get exciting as the chicks begin to hatch! They use their egg teeth to crack holes in the shell, calling for their mother with a cheeping sound. This alerts the mother to the fact that they are hatching so that she can offer assistance in removing the remaining shell if necessary. Once the chicks have made their way out of their eggs, the mother will feed them and keep them warm by sitting on them. At this stage, they weigh just two grams and are both naked and blind. Nest should now be checked regularly, ensuring that any dead chicks do not remain in the nest.
You must monitor the female’s condition and demeanor. Check her cere as she sits on her eggs – if it turns light blue she is losing condition. This can make it difficult for her to feed the chicks, but can also make her violent. Some females have been known to pull out a chick’s feathers or kill them. During this time the male will feed the hen, who will feed the chicks – her health is therefore very important.
Care after hatching
When the chicks start to hatch, check them regularly to make sure they are being fed and not being smothered by their siblings. Hatching at different times means that they will always be different sizes. If there are a large number of chicks, you may need to consider fostering them to other pairs you may be breeding.
As chicks start to move out of the nest, you will need to provide more food to encourage them to wean. Add a separate shallow bowl at the bottom of the cage, so they can start to forage. It is worth adding two water bottles at this stage, so all can drink when they want. You can now start to handle the chicks regularly, and teach them to perch on your finger.
At six weeks you will need to remove the chicks into a larger cage, so they can learn to fly safely. Provide a number of perches at different heights and distances, and place food at different heights whilst making sure there is a bowl still on the bottom of the cage. You can then rehome them, or move them into a larger house with the older birds.
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