Q: I am 12 years old and interested in breeding parakeets. I had a female for a few years, then got a male. I’ve had the pair since the end of last December, but things just haven’t been going so well. The female only chews on the box, she has never gone inside. Sometimes they feed each other, but other than that, no breeding activity.
A: The hardest part about answering letters is not being able to see a setup and the birds. I’ll do the best I can with the information you provided.
It could be that your birds aren’t interested in breeding or they don’t have all the conditions they feel they need to raise chicks. Or it could be that the birds haven’t had enough time yet to breed. Always make certain that you truly have a male and female bird, not two birds of the same sex. You, however, seem certain of your birds’ sexes.
The fact that your birds feed each other is a good sign that they are bonded. Not every two birds get along. I would be more optimistic if your hen was 1 or 2 years old, not a few years old and breeding for the first time. Is the pair’s nest box hanging outside of their cage? That’s preferable to putting it into a cage and crowding the birds. Chewing on the box is one of the things that stimulates breeding behavior and proves the birds’ interest in breeding. The next step should be going in the box.
Try providing a couple things for your birds that will show them there are resources to raise chicks. Start increasing their daylight hours to 15, preferably with full-spectrum lighting. You can put it on a timer or remember to turn it on and off. The natural lighting in December, January and February is short days whereas the birds will be stimulated to breed by the longer days of “spring.”
Make sure they have a cuttlebone available to supply the hen extra calcium needed to produce egg shells. Offer soft foods every day and try sprouting seeds. Warm foods like oatmeal, bits of scrambled egg and thawed frozen peas are also good. Spring brings rain to the budgie’s native Australian desert. This makes the native grasses grow, which supply food for hungry chicks. Mist your birds a couple times a week, or offer them a bowl of water in which to bathe to simulate rain.
When your birds are mating, keep offering them foods high in protein and calcium, or supply a breeder pellet. They need that to make healthy eggs and, in turn, strong chicks.
I wish you success in your endeavor. It can take a while for first-time birds to figure things out, but they usually do.