Most parakeet owners won’t become full on breeders, but this doesn’t stop the many budgerigar enthusiasts from adding to the ever growing parakeet population. Under the right conditions, parakeets will breed easily. Provided with all of the right environment, the birds will simply just get on with it.
Parakeets in an aviary will usually pair up with one another. However, for many breeders, this isn't quite it. Breeders will usually look for that magic formula, two birds whose combined genetics will create the perfect show bird. In a mixed flock this will mean having to intervene to pair Opaline with Opaline, Crested with Crested and so on. If your aim is just to breed the birds, without looking for a specific gene type, letting them choose their own partners will do.
You may find that your chosen pair will fail to bond. In cases like these you can take it as a sign that you need to do a fresh spot of matchmaking. Give the birds a few days before intervening, however, it is common for a pair to be defensive or belligerent at first if they’ve just been thrown into the same cage by a hopeful breeder.
A healthy female parakeet, perched, preened, and ready for action!
Parakeet Breeding Season
In the wild, parakeets will breed during the wet spring and summer periods. Because of this, parakeets in the north of the USA will find themselves in the mood all year round. They also require long daylight hours to stimulate the mating instinct. Many breeders pair their birds up in November in order to have new birds ringed (i.e. a ring put on their legs) in the new year. This annual ringing is often synchronised for January 1st, and it means that young birds are ready for spring shows.
Stimulation for breeding birds can be provided by artificial light. These birds need 12 hours of light a day during this time. Unfortunately, the sunlight coming through your windows (if the birds are indoors) will not be enough to satisfy their vitamin D needs (sunlight being a necessary part of vitamin D metabolism). You will be able to find suitable lights at a specialist pet store. You should ask other breeders for advice on all things breeding.
Parakeet Breeding Age
Parakeets are physically able to breed at around 6 months old, but they should not be allowed to do so before at least 10 months old. A younger bird won’t be able to be a good parent. There is no hurry -- once they’ve matured, females will be able to breed for four years and males for six.
First-time mothers may lay their egg outside this nesting box. This is fine, as long you put it into the nesting box as a signal that this is where the other eggs should be laid. Once your female bird has gotten cozy with the egg in the box, she won’t repeat the mistake.
Parakeet Breeding Food
A varied and nutritious diet should be a permanent in your parakeets’ life, and you shouldn’t have to change the standard feed during breeding. You should, however, provide a protein-rich side dish such as egg food (see the recipe in the Parakeet Recipes section, above).
Parakeet Breeding Cages
If you do keep a lot of parakeets, you will need to give them personal space for breeding. This can be in the form of separate compartments in an aviary, or you can place the breeding pair in a separate cage. This breeding cage should measure at least 25 x 15 x 15 inches. It will have to be equipped with the standard parakeet accessories -- at least two perches, a mineral block, a cuttlefish bone, plenty of seed and fresh food and water, and an additional nesting box. The cage will also need two doors -- one for access (for your hand) and the other door for allowing passage to and from the nesting box -- if you are breeding the birds in a cage, this should be attached to the outside.
Once the chicks have weaned (at around six weeks) you will need to transfer these chicks to a large cage, or a separate section of the aviary. This area should be supplied with plenty of food, water and perching space. Once the young birds have been weaned, they will soon join the rest of the flock.
A parakeet nesting box
Parakeet Breeding Box or Nesting Box
In the wild parakeets breed in holes in trees. To have a higher success rate in your breeding ambitions you will have to stimulate this somehow. Nest boxes made out of wood are a perfect substitute. Parakeets don’t need much to breed in the wild, and a nest box with a dry floor area,lined with a soft nesting material to lay their eggs on will be fine.
The floor of your nesting box will have to have a concave section, which will help the chicks grip and prevent the condition known as splayed feed, which can occur if the chick has been sitting on a hard, flat floor. (See Parakeet Splayed Feet, above.)
Install your nesting boxes inside your aviary, or fix it to the outside of the cage (whichever is applicable). This should be done in a way that the female, (and later the chicks) has access to the cage via the open (i.e. removed) door.
Cleaning Parakeet Nest Box
You should always clean your nest box before allowing the female to enter. A solution of one part white vinegar to two parts water is ideal.