The budgerigar, or budgie, is a small species of parrot often raised as a pet. They are intelligent and active birds that do well in groups, and will often bond with a mate for life. Unfortunately, getting budgies to breed in captivity can be difficult due to their need for specific conditions to spur breeding behaviour and finickiness regarding potential mates. Careful selection of birds, as well as the conditions of the cage and environment, are necessary to increase the chances of successful breeding.
Determine the sex of prospective mates by observing the colour of their cere, which is the patch of flesh just above the beak, after the birds are at least one year old. The cere of mature males are blue, pink, or purple, while the cere of mature females are white, light blue, tan, or brown.
Observe the budgies over time and look for indications of bonding, such as mutual grooming, singing, and touching beaks. Bonded budgies will usually stay close together in a cage full of other budgies.
Obtain additional budgies if no pair bonding is observed. The more budgies in a group, the greater chance that a bonded pair will emerge. Bonding behaviour between two budgies can spur the other birds in the group to bond and breed as well.
Line the bottom of the cage with newspaper so the grating is not visible.
Attach the nest box to the outside of the cage, making sure that the entrance is accessible from the inside. Fit a wooden insert with a concave depression into the bottom of the nest box, then cover the insert with a layer of pine shavings.
Place multiple perches throughout the cage at varying heights and locations. Place soft, bird-friendly wood in the cage for the female to gnaw on.
Attempt breeding during the months between October and March, as that period is the optimal breeding season for budgies. Maintain temperature between 18.3 and 23.9 degrees Celsius. Keep a strict light/dark cycle by covering the cage after sunset and uncovering it at sunrise. Keep the cage out of direct sunlight.
Ensure proper diet by using a variety of bird seed, vitamin supplements, and fresh green vegetables (organic vegetables only, as young chicks are extremely vulnerable to pesticides). Change food and water daily.
Place sufficient food and water for both birds into the cage, as well as a cuttle bone, mineral block, and iodine salt spool for optimum bird health.
Check the nest box daily for eggs. If breeding has occurred, the female will lay one egg every other day with the average clutch size 4 to 6 eggs. Eggs will hatch 17 to 20 days after being laid.
Use a small flashlight to illuminate an egg and monitor embryo development every several days. Remove and dispose of any eggs that are cracked, broken, or show no signs of embryo development after a week to ten days.
Do not attempt to breed budgies if you're not ready to care for the chicks! Chicks are very vulnerable to environmental conditions and require a significant amount of preparation and knowledge to properly care for. There are several possible reasons for a bonded pair to not lay eggs. One or both may be sterile, the season may not be right for mating, or one or both birds may simply not be interested in mating with their partner. If a bonded pair has not produced eggs after more than three weeks, move a different pair into the breeding cage. Interact with the prospective mates only when necessary to change their food and water or clean their cage; they are more likely to breed when left alone.