Healthy and well-nourished female cockatiels are fertile until about 8 to 10 years of age, on an average, while males are fertile until they are 12 to 14 years old. During the breeding period, provide a separate nest box to each breeding pair to facilitate proper incubation of the eggs. The standard cockatiel nest box size is 12 inches by 12 inches, which provides sufficient space for both parents and five chicks, according to National Cockatiel Society. Place the nest box into the cage, which should be 48 inches long, 18 inches wide and 18 inches tall. Singing Wings Aviary claims that cockatiels prefer nest boxes that measure 12 by 12 by 12 inches or 15 by 12 by 12 inches.
Cockatiel Nest Box Preparation
Buy a ready-made nest box from a pet store or make one yourself using cut plywood pieces. Line the nest box with multiple layers of slightly textured, soft paper towels to absorb moisture. This prevents the chicks from developing splayed legs or other leg deformities. Make a slight depression in the centre to prevent the eggs from rolling. This indentation is known as a nest bowl.
Nesting Materials To Avoid
Choose the nesting material for the nest box carefully. Do not use walnut shells, litters, corncob bedding or any other type of organic materials, as they promote growth of moulds and bacteria in moist conditions. Avoid wood shavings or chips (aspen, cedar or pine), as these materials may strain the respiratory system or irritate the bird's eyes due to the formation of dust and fumes. Cedar is toxic.
Looped terry cloth towels and shredded newspaper bits are dangerous, since the toenails of the birds can get caught and cut off the blood circulation in the leg. If this goes unnoticed, amputation of the affected limb may be necessary. In addition, using the wrong nesting material could cause the birds to swallow it, resulting in life-threatening digestive impaction. This will require surgical intervention.
Cockatiels breed when they get around 10 to 12 hours of daylight, ample water to drink and bathe, abundant food supply, including soft foods to feed their chicks and a good nesting site. Allow the pair to mate a few times before allowing them into the nest box.
The female starts laying the eggs 7 to 10 days after successful mating. She will lay about two to eight eggs in a single clutch; the female lays one egg every 48 hours on an average. Pet cockatiels do not breed or parent very well, as these are learnt and inherited skills. Some breeding pairs may eat their eggs or abandon the chicks. Some birds may not lay eggs due to infertility issues. If parents are reluctant to nest the eggs, hang a millet seed strip at the entrance of the nest box to encourage them to enter the nest box. You can even use an alternative material for a nest box, such as shallow glass soup bowl or basket, to encourage the birds to nest.
Humidity is important while nesting, as it ensures proper development of the embryos. Keep a shallow bowl of water for the birds to bathe in. The birds will wet the lower body feathers and then sit on the eggs. The birds will turn the eggs once every hour during the day and possibly even in the night. This ensures uniform temperature on all sides of the eggs and prevents the embryos from sticking to the shell membrane. The eggs will hatch 18 to 21 days after nesting begins.