Having a pair of budgies for five years – we thought about it many times, but didn’t dare to try to breed them. Since budgies average lifespan is 5-10 years we decided to give our birds a chance. Our female (hen) budgie name is Zoe – she is light blue turquoise with light grey wings. Our male (cock) budgie name is George and he is standard Australian budgie – having colors of Brazilian flag.
In budgies life – a female (hen) is stronger and dominates in relationship. So basically she allows touching her only if she wants it. And Zoe never wanted it for all their live. We made some more research thanks to Internet resources and started preparation.
- We bought a wooden nesting box. It was not easy to find it in local pet shops. Most of them don’t sell nesting boxes or sell plastic ones. Only in one pet store I found nesting box with slightly damaged roof– last one. I fixed it, but it could be probably easier to order it online.
- We also got nesting materials from the pet store – it just thick cotton threads.
- We found special seed mix that encourages nesting, mineral and iodine bricks.
- Added few extra perches and set up mineral and iodine bricks.
- Cut hole on the side of the cage and mounted nesting box. Very few cages in stores have designed to allow using nesting box without damaging cage. Our cage is not one of them.
After I set everything up – I started to give my birds greens and special seed mix every day to encourage them to nest. After one week Zoe started spending more and more time in nesting box. She simply chewed it from inside! She didn’t eat wood though, but left pieces of wood inside. She also ignored nesting material completely. I thought that she need wood shaving and put handful of fresh wood shavings to the nesting box. Zoe still chewed nesting box and ignored wood shavings. I started investigating this behavior and found that hen budgie needs to chew a wood to prepare her for nesting!? I mounted wooden brick on the cages wall, but Zoe didn’t touch it. She was ready – it was the George’s time. His dream came true after 5 years of waiting (I hope so).
Next day we found one egg in nesting box and Zoe started spending whole day in the nest. She cleaned the center of the nesting box from wood shavings and laid an egg on the bare floor.
Zoe started brooding the same day first egg is laid. Me and Teddy discovered new egg every second day and we got 8 of them in total. During that time Zoe spent almost all her time in the nest leaving it just for short time – stretch the body, “meet” with George and eat a lot of cuttlebone to get a calcium for eggshells. The incubation time for budgies is 18 days and soon after we got eight egg - fist egg was hatched.
To have babies is very exhausting and sometimes even dangerous for budgies’ health. Mother has to increase her body temperature and keep it high for at least month (in our case 34 days) and father all that time has to feed mother and babies until they can eat by themselves.
We had a new baby budgie every second day. George consumed an enormous amount of food and spent a lot of time in the nesting box feeding everyone. I also spent about 1 hour every day to prepare food for them and cleaning cage and nesting box. Budgie babies very vulnerable and about bean size when hatched. It was a lot of noise in nesting box from hungry babies every several minutes. George went inside feed them and came back to eat again. This was like a 24/7 job.
The father-budgie feeds chicks with crop milk and the best if he eats not just regular seeds, but the seeds that been 24 hours in the water and ready to sprout. Wheat becomes milky and it is the best food for budgie-babies along with egg mix for budgies along with organic spinach, carrot tops and lettuce. George processed all these and fed the babies. Baby-budgies grew very fast, it took around 16 days since last baby hatched and first baby reached the size of the adult with thin layer of growing feathers.
To be continued ...