Cockatiels are considered from the most beautiful and fragile parrots ever , which make them one of the most preferable kept birds . I'm one of the top cockatiel lovers , and I know that many bird keepers agree with me who had an experience in keeping cockatiels for taming and training .
Cockatiels are also characterized by the high ability to resist diseases and not being afraid or frightened of humans like other birds . That makes them suitable for children and adults , anyway having a cockatiel is a great delight to all family . As a new member it's a lovely and fragile companion .
Cockatiels breed easily , this process isn't complicated at all . They can breed through the whole year , they don't breed in a specific season .
Properties of cockatiel as a pet bird :
- A perfect bird for children and beginners as they easily breed .
- Its cheap price which can be available at any time .
- Its size gives the feeling of the beginning of treating a big parrot .
- Can be handfed , tamed and trained easily .
- Very gentle , fragile and tolerant bird .
- Has the ability to show affection and loyalty to his companion .
- Allows its owner to scratch its head and touch its feathers unlike some other stubborn birds .
- Highly smart and alert .
- The great ability of male cockatiels to sing and to imitate whistles , not forgetting its good talent of talking if learned to the right way .
- The variety of its colors which opens minds to produce new color mutations .
In the following lines I'm going to write a glance about breeding :
Firstly : Picking pairs :
The most important thing for the beginner is to choose the best birds as they are the origin of the whole breeding process . This decides whether it's going to be an easy or a difficult phase . These birds should be beautiful , healthy and strong . Buying very cheap birds as the origins is the worst thing a beginner could ever do . The best thing is to buy young birds aging between 3 to 6 months as in this age the characteristics of the bird appears from health , energy , organized feathers , genetic color traits , size and strength . A trustworthy and honest breeder is the best one to buy birds from .
From the most important conditions for the pair is not being from the same clutch or any relativity and that's to have strong production and stay away from in-breeding . In this young age we can start to differentiate between male and female cockatiels , as male cockatiels sing and warble as well as some feather color signs knowing that it might not be accurate until the first molt starting from 6 to 7 months .
Secondly : Preparing pairs :
It's better for the beginner to begin with two pairs to increase the opportunity of breeding and to avoid depression . These pairs could be put in an aviary together which allows them to fly , move , enjoy sunlight , air and good food ( seeds – veggies – fruits – egg and biscuit – yoghurt – cuttlebone … etc ) .
Until the bird is a year old , we notice which birds are attracted to each other ( males and females ) as long as there is no specific color selection . And if there is a specific color selection , it'd be better to separate each pair in their own cage so that they can grow affection towards each other .
Thirdly : Breeding pairs :
It won't be good if you breed birds under the age of 12 months ( or even 18 months for females ) . The selected pair should be put in it's cage ( not less than 60 cm length – 40 cm width – 60 cm height although the international cockatiel society prefers 45 cm width and length – 90 cm height and of coarse bigger is better ) without the nest box at the beginning .
Some breeders cut the feathers surrounding the breeding organs to ease the process of mating and to guarantee that eggs are fertilized . Thus perches should be stable .
Birds in harmony take a week to adapt to their new cages , but newly introduced birds take a month to adapt and grow affection towards each other . Then the nest box is put after that . Wood is the best material for the nest box . I let my birds breed in a 20 cm width – 20 cm height – 35 cm length nest box with an entrance of diameter 12 cm . But the international cockatiel society prefers 30 cm height – width – length with an entrance of diameter 12 cm .
Before putting the nest box to the birds , it must be sprayed with an insecticide until wood absorbs it , then it must be left to dry in air for a day or two to reduce the smell . Then wood chips are added 5 cm over the nest floor as a bedding material .
At the beginning the male will notice the nest box starting to check it out , then it starts to motivate the female to enter the nest . Here appears the harmony ; the two cockatiels will enter the nest together or even in shifts and stay for a while inside . By the time the female enters the nest by her will and stays in for long periods of time , which indicates that eggs are close .
Fourthly : Laying egg and incubation :
Mating isn't an accurate indicator of laying eggs , it might not even indicate full harmony between birds as the male might not allow the female to enter the nest box . The strongest thing that proves the full harmony is when the pair stay together inside the nest box .
The birds mate for almost two times a day until the female lays its first egg . The day that the female lay eggs in doesn't involve mating activity between birds . But they mate the next day . In normal times female lays eggs every other day until it completes its nest . The number of eggs ranges from 4 to 9 eggs , but the average ranges from 5 to 6 eggs . The female doesn't sit on the eggs unless after the second or third egg . The real incubating is at night when the female sits all night long on the eggs .
Unlike budgies , lovebirds or African-grays male cockatiel doesn't feed the female , it's rare to happen . Cockatiels are like pigeons in the way they co-operate in incubating the eggs . Male cockatiels incubate the eggs all daylong and lets the female eat and exercise then it switches with the female all nightlong or they share eggs and sit on it together . The incubation period takes 18 to 20 days , and it's better to put a water bowl for females to bathe in and moisten the eggs in the last 10 days of incubation and spray water on the nest box to increase humidity and reduce the chances of the death of the embryo inside the egg . It's not recommended to check the nest box a lot one or two times are enough daily or every other day because this annoys the parents and causes chilled eggs state where embryos are fully grown inside the egg but dead as they can't penetrate the air sack . Candling eggs shouldn't be done unless after the seventh day of the actual incubation considering the time between eggs .
Fifthly : Egg hatching :
The pleasure of breeding is seeing the cockatiel chicks
The breeder should increase the amount of tender food to the birds two days before hatching , and that's to ease the process of feeding baby birds and not to let the parents be exhausted .
Eggs start to hatch gradually according to the priority of laying , and if there is any egg that doesn't hatch , don't throw it away just leave it as a support for the baby birds . In this period the stress of the parents increases therefore we must reduce the times of checking the nest box . After few days when they start to show pinfeathers the baby cockatiels starts to develop a hissing sound as a sign of warning if you check the nest box or try to handle them , they might even move their heads from side to side to defend themselves .
When the chicks are 14 days old , we can move them from the nest to a cardboard box to clean the nest and replace wood chips , then put them back after that .
Sixthly : Weaning :
In case of leaving baby cockatiels with their parents , they start to leave the nest box at the age of 30 to 35 days . Their parents might even force them to leave the nest in an earlier age by plucking their feathers , in this case the one ( male or female ) which plucks more is separated and the chicks are left with the other until they depend on themselves in eating and get fully weaned . Then we can separate them in another cage and we add lots of tender food as well as seeds and water . In case of taming these baby birds it's better to separate them at the age of 20 to 25 days and continue hand feeding them until they are fully weaned . Their parents might start a new breeding process , knowing that it's recommended not to allow the pair to breed more than three times a year then the nest box is removed and birds take a rest for the summer time .