Cockatiel Advice and First Aid 101

Breeding Cockatiels

Hints and tips about buying your cockatiel

Cockatiels

BUYING UN-WEANED BIRDS

The term “un-weaned” means a parrot that is still too young to eat on its own and relies fully on their parents or hand-feeder for food. It is illegal to buy any bird, kitten, puppy, or any animal that is un-weaned.

In the UK, the Defra’s information is: “The purchase or sale of any of the following is prohibited:
A). Un-weaned mammals.
B). Mammals weaned at an age at which they should not have been weaned.
C). Non- mammals that are uncapable of feeding themselves.
Further - "Animals must be allowed to acclimatise before being offered for sale. Where animals are obtained for sale to a specific client it may be acceptable for the animal to be sold immediately.”
Birds- Until feeding and behaving normally for the species.

The practice of hand feeding parrots began in the 1980s. Before this time the majority of parrots sold were wild caught, the balance being bred in captivity either in this country or Europe. There was the theory that parrots would only bond with the person that hand fed them and would not bond with others. Contrary to popular belief, a parrot will not bond to the owner while they are handfeeding them, the chick is merely taking in food. The bonding only starts after the weaning stage when the bird begins to form its individual personality. A fully weaned bird will bond with their new owner. In fact, a parrot is capable of bonding and re-bonding throughout their lives.

Some breeders will say anything to make a quick sale, and sadly the welfare of the chicks does not concern them. The buyer is led to believe that to bond and tame their new bird it is essential for them to complete the task of handfeeding. This is untrue, the breeder just does not want the task of weaning. Handfeeding is labour intensive and eats up profits. If monetary gain is the breeders primary concern, then the turnover of chicks must be fast for the hen to start laying another clutch immediately. Additionally, the buyer is often fooled into thinking that they are saving money by buying an un-weaned bird as these chicks are usually sold at a slightly cheaper price (remember purchasing an un-weaned bird is illegal). However, with the cost of formula and feeding equipment, no money has been saved. The customer is essentially acquiring the bird at their own risk. From the time of purchase the chick is now the new owner’s sole responsibility, which includes all medical bills if something goes wrong.

Sadly, many birds die due to over-breeding. Cockatiels, for example, should only have two clutches a year. Any more than this and it is considered chronic egg laying. This places the hen at risk of developing numerous ailments such as, malnutrition, calcium deficiencies, reproductive disease, infections and disorders, egg binding, and sudden death, to name a few. Therefore, in effect buying an un-weaned chick is supporting cruel practices towards these birds.

There are several reasons why the sale of un-weaned birds should be discouraged. Firstly, all parrots are born altricial which means that they are born blind and without feathers. They are completely dependent on their parents or caregiver for food and warmth. In the early stages, chicks do not have a fully formed immune system making them susceptible to numerous illnesses and infections. Regrettably, many un-weaned chicks are passed directly into the care of a novice and are completely at their mercy while they ‘practice’ their feeding techniques. In inexperienced hands, a chick is likely to die, and many are subjected to unimaginable suffering such as hypothermia, hyperthermia, aspiration, crop burn, sour crop, crop stasis, ruptured crops due to incorrect gauge feeding techniques, beak deformities due to improper pressure from a syringe being pushed into a chick’s beak, starvation, over-feeding, force weaning, infections, mishandling, and so on.

Chicks are often force weaned by their inexperienced hand-feeder because they tire quickly trying to wean them. Some believe that by refusing to feed a begging chick will force it to eat solid foods. Parrots in the wild are weaned by their parents over a period of weeks, months and even years. Not feeding a hungry chick can result in starvation, malnutrition, illness, permanent behavioural problems, chronic begging and even death. Additionally, it is psychologically traumatising for a chick so young to be removed from everything familiar, snatched away from the security of its parents and siblings and placed into an unknown environment with unfamiliar faces. One can only imagine their fear.

A reputable breeder that cares greatly for their flock will have knowledge of all the dangers mentioned above and will never sell an un-weaned chick. A responsible breeder or pet store will ensure that they follow their countries laws and regulations on the sale of birds. Additionally, all their chicks will be fully weaned and eating a healthy balanced diet before purchase. Thankfully, the sale of un-weaned chicks has been made illegal in the UK and in many other countries, and we can only hope that one day it will be made illegal throughout the world. 

 

COCKATIEL CLUTCH SIZE

Cockatiels lay on average 4 to 5 eggs per clutch but they can lay up to 8 eggs.

When choosing dummy eggs, provide cockatiel eggs that are 1”x ¾ “(25.5mm X 19mm).

 

COCKATIEL EGG LAYING

Female cockatiels don’t need to mate in order to lay eggs many owners make the mistake of removing the eggs. Removing the eggs will only cause the hen to lay more which can lead to chronic egg laying. A cockatiel usually sits on her eggs for 21-30 days. Please NEVER remove the eggs unless they are cracked or broken which can lead to the spread of bacteria.

If the hen lays an egg on the cage floor, the best thing one can do is place a small box or plastic container in the cage with a clean towel on the bottom of it. Doing this will stop the eggs rolling around and breaking.It will provide the bird with a nice comfortable place to nest. Often owners make the mistake of removing the first egg because they don’t see the female immediately sitting on it. They may think she is not interested in it , this is not the case, hens usually only start nesting after the second or third egg has been laid.

Females, once nesting often will not move from their nesting site.Especially if she is the only bird and has no help from a mate. As the male and females usually take it in turns to sit on the eggs, always make sure that food and water are in easy reach of your bird , or she may stop eating and drinking enough to sustain herself. This should be done regardless if there is male present, as the male may not sit on the eggs to give her a rest.

If the eggs are broken or if the eggs are fertile and chicks are not wanted, the eggs can be removed and replaced with dummy eggs. Ensure that the dummy eggs are actually made for cockatiels, if the eggs are too large or too small intended for another species the hen may not sit on them.

COCKATIEL EGG LAYING QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS 
 
WHAT AGE DO COCKATIELS START TO LAY EGGS?

Cockatiels become sexually mature at 6-12 months of age.
 
WHAT IS A SAFE AGE FOR A HEN TO START LAYING EGGS?

18 months of age is considered a safe age for a hen to start laying eggs. They should only be allowed to have two clutches of eggs a year, more clutches than this is considered chronic egg laying.

HOW LONG DOES A COCKATIEL TAKE TO LAY AN EGG?

It takes 48 hours for an egg to be produced. So, the hen will lay an egg every second day.

DOES MY BIRD NEED A NEST WHEN SHE STARTS TO LAY EGGS?

Yes, regardless of whether the eggs are fertile or not the hen will need a comfortable nest to incubate her eggs. If a nest is not provided, the hen will become stressed, her eggs are likely to become cracked or broken which will result in her laying more eggs to replace the ones lost.

HOW DO I KNOW MY HEN IS READY TO LAY AN EGG?

The symptoms of a hen about to lay can vary, but typically you will first notice hormonal behaviour: the hen will become broody and start seeking out a place to nest, such as under furniture, in a cupboard, basically, anywhere she can find that is dark and warm. You may notice her ripping up paper to make the nest. She will sit low on the perch and lift her tail while chirping softly. Physical signs: these may include weight gain approximately 5-6g, drinking more water than usual, her abdomen will enlarge and feel firm. Prior to laying she may start to produce large and smelly droppings; her wings will droop, and she will have a hunched back.

HOW MANY EGGS DO COCKATIELS LAY?

Cockatiels are indeterminate layers, which means they do not lay a set number of eggs. However, typically they lay between 2-8 eggs.

DO YOU REMOVE THE EGGS?

No, if you remove the eggs or the eggs become lost or broken the hen will lay more eggs to replace the ones that are lost.

WHY IS MY COCKATIEL NOT SITTING ON HER EGGS.

Cockatiels will usually only start incubating the eggs once the 2nd or 3rd egg is laid, this is done so the eggs hatch roughly around the same time. Eggs can stay viable up to 7 days prior to incubation, so do not remove the eggs prematurely.

HOW LONG IS THE INCUBATION PERIOD?

The incubation period is usually 21-30 days. Do not remove the eggs sooner than this or the hen will continue to lay, allow her to abandon her nest naturally.

DO I NEED TO ADD DUMMY EGGS?

If the eggs are infertile then there is no need to add dummy eggs. However, if the eggs are fertile and you do not want chicks, then replace the fertile eggs with dummy eggs as they are laid. If the eggs become cracked or broken, you will need to replace with dummy eggs.

MY HEN HAS LAID AN INFERTILE EGG WHAT DO I DO?

It is important that the hen is allowed to incubate her eggs comfortably and without breaking them. You can provide either a cardboard box or plastic container lined with a soft cloth or towel which will be warm and cosy for the hen and this helps to prevent the eggs from rolling around and breaking. Ensure the cardboard box is the right size for the hen to be comfortable in; too big or too small and the hen may reject it. You can offer two nests of different sizes and allow the hen to choose which one she wants. To encourage the bird into the nest box you can add sprays of millet or other treats next to the nest entrance.

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY COCKATIELS EGG IS FERTILE?

If the hen has a male companion and they have been mating, then it takes roughly 7-10 days after copulation to produce a fertile egg. However, the only way to tell if the egg is fertile is by candling it, this can be done on day 5-6 and day 9-10 of incubation.

WHAT NUTRITION SHOULD BE PROVIDED FOR A NESTING HEN?

Provide calcium, vitamin A, and protein rich foods as well as vitamin D3.

WHAT TO DO IF MY HEN WON’T LEAVE THE NEST TO EAT OR DRINK?

If the eggs are fertile and the male is sharing duties in incubation, he will usually take over periodically, thus allowing the hen to eat and drink, he may feed the hen via regurgitation too. However, if the hen is on her own without a mate, you will need to place food and water near the entrance of the nest, making it easily accessible for her to eat and drink.

WHAT DOES CHRONIC EGG LAYING MEAN?

Cockatiels should only lay 1-2 clutches of eggs a year, any more clutches of eggs are considered unnatural and considered as chronic egg laying.

WHAT EFFECTS CAN CHRONIC EGG LAYING HAVE ON THE HENS HEALTH?
 
• Malnutrition
• Calcium deficiencies
• Seizures, low calcium
• Brittle Bones, low calcium
• Weight loss
• Poor health in general
• Poor feather condition
• Feather loss or dermatitis around vent
• General muscle weakness.
• Reproductive Diseases
• Abnormally formed eggs
• Poor muscle tone of oviduct or uterus
• Prolapsed cloaca or uterus
• Egg impactions in oviduct
• Egg Binding
• Other reproductive ruptures, infections, and disorders
• Sudden death

WHAT IS EGG BINDING?

Egg binding is when an egg is unable to be expelled and therefore stuck inside of the hens reproductive system.

WHAT ARE THE COMMON CAUSES OF EGG BINDING?

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, especially, calcium, selenium, and vitamins D3 and E. Obesity, breeding too young, breeding too old, over breeding, lack of exercise, improper nesting environment, stress, traumatic injuries, disease, reproductive tract infections and dysfunction, genetics, etc.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF EGG BINDING?

Please follow the link for symptoms of egg binding. https://www.cockatiel-advice-101.com/parrot-health
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

CROP BURN IN CHICKS

Crop burn is a true medical emergency. If you suspect that you have burnt your chick’s crop seek medical help immediately! Your bird will be in severe pain, and can go into shock. The chick would need to be treated for possible shock, infection, and if there is an open hole it will require surgery.

So, what is crop burn? Crop burn is when formula has been hand-fed to the chick and is too hot. If the formula is over (108 °F / 42.2°C) it will burn the bird’s crop, often leaving blisters, or an actual hole.

It is extremely important to give the formula at the CORRECT temperature. If too hot, it will burn them, if too cold their crop won’t drain. The formula temperature has to be 100 % accurate, and should be between (104°F /40.0 °C and 106°F/ 41.1°C) Food thermometers can be bought in any grocery store, or baking shop and they are not expensive; there is no excuse not to use them! Crop burn is completely preventable!

NOTE: Hand-feeding should be left to a professional, or better still the parrot parents themselves. 101 things can go wrong when hand raising a chick; therefore, this should never be done by an inexperienced bird owner.

DISCOURAGING EGG LAYING

Although there are times when medical intervention may be needed to prevent egg laying, most birds respond well to changes in their environment and routine.

·As the hours of actual daylight lengthen, this can trigger breeding behaviour/hormones. Keep the same routine of when they are put to bed and when you get them up, a good 12 hours is recommended, undisturbed dark and quiet.

·Some sites recommend removing the female from the bird to which she is bonded. Please do not do this. The stress caused by such a separation can be highly damaging to the bird and does not prevent her laying eggs. A single female with no companion may still lay eggs.

·Avoid petting your bird in areas which stimulate her hormones: back, under her tail, under wings. If she demonstrates mating behaviour towards you, discourage it. She may also display mating behaviour towards a favourite toy. She needs to be gradually weaned away from the toy to discourage this behaviour, but not cause her stress (hence a weaning off process).

·Make sure there are no dark, closed in spaces in the cage or in areas where she is allowed out and about. Supervise her closely, or she could be setting up nest in the corner of a cupboard/under the TV.

·Rearrange the cage on a regular basis (at least weekly, more often if possible). This will discourage nesting behaviour and territorial behaviour. Sometimes, a temporary relocation of the cage can help, even a move of half a metre one way, or a rotation of a 1/4 turn.

·If she lays an egg, replace with a clutch of false eggs to fool her into thinking she has finished laying and she will lose interest when there are no signs of hatching. Do not be tempted to remove the eggs immediately, or she will continue to lay to replace them. Watch her carefully during this time, as she would normally have her mate feeding her whilst she sits, you may need to bring food to her. She also needs additional calcium within her diet to replenish her depleted resources.

·If in any doubt whatsoever, contact your avian vet to discuss further options. It is possible to have hormone injections/implants, but these cannot be predicted as completely successful and involve a medical procedure which could be dangerous. However, this would need to be balanced with the risks to the hen of chronic egg laying and/or becoming egg bound.

 

EMERGENCY CARE GUIDE FOR COCKATIEL CHICK

There are many reasons why Cockatiel parents may abandon their chicks reasons may include: First time parents or parents bred too young  may have no clue how to care for their chicks so they will reject them, some chicks wiggle away from their parents, sometimes parents will reject a chick and push it to the side of the nest box, parents may know that the baby is sick and too weak to survive, the last chick to hatch will be smaller and weaker than the older ones, larger and stronger babies are noticed first because they are louder and actively begging for food, smaller chicks can also get covered with nesting material and parents cannot see them. In chicks, the baby's jaw is literally locked shut so it cannot beg for food because of a condition called Bordetella.
 
Some parents may feather pluck the chicks to the point of mutilation and cause severe injury; this of course would be a valid reason to remove the chicks. A few reasons as to why a parent may abuse their chicks could be due to aggression, the male maybe jealous of the attention the hen is giving to the chicks, the male may want to breed again and the hen is ignoring his advances so he may take his frustration out on the chicks, another school of thought would be a mineral deficiency such as sodium, blood contains sodium, therefore, the parents may taste the blood if they picked at the chicks newly forming blood feathers and get a taste for the sodium they are lacking in their diet so they will continue to pluck them. NOTE: You can give plucking parents supervised visitations when it is feeding time. If only one parent is plucking you can remove him into a separate cage, a health single parent can care for chicks alone or you may help with supplemental feedings if the clutch is large. Whatever the reason is as to why the chicks were abandoned or why you had no choice but to pull the chicks, it is imperative for the owner to have knowledge of how to care for the chicks.
 
I have given guidelines below on how to care for an abandoned cockatiel chick in an emergency. Note, these are guidelines only! If your bird is injured or you are not confident in hand rearing, please see your avian vet immediately and seek the help of an experienced breeder in your area.
 
MAKING A HOME-MADE BROODER: A brooder can be made by using a new, lightweight plastic animal habitat, by using a plastic storage box or a small cardboard box if you have no other choice. Line the bottom of the brooder with a T-shirt, an unscented puppy pad, cotton cloth diapers or tightly woven cotton dish towels to absorb moisture so the bottom will not be slippery. Change the brooder lining after each feeding. A margarine tub or yogurt container can be used, lined with soft unscented, bleach free tissue paper for newly hatched chicks to keep them upright, this is to reduce the risk of aspiration when sleeping on a full crop which can force the formula back up the oesophagus.
 
HEAT AND HUMIDITY IN BROODER: Maintaining an environment and brooder temperature in “Fahrenheit”, (1-5 days old- 94-96), (6-9 days old-93-95), (10-14 days old-91-93), (15-21 days old-86-90), (22-28 days old- 81-85), (29-35 days old-76-80), (36 days old to weaning- 81-85). For humidity putting a small, margarine tub filled with water, covered with a lid that has holes punched on the bottom of the brooder sufficient humidity should be provided. Chicks do well in an environment with a humidity level of 50-75%.
 
For emergency heat you can use a hot water bottle (covered as to not scold the chick), heating pads set on low (covered as to not scold the chick), use a thick, clean sock and fill it ¾ with plain raw white rice, knot the end and microwave it for about 1 ½ minutes or less depending on microwave settings. Shake it afterwards to distribute the heat and be sure it's not too hot, tuck this in just under the cloths. You can also use a 60–80-watt light bulb, however, it is best to use bulbs that are coloured to reduce the glare and stress the chicks. Heat lamps that give off infra-red warmth is preferred over a light bulb. The temperature and humidity are very important; if the temperature is too low, the growth of the chick will be slower and their resistance to disease will be lowered, additionally, a cold chick’s crop and digestive system will not function normally!
 
To assess as to whether the temperature in the brooder is sufficient without the use of a thermometer if one is not available, you can follow these simple steps: Touch: feel the warmth of the chick against your cheek, the bird should feel warm to the skin. Observe: An over-heated chick will be extremely restless, they will not sleep, they may hold their wings away from their bodies and may pant, they will also be lethargic. A cold chick will be cold to the touch, it may huddle tightly with its siblings. Digestion: The chick’s digestion will be slow; therefore, the crop will not empty at a normal rate.
 
TIP: Try to avoid brooding in an overly bright environment as the chicks need to sleep to thrive and grow.
 
EMERGENCY FEEDING FOODS: When breeding it is imperative to always have a baby bird formula on hand in the event of an emergency such, the parents have abandoned the chick or the parents have fallen ill, etc. However, if a formula is not available then you can use these foods listed below as an emergency measure only. A commercial formula should be bought as soon as possible in order for the chick to thrive and grow. These suggestions should not be used longer that 24-48 hours as some contain milk which is not digested properly by birds and can cause digestive issues. When available use a reputable parrot chick formula and follow the directions on the container.
 
HUMAN BABY FOOD: 1.Baby rice cereal mixed as directed on the container (Never with milk, always use pre- boiled water) added ½ to 1 teaspoon of baby food applesauce.
2.A human baby cereal Cerelac.
3.Human cereal Pronutro Original flavour- (This is a South African product).
4.Human baby food dinners, stage 1 for infants. Choose a chicken, turkey, veal or beef dinner with noodles or rice.

Boil the water to destroy any bacteria that may be present. Add enough water to make a very thin formula for new-borns. For older babies, thicken the formula to the consistency of a soft pudding. If the formula is too thick, it won't go through a feeding syringe. Formula temperature should be 104-106 degrees Fahrenheit, tested with a digital food thermometer or candy thermometer. A few degrees higher and you will burn the crop. A few degrees lower and the baby will have crop/digestive problems: If you don't have a thermometer, test the formula by putting a drop on your eyelid; your lips or wrist are not reliable areas to test temperature. Sometimes babies will eat from a small spoon if you dip their beak in it. For further and normal hand feedings, use a disposable syringe, pipette, or plastic eye dropper.

FEEDING EQUIPMENT: For an owner that has no experience in hand feeding the use of a bent plastic spoon, pipette, or plastic eye dropper are the safest to use. A bird can asphyxiate very quickly by inhaling food or liquid into the trachea (airways). Therefore, only use a syringe or feeding tube if you are confident in hand feeding, have been taught the technique by a qualified avian vet or experienced breeder. Whichever feeding equipment you choose to use it has to be kept sterile to prevent bacterial and fungal infections.
 
FORMULA AND CONSISTENCY: Follow the directions on the package for mixing very carefully because the consistency of mixed formula varies from one brand to another. The consistency of mixed formula will also be thickened as the chicks get older, by reducing the amount of water when mixing. When mixed exactly according to the directions on the package, chicks will receive the correct ratio of solid formula and water. Formula that is too thick can dehydrate a baby and cause the crop to slow and digestive issues to start. Formula that is too thin will cause stunted growth and malnourishment. Chicks receive their fluids from the water in formula, but water also dilutes the amount of solid food a chick is consuming. Older chicks need more solid food than water for optimal growth and weight gain. The consistency of mixed formula for a 14-day old chick should be like watery pea soup or a thin gravy. For older chicks, a thicker formula will resemble very soft pudding. Make a fresh batch of formula every single day, un-used formula should be thrown away for risk of bacteria build up.

The temperature for serving formula to baby cockatiels is 104-105.8° F. Formula fed hotter than this will burn a hole in your chick’s crop. Feeding formula cooler than 100°F will be cold and will chill the chick and cause the crop to slow. Always check the temperature with a thermometer! Never ever use a microwave to heat your bird’s formula as this creates hot spots and will burn your bird’s mouth and crop.
 
HOW TO FEED USING A SPOON: Disposable plastic spoons that have been dipped into boiling water so the tips can be bent, making a little V shaped funnel for easier feedings. To spoon syringe feed a chick simply hold the head gently with thumb and forefinger either side of the beak and at the base where top and bottom beak meet, while gently wrapping the other fingers behind the head for support. Once a little food is dribbled onto the tongue, the chick will begin a feed response known as pumping, at the same time swallowing the formula. Providing the chick is pumping, keep the formula flowing off the spoon our not so fast that it backs up the mouth and spills out the beak. After each spoonful allow the chick to catch its breath before repeating the procedure until the crop is full. Most spoon-fed chicks will need a clean-up around the beak with a tissue after each feed.
 
HOW MUCH TO FEED: It is important to weigh your bird on a gram scale before and after every feed. For cockatiel chicks, the volume of formula fed at each feeding should be approximately 10% of the chick's body weight. (1ml of mixed formula weighs 1 gram). To determine serving size, chicks should be weighed on a digital gram scale each morning before the first feeding when the crop is empty. One ml of mixed formula weighs about 1 gram. For each gram of a chick's body weight, feed that chick 1 cc of formula. To calculate the amount of formula, multiply the chick's body weight by 10%. For a chick that weighs 40 grams in the AM, you would multiply 40 grams times 10% or 40 x.01=4ccs of formula per feeding. An overstretched crop, from feeding too much formula, will not drain properly and the chick will need to wear "a crop bra" for support. The maximum capacity of a cockatiel chick's crop is 10-15ccs.
 
FEEDING GUILDELINE:
 
Age of Chick 1-4 days- Every two hours- 1 - 2 cc.
Age of chick 5-7 days- Every three hours- 2-3cc
Age of chick 8-14 days 7am, 11am, 3pm, 7pm, 11pm – 4-6 cc
Age of chick 15-24 days, 7am, 12pm, 5pm, 11pm-7-10 cc.
Age of chick 25-34 days, 7am, 5pm, 11pm- 11-15cc
35-44 days (fledging), 7am, 7pm- 11-15cc
45 days to (weaning)- 7pm- 11-15cc.
 
Note: ML and CC are used interchangeably. These are guidelines only all birds are individuals.
 
TOP TIPS: 1.Colour of the chick is important; a healthy chick will be pink. A red coloured, yellowish or dark red, and pale are all signs of severe health issues, such as over-heated, dehydrated, hypothermia, blood loss, in shock, yolk sac poisoning, etc.
2. The bird’s crop should be allowed to empty once a day, overnight is best, unless in special circumstances the bird must be fed between midnight and 5am.
3. A dehydrated chick will look red and the breast bone may be prominent.
4. It is imperative to weigh the chick daily to tell if they are thriving and growing. Weight loss is a first sign of illness and underfed bird.
Chicks will often not want food if they are sick, too hot, too cold, stressed, crop burn, lock jaw, doesn’t like the taste of the food.
 5. A chick that begs excessively, check for malnutrition, inadequate feeding volume or frequency, wrong formula consistency, chick too cold, kidney disease, too high protein formula for species, infection, illness.
6.The incorrect bedding can lead to splayed legs, lack of warmth, injury, crop impaction.
7.A healthy growing chick should gain weight every 24hours.
 

HUMIDITY IS NEEDED IN THE NEST

When breeding season begins, extra water should be provided for the hen. She will want to bathe often to provide humidity within the nest, and for the eggs she is carrying inside her. The correct amount of humidity inside the nest is very important. As well as the normal water bowl, provide a shallow dish of water for her to sit in and bathe in.

IS MY COCKATIEL MALE OR FEMALE?

Some cockatiel mutations you can’t visually sex, so you can get a DNA test, or simply watch behaviour.

Below is the behavioural differences between male and female cockatiels:

MALES:

Males are very vocal and most actually master the wolf whistle before 6 months of age: they can learn to mimic whistling and words at 6 months old. They will often tap on things, such as cage bars or food bowls, they do this instinctively to get the attention of a female .

The males do heart wings and strut up and down. When they have reached sexual maturity, they will often masturbate by rubbing their vent on objects.

FEMALES:

Females are less vocal, and only a small percentage will learn to talk or whistle as well as males. They will lay eggs with or without a male. When they reach sexual maturity and wanting to mate, they will tilt forwards with butt in the air while making a soft chirping noise.

Females don’t hiss as much as males when angry, and they tend to bite less.

NOTE: If you wait and watch for behavioural signs, you’ll have a very good indication whether you have a male or female cockatiel.

 

NUTRITION FOR BREEDING PARROTS
 
It is imperative that breeding birds are fed a well-balanced and highly nutritious diet; if this is not done, you can end up with malnourished parents and chicks which will be susceptible to all kinds of avian illness and deficiencies. In my book “How the flock do I care for a parrot”? I have listed 24 foods which are highly nutritious and should be fed to breeding parrots in and out of breeding season. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B089N6JWDW/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_Wzk2EbYXZQ3RV

PARROT HEN IS NOT FEEDING HER CHICKS?
 
Many inexperienced breeders will pull the chick immediately once they notice the parents are not feeding the chicks. The parents will only start feeding the chick once they have absorbed the yolk sac.
 
For more information on when the right time is to pull the chicks in this situation, and what you immediately have to do once you have pulled chick.. find out all this and more in my book "How the flock do I care for a parrot"?  
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B089N6JWDW/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_Wzk2EbYXZQ3RV

REMOVING EGGS

Cockatiel hens can lay eggs without the presence of a male. Many inexperienced bird owners make the mistake of removing the first egg that their hen has laid. When they see that she is ignoring the first egg they automatically think she is not interested and throw it away. Please NEVER do this, the female will ONLY start sitting on her egg once she a laid the second or third egg. By removing the first egg will only encourage her to lay more eggs and this can cause egg binding.   

If the female has laid an egg place it in a small box and make a comfortable nest for your bird, this will allow her to be comfortable while laying and prevents the eggs from being broken.

Only remove eggs that are broken which can spread bacteria. Then replace the broken egg with a dummy egg. ALWAYS wait for your cockatiel to abandon the eggs completely and then remove them. Cockatiels will generally sit on their eggs for 21 to 30 days.

TRICKING YOUR COCKATIEL TO STOP LAYING EGGS

To help stop a cockatiel female from laying more eggs after she’s laid her FIRST egg put up to 4 more dummy eggs In with her which gives her the feel of a full clutch and then allow her to sit until she leaves them naturally.

WHAT IS CHRONIC EGG LAYING IN PET BIRDS

What is chronic egg laying? (Referred to by avian veterinarians as Chronic Reproductive syndrome). Chronic egg laying is whereby a hen will lay more than the normal number of eggs, or she will lay repeated clutches of eggs.  A lack of hormonal balance that tells most birds to stop laying eggs likely exists in chronic egg laying birds. Additionally, by removing eggs that are already laid also induces birds to lay even more eggs. It is considered safe for a healthy, well-nourished cockatiel hen from the age of 18 months of age to lay two clutches of eggs a year. A female cockatiel that lays more than two clutches of eggs a year is considered as a chronic egg layer.

Egg laying is highly stressful on the bird’s body; therefore, repeated clutches will take a toll on the immune system, making it easier for the hen to become sick. It will compromise her general health and may cause reproductive disorders. Chronic egg laying can cause the following health problems: malnutrition, weight loss, calcium deficiencies, seizures due to low calcium, brittle bones due to low calcium, egg binding, egg impaction in the oviduct, poor muscle tone of the oviduct and uterus, reproductive disease, abnormally formed eggs, peritonitis, infections, poor general health and feather condition, sudden death, etc. Therefore, it is imperative that a hen is discouraged from laying more than two clutches a year. For ways in which you can discourage egg laying click on the link and read the relevant article https://www.cockatiel-advice-101.com/breeding-cockatiels  
 
If you have tried all these measures and despite your efforts your female is still laying eggs you will need to speak to your avian vet about hormonal therapy; this may include your avian vet taking a more natural route of prescribing red raspberry extract supplement, or administering a course of Lupron injections. If hormonal therapy does not work, then as a last resort, your avian vet may perform a hysterectomy.  

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