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Old 01-22-2013, 09:45 AM
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Cockatiel Pair with Eggs

Hi guys,

I have a pair of cockatiels nesting with 5 eggs. Although I've had cockatiels in the past and have had experience hand rearing baby parrots, this is my first experience with eggs and breeding. I intend on hand rearing the chicks starting at 2 weeks of age. I have a brooder prepared using an infrared 14-watt heating pad. The brooder has remained stable at my target temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit with minimal outside insulation. I need a new hygrometer since ours seems to be stuck at 70 and is likely broken.

The parents, Pika and Lina, are not hand tame. I'm still working on getting them hand tame but taking it slow, especially since they've decided to start nesting. They're familiar with hands in that they don't panic when I bring them food or water, but they tend to avoid hands in general. I try to catch them when they're out of the nest box to check on the eggs quickly, but it's difficult to do so since sometimes both just hop in the nest box and switch turns that way. Given that this is Pika & Lina's first time making a family, I'm worried that with them as first-time parents, all may not go as planned.

Also, since neither Pika and Lina are fond of baths, I've hung a wet but not soaking sponge inside their nest box to help with the humidity for the eggs which I check periodically and soak again as needed.

A few questions:

1. How can I check on the eggs without panicking the parents too much?

2. Will they still sit on eggs if they are infertile or is candling my only reliable way of knowing?

3. Any suggestions on how I can take the chicks from their parents without traumatizing the parents too much?

4. Is it best to leave some of the chicks with their parents and only hand rear a few and attempt to hand tame the ones left with their parents simply by handling them often?

5. I know that parents usually develop their own egg turning pattern. If at any given time my birds stop sitting on their eggs for some reason, will it be detrimental to the unhatched chicks if I turn the eggs in the incubator with a new turning pattern since I have no idea what the current turning pattern is now?

Any advice and answers will be greatly appreciated!
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Old 01-22-2013, 11:04 AM
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Re: Cockatiel Pair with Eggs

I can't help you with much, but if you want a good, inexpensive hygrometer, look for a Taylor indoor/outdoor thermometer-hygrometer with remote sensor #1525 or #1526. I have used the for a couple of years.

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Old 01-22-2013, 12:38 PM
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Re: Cockatiel Pair with Eggs

I can pretty much say that at least the first nest will not be fertilized. Probably the second and third nest as well, though I won't count on that.

Don't try to catch the parents if you want to check on the nest. You can best distract them with some treat, so that they go eat and you can check on the nest without alarming them too much. Also try to check when they're both off the eggs.

I wouldn't take them from the nest so young, it's not necessary and the care the parents can give the young is often much better than we can give them. The only time I took the young away from the parents is when they plucked them. There is a kind of similar post titled "Unexpected cockatiel surprise...an egg!", I've put some advise there and the links are certainly worth reading.


To get them tame you can just pick the young up a couple of times a day when, or just before the feathers start to bud (hope that's the right term).

The birds keep on brooding even if the eggs are not fertilized, wait until they abandon the nest before taking the eggs out, that saves them a lot of stress and grief (yes they -can- grieve for unhatched eggs. With one of my pairs the male is infertile, and they kept on trying and grieved so much every time it didn't work out that I arranged with another breeder to pick up a pair of fertilized eggs. They were so incredibly happy with them!)

If they stop sitting on the eggs, they are not fertilized, or there are no live chicks in them. Just hatched chicks get special "milk"-feed from the parents, there are antibodies and other special stuff in it which make the chicks immune system strong. Without that it's very likely the chicks won't survive, since the food (chick formula) that humans make for them can't/ doesn't have those special things in it. Once they open their eyes they have a chance to survive if they need to be hand-fed.
That's why I would say, leave the eggs in all cases with the parents!


These are my experiences and suggestions, and my opinion that is based on what I've picked up along the road and via internet. I don't say it's hard fact, birds are living beings after all and that can make them unpredictable.

But these birds are SMART living beings -often even smarter than I would think them!-, and so they can learn from you. So show them you don't mean them or their young harm, and show them YOU want to protect their young as well.
Even my not tame pair has accepted me as their babysitter! And they have gotten a lot more tame because of it .
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:38 PM
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Re: Cockatiel Pair with Eggs

It is always best not to disturb the eggs, or the parents for that matter.
they need privacy and to feel safe when rearing their young.
it won't be long before you know if you have babies. Incubation takes approx.21-23 days, and hatch every other day.
they will sit on the eggs up until a certain point, if they abandon them they are probably not fertile. if they remain on them, then they are probably fertile.
some take the older chicks to hand rear, and others remove all of the chicks.
let nature take it's course, they typically know what they are doing
I would not attempt to turn the eggs yourself, given we really don't have the knowledge behind it.

I usually remove all my chicks around 2.5-3weeks of age.
my pairs' first clutch laid 4 eggs, 2 hatched one died. I kept the other one, fell in love with him, and still have him.

if your worried how to remove the nesting box without stressing the parents out, that's a bit of a 'trick'
all my nesting boxes are outside of the cage, I put millet in their cage so they are busy eating while I remove the nesting box. sometimes I hang a blanket over where the box was so they are looking at the blanket not the missing nesting box.
I've done this 4 times so far, and they are fine.
I always stressed doing this to them, but it is I that gets upset.... not them, as long as you do it right

hope this helps
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Old 01-22-2013, 07:09 PM
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Re: Cockatiel Pair with Eggs

Thanks for all the responses!

I will definitely check out the hygrometer recommendation!

My nest box set up is outside the cage as well so I'll start placing a blanket since it offers more security for the birds anyway. Great suggestion!

Oh and by catching the birds outside of the nest box, I hope I didn't distress anyone, but I hadn't meant a literal chasing around or anything, just that they "change guard" inside the nest box nowadays so there's been no opportunity to peek in without one or both in the nest box. Will definitely try bribing and distracting them with millet. It worked pretty well when I did that to introduce them to the nest box!

Hopefully, half or more of the eggs hatch. I'll find out on Thursday if they decide to have a 6th egg and the first egg should hatch, if it's fertile, at approximately the 1st or 4th of February. As far as taking the chicks out at around two weeks, I originally decided that since the majority of the literature I've read mainly suggested that as the best start time for hand rearing to get hand tame birds and since my rescued dove was hand-reared at about two weeks and she turned out nice and healthy. (She hatched at the tree literally in front of my bedroom window which got destroyed by an autumn storm. Found her under a bush in my front yard just before our neighbor's cat did!) I'll just monitor them closely once and if the chicks hatch and see how it goes before I decide. I may not have to decide anyway if the clutch is completely infertile as BirdyShanna expects they'll be or if the chicks end up not being cared for well enough by the parents or abandoned altogether for one odd reason or another.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply! I'll keep you guys posted!
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Old 01-22-2013, 09:49 PM
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Re: Cockatiel Pair with Eggs

Quote: Originally Posted by crimson View Post
It is always best not to disturb the eggs, or the parents for that matter.
they need privacy and to feel safe when rearing their young.
it won't be long before you know if you have babies. Incubation takes approx.21-23 days, and hatch every other day.
they will sit on the eggs up until a certain point, if they abandon them they are probably not fertile. if they remain on them, then they are probably fertile.
some take the older chicks to hand rear, and others remove all of the chicks.
let nature take it's course, they typically know what they are doing
I would not attempt to turn the eggs yourself, given we really don't have the knowledge behind it.

I usually remove all my chicks around 2.5-3weeks of age.
my pairs' first clutch laid 4 eggs, 2 hatched one died. I kept the other one, fell in love with him, and still have him.

if your worried how to remove the nesting box without stressing the parents out, that's a bit of a 'trick'
all my nesting boxes are outside of the cage, I put millet in their cage so they are busy eating while I remove the nesting box. sometimes I hang a blanket over where the box was so they are looking at the blanket not the missing nesting box.
I've done this 4 times so far, and they are fine.
I always stressed doing this to them, but it is I that gets upset.... not them, as long as you do it right

hope this helps
The incubation period is usually around 19-21 days. BUT it all depends on when they decide to incubate the eggs. Also depending on humidity. I've had babies hatching as early as 14 days which that surprised me. I personally remove them at two weeks of age to handfeed.
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Old 01-25-2013, 05:38 PM
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Re: Cockatiel Pair with Eggs

They've been incubating since the first egg appeared - they're a bit excited to be parents I think!

UPDATE:

5 eggs - candled and found that 3 are for sure fertile and growing. The other 2 I didn't get to check, but from how the shells look at a glance, it's possible they're infertile. (They're more transparent than the other 3 eggs that I had checked.) Next week thereabouts we'll see how it all goes! It's dry and cold here and I've been doing my best to monitor the humidity and keep it at 50% without disturbing the parents but in case there are hatching issues, I found a great site for assisted hatching:

http://www.justcockatiels.net/assist-hatches.html

Also, found this very useful site showing what parrot chick development inside the shell should look like when candling eggs:

http://www.avianweb.com/eggtoparrot.html

Ahhh! I'm super excited and I really hope we get some healthy little babies soon!

Last edited by PikaLina; 01-25-2013 at 05:54 PM.
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Old 01-25-2013, 07:08 PM
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Re: Cockatiel Pair with Eggs

Here's something I do to help with the humidity, I lightly mist the eggs with a water bottle spray. I do that on a daily basis and it helps a lot!!!! The two eggs might be the last two laid so you can check in about 3-4 days again to be sure.
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Old 01-26-2013, 07:17 PM
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Re: Cockatiel Pair with Eggs

lol, I stand corrected, incubation time is 19-21 days like mikeytn said.

lovebirds are 21-23 days
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:37 PM
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Re: Cockatiel Pair with Eggs

Quote: Originally Posted by crimson View Post
lol, I stand corrected, incubation time is 19-21 days like mikeytn said.

lovebirds are 21-23 days
I've had Lovebirds hatch as late as 28 days. Even it's at 19-21 for Cockatiels, I've had some hatching at 23-25 days. It really depends on the humidity and all. But most do hatch at 19-21 days.
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