Discouraging breeding in 1 y/o Parakeets

PenClem

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A friend of mine has just inherited two Parakeets - a bonded pair (male and female). She was told that the 'keets are about one year old. Both ceres are dark in their respective colors (very blue and pinkish brown).

She has them in a 30x18x18" flight cage with food, water, and 3-4 toys. That's it. Is it likely that they will try to breed? If so, how can breeding be even more discouraged without separating them?

1. There are no happy huts or other nest-like boxes in the cage.
2. No nesting material is available to them; not even in their toys.
3. They are covered at night, and sleep about 12-14 hours in the dark.
4. They are being transitioned from a seed diet to Harrison's high-potency super fine pellets.
5. There is no additional lighting near their cage.
6. Their wings are clipped and they will be handled daily.

Is she doing all she can to make sure her little birds are successfully celibate?
 

noodles123

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separate them? eek....obviously that is not ideal but I am guessing that is the trigger....
 
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PenClem

PenClem

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Lol! That's the trigger alright!

While separating them is not ideal, it can be done and will be done if she finds them exhibiting mating behavior. She's not on here, but I know she wants what's best for the birds. I just thought I'd try to get some information from those who are more experienced with birds than we are, and see if she was at least discouraging them from breeding as best she can while still having them together.
 

OutlawedSpirit

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Honestly, in my experience both with just keeping budgies (which is what I'm assuming you mean when you say parakeets) and breeding them, they tend to not be too prone to breeding behaviors if they aren't given a nesting "space". When I was breeding them, I always advised people that wanted to keep more than one bird of opposite genders together to just make sure they had no nesting place and no nesting materials. I honestly have never had any birds breed, with the exception of one very enthusiastic established breeding pair, without a box.
 

EllenD

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With Budgies it is extremely difficult if they are a bonded-pair and of the opposite sex to keep them from mating. Have they been seen mating yet? If so, then honestly the only thing you can really do is to separate them. However, that doesn't mean that you have to completely separate them, you simply need to put each bird in their own cage, and place their cages right next to each either, close together, so that they can still be close to one another, still see each other closely, talk to each other, etc. And if your friend's plan is for she herself to bond with each of these birds and is planning on giving them each plenty of out-of-cage-time each day, as she should regardless, then they can also be allowed out together each day during their out-of-cage-time as long as they are supervised by your friend the entire time they are out together, and she never allows them to be outside of their cages together without her being there with them to stop any mating that might occur.

So the bottom-line is that they don't need to be completely separated and kept from each other, just housed in separate cages. That's it.

****Just a question, are you certain that this is an opposite-sex pair? The reason I ask is that you said that one of their cere's is dark blue, which is going to be a male as long as there are not light white rings around each nostril, in that case it's a female, even if it's cere is very dark blue or purple, any time there are faint, white rings around the nostrils it's a female... However, you mentioned that the other Budgie has a very "pink" cere, which would also be male...Female Budgies have ceres that are either Tan, Brown, Dark Brown, White/Cream, or dark blue/dark purple with faint white rings around each nostril. Male Budgies are usually pretty easy, their ceres are either SOLID Dark Blue or SOLID Dark Purple with NO faint white rings around the nostrils, or any shade of Pink, whether light or dark Pink...

So if one of the Budgies has a SOLID Dark Blue cere and the other Budgie has a Pink cere, then they are both males....

If you post photos of both Budgies we can tell you for certain what their genders are. It would be a good idea, as this might not be a problem at all in the first place...
 
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PenClem

PenClem

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Here are pictures she took yesterday when she got them:
 

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EllenD

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Well that's definitely a female in the second photo, lol...That's brown, not pink!!!

Actually, the female is in breeding-season right now, their ceres turn to that really crusty, dark brown when they are in breeding season...So yes, it's an opposite-sex pair, and yes they are hormonal and the female is ready to go, lol...So the best thing that your friend can do is to put each bird in it's own cage, and put their cages side-by-side, so they can still be together, and then give them only supervised out-of-cage-time together. Otherwise they are going to end up with eggs, no doubt judging by the females cere...
 
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PenClem

PenClem

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I described her cere as "pinkish brown" which is how it looked to me in the photo. Please remember I have Lovebirds so I am learning as I go. I'll tell her to separate them. Thanks for the info.
 

EllenD

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I described her cere as "pinkish brown" which is how it looked to me in the photo. Please remember I have Lovebirds so I am learning as I go. I'll tell her to separate them. Thanks for the info.

I was just kidding, it's okay, lol...I didn't catch the "browish" part, only the "very pink" part...Pink at all on a cere is male, but sometimes it's extremely hard to tell whether it is pink or tan/cream, which is female. Budgies ceres can be tough, usually it's the dark blue or purple with the faint white rings around the nostrils that trips people up, they always see blue or purple and automatically think "male", until they find an infertile egg laying in the food dish, lol...

Tell your friend not to be surprised if she finds an infertile egg in the bottom of the cage of the female, even after they are separated, as that female is definitely hormonal, and Budgies have a bad habit of being chronic egg-layers and often lay infertile clutches of up to a dozen or more eggs. Tell your friend to make certain that if she doesn't already, she gets BOTH a Cuttlebone AND a Mineral Block in the female's cage ASAP, and always has them in her cage specifically, as the last thing she wants is her to become Egg-Bound, which is 100% fatal without medical intervention, and the most common cause is a lack of Calcium and Phosphorous in their body...Buying a bag of Egg-Food and providing her with a dish each day until she's out of breeding season and her cere turns back to white/cream/tan is also a good idea, she can buy a bag of Qwiko Egg-Food at any Petco for $10, and they also sell both a pink, Strawberry Mineral Block and a big yellow Pineapple Mineral Block shaped like a huge Rose flower. Either works great, my Budgies love them both and eat them daily.

Make sure that your friend knows that if she finds an infertile egg in the bottom of the cage, that she should NOT provide any type of nest-box or nesting material. Since she knows it will be infertile (assuming she doesn't lay one in the next week or two after separating them), then she should just leave the egg where it lays, she'll most-likely lay more, and won't start laying on them until she lays at least 2-3 eggs. Allow her to lay on the clutch of infertile eggs for as long as she wants to, again, since they'll be infertile she doesn't have to boil them for 20 minutes and then put them back in the bottom of the cage, so she can just let them lay where she finds them. Allow the eggs to stay in the bottom of the cage until she gets tired of sitting on them, realizes they aren't going to hatch, and has definitely stopped laying on them and abandoned them...Then your friend can remove them and dispose of them. That's the best way to knock her out of breeding-season and to keep her from laying another clutch after clutch after clutch.
 
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PenClem

PenClem

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Thank you, Ellen, for the informative and useful advice! I passed it along to her and she really appreciates the information. We both do! I feel like I have learned quite a bit about Budgies! :D

How long do you suppose it will take for her breeding season to last? Will the change in cere color indicate that she's no longer in season, and if so, will she be safe to reintroduce to the male in the larger cage at some point?

Also, she bought egg food per your advice. How much should she offer to her on a daily basis? Is it okay to fill a bowl with it and let it sit in the bowl so she can pick at it as she wishes?

Both birds seem to be active and healthy, albeit depressed about the separation. She has offered both of them toys, chop, a seed and pellet mixture (per a video posted on the forum about how to make a "paste" out of it), and millet spray as a treat. She says they are ignoring the chop and only picking the seed out of the mixture, and they are both devouring the millet spray. She is concerned about their weight. Her words: "they look fat".
 

EllenD

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It depends on the bird as far as the length of the breeding-season goes, it is the season for hormones right now, so it's normal for the female to be in-season right now, but being housed with a male that she is closely-bonded to makes it worse. It may be a while before she comes out of it, and she'll be able to tell because her cere will change back from the really crusty, scabby dark brown to again being smooth and either light tan/creamy or blue with white rings around the nostrils, whatever color her cere normally is/was.

No, she can't put them back together, because even if the female isn't in breeding-season they will still mate and lay fertile eggs. Once an opposite-sex pair of birds is closely-bonded to each other, they are likely going to start mating, and what would probably happen is that as soon as she put them back together, the female would just go right back into breeding-season anyway...So they need to stay in their own, separate cages from now on. But again, they can be let out together as long as she watches them the entire time and stops any mating...

As far as the egg-food goes, just give the female a very small dish of it, it will take her a while to eat it all (do not only feed her the egg-food)...If the female does lay an egg, then she needs to continue to feed the egg-food, because she'll be laying more than just one egg, it could be a bunch, and she needs the calcium. I'd let her eat one small dish of the egg food for now, and then stop it unless she does lay an egg. If she lays an egg then she'll need to have a small dish of it in with her until she's done laying them. It's actually more important that she ALWAYS have a Cuttlebone and a Mineral Block inside of her cage at all times, as these are constant sources of Calcium and Phosphorous that female birds need all the time anyway, and especially if they are laying eggs or going to lay eggs, or have just finished laying eggs...And the Cuttlebone and Mineral Block aren't high in calories/fat like the egg-food is. So if she doesn't have both a Cuttlebone and Mineral Block, that's a priority. Actually, her male should have at least a Cuttlebone too. It's good for their beaks, their toenails, etc. And it gives them something to file their beaks on as well. You can buy a Cuttlebone at any grocery store or Walmart for like $1, and Petco sells a couple different Mineral Blocks for a couple dollars, one that is pink and looks like a Strawberry, and one that is Yellow and shaped like a big flower. Either is fine.

As far as them being "fat", lol, it's probably due to the fact that they eat a seed-mix as the staple of their diet instead of a pellet, as seed-mixes are much higher in fat, especially Budgie seed-mixes that are mostly different types of millet seeds. Also, if they don't come out of their cages and get to fly around each day for a bit, then they aren't getting any exercise, and that's what happens...However, I wouldn't at all call them "fat" or even overweight judging from the photos you posted, they look healthy...

She needs to keep in mind that if her female bird does start laying eggs, she's going to naturally start losing weight as well as Calcium, and sometimes they actually become quite skinny. That's when the egg-food comes into play, because it will provide her with extra calories and fat in addition to the extra calcium. Some females who become chronic egg-layers, just laying egg after egg after egg and clutch after clutch, will actually become emaciated and anemic due to the amount of energy, calories, calcium, etc. it takes their bodies to make eggs. So it's much better while she's in Breeding-Season that she be on the heavy side than the thin side...But they both look healthy to me from those photos...
 
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PenClem

PenClem

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I look forward to your posts as they are super informative! Thank you for getting back to me!

She bought another cage of the same size for the female and put her in there as her permanent home. It's 30 x 18 x 18". She has a mineral block and cuttlebone (as does the male in his own cage).

The female is highly active. She plays with her toys and keeps herself occupied. The male, on the other hand, has toys and things to occupy him, but he seems more depressed about the separation than she does.

Anyway, my friend made her own egg food based on a recipe she got online that contains whole shredded egg, organic flax seed, and organic quinoa and long grain brown rice. She said she was excited to offer it to her, but the little girl didn't eat any. She'll keep trying to offer it.

Thanks again for the advice and information!
 

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