Getting a "mated pair"... does that always mean a very different bird experience?

cytherian

Active member
Dec 29, 2020
102
114
Near NYC
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Eclectus
I do get that across the wide expanse of bird species, some have their seasonal mating time while others ignore the seasons and have a constant repeating cycle.

When you have a particular species, like the Eclectus, they will mate, lay eggs, and seek to expand their flock all across the year. If you're not a breeder and you don't really want to be managing a bird reproduction cycle as a major component of the bird experience, is it unwise to get a mated pair? I'm just wondering if some birds, even within a breed like Eclectus that have no seasonal constraint to the breeding cycle, might have less desire to breed while others may want to do nothing else.

We adopted a young male and female at ages 5 and 6. They came as a mated pair. Their daily behavior was pretty sedate. They would hang out together and feed each other, but that was it. Then... came that moment when the male attempted to mount the female. She fended him off at first. But in the weeks that followed, he eventually got his bearings and she finally tolerated him. It was fascinating and amusing. Then... her egg laying began as she reached that age. The experience of owning these two birds has very much changed, because of the female. The male is a highly good natured bird. Easy going. Cheerful. Inquisitive. But not a talker at all. For him, his mate is his world. He may go off and do his own thing for a bit, but he'll always come back to her.

Fast forward, the two had a fertilized egg that hatched. Their owner (I'm her good friend and house mate) learned about the natural science of it all, got a nest for the female, and she had her first hatchling about 3.5 years ago. The male and female were very attentive to their son (who we first thought was female because his beak was black until he matured). Now, the juvenile son is a healthy bird and unlike his parents, he loves to talk. He has a pretty impressive vocabulary for an Ekkie. After this successful bird creation, it seems that the female wants nothing more to do than produce more. When she has no eggs to lay upon and is out with her mate on their "play gym" (a structure providing various perches, ladders, water and food bowls) they will hang for a little while, but then they will get to exploring for a nesting hollow. It got so bad that their owner decided the only way to deal with this was to provide a "hollow" under our control -- a bird carrier, one that's used to take them to the vet. It sits on a table next to the living room couch. And they have made it their "love shack." There are times when it's hidden away, but when it's out on the table? They're over at it, wanting desperately to go in. Unzipped, the female will go right in and make herself at home. The male will come in to visit for a while, go out, be with us for a bit, but then he's back in there. During these times, the female will sometimes come out, but she's aggressive. Even though we're sitting a good 4 feet away, she'll come over and try nipping at us... a territorial imperative? Anyway, it's no problem managing the male. He's never hostile, mostly friendly. If you take the female, he will be on your shoulder going along for the ride. It can be a real chore getting the female back in her cage at night. She is generally well mannered, BUT, she has no concept of gentle bites. She bites hard. She will puncture flesh, even when all you're doing is asking her to step up to your outstretched finger perch.

When it comes time for the female to lay eggs, her owner will procure a nesting basket in her cage. And if luck has it where he lays an egg in there instead of in the carrier, she will become the supreme mother. She will roost on those eggs (usually a clutch of two) with keen determination. To avoid dealing with poop in her nest, we have a routine where she comes to the front of her cage, paces back and forth, and squawks. We come over, extend a hand, she hops aboard, and we bring her to the play gym where she'll unload her poop, refresh with some bonus food and water there... then, her internal timer will go off and she'll be wanting to go back to her cage to keep her eggs warm. She could easily fly back, but she wants us to ferry her over! If we can't for some reason, she will do it herself, but clumsily. This whole cycle will go on for a month... but even longer, as there's a trick -- we swap in fake eggs shortly after she has laid them. It's when she's out we'll have a replacement nest all prepared and quickly swap it in when she's not looking. Most birds will abandon eggs that don't hatch. But I guess there are certain telltale signs of that, which fake eggs don't convey. So the female will keep going, sometimes as long as 6 weeks, until she starts being less mindful to roost on them. She'll hang out on the play gym much longer. And when accompanied by her mate (he will have a fit if she's out and he can't be with her), they may start to show signs of "exploration" for a new nesting opportunity. That's when we really know it's time to pull the fake eggs and the nest.

Post egg roosting... the female will be unhappy being caged up. She will squawk unpleasantly, especially when she knows humans are nearby. And it'll be really bothersome, until we let her out with her mate. Then, it's either off to the "love shack," or possible exploration of other places in the living space.

I do wonder if the female going through this repeating reproductive cycle with NO hatchlings is having an effect on her. Or, if females will just keep trying relentlessly to breed, irrespective of their past failures. Is it... cruel to her to keep up this charade? Should mated pairs that have a very strong fixation on reproduction be off to a breeder instead of hopelessly going through the constant reproductive cycles in an owner's home with no satisfaction?
 

SailBoat

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Jul 10, 2015
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Sadly, the active Breeders on most all Forums have vastly reduced for a number of reasons.
As a result, responses /advise will be limited to those with little or no experience with breeding, like me.
I hope you continue to update us on your success and general breeding information.
 

DonnaBudgie

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Jan 24, 2023
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Windham, Maine
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Budgies. Lotsa Budgies.
Sadly, the active Breeders on most all Forums have vastly reduced for a number of reasons.
As a result, responses /advise will be limited to those with little or no experience with breeding, like me.
I hope you continue to update us on your success and general breeding information.
I would love to know why breeders do not participate in parrot forums.
 

SailBoat

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I would love to know why breeders do not participate in parrot forums.

You ask a question that may not draw an answer you likely expected:

Good Breeders have stopped participating in Parrot Forums, in general, because they see no good reason to create an ever-increasing volume of individuals who come to breeding as a means of a quick profit and the less effort as possible, as those individuals keep dropping the age in which they will pass a Parrot to a new owner without the knowledge of feeding a very young Parrot.

At a point, not so long ago, Parrots would not be released until the Parrot had fully fledged and were flighted. That resulted in Parrots with a much greater likelihood of living a longer life.
 
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chris-md

Well-known member
Feb 6, 2010
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Maryland - USA
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Parker - male Eclectus

Aphrodite - red throated conure (RIP)
hey there

I’m not sure I understand exactly what the question is. You’ve got a lot of ruminations in your last paragraph that point to general confusion. Are you still actively still trying to breed them? What charade are you keeping up exactly?

I’m not clear if this is something you’ve intentionally fostered, or unknowingly perpetuate. I have asked you several times about how you control hormones, so we’ve had this discussion a few times and you’re well aware of what triggers hormones, But by the sound of “providing a nest” “off they go for intimate time”, it doesn’t sound like hormonal behavior is something you all are actually trying to do. Hence the confusion: what exactly are you trying to pin down? How to stop it? How to proceed safely?

No, laying unfertilized eggs doesn’t impact them by throwing them into further cycles. What throws them into further cycles is your level of care in conjunction with unique physiology (an individuals genetic predisposition to excessive hormone production).
 

DonnaBudgie

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Jan 24, 2023
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You ask a question that may not draw an answer you likely expected:

Good Breeders have stopped participating in Parrot Forums, in general, because they see no good reason to create an ever-increasing volume of individuals who come to breeding as a means of a quick profit and the less effort as possible, as those individuals keep dropping the age in which they will pass a Parrot to a new owner without the knowledge of feeding a very young Parrot.

At a point, not so long ago, Parrots would not be released until the Parrot had fully fledged and were flighted. That resulted in Parrots with a much greater likelihood of living a longer life.
Thanks for your reply. I can see their point. A baby Parrot is much more likely to thrive if fully weaned and fledged when adopted into it's new home.
But the intense time consumedciii8uuu
 

DonnaBudgie

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Jan 24, 2023
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Thanks for your reply. I can see their point. A baby Parrot is much more likely to thrive if fully weaned and fledged when adopted into it's new home.
But the intense time consumedciii8uuu
Sorry. My bird did it!
I was going to say that the most labor intensive time when I was hand raising my baby budgie was the first two to three weeks when I was feeding her every few hours round the clock. The last two weeks which included her weaning period. She weaned very easily but I realize some parrots take much longer. It doesn't seem to me that a breeder would save a significant amount of money or personal time by encouraging people to adopt their baby birds before they're weaned. It would seem like it
 

DonnaBudgie

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Jan 24, 2023
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Sorry. My bird did it!
I was going to say that the most labor intensive time when I was hand raising my baby budgie was the first two to three weeks when I was feeding her every few hours round the clock. The last two weeks which included her weaning period. She weaned very easily but I realize some parrots take much longer. It doesn't seem to me that a breeder would save a significant amount of money or personal time by encouraging people to adopt their baby birds before they're weaned. It would seem like it
Did it again. It would seem like it would be more of a hassle to send UNWEANED chicks home with new owners. The constant phone calls asking questions, babies dying, and people demanding refunds would be worse.
I think good breeders participate in forums because they don't want to be bombarded with questions asking for advice on how to breed birds and feed baby birds.
 

SailBoat

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Jul 10, 2015
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Western, Michigan
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Did it again. It would seem like it would be more of a hassle to send UNWEANED chicks home with new owners. The constant phone calls asking questions, babies dying, and people demanding refunds would be worse.
I think good breeders participate in forums because they don't want to be bombarded with questions asking for advice on how to breed birds and feed baby birds.
That is a wonderful belief in life, but you are assuming that the phone is answered. Why do you think that the new owner has come here?
 

DonnaBudgie

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Jan 24, 2023
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Windham, Maine
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Budgies. Lotsa Budgies.
That is a wonderful belief in life, but you are assuming that the phone is answered. Why do you think that the new owner has come here?
Probably because the breeder didn't make themselves available, but we obviously don't hear from ALL people who bought unweaned babies- only a small percentage I'm sure.
 

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