Every year, there comes a certain time when your bird starts acting, and even looking different: Breeding Season!
Like many other animals, birds have a natural cycle of reproduction that helps them continue their survival.
Whether in the wild or in captivity, this is a life-changing and challenging time, and the question of the hour is — are you prepared to support your pet through it?
With the right knowledge in hand, you can care better for your feathered pal through this demanding time. Keep reading to know how!
Bird Breeding — When Does It Happen?
Most of the wild birds we see in our backyards like to breed in spring and summer, when there’s plenty of food and nice weather. The timing of breeding season for pet birds is not as simple and straightforward; it varies depending on the type and origin of the bird.
Pet birds, like parrots, cockatiels, budgies, lovebirds, and finches can breed any time of the year so long as they have the right environmental conditions. Factors like proper nourishment, longer days (more daylight), favourable weather conditions, etc., can usually prompt them to mate.
The Challenges of Breeding Season
Breeding season is not a walk in the park. It is a very stressful and demanding time that requires a lot of effort, energy and resources from both pet birds and their owners. Expect challenges like:
Finding the right pairing: The right breeding pair makes fit, healthy chicks. Birds need to be compatible, comfortable, and sexually mature to classify as a good pair. It’s also important that the pair is not related as this can lead to health complications in the offspring.
Hormonal Changes: Birds undergo hormonal changes that affect their mood, appetite, and behaviour in breeding mode. They may become more aggressive, territorial, vocal, restless, or affectionate than usual. They may also show signs of frustration or depression if they do not have a suitable mate or nesting site.
Nesting: Birds need to find or build a safe and comfortable nest where they can lay their eggs and care for their chicks. This can pose challenges for captive birds, who may not have enough space or suitable materials in their cage.
Incubation and Hatching: Birds need to keep their eggs warm and safe until they hatch. This can take 10-30 days depending on the species of your bird. After the chicks hatch, they need to be fed and looked after until they are big enough to leave the nest, which can take a few weeks or even months. The parents need to provide sufficient food and water to their growing chicks while keeping them safe from disease. Your pet bird may need your help during this time.
Changes in Appetite and Behaviour: Birds need more food and water during the breeding season to keep up with their energy needs. They may also prefer different types of food than usual, such as soft foods or fresh fruits and vegetables. Additionally, they may behave differently, or even unpredictably — changes in activity levels and sleeping patterns are normal.
How Can Bird Owners Help?
As bird caregivers and lovers, all we want is to see our pets emerge from this period as happy and healthy as always. Here are some tips you can use to help your bird!
1. Make Their Home Safe And Healthy
A big, spacious, well-ventilated, and clean cage is a must during this time. Make sure that this space is big enough for two, and keep it free from anything that could hurt or stress them out. Avoid any sudden changes in temperature or noise level that could disturb your birds’ natural cycle. It’s best to place the cage in a quiet part of your house for their own comfort.
2. Provide Appropriate Breeding Equipment
Proper equipment is necessary to ensure that the breeding process is safe and smooth sailing. It is recommended to be prepared with:
- Breeding Cage: As mentioned, a big cage to support the breeding pair, as well as their future offspring is ideal. With enough room for the birds to move around freely, it should have food and water dishes, toys, perches, and a divider that lets you separate the male from the female if needed.
- Breeding/Nesting Box: A box that gives a safe and cosy place for your birds to lay their eggs and take care of their babies. Preferably wooden, with a hole to go in and out, a perch, and a lid that you can open to check on the eggs and babies.
- Incubators: These can help keep the eggs warm and moist until they hatch.
- Brooders: These are devices that keep the chicks warm and comfortable after they hatch.
3. Adjust the Lighting
Lighting affects your bird’s hormones and breeding behaviour. During the breeding season, birds need more daylight to support their tendencies. Exposing them to natural sunlight or artificial light for a longer period can encourage breeding and nesting.
4. Give Them The Needed Nesting Materials
If your birds show signs of nesting behaviour, such as shredding paper or plucking feathers, you can offer them some safe and natural nesting materials.
DO — provide safe materials like cotton, hay, or coconut fibre.
DON’T — offer materials that are synthetic, dyed, or chemically treated.
Put the materials in a small bowl or basket and let them do what they want with it without any force.
5. Offer a Balanced Diet
Give your birds a good pellet food that has everything they need. Adding fresh fruits and veggies rich in vitamins and minerals can hugely benefit their diet. Avoid fatty, salty, and sugary, foods as well. Make sure to give them fresh water and change it frequently.
6. Monitor Your Bird’s Behaviour
Observe your birds closely and look for any signs of stress, illness, or injury. If your bird becomes aggressive, territorial, or depressed, you may need to separate them or give them more attention and care. If your bird becomes egg-bound, lethargic, or weak, you may need to take them to a veterinarian immediately!
Breeding season is a natural and important part of your pet bird’s life cycle. Done safely and consciously, you may end up with tinier and cuter versions of your pet to love and care for. Make sure you protect and support your pet through every stage — breeding, nesting, and chick-rearing — and you'll have a wonderful new feathered family to treasure. All the best!