If you’re a budgie lover and proud budgie owner, it may cross your mind at some point to start a cute little budgie family.
Whether your plan is to keep them all for yourself, make a little money selling them, or give them as gifts to family and friends (RESPONSIBLE family and friends!) you will need to know and prepare for a few things before getting started.
Choosing a Budgie Pair
There are several factors to consider when choosing your male and female to breed. First of all, consider your breeding purpose. If you are breeding with the purpose of creating specific colors, you’ll want to research budgie color genetics in order to ensure the best possible chance of desired color mutations. (Check back soon for my post on budgie color genetics!)
In the wild, budgies tend to mate monogamously, so it is easier to breed a bonded pair than a non-bonded pair. If you do not have a pair already bonded, it’s a good idea to wait a bit and allow them to form a bond before trying to breed.
Signs of budgie bonding include:
– Sitting close together
– Preening each other’s feathers
– Touching beaks
– Feeding each other
– Bobbing their heads and singing
– Light pecking or bumping of beaks
The Right Age
Budgies should not be mated until they have reached maturation, usually around one year of age. However, for optimal breeding results, it is best for the female to be at least 1 year and the male to be around 4.
While it can be hard sometimes to guess a budgie’s age, the color of the cere (the area where the nostrils are, directly above the beak) is usually a good indication of age. It should be a brown/tan color on females, and a blueish color on males.
You should never try to breed two budgies together that are related, as this can cause severe issue such as sickly chicks, stillborn babies and birth defects.
Choosing two healthy budgies to breed is a very important factor. If possible, you can take your potential budgie parents to the vet for a checkup. However, there are some things you can check yourself to determine overall health.
Signs of Good Budgie Health Include:
– No discoloration
– Mite free
– No lethargy
– Vents are not blocked and there is no discharge
– Budgies are eating and pooping normally
The Proper Environment
After choosing the best possible pair to mate, it’s now time to look into obtaining the proper cage and environment for your budgies to breed.
Breeding budgies should be removed from other budgies and placed into a separate cage. But what exactly is the ideal cage?
Ideal Budgie Cage
An ideal cage for budgie breeding should be at least 24 inches by 16 inches, with a height of at least 18 inches. This way, your budgies will have space for flying and it allows them to spend time together and apart. This will support their overall health which will make them more suitable for parenting.
Along with a decent-sized cage, you will want to make sure you provide your budgies with the necessary accessories to keep them healthy and happy for optimal breeding.
Some items to have in cage include:
– Food and water dishes
– At least two perches
– Mineral block
– Nesting box
The nesting box is the one item that may be different from what you would normally have in a budgie cage, but it is very important for breeding budgies as it simulates the tree holes where they would normally lay their eggs in the wild. These can be attached to an opening at the side of the cage.
A good nesting box is usually made of wood, offers plenty of darkness inside, and has some kind of hinged lid or door that you can open from time to time to check on the eggs/chicks to make sure they are well.
You don’t need to include a bunch of nesting material as budgies are minimalist nesters—a bit of shredded paper or untreated wood shavings will do just fine.
One important detail, however, is to include some kind of concave flooring to the box (such as a small dish). This will prevent chicks from developing splayed feet/legs, which can happen from a chick standing too long on a flat, hard floor.
Besides providing the proper cage for your breeding budgies, there are a few other things you can do to ensure success.
Because budgies like to mate in the wet spring and warm summer periods in their native land of Australia, you’ll want to take the seasons into consideration. In the United States, the best time for breeding is between April and September.
Temperature and Humidity
Keep indoor temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. You can lightly mist your budgies with a spray bottle to help mimic their natural mating season. This can also help improve their feather health and colors as it will encourage them to preen their feathers.
Budgies need good light throughout the day, though not directly from the sun. Make sure to use a full-spectrum light bulb to assist budgies in Vitamin-D formation as well as proper vision. At night, be sure to cover the cage for at least 12 hours.
A Healthy Diet
So you’ve chosen your pair and set up the appropriate environment in which to breed.
The next important step is providing your budgies with a healthy breeding diet. If you fail to do so, there can be some pretty severe consequences such as infertile eggs, weak and sickly chicks, and physically exhausted parents that may neglect or not care for their babies properly. Therefore, a healthy breeding diet is essential.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Just like with a normal budgie diet, fresh fruits and vegetables are encouraged. However, when breeding, these fruits and veggies should represent about 40-50% of your budgie’s diet, whereas normally, it may represent less than 20%.
Check out my post A Delicious Diet (For Optimal Budgie Health!) for a full listing of acceptable fruits and veggies.
It’s a good idea to provide your breeding budgies with a special egg mixture to amp up their health during breeding. An easy egg mixture is to hard boil an egg, then simply peel it and mash it up for easy consumption. You can also mix it with your budgies’ regular seeds and/or pellets.
Seeds and Pellets
Whatever you normally feed your budgie you can continue to feed during breeding. Pellets are now favored over seeds as they contain a more balanced amount of nutrients which can sometimes be lacking in a simple seed diet.
Egg Laying, Incubation & Hatching
If breeding was successful, it usually takes about 10 days for the female to lay her first fertilized egg. You can expect her to lay around 4-8 eggs, one at a time, over a period of about 2 weeks. There may be a 1-2 day gap between each egg she lays.
If she doesn’t lay her first egg in the nesting box, it’s okay to gently move it in yourself, however, try not to handle the eggs too much as bacteria from your hands can infect the eggs and harm the babies.
Mama budgie may not begin to sit on her eggs to incubate them until after the third one is laid, which is totally normal. However, it should only be the mama bird to sit on the eggs—the papa shouldn’t even be going into the nesting box at all.
Most eggs will remain in the incubation period for about 18-21 days. If an egg has not hatched past 22 days, it is best to throw it out as it likely never will.
The hatching process begins with small cracks along the egg shell as chicks use their beaks to poke holes in the shell. It’s important not to interfere and try to remove the shell yourself as it could harm the baby inside!
Because the chicks were laid at different times, their sizes may vary. This is normal and nothing to worry about.
Caring for Chicks
Baby budgies are born blind and featherless and completely dependent on their mama for food and warmth. Check periodically that the mother is taking care of her newborns. If she seems to be neglecting any or simply not caring for them properly, you may need to raise the chick yourself.
You will also want to check periodically that the babies seem comfortable and are not being smothered by their siblings.
If Mama’s cere ever turns a light blue, it means she is losing “condition” which makes it hard for her to feed her chicks or treat them right. She may become violent and even attack her own babies, so remove her immediately if you see this.
For the first few days, the mother will feed the chicks herself, afterwards, bot she and the father will take turns.
Chicks will begin to grow their feathers between 10 to 15 days after hatching. It is now safe to clean out the nesting box.
This is the time to handle them as often as possible, if you want them to be tame and used to people. Do this for at least 10 minutes a day once they turn about 2 weeks old. Don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly before handling them.
Chicks are usually ready to leave the nest around 5 weeks of age, and at this point, you can begin encouraging them to wean. Make sure to provide extra food and water in a shallow bowl at the bottom of the cage for baby budgie foraging. They will spend most of their time sleeping, tasting new foods, and exploring the cage.
Once fledglings are completely weaned, at around 8 weeks of age, it may be time to move them to a separate cage away from their parents. This will give them more space to learn how to fly safely.
Once they’ve learned to fly and have adapted well to being without their parents, you can no rehome them or move them into larger cage with older birds.
And that’s all there is to it!
I really hope you found this little breeding guide useful, and I wish you all the best luck in your budgie breeding endeavors!
Thanks for stopping by, and here’s to finding your budgie bliss!