my female cockatiel has a male companion and she keeps leaning over and spreading out her wings. Does this mean that she is ready to mate?
Optional Information: Age: 5; Female; Breed: cockatiel
Two pet cockatiels may start to take an interest in each other
Sometimes, two cockatiels that were bought to keep each other company at a young age, may turn out to be male and female and like each other. If you're interested in breeding, this is great, if you're not it may present a problem.
Normally, cockatiels will not lay eggs unless they are in an environment that is conducive to breeding, i.e. nest box. They can and probably will breed, but they will not lay eggs.
Some will, however, lay eggs and try to incubate them, etc. If that is the case, you can either set them up as a breeding pair, or separate them into two different cages.
Setting up the environment
What you'll need:
*A cage conducive to breeding - Most serious breeders will find someone to build breeding cages for them. Welded wire cages are easier to attach boxes to and you don't mind cutting a hole in the side of the cage for the box, because it's easy to patch. These cages should be minimum 20 x 20 x 20, 24 x 24 x 24 is better. If you're only breeding a pair or two, a cage that is a large cage with a double door is best, XXXXX XXXXX"L x 18"W x 36"H. You can put a box on the bottom door and use the top door to access the cage.
*A nest box - cockatiel breeding boxes are sold in most pet stores, or available through the newspaper classifieds. I use pine shavings on the bottom of the nest box to absorb the droppings from the chicks and make it a little softer for everyone involved.
*Several sturdy perches - Perches are extremely important in the breeding process. They must be sturdy and placed correctly. Dowel rods which are used in most cages tend to be slick and the birds can slide off. We recommend natural branch perches, they provide many great benefits for the birds. They give them tactile stimulation (the bark has a different texture), different gripping diameters (most natural branch perches vary in diameters, even on the same perch), and provide minerals as they chew them apart. All in all, they allow the birds a more natural environment. Placing several 1/2 branch perches and full branch perches around the cage allows the birds a choice of where they which one feels the best.
All birds need a balanced diet whether they're breeding or not. Your birds should always be on a good diet, which makes them stronger and healthier and better able to produce healthy offspring. Keeping a bird on a seed diet and then deciding to feed them better while they're breeding may be too little, too late. Remember nutrition in birds is for life, not for the breeding cycle. Your birds life span is greatly dependent on what you feed them. Please refer to our article on avian nutrition.
The Breeding Process
Now, you've got the birds, the cage, the box and your ready to get started. This is the mating process that I've witnessed year after year, pair after pair (but keep in mind there are always exceptions to every rule).
It's the male's duty to prepare the nest box. He will go inside, move around the pine shaving, then he'll chew on the nest box hole. He'll work on this diligently for about a week. Then and only then will he allow the female to enter. She'll go inside, and decide if it's up to her specifications. If both are in agreement, by the end of the second week the egg laying process will begin. It is important that the hole be large enough, but areas exposed for the bird to chew on as this is part of the mating process and is common in all birds.
Usually, they don't start incubating the eggs until after the third egg is laid. Don't panic if they don't start sitting on them immediately. One fertilized egg will stay alive at room temperature for ten days as long as the incubation process has not begun.
Both male and female cockatiels take turns brooding the clutch of eggs, one sits half of the day, the other sits the other half of the day.
Soem things to look for:
They preen each other
They feed each other
They roost next to each other at night
Putting two birds of the opposite sex in the same cage does not guarantee that they will mate. Cockatiels are very careful in their selection, they mate for life. Just because you've decided that you want a pair of birds to mate, does not guarantee that they will.
Hope this helps!
Please let me know if you have more questions