Parakeets, also called budgerigars or budgies (Melopsitticus undulatus), are highly regarded as pets. Their small size, brilliant colors and ability to talk make parakeets great pets for busy families. Parakeets do not build nests, but lay their eggs in a wooden nest box provided for breeding.
Telling Boys from Girls
Unlike most types of parrots, you can see the difference between adult female and male parakeets. The band of skin over the beak (cere) typically becomes deep blue-violet in males and chocolate brown in adult females. Lighter-colored varieties, such as solid yellow or white birds, generally have lighter-colored ceres; light blue in males and pinkish or tan in females. Young parakeets have lighter ceres, and it can be difficult to identify the gender of babies until their ceres gain adult coloration within a few months of hatching.
Breeding Pet Parakeets
There are a few things to know before breeding pet parakeets. Pet birds, no matter how tame, can become aggressive when protecting eggs and young.Tame birds can be more aggressive than wild birds as they have lost their instinctive fear of humans.
A pair of parakeets requires a cage of at least two feet square with enough room for several perches. Install a next box on the exterior of the cage; if there is no side door on the cage, you'll need to clip a few cage wires to allow your birds access to the box. Add a handful of pine shavings to the nestbox floor to keep eggs from rolling around.
Some states require baby parakeets to be banded within a few days of hatching. Buy bands from a parakeet club or online bird supply store.
Parakeet Acting Like a Pit Bull? It's Hormones
Birds in breeding season become territorial, which leads to squawking and squabbling with cage mates. Tame male parakeets without mates may act out their romantic intentions on perches or human hands. If you keep a pair of parakeets, you'll notice the male wooing the female; he will strut, chatter, bob his head up and down, and tap his beak on hers. Expect chattering, squawking and conflicts until the female accepts the male's advances. Normally gentle single parakeets may bite and resist handling, but this behavior passes as the breeding season passes and your parakeet's hormones return to normal levels.
Parakeets lay from two to eight white eggs that hatch about 18 days after laying. Eggs are laid every other day and will hatch accordingly. It's tempting, but avoid disturbing the nest box to "look and see" more than once a day. Both parents feed the young regurgitated seed and vegetable material. Feed the adult parakeets seed, green leafy vegetables and commercial breeding food containing dried eggs. Clean water and oyster shell grit for calcium round out the menu.
Baby parakeets leave the next box in five to six weeks and become adults in about eight months. Watch your parakeet family for signs of parent birds' aggression toward babies that have left the nest box. Separate the young parakeets from their parents as soon as the babies are feeding themselves without help from their parents.