Normally, Cockatiels are quite easy to breed. There are several things that can go wrong, but if you have your birds on a good healthy diet and have waited until they are a good age, you should end up with healthy babies.
Cockatiels (particularly the hen) should be between 18 & 24 months of age before they are set up with a nestbox. Although they may be successful at a younger age, they are also more apt to run into problems, such as eggbinding (which could be fatal to your hen) or babies being abandoned or unhealthy. Hopefully you have homes lined up for future babies before starting a breeding session.
If the pair of birds are compatible (& if they are a true pair – meaning male & female) and they see an abundant food supply, they may begin laying eggs in as little as two weeks, although it is not unusual for them to wait up to 2 months before starting to lay eggs. Eggs are laid every second day with a normal clutch being 4 to 6 eggs.
Cockatiels share the incubation of the eggs and once they begin (after the 2nd or 3rd egg), it is quite common to see both birds in the nestbox at the same time. Sometimes one bird will be sitting on the eggs & the other just sitting beside and sometimes each bird will have ½ of the eggs. When one bird is outside the nestbox eating, drinking or bathing, the other will have all the eggs.
The eggs will hatch approximately 18 days after incubation begins. Cockatiel babies are probably the funniest looking chicks you will ever see. They have long necks – bulging closed eyes & they stand straight up. Although they are cute & fuzzy for the first couple of days, they are soon bald & pink.
These babies have their eyes open already, but at this stage I always think of ET when I see them.
The babies will be well fed by their parents as long as you have an ample supply of good healthy food for them to feed. Make sure they never run out of food and keep a good variety for them to choose from.
If the parents are tame, you should be able to handle the babies daily to check them over. Make sure they have nice full crops and are growing daily. This handling will help ensure that they will be used to you and will be tame when its time to leave their parents.
You may decide to handfeed the babies and 2 weeks of age is a good time to take them to get started. Please do not handfeed unless you know what you are doing. There are too many things that can go wrong, so before ever trying this on your own, please get instructions from someone who has been handfeeding for years. Watch them do it & learn all you can before trying it yourself & then only under the watchful eye of the expert. To many babies have died needlessly from accidents caused by inexperience.
The babies will wean between 8 and 12 weeks of age. It varies a lot with cockatiels and you must let each baby wean at their own speed.
Breeding birds of any kind take a lot of time and commitment and cockatiels are no exception. Please take the time to do it right and you will be rewarded with healthy babies that will make excellent additions to any family.
After more than 20 years of Cockatiel ownership, I have decided to write an e-book about the care of these wonderful birds.
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