Q: I have a female cockatiel named Penny, and I am getting another cockatiel that I have named Rikku. I know that if I put them in the same cage, they are going to have babies. If they do, I would like to hand-raise them. How old do they have to be when I take the babies from Penny and Rikku? If they do have babies, will they still be hand-tamed?
A: Educate yourself on cockatiel breeding behavior and understand all the ramifications of breeding your two cockatiels. First, consider if you want cockatiel babies, or if you just want to have two cockatiels. If you’re not sure, don’t allow the birds to breed. You can avoid this by giving each cockatiel its own cage. They should be in sight of each other, as cockatiels form flock bonds readily and will call to each other. But there wouldn’t be any hanky panky if the birds live separately.
If you breed your cockatiels, then what will happen to the offspring? Do you have homes for them?
If you’ve made long-term plans for the offspring, you still need to look at the relationship between your two cockatiels.
Most cockatiels can get along, but not all. Make sure that the birds get along before attempting to breed them, especially if they are hand-raised pets. Some hand-raised cockatiels believe they are people and have no idea that a cockatiel makes a good companion. Cockatiels that like each other sit next to each other, preen each other and do everything together. If there isn’t any love between two birds, they sit on the opposite side of the cage and quibble over food, perches, toys and attention.
If your birds get along and you’ve decided to breed them, the next step is to provide the right conditions for them to want to breed. They need a nest box and 15 hours of daylight to stimulate breeding behavior. I get my nonbreeding cockatiels to bed early so they get 10 to 12 hours of daylight only. When I want to breed a pair, I separate them and increase daylight hours, then I give them a nest box.
Cockatiels, tame or aviary-raised, are loving parents and will vigorously defend their nest with protective instincts. Once breeding season is over, they can be your loving pets again. I believe breeding tame cockatiels makes it easier to check their nest box and even to aid them in raising chicks without taking the chicks from them. You don’t need to hand-feed a cockatiel in order for it to be tame.
Carefully consider whether you should breed your cockatiels. Your birds might need to try this a time or two to get it right, so be ready for disappointments, too. And till your parent birds are 1 to 1 ½ years old before breeding them. They need to finish growing before raising chicks themselves!
About The Author
Diane Grindol shares her life with seven cockatiels and a blue-headed Pionus parrot. She is the author of “The Complete Book of Cockatiels,” founded the Monterey Bay Cage Bird Club and holds seminars for pet bird owners in various communities.