My grand daughter, Ayla Garza and her pair of pet Parakeets.

Question:  Can you please give us some basic guidelines for breeding budgerigars?  We are beginners and we want to know if we should breed budgies in a colony or in cages.  Is one method better than the other?  When is the best time to band budgies and how is it done?

Budgies are the most commonly bred parrot-type bird, but you should follow several guidelines before you start.  Begin with young birds.  Budgies mature between 9 and 12 months of age, and by purchasing young birds you won’t mistakenly buy someone else’s breeding problems.  Also, when starting with young budgies, the birds will have enough time to become accustomed to your schedule and feeding program.

When budgies mature the males have bluish ceres and the females have brownish ceres.  The color difference between the ceres works well for sexing standard-colored budgies, but several colors or mutations, such as the rarer lutinos and albinos, will sometimes dilute or not show colors on the cere at all.

Breeders who want to show their birds will cage breed to control the parentage of the young, so certain desirable traits are bred into the birds while any poorer traits are bred out of the stock.  Breeders who want certain colors or mutations in their birds will cage breed so they know the genetics of their offspring.  Breeders must keep accurate records for good production of new mutations.

Most beginners are not concerned with showing their birds or obtaining certain mutations, and can either cage breed or colony breed their birds.  When colony breeding budgies, keep a few things in mind.  Make sure that you have an even number of pairs.  An extra female can often fight over a nest or another female’s mate, destroying the balance of the colony.  Some breeders add an extra male to the colony to ensure that enough males exist for the females.

Once a colony has been established, adding or changing birds or boxes can disrupt the pecking order of the pairs and often young are lost in the nest or destroyed.  Adding one or two extra nest boxes more than the number of females is also wise.  This will keep disharmony to a minimum.  Hang all nest boxes on one wall or opposite walls.  Always place the nest boxes so birds cannot see directly into another nest from their own.  There is no standard size to a colony flight, but it should have plenty of perches to give the pairs enough space away from other pairs and their young.

An ideal size cage for breeding a single pair of budgies is 16 inches by 16 inches by 36 inches.  Although many commercial breeders often use smaller cages, this size is perfect for the beginner and for those who want to enjoy their birds in the home.  This size of a cage gives the pair enough space to exercise and allows space for a feeding dish, grit bowl and water bowls.  A standard budgie nest box can be hung on the outside.

All budgie nest boxes should have a scalloped or slightly hollowed in the center floor inside their nests, which keeps the eggs from rolling to the outside edges or corners.  Even though the average size of a budgie clutch is four to six eggs, many pairs will lay much larger clutches.  It is difficult for the female to keep all of her eggs beneath her in a flat-bottomed nest.  Add wood chips or shavings to the nest to help cushion the eggs and absorb the moist droppings.  It is important to always change the nest material after each clutch of eggs or babies because it can become quite messy.

Most breeders feed their budgies a standard budgie mix found in most pet and feed stores.  This mix is usually made up of White Proso millet seed, whole Oat Groats, and Canary Grass seed, while some breeders add whole-wheat bread as a supplement when babies are in the nest.  There is some controversy about whether or not to provide grit.  Some successful budgie breeders supply grit while others do not.

Certain states, such as California, require that budgies be banded.  Banding is easiest when the baby’s eyes are just opening (around 9 to 11 days of age).  When banding a young bird, hold it gently in place with one hand and extend one of its feet.  Place the band over the three longest toes, sliding the band up the foot and leg, toward the hock.  Using a tooth pick or similar object, ease the smallest toe through the band.  Patience and gentleness are the keys to banding young budgies.  When you are done, place the baby back within the clutch so it is sitting comfortably.  Banding the babies seldom disturbs the adults.

Some breeders allow their budgies to have three clutches in a row before they give them a rest, while other breeders rest their birds after two clutches of babies.  Always rest your breeding budgies sometime during the year to keep the adults and young healthy and strong for many years.

Copyright © 2014, Susie Christian