Cockatiels Nesting

cockatiels nesting, laying eggs, mating

Many pet bird owners have questions regarding birds and nesting. For example; when do you know if they are ready to breed? How many times can they lay eggs? and so on…

Cockatiels in nesting mode

Your cockatiels will start displaying certain signs that show they are getting clucky and are in search of a nest. If you allow your birds to fly free in your home then they will be looking for tight spaces that they can feel safe in. These spaces can be behind boxes, up high on your refrigerator, in a shoebox for example. They may even fly from room to room searching. The calls they make will also be new and exciting especially when they feel like thaty have found a suitable place.

Nothing is sacred any more and you will need to be extra vigilant when they are out and about. Kitchen cupbords are often a favourite. If you take a small shallow container and place it somewhere that you think would suit then, they will find it and talk together and inspect it. This can be an ejoyable time, but be aware you are actually adding to the excitement of your birds and enhancing their desire to nest.

Cockatiel breeding

If you intend to let your cockatiels have a nest and start breeding with the intention of raising the young then that’s fine, but please be aware that it will take a great deal more responsibilty from you. Especially if the parents actually abandon the nest and leave the young to fend for themselves. It is not a given that they will actually be good parents. You may need to step in and become the suragote mother and father… This will require feeding every two hours from day one, so get some sleep now if this is the path that you intend to take.


This will take place anytime and anywhere. The male will generally hop around and sing making heart shapes with his wings (slightly out from the body). The female will arch her back and wiggle her rear in the direction of the male. He will eventually climb onto her and begin to mate. The female will no doubt at some stage begin to make some lovely beeping sounds and may even scream loud towards the end or if she has had enough. She will then begin to clean herself. The whole process may last about 40 seconds upto 2 minutes.

It is advisable to have couple that have been established for some time before allowing them to breed so that you know that they have created a good bond together. Also some males will not be mature enough to fertalise the eggs and the female will lay infertile eggs. Try to avoid any mating if this is the case as it will only deplete the females imune system and take a lot of her own nutrients to produce empty eggs. You will be better off waiting for a few more months and have a sucessful breeding session.

Excessive egg laying

The female actually doesn’t need the male to lay eggs. He is required to make them fertile. Sometimes the female will actually lay an egg whilst being a single bird. This may be due to her diet and the stimulation from you the owner. Head scratching and back scratching are two signs that they enjoy your company and will allow you to touch them. Often resulting in a close bond between owner and tiel.

A single female will lay an egg in the most strange places. Our first bird laid an egg in the waste paper bin and on my lap. It just goes to show that if they become comfortable with you then anything can happen. The best advice I can give is be prepared and know how to care for your cockatiels.

What you want to avoid is exsessive egg laying. This can lead to serious ilness in the female and will need vetinary treatment. Try and limit your egg laying female to once, twice a year maximum. ‘Pumpkin’, one of our females laid a batch of 5 eggs in the kitchen cupboard. They were infertile, but we left her to sit on them as this is often the best way to stop excessive laying as eventually she will vacate the nest and have it out of her system. If you keep removing the eggs, she may just keep on laying…

Cockatiels egg bound

There are serious dangers when it comes to laying eggs. The female must be able to release the egg or else she will die. Also she must be able to from an egg with a firm shell, if not then the egg may break inside and this is dire. Always ensure that the female has access to a healthy diet of fresh foods as well as seeds. A good calcium supliment in the water daily is advisable. Also calcium and iodine bells, cuttlefish bone are good sources of calcium.

It takes 2 days for the female to produce an egg. If you notice that she is getting a bit swollen around her rear, the vent area, then she could be carrying. She might start to breath heavilly, keep her warm and if you notice her struggleing you can apply a little olive oil to her vent carefully. Make sure she has plenty to drink, also she might enjoy a warm bath. If the struggle continues then I sugest you get to a vet ASAP. If she manages to pass the egg, check that it is firm shelled. If not you will need to increase the calcium intake of your bird (very important). Expect the next egg in two days (48 hours).

Cockatiel pairs

Not all pairs will make great parents. They might seem a happy couple, but the introduction of a nesting box and the future eggs can upset a happy couple. Please note that mating pairs will generally show some signs of aggressive behaviour. They are trying to defend the nest and it is only natural. If you can, establish a good rapport with your birds and the nest so that they can still relax while you are around.

Hopefully the pair will find a rhythm when it comes to sitting on the eggs. Often the female will sit throughout the night from about 5-6 pm till 6-7 am, then the male will take over. The female will probably want to visit a few times during the day also. During this time make sure that the pair are fed a good supply of foods, ours enjoy a warm meal twice a day. As well as the normal seeds etc.

Nesting boxes

You can buy nesting boxes or make one yourself. But even an old cardboard box will do.

Our first set of babies were born and raised in a thin card box which we cut an enterance in the front and taped up the top and botom. It worked fine. You can put some soft tissues on the bottom or some nesting material from the pet store. Even a tea towel would do. Make sure that what you use has nothing that they can get their claws traped in. The inside will stay imaculate until the chicks hatch and start to feed. Then you will notice lots of droppings buiding up. Try and clean this out at every opportunity you have. It will be only droppings from the babies as the parents will keep it as clean as they can.

I hope this helps anyone that wants to get into breeding or even just having the pleasure of a successful pair of cockatiels nest for the first time…

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