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Breeding parrots and parakeets in a mixed species aviary

Expert Question

Dear EB, My aviary is in 6 sections all open. It measures 35 metres. The 17 parakeets use all the space. The parrots less so.

I have 2 pairs of rescue small birds - Plumheaded parakeets, a male aged 4 and a female 1, and Kakarikis both one years old. If they try want to breed next year will I have to separate them from the others. If so which month? The Rock Pebbler Parakeets that are housed there have bred twice with no problems.

Thank you.

Regards, Dot in UK

Expert Answer

Dear Dot, ‘Tis not easy to flatly answer your question as I do not know the birds personally and observation usually tells whether certain pairs in a mixed colony will disrupt breeding of themselves or other pairs.

That said, the species in question have been colony bred by others in the past (Kakarikis less so…) and are basically decent candidates for success in your large spaces.

The rule is usually offer two or more extra nest boxes beyond your number of pairs to lessen fighting over spots. If several pairs all want the same box, just take it down and put it elsewhere or exchange it for a different one.

If you are very careful about the entrance holes for each of the boxes, you can eliminate the larger parrots from getting inside the smaller openings. Some Kakarikis prefer tight entrances or tube-like passages to a box.

Food dishes too, should be non-competitive and extra for the number of pairs or else the greedier birds will fly from one to another getting all the best and fattiest foods.

Once compatibility is established and the birds feed without aggressive competition, the most dangerous time is when new peeps are heard in a box. Other more curious and excitable birds could enter the newly hatched clutch site and endanger babies. You will have to be diligent in watching out for same.

Of course, actual production of babies is not always the goal in such situations; more so, is the enjoyment the pairs get of copulating, inter-feeding, laying, hatching and such over the weeks of the season, so I would say, give it a try and keep notes. It will certainly teach you a lot about your pairs, and may make the content for a future magazine article.

Cheers, EB

EB Cravens
About EB Cravens

“If we TRULY believe our captive-raised hookbills are important to world parrot conservation, we must work ceaselessly to ensure that these same psittacines retain as much of their wild instinctual behavior as is possible,” affirms avicultural writer and hobby breeder EB Cravens, from his small organic farm on the slopes of the Big Island Hawaii.

“Our goal is to birth and raise only a few baby parrots who know that they are parrots, but choose to befriend humans, because humans are nice to them… feed them… and are fun to be with!”

EB has bred, trained, raised, kept and rehabilitated more than 75 species of psittacines during the past twenty plus years both at his home and while managing the notable exotic bird shoppe, Feathered Friends of Santa Fe, New Mexico. His emphasis on natural environments for birds, the urging of babies to fully fledge during the extended weaning process, and the leaving of chicks for many weeks inside the nest box with their parents in order that they may learn the many intangibles of their species, have succeeded in changing for the better the lives of so many captive parrots.

A science writer by training, he was for years a regular contributor for AFA’s Watchbird Magazine and the Companion Parrot Quarterly. EB currently writes a monthly column entitled “The Complete Psittacine” in PARROTS Magazine out of England; and another, “The Hookbill Hobbyist” down under in the well-regarded Australian Birdkeeper. His monthly series of articles “Birdkeeping Naturally,” is sent out to bird clubs and individuals around the U.S.

“As devastating pressures continue upon avian species in the wilds,” he says, “it is critical that those keeping birds in captivity do so with responsibility and foresight.”