Preparing to Breed

The first thing that a breeder must have accomplished before attempting to breed is to have healthy, well exercised stock that has been fed a nutritionally balanced diet. Depending n the size of your breeding operation, it would be advisable to select a few breeders and have them checked by a good avian vet. Cultures, fecals, gram stains are but a few of the procedures that can be performed to access the overall health of your flock. Exercise flights are essential for rounding out a disease free, well fed bird.Now, you have the healthy birds from which to choose your breeding stock. It doesn’t matter whether the plans are to exhibit birds in shows or just produce a few to sell for extra money, stock should be selected based on the NCS Standard of Perfection. Granted, no one has the perfect cockatiel, but the standard was developed to improve the entire species. A pet bird does not have to be of inferior quality.

Select mates that complement each other and compensate for the other’s short comings. Do not concentrate bad faults by matching two birds with the same problem.

This selection has now taken place. Two beautifully matched birds are now placed into a breeding pen. If the birds are sexually mature and ready for breeding, there will be a noticeable change in activity. A vocal courtship will ensue.

The male cockatiel will begin a very vocal courtship ritual when the pair is compatible. The song involves a two note melody that is repeated over and over again. With one breeding pair, the song is cute. With twenty pairs, the melody is overwhelming! The song is emphasized by a head bobbing and punctuated at the end by a silent chattering movement of the beak. The female will also do this silent chattering.

If a nestbox is available, the male will enter the box and continue to sing, as well as knock on the sides to entice the female into the box. In some cases, mating will actually occur in the nestbox. More frequently, however, mating will occur on a perch. In order to assure a higher fertility rate it is essential that the perch be securely fastened to the sides of the breeding pend and that the diameter of the perch will enable the hen to have a secure hold during copulation.

If the pair is compatible, they will form a loose bond. Bonding is a characteristic where a pair works together for the good of both. In some birds this bonding is lifelong. Cockatiels are however, conveniently monogamous. In other words, they aren’t true blue to their first mate.

Cockatiels are like most other birds in that they love to be preened by a friend. A compatible pair will preen each other, but not without an occasional pluck!

There is no set means by which to breed cockatiels and a wide variety of styles can be found among the NCS members. I’m sure that most breeders do use a nestbox. The material making up the nestbox is not as important as the size of the box or the diameter of the opening. Wood boxes are impossible to disinfect and plastic is expensive. Several breeders in my area of Texas use cardboard nestboxes that range in size from 12″x12″x12″ to 12″x12″x16″. They are inexpensive, store flat, and are disposable. The opening averages to be a 4″ square. But keep in mind, if you are doing something different and it works for you, don’t change it!

After the singing, dancing, knocking, preening, and peering into the nestbox all you have to do is wait! Soon eggs should appear and then all you have to do is worry about fertility, incubation, development, and on and on and on! But all of this comes later.

Good luck in your setup for breeding and we will talk about all the other worries later.