Family planning for birds

When the days are getting longer, for many of our feathered friends such as canaries, parrots and finches, this is a sure sign that it is time to think about the continuation of the species once again. For bird owners, this means deciding whether to make a feathered addition to the family.

Dealing with excessive laying

Observing birds’ reproductive behavioural patterns, from courting to ng to chicks hatching is certainly one of the best experiences a bird lover can have. However, it is important to realise that breeding chicks requires more time and care, as well as more space if they are not given away later.

It can become problematic if a pair suddenly produces one nest of eggs after the other and then half a dozen chicks take wing every five to six weeks. But how can you avoid this? The simplest method is to separate a pair of birds showing signs of wanting to breed early enough. You should also not give your birds any opportunity to nest. It can however happen that you discover a clutch of eggs in the corner of the cage. What do you do then? As barbaric as it might sound, in this case, the only way is to get rid of the eggs and the nest. This is not so bad for birds, as in nature, nests and eggs disappear all the time, whether from prey or storms.

When love is in the air

If you do plan to bring up some feathered children, the excitement begins in spring. Zebra finches can be ready to breed at the end of February if they live indoors or in a heated cage. If the courting male finds a suitable partner, it’s time to create optimal nest building conditions. For canaries, a bowl-shaped nest base made of clay or plastic lined with felt or other soft material is ideal. Offer your birds’ dry moss and short, soft grasses as nest materials and then lint for padding. Cheeky Zebra Finches prefer small nest baskets or boxes which they can use for sleeping as well. They add plenty of nest material such as coconut fibre or thin, dried plant stalks, which you should accordingly provide. Budgerigars are even less fussy when it comes to nest materials – they don’t need any. It is however a good idea to line the trough in the nest box with pine sawdust, which absorbs excessive moisture and prevents the eggs from rolling about. Lovebirds have a fondness for a very special nest material: These short-tailed parrots like to strip the bark from willow or poplar twigs and meticulously gnaw this into shavings, which they place between their rump feathers to transport back to the nest. They prefer to build their nests in roofed nest boxes, similar to those budgerigars use.


Eggs are laid not long after the nest is finished. It is important not to disturb the parents during breeding, as most react in an extremely sensitive manner to this. Just leave the two to their own devices, as there is not much more that you can do to increase breeding success at this stage. After the chicks hatch, the older birds’ diet changes while they are rearing the chicks. Straight seed-eaters like Parakeets or Estrilid Finches are happy to devour omnivore mixtures, greenstuff, egg food and fruits to spoil their children with a varied diet. Don’t forget that for some bird species, such as Parrots, chicks must be ringed.

Call into your local store today to discuss your bird’s personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts.