Budgie BreedingBefore breeding any species, it is important to learn as much about the animals, their personalities and the best practices to follow for responsible and ethical breeding prior to making the commitment to take on the responsibility.
Soo.. The story goes, I recently took over an aviary with about 30 budgies.
What I didn't know, before showing up to fetch the birds, was that there were chicks in one of the 2 nest boxes in the aviary (there were eggs in the other) and that several of the birds were french molters or had other issues. Well, what to do. The guy wanted to get rid of the birds and if I didn't take them, someone else would.
So I did.
The nest box contained 2 chicks of what I estimated to be about 2 weeks of age - maybe a little more. And then there was a green budgie which I thought was their mother, but it was suspiciously passive for a grown hen when I picked it up from the nest box - no trying to escape, no biting, no screaming. And it just so happens that there are 2 green, relatively young but weaned birds in the flock - I think I could have mistaken the immature cere color on one of those for the cere of a mature hen, as it was relatively dark when I picked them up.
Anyway, I came home with the birds and placed them in a temporary cage. The chicks and the green 'hen' were put into a nest box and attached to the cage, the entrance to the nest box being blocked for the night to make sure the 'hen' knew where she belonged.
The next morning, the nest box was opened to allow the 'hen' to feed. I wasn't there at the time, so I didn't see the bird that left the nest box, but when I came home, there was no hen in the nest box, just the chicks. I had mentally prepared myself to lose them - I can't hand raise right now. But a couple of days passed and they were still alive, so I suspected someone was feeding them.
Then a lutino female took up residence in the nest box and a few days later she laid an egg (which was later destroyed, most likely she had a fight with another female, she was also bleeding a bit but none of the other females showed signs of having been in a fight). She didn't harm the chicks, but I didn't see or hear her feeding them either. I did, however, see a blue male feeding them through the hole of the nest box. I thought he was the mate of the lutino and that he had decided that if it was her nest box, then it must be his chicks. But a couple of days later, I noticed that the lutino was actually the mate of a dark green male. And then I noticed that the blue male that was feeding the chicks was actually the mate of a cobalt female. And by then, it was evident that one of the chicks was a cobalt too. The other is a blue greywing (I think that's the correct name in English).
There is one other greywing - a blue male - in the flock, but I haven't seen him interact with any females. I did, however, give the French molters and other birds with issues away to someone who had 2 French molters already, so he could have had a mate in that group.
So, I've had many theories along the way, of the parentage of the chicks, but currently I believe it's probably their actual father that is feeding them, as I haven't seen a single one of the other 9 mature males in the cage paying any attention to the chicks - not even the green male that is the mate of the lutino in the nest box.
It doesn't really explain the green 'hen' in the nest box though.
It could have been an older sibling, but two blue birds don't get green chicks as far as I know. However, I've heard that budgies aren't always faithful, so I guess the female could have mated with another male.
Could be a random chick from the aviary who just thought it was nice in the nest box and wasn't chased away?
By the way, the cobalt chick and the cobalt female both have a couple of white feathers on the back of their heads. I don't know whether that is a random occurrence or something inheritable?
I've had the birds for a little more than 2 weeks now, making the chicks an estimated 4½ weeks old. They are beautiful little birds and seem to be doing good. I hope they won't get French molt. The lutino is still in the nest box and as the birds are living outside and it can get quite cold at night, I consider that a good thing, even though the chicks are about fully feathered by now. The blue male is still feeding them and I'm also giving them seeds in the corner of the nest box which they seem to eat. Or maybe it's the lutino.
Anyway, as soon as they leave the nest box (or, well.. Actually the cobalt did leave it once already, about a week ago, but I put it back as it was very much too small and running around on the bottom of the cage begging for food. I suspect it fell out accidentally when the father was feeding it, as they can get very eager and sit in the hole when he does), the nest box will be removed from the cage.
I'm well aware that having a nest box in a cage with multiple females is a bad idea, but I'm too scared to change anything as long as the chicks aren't weaned. And actually, after getting rid of the French molters and other birds with health issues, there are only 4 mature females left (2 lutinos, one green, one cobalt) - 19 birds in total, 5 of which are immature and of unknown sex.
I guess it's not really important anymore, who are the actual parents of the chicks. It seems they will be able to survive the way it is. But I'm still very curious. I got my first budgies more than 10 years ago and have had budgies ever since, breeding a bit every now and then but only just beginning to get serious (and what a way to start, purchasing a flock with French molt ^^ I must be an idiot). But I've never been breeding them uncontrollably like this and I really don't know what to think.
Is it their real father that's feeding them? Did he realise, despite the new cage and the new nest box, that those are his chicks? Does their mother (the cobalt) know that they are her chicks too, then? And if so, why is it only the father that's feeding them? I haven't seen her as much as looking at the nest box, but I guess it could theoretically have been her that fought with the lutino.
It has taken a while for me to find a budgie forum that's actually active, so I'm glad I found you guys ^^ Sorry 'bout the wall of text :/
You have inherited a number of problems with these birds. Firstly you should never breed French Moult birds. the fact that all of these budgies are from the same aviary means quite probable inbreeding. Do they have leg bands?
I have flagged your post so our more experienced breeders can weigh in with advice for you.
Next up you need to get some of these birds to an avian vet for disease testing. Especially as there were birds with french moult in this flock.
Do you know the parents of the french moulters? As they should not be bred again.
Personally i would be inclined to trying movibg the chicks and the cock bird feeding them into another cage on their own to prevent them being harmed by a hen wanting the box.
Then once youve seen him continue to feed the chicks make sure there are no other nest boxes in with the flock.
You need to try and find out from the old owner who is related to who or you could end up with inbred birds.
I fully agree with the advice given. Due to the many issues with this flock and the strong possibility of the birds being related from being on a colony setting where there was no control or a strict record of the parentage, it wouldn't be wise to breed from them in future.
You do well in taking the nest boxes out of the cage. I hope you will be following Amelia's recommendations in terms of having your flock examined by an avian vet specialist and tested for diseases.
One thing worthy of mention, even if you no longer have visual French moulters in your flock, it's very likely that most if not all of your birds are carriers of French moult and this can still manifest on your current chicks, not to mention any future chicks who can hatch and be infected with this condition.
After these chicks wean and are independent it's best that you throw away the nest boxes. You should also thoroughly wash and disinfect the aviary and do so regularly.
If after removing all nesting sites you notice there is still fighting between your budgies, you will have to determine who are the troublemakers and house each violet bird on a separate cage in order to avoid your budgies from being severely injured or even in extreme cases from losing their lives.
Be sure to check this link: https://talkbudgies.com/budgie-breedi...s-dangers.html
You are in for quite the challenge and I'm wishing all the best for your current flock and the chicks.
RIP sweet Tito (Summer 2008 - January 17th 2013).
You are missed and never will be forgotten.
Thanks for your replies and advice!
No leg bands, no. And yes, I'm aware of the possibility that they are related. I'm still speculating on what to do about that, I don't think the previous owner had any control over it, according to him they 'had two and then they bred and then people started coming with their birds when they didn't want them anymore and then they continued breeding'.
I have budgies from another source as well, but as those don't have french molt, I'm not sure I will be mixing them. I was actually planning to start another thread on the french molt issue, but I guess we can take that here as well
I read quite a bit about french molt and found a few clues as to how to avoid getting french molt chicks. Listing them:
1) Keep immature birds and breeders separated. The adults are less likely to shed the virus.
2) Stop breeding for half a year or longer, to allow the breeders to build up immunity to the virus and stop shedding it if they are infected.
3) Don't allow double clutching. Should a (healthy looking) parent be carrying the virus, the stress from breeding can make the bird shed the virus - and the stress from double clutching is much more likely to do so.
4) Good ventilation and hygiene will reduce the amount of virus in the environment, making it less likely that a bird will encounter enough particles to be infected.
5) Good feeding will help build a strong immune defence that can prevent infection and prevent shedding if the infection has already happened.
The other heath problems were:
An adult male appearing to have splay leg. I didn't notice that at first, but it became evident that while sleeping on one leg, he was sitting sideways on the branch - belly one way, back the other, rather than belly down, back up, because the legs were kind of sitting at a wrong angle. He appeared healthy otherwise, though.
Then there was a female with leg issues too - in particular one of her legs didn't seem to be able to move much. Possibly arthritis but it could have been several other things. She also appeared fluffed up so she probably had more issues.
And then two females with feathers that were somewhat roughed up, one of them also looking a little fluffed up, the other probably being the mother of at least one of the french molters (both were albino and she was cuddling with it when they just arrived).
And then one hen that was probably healthy but just had a crooked toe - could have been broken at some point and healed wrong - and not too pretty plumage either. And she was biting as hell..
Perhaps you are right, I should move the chicks and the father. The separation from his mate and stress from being moved once again is not likely to make him forget about the chicks?
With regards to vet tests on small, untamed birds, I'm kind of a not-believer. Possibly because I actually did study to become a vet myself, for a couple of years. The entire education takes 5½ years in Denmark, so it's not like I'm half a vet or anything. But it de-mystified the body and diseases in my mind and I have since been reading a fair deal about avian diseases and diagnosis, and this has lead me to believe that when it comes to small birds, just about the only thing the vet can do that I can't, is writing prescriptions And actually I can do that too, I just lack that tiny little authorization number that makes them valid..
The vet can't really do much apart from looking at the bird and taking a fecal sample and looking at that, and I can do that myself too. My microscope might not be as good as theirs, but it should suffice for a fecal sample. They can also send stuff in for lab testing if they want to use your money to find out exactly what organism they are seeing in the microscope, but usually that won't change the treatment so it's just a waste of money.
And quite often, whatever the bird has isn't actually being shed at the time the fecal sample is being made, making it even more of a waste of money.
So, unless I believe I need a prescription for my birds, I'm not likely to put them through the stress of being caught, transported and handled by the vet. And currently, I don't believe I do. But you are right, I should do some fecal samples and see whether there is anything that calls for concern. Is there anything else in particular you would think the vet should test?
Yes, I'm definitely in for a challenge. If it doesn't work out, well. Then I guess they'll just live out their time in an aviary. I don't intend to breed them if I keep getting french molters, but if I can clear the french molt it'd be a great experience.
Yes faecal samples do give false negatives which is why i always get bloodwork done.
I would suggest testing them for psittacosis, pbfd and polyoma to start with.
I would also do a 10 faecal sample poole and get that checked out to see if there is anything found in that.
Once youve got those tests results you can start looking at other options.
I have to disagree with the whole small bird and vet thing. Even when i take my budgies to my avian vet for bloodwork she always gives them a check over everytime i go (pretty much a standard thing a vet should do). Not only is this getting a second opinion on what i have seen and felt but she also has the right tools to check the back of throats, heart rate and eyes etc. They might spot something you missed. They qualified to do this as a job its what they are there for.
Now with the birds have leg issues this raises more questions. Were they born like this? Which could indicate a problem with the chick being raised through to it being genetic. Or was it through an injury etc?
With regards to french moult there is no cure. You do not know what birds have bred the french moult chicks - another reason to disease test! Therefore you simply do not know who is carrying it or infected with it at this stage.
I do not suggest breeding these birds. They do not sound to be in good health and the very first thing you should be breeding for is for good health.
I also cant see the ages of the birds? Are we aware of how old these birds are?
You have received some excellent advice . I'm sorry this is such a mess that you have taken on.
I would definitely test for contagious disease, and make a responsible decision regarding quarantine and separation of healthy birds. I take this matter very seriously. In the years I have been around Psittacine species, I have had personal experience with and have heard and seen of deadly disease far too commonly. Most cases birds have these diseases when we get them young. I am so very careful about this issue, and really took care to assure that the source of my last several birds was safe.
Large or small bird is irrelevant IMO, when they all can get and carry the same diseases and spread to others' birds as well, on your person or shoes when you go to buy supplies. That is a concern for us all. I wish you all the best in sorting out this situation.
I'm sorry to hear these poor birds were in such terrible circumstances, and I'm glad you were able to rescue them
However, I definitely agree with all that has been said. This is going to be a very difficult problem to solve effectively.
Obviously, as stated, you won't be breeding any of these birds again because they are all potential carriers of FM. Once the current chicks are old enough to be weaned and the nestboxes are removed, there should be a better chance that all the birds can coexist happily together. However, you'll still have to monitor the aviary closely to ensure no unwanted breeding occurs. Clearly, the previous owner practiced colony breeding, which is a huge danger to the health and well-being of all involved.
Health is another big thing, I know you'll be taking steps to get all of them examined by an avian vet. I think it's worth it to at least get another professional opinion on the health of your birds. Perhaps an avian vet on call, or an online consultation? I completely agree that the hassle of taking them all to the vet could be overwhelming, but from what you've said, they really all should have medical attention to clear doubts of any other issues.
Again, I'm sorry for this difficult situation and hope you're able to get them all on a good diet and healthy before long!
Be sure to keep us updated. In the meantime, please read all the links provided by Deborah, even if you know all of it already, to be sure you're updated on the best way to care for budgies
and Princess Mallorn!
Thank you to Deb for her wonderful Faery magic