Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mate for Life? Well, maybe.

Many birds mate for life. Do parakeets?

The answer to that is, given the opportunity to select their own partner, most probably will mate for life. However, they aren’t averse to having their mates chosen for them, or even switched if appropriate.

Occasionally, you may find two parakeets who don’t like each other. If one scolds a lot, or chases the other, you can probably deduce they aren’t a good fit. In that case, changing them is a wise idea.

If you consider your birds and choose wisely, you shouldn’t have a problem. Most birds prefer not to be paired with a close relative. They seem instinctively to choose a mate who is unrelated and approximately the same age. You should do the same for them. When you do, they will typically settle in and accept your choice.

This said, several of my parakeets have had two or three mates in their lifetime so far, and have done well with the changes. One example of this is Chitter and Brandy who have raised three clutches this year. Rory and Bella have not. Bella asks to breed, but Rory doesn’t comply. I moved Chitter in with Bella and put Rory with Brandy. After a few weeks together, Chitter is breeding with Bella and she’s in the nestbox, probably laying fertile eggs this time.

Brandy’s nestbox is closed off, giving her a chance to regain strength and vitality. For their safety, I restrict hens to three clutches a season. Perhaps in the Fall I may open the box and see whether Rory is more responsive to her. If not, she may again get Chitter for a mate.

I’ve also paired birds that aren’t of the same age. Even though I prefer not to do that, I don’t always have a perfect mate. Most birds prefer having a mate to being left alone. So, unless they are finger tame and will get a lot of attention, I always provide a companion, even if only of the same sex.

One of my first Bourke parakeets is still alive and producing sons and daughters. He’s a great-great-great-great grandfather. Rhett lost Scarlett after a few years, then fed and cared for Willow, but they never had fertile eggs. When Cherry’s mate was moved to another hen because they weren’t producing, I put her with Rhett. Although neither of them was young, they’ve successfully raised two or three clutches a year for the past few years. It surprises me that they are on their 3rd clutch this year already. Their first was only one baby, then three babies and now she has two newly-hatched babies and three eggs still in the nest (one of them fostered). She’s amazing!

More on fostering eggs (and a baby!) in a later post.

Have a wonderful, blessed Easter.

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