Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Chloe asked, "I have a female pet cockatiel. She's going on 6 years old, and has not yet demonstrated any wish to lay eggs (although she has not had a mate). I do not wish her to start laying eggs - even though they'd be infertile - as I am worried about egg-binding, and other health issues.

This weekend, I will be bringing home a young male Rosey Bourke's. I've read from your posts that they will feed any female Bourke's or Splendid - sometimes even a less dominant male, and I was wondering if they would try that with a different species, as well (ie. my cockatiel)?

Should I be worried about him triggering her motherly instincts? Also, will he become protective of her, and become aggressive to me?"

Chloe, My experience is it's unlikely that a Bourke or Cockatiel hen will lay eggs if they don't have a nest box or similar "safe" place to hide in. Even when a male is present, they need that nest box. My first tame pair of cockatiels were in a large 3-sided cage that fit against a corner wall. When they started chewing a hole into the wall, I was annoyed and didn't realize at the time that they were attempting to carve out a nesting area. The hole got quite big, but before they could use it, they were removed and the whole wall covered with mahogany siding. (If the room's siding is ever removed, someone will wonder how that big hole got there).
As long as my pair didn't have a nest box (over a decade), the hen never laid an egg and no mating occurred.
With that same pair, I also had a tame blue budgie who was allowed out of his cage when the cockatiels were. He did all sorts of mating display behaviors in front of the cockatiel hen, but she ignored him. He was smitten with her, but she cared only for the male cockatiel... Who, by the way, never seemed to be bothered by the budgie's wooing behaviors. None of the three birds ever became aggressive to each other or to people. When a budgie hen was eventually provided, all four birds got along splendidly.
Although Budgies will attempt to breed with another species, Bourke's have never been known to do so. For this, and other reasons, they've recently been classified in a genus all their own, no longer with other Neophema's. It is unlikely that your male Bourke will attempt to feed your cockatiel. Hopefully, however, they will form a friendship of some kind.
There is no need to worry about him "triggering her motherly instincts," as it's her eggs that would do that. Also, having a hen around has never made any of my male Bourke's aggressive to me or anyone else. Their only aggression might be toward another male trying to steal their mate, but even then I've never seen them hurt each other (although for Splendid breeders, I have seen male Splendids draw blood on another male, and need to be separated). Bourkes tend to be very mellow, sweet birds.
Hope this helps. Good luck introducing your new friend to your older one. I wouldn't expect any problems.

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