Friday, May 13, 2011

REPLACING NEST BOXES FOR BREEDING SEASON

Hello All,
Eight home made parakeet nest boxes after a good cleaning.

Dry and ready to bring inside. Installation was the next day.
I retrieved all our nest boxes from the basement where they’d been stored since last year, shook out a few mouse turds (frown) then brought them up to the laundry room and thoroughly cleaned them with warm sudsy liquid dish detergent. 

After a good rinse, they spent the afternoon on the deck drying in the sun, as the photo illustrates. The sun is beginning to drop on the horizon and the nest boxes, now dry, are about to come indoors. The next day we installed them on cages. An inch or two of pine shavings covers the bottom of our boxes. Bourkes and Splendids like pine shavings (don't use cedar).

Budgies need an indented circle in the bottom of an empty box for their eggs. We're not currently raising Budgies, so all these nest boxes are for Bourkes or Scarlet-chested parakeets.

It’s important to keep an eye on your hens when they’re laying. We’d planned a trip to Chicago during the month of May and I didn’t want our hens laying eggs when I wasn’t at home. This resulted in putting the nest boxes up late this year.

Jewel's new box. It sometimes takes a few days
for birds to investigate a recently installed nest box.
Usually the male checks it out first to be sure it's safe.
 Even though I had someone who would come in each day to provide them with fresh water and food, I wanted to be present during breeding season. If anything unusual were to happen, such as egg-binding, I could recognize and respond to the problem and, hopefully, save a hen’s life. It’s also a good idea to check your nestlings daily. If for some reason a chick isn’t being fed, you can pull the chick and save it with hand feeding.

As you know, having a nest box stimulates the bird’s desire to breed and rear young. Without a nest box, they usually won’t attempt to reproduce. However, like every rule, there are exceptions. One year, I had one female lay her eggs in a food cup in early February.  She has since learned to wait for me to put up a box. I think she realizes that if she waits, one will eventually materialize.
This box slides open on the side, rather than from the top.

Last year Cherry, an older Rosy hen who didn’t lay eggs in 2009, surprised us by raising a total of six youngsters in 2010.  And here I thought she was finished. Apparently not. There was no change of cage or mate  … everything was the same as always. I’m curious to see what she does this year.

Another of my older hens — a Normal named Willow — also appeared to have gone into retirement. Although she raised numerous clutches over the years, in 2009 and 2010 she never glanced at the nest box and turned away her younger mate when he tried to feed her. My husband asked why it was necessary to put a box on their cage.

“You never know,” I said. “Look at Cherry who raised young last year after skipping a year. We’ve nothing to lose. We have the box and it only takes minutes to install it.” Of course, those “lost” minutes were his sacrifice, not mine … Smile.
Clyde outside Bonnie's nest box. 

Peeking inside a newly installed box.
This morning, I looked up from my desk, and Willow was in her nest box!  Will she lay eggs? That is yet to be seen. She was an adult bird when I purchased her a number of years ago, and she isn’t banded. So her age is unknown. If hens live a healthy long life, they eventually quit laying.

Some breeders sell off their older, non-productive birds. I don’t do that. If they’ve done well for me, they deserve a pleasant retirement in the home where they’ve become familiar and comfortable.


Peace & Blessings.
May your birds bring you joy. 

2 comments:

FlyingCircus said...

Hi Gail! I am about to get a baby Bourke's - I've had tiels and doves and others (some handicapped) for the last 30+ years, but have never had a Bourke. This baby is special, having a leg apparently splayed to the rear. If I could post a photo, I would... apart from offering flat perches, etc. do you have any advice to offer? Have you ever seen a defect/deformity of this type? The baby does attempt to use the leg/foot.

G. Lewis said...

Hello, I once had a Budgie who lost a leg to a cat. She managed to live out her life by standing on one leg and did okay. She could fly and land on a perch one-legged. Animals are amazingly adaptable. If your bird seems to fall off perches, then a low perch is wise, or possibly a flat shelf. Best of luck. Bourkes are sweet little birds and yours should make a nice pet in spite of the deformity.