Breeding the Brotogeris Parakeets and their Comprehensive information about setting up pairs and breeding these South American parakeets.
Brotogeris Information … Brotogeris Species … Common Diseases of the Brotogeris … Photos of the Various Brotogeris Species for Identification
Breeding success starts with a true pair …
The members of the brotogeris are not sexually dimorphic (cannot be visually sexed) and, if unknown, gender should be verified either by DNA (online services are available) or surgically at the vet’s (unless, of course, the birds are proven breeders).
The advantage of surgical sexing is that it allows the veterinarian to verify the reproductive capabilities and health of other organs as well. However, surgical sexing usually involves anesthesia, which is not without risk, and entering the body cavity through the skin and body wall can result in hemorrhage. In some instances surgical sexing has been done without anesthesia, but the risk of puncturing the animal as it is moving or struggling presents an even greater risk than working with an animal that is anesthetized. Another disadvantage is the cost associated with such a procedure (that should only be undertaken by experienced avian vets). The cost of surgical sexing is usually several times that of DNA or feather sexing.
Careful acclimatization …
These parakeets are susceptible during the acclimatization period and special efforts should be made to protect them from cold, wet conditions.
- Temperatures during acclimatization period should not go below 75°F (22°C)Temperatures should not go below 50°F (10°C) thereafterProvide roosting boxes from the beginning
Please note that newly acquired birds may be susceptible to intestinal problems.
These parakeets are initially nervous, but once they are acclimatized, they are fairly quiet and sociable.
Setting up pairs …
They do generally well in a colony system as long as the aviaries are spacious enough to accommodate them. Breeders noted that other pairs may help raise unrelated chicks in the flight. Older siblings also frequently participate in the task of raising future clutches. In small flights aggression towards other birds has been observed. Breeding in spacious birdroom cages is also possible, although less desirable for their long-term health and well-being. The social and practical aspects of jointly raising chicks is also of consideration; however, this can be a double edge sword as aggression can also occur; particularly in cases of incompatibility or territorial aggression – should the space be too tight. These parakeets tend to be passive in small cages, but are active in roomy flights.
Roosting / nesting box should be provided from the beginning and at all times, as these parakeets use them for sleeping and resting, and also seek them out as a protection from the cold. These parakeets also appreciate the security (actual or perceived) and privacy that nest boxes offer.
Recommended Flight / Cage Dimensions:
- A flight that accommodates up to 3 pairs should have the following minimum dimensions: 6 x 3 x 6 ft (2 x 1 x 2 m)
- Allow 16 sq.ft. (1.5 sq. meters) per additional pair in communal aviary.
- Adjoining shelter: 3 x 3 x 6 ft (1 x 1 x 2 m)
Nest or Roosting Box:
- Provide several nesting boxes per pair at different locations and ideally different types / sizes to allow pairs to choose one that suits their own personal preferences … Some pairs prefer cozy, smaller nest boxes, while others prefer large ones. Some will only breed in tree stumps; although those that have been raised in nest boxes usually prefer nest boxes. Since importation has ceased nearly two decades ago, chances are good that birds were bred in nest boxes. It is helpful to know what breeding set-up the pairs are accustomed to, especially since some breeders used tree stumps, rather than nesting boxes (and these pairs may not accept nest boxes).
- Breeders successfully used tree stump in addition to traditional nesting boxes for their breeding brotogeris pairs. In many cases, cockatiel-sized nesting boxes have been found suitable.
- Recommended nest box dimensions – any of the following have been successfully used:
- 8 x 8 x 16 inches (20 x 20 x 40 cm)
- 8 x 8 x 24 inches (20 x 20 x 60 cm)
- 7 x 7 x 24 inches (18 x 18 x 60 cm)
- Diameter of entrance hole: 3 inches
- Providing a tree stump with rotten interior for breeding may also stimulate breeding in some pairs (especially imported pairs). Pairs will excavate their own hollow as they would in their natural habitat.
- Nest Box Litter: Layer the nesting box floor with a 1-inch pad of moist peat moss. Alternatively, add about 2 inches of decomposed suitable nest box litter to the bottom of the box to help stabilize the eggs and absorb the droppings from the chicks. Options for suitable nesting material are decomposed non-toxic saw dust, corn cob, shredded newspaper, clean straw / dried grass or wood shavings (i.e., Aspen shavings or wood chips). The larger wood chips the better, so the parents don’t feed it to the babies or the chicks accidentally ingest it.
- Please note that some wood shavings – such as pine, cedar and redwood – give off aromatic hydrocarbons (phenols) and acids that are toxic and can cause dermatitis, allergic symptoms and irritation of the digestive tract. They should not be used in cages, aviaries, or nestboxes.
Special Care Considerations:
These parakeets can occasionally be noisy and are initially shy. However, they soon become confiding. Chewing requirements vary between the birds; however, generally they enjoy chewing fresh branches, so it is recommended to provide a regular supply of fresh twigs. They bathe only occasionally, but a shallow dish should be provided daily. This is particularly important during the breeding season.
They are very active and in the wild enjoy climbing around in the trees – so they should be given lots of different size perches to climb on. The perches should be of various types and diameters. Some should be small enough that they can wrap their feet around them while others should be where they keep their feet flat.
These parakeets form strong pair bonds. Breeding activities usually commence in April or May.
The young mature at 8 months.
Species-specific Breeding Information:
Canary-winged or White/winged Parakeet (Brotogeris versicolorus)
- Make good breeders. Do well in well in colony environments.
- Average clutch size: 3-6 white eggs
- Incubation: 23 to 26 days
- Both male and female incubate. The male stays on the nest at night.
- Chicks fledge when they are between 45 to 60 days old – although continue to sleep in the nest box even after fledging
Golden-winged Parakeet (Brotogeris chrysopterus)
- Average clutch size: 3 to 4 eggsIncubation: 24 to 26 days
Grey-cheeked Parakeet (Brotogeris pyrrhopterus)
- Average clutch size: 3 to 6 eggsIncubation: 22 to 26 daysAdditional information on breeding grey-cheeks
Orange-chinned Parakeet (Brotogeris jugularis)
- Average clutch size: 4 to 6 white eggs; rarely up to 9 eggs are laidIncubation: 21 to 26 daysFemale incubates alone, but both parents raise the youngChicks fledge when they are about 42 days old.
Plain Parakeet (Brotogeris tirica)
- Not commonly bred as so few of them are available. Breeding appears to be most successful in communal aviaries. Breeding in spacious birdroom cages is also possible, although not optimal.Average clutch size: 4 to 8Incubation: 22 to 23 days; brooding mostly begins after laying last egg. The young usually hatch within space of two daysFledging period 7 weeks; young fed for two to three weeks after leaving nest.
Tui Parakeet (Brotogeris sanctithomae)
- Breeding in aviculture rarely achievedAverage clutch size: 4 to 5 eggsIncubation: 21 to 23 daysYoung fledge when they are about 6 to 7 weeks old
Plain Parakeets (Brotogeris tirica)
- Average clutch size: 4 to 5 eggsIncubation: 22 to 23 days
Diet / Feeding:
They should be provided a varied diet that includes any of the below:
- Dr. Harvey’s Bird Food Mixes or Lafeber are convenient options that lack many of the harmful additives that are commonly found in commercial mixes and have a great variety of quality ingredients (including dried fruits, veggies, herbs / greens and even superfoods, such as bee pollen!) – in short: myriad nourishing ingredients that are not found in other commercially available bird mixes, However, our biggest grievance with their products is that they use sulphurated dried produce (a process which also requires chemicals), but it is very difficult to find mixes with unsulphurated fruits and veggies. You could just buy the seeds, nuts and grain mix and buy human-grade unsulphurated dried produce / greens as well as bee pollen and mix them in. Even organic trail mixes (WITHOUT CHOCOLATE!) work great. With a little creativity you can put a mix together that offers superior nutrition without the chemicals typically found in commercial brands.
- Sprouted Seeds: sprouted sunflower; sprouted millet spray. Sprouted or germinated seeds are usually more easily accepted by “seed addicts” than fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Sprouted seeds are healthier as the sprouting changes and enhances the nutritional quality and value of seeds and grains. Sprouted seeds are lower in fat, as the process of sprouting utilizes the fat in the seed to start the growing process – thus reducing the fat stored in the seeds.Sprouted seeds will help balance your bird’s diet by adding a nutritious supply of high in vegetable proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and chlorophyll.Soaked and germinated “oil” seeds, like niger and rape seeds, are rich in protein and carbohydrates; while “starch” seeds, such as canary and millets, are rich in carbohydrates, but lower in protein.It is an invaluable food at all times; however, it is especially important for breeding or molting birds. Sprouted seeds also serve as a great rearing and weaning food as the softened shell is easier to break by chicks and gets them used to the texture of seeds.
- Fresh fruit (such as bananas, berries, figs, rose hips)
- Edible flowers
- Nectar: Lory food; porridge of oat flakes; or wheatgerm and honey
- Vegetables (one favorite is half-ripe corn)
- Green foods / plant material, such as dandelion, clover, chickweed, rowanberries, etc.. In the wild, they like to chew rotten stumps and search for larvae
- Branches with buds and flowers
- Animal protein (such as dried shrimp)
- Vitamin and mineral supplements (especially important if nutritional variety and quality hasn’t been maintained)
These parakeets are messy eaters and scatter any soft food over their cages (as is typical of most parrots). Carefully planning the set up will facilitate the daily clean-up.
Species Research by Sibylle Johnson
Other Relevant Web Resources:
- Setting Birds up for Breeding
- Eggs / Incubation:
- Storing Eggs for Maximum Hatchability: The correct way of storing fertilized eggs before incubation begins
- Incubators: Description, Function, Options
- Important Incubation Procedures to Follow
- Chronic Egg LayingFrom “
- Egg to Parrot” – Illustrations of how the chick develops inside the egg
- Candling Eggs to Verify Fertility and Development
- Repairing Cracked Eggs
- Dead-in-Shell Diagnosis – Embryo Mortality (Death): Causes and Corrective Measures … Signs of Deficiency in the Embryo Nutrient … Find out if the embryo in a cold and neglected egg is dead or alive
- Saving eggs that were opened prematurely
- Raising Chicks:
- Hand-feeding Protocol
- Hand-feeding Methods
- Hand-feeding Formulas / Weaning Foods and Feeding Syringes (includes recipes)
- Don’t have time to be the only caretaker of chicks? “Co-parenting” is an option.
- Weaning Protocol
- Banding Chicks
- Early Socialization: A Biological Need and the Key to Companionability
- Weaning and Fledging Chicks … Sprouting: Healthy Weaning Food (Methods and Instructions)
- Chick / Handfeeding Problems
- General Care:
- Environmental Stimulation is Necessary for Your Pet Bird’s Happiness
- Optimal Environmental Conditions: Information on lighting, humidity requirements and other environmental conditions that should be provided for optimal health and well-being
- Environmental Enrichment: Tips on providing your pets with mental stimulation, especially when alone at home.
- Optimal nutrition to keep your bird healthy
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