Perhaps you’re wondering how to tell whether or not your parakeet is pregnant?
Since parakeets start laying fertile eggs about 30 hours after mating, there’s not much of a gestation period to speak of. However, if you know that a male and female parakeet have mated, you won’t have a very long wait until you see that first egg.
That said, there’s a lot to know about breeding parakeets and raising a brood. For example, not all eggs are fertile.
In this article, I plan to leave no stone unturned when it comes to the birds and the bees of parakeet breeding! I’ll go over the ins and outs of mating, the short gestation period or “parakeet pregnancy,” the egg incubation period, and the rearing of young.
Signs of Pregnancy
So how do you tell if your parakeet is pregnant? The short answer is that you will only know if you see the birds mate.
Although there’s really no other way to determine with any certainty that two parakeets have mated, you might see signs of mating behavior before the mating takes place.
If you miss the mating, you may notice the female bird feathering her nest or having a loose bowel movement. This nesting behavior is not a conclusive sign though, because it’s possible that mating did not take place and she’s just getting ready to lay an unfertilized egg.
It may even be that she just likes hanging out in her nesting box and making it comfortable for herself.
How Parakeets Mate
Parakeets, also called Budgies, usually reach sexual maturity at around 5 months of age, but it can take as long as 36 months with certain species.
I realize this is quite a range, but typical pet parakeets are usually ready to breed by 10 months of age. Parakeets that are interested in mating will share food with each other, transferring it back and forth into each other’s mouths after regurgitating it.
Sounds romantic, doesn’t it? The actual mating will involve some spirited wing flapping when the male mounts the female.
Parakeets Develop Inside of Eggs
If the male successfully fertilizes the female, the first fertilized egg can be expected about 30 hours later.
Not just parakeets, but most birds, lay their eggs shortly after mating. As I mentioned previously, a female bird can lay eggs even if she has never been with a male.
This is why you will rarely hear the term pregnancy used in relation to birds. Embryonic development happens outside of the mother’s body, in the egg.
This is when the real wait begins, and remember, only fertilized eggs grow into baby birds which is why it can be helpful to know that your parakeets have in fact mated.
Pregnant Parakeet Incubation Period
Once a pregnant parakeet has laid the first fertile egg, she will continue to lay eggs every other day until there are 3 to 8 eggs in the nest. The mother bird will sit on those eggs which will begin hatching in about 17 to 20 days.
Raising Your Budgie Hatchling
Your female will need a better diet including more fatty seeds while she is raising her brood.
The parents will take care of the chicks for the first few weeks, but you will want to keep an eye on them in case any problems arise. It is possible to feed them parakeet formula from a syringe in the unlikely event that the parents aren’t feeding them enough regurgitated food.
After a couple of weeks, you can take them out of the nest for short periods, and they will be ready to be weaned from their parents by 6 weeks of age.
You’ll Be Lucky if Your Parakeet Lays Eggs
The bad news is it can be difficult to breed parakeets in captivity. Unlike chickens, parakeets are not prolific layers.
I knew someone who had 4 parakeets for years and never saw a single egg even though they had both males and females in the cage. Sticking a nesting box in the cage is no guarantee that your beloved pets will reproduce.
How to Tell if Your Parakeets Eggs are Fertile
Here’s a great video on how to tell if parakeet eggs are fertile by candling them with a bright light:
Why It’s Hard to Breed Parakeets in Captivity
If you’re serious about breeding your parakeets, you may need to invest in an actual aviary since birds in small cages are less likely to mate.
Parakeets prefer to choose from several potential mates and have space to fly around. That said, only house opposite-gender pairs of parakeets unless you have several good homes lined up for the babies.
How to Increase Your Chance of Getting Babies
Parakeets need plenty of space to breed, so your cage should have minimum dimensions of 20 x 20 x 20 inches, and the nesting box should probably be at least a 12 x 12.
Keep in mind, that most individual pairs of pet birds will not breed in captivity. Birds were meant to fly around and live in large flocks, which is why you need a cage large enough for you to walk into in order for your birds to reliably breed.
I realize that a cage this large may not be feasible for some people if your place is tight on space. It can be disappointing when your pet parakeets won’t breed in the cage that you already have, but all you can do is try.
The following is a checklist that will help increase your chances of getting offspring from your caged birds:
Parakeet Breeding Checklist
- Provide a warm, dry nesting box
- Provide plenty of high-quality bird food and water
- Provide bedding material such as shredded paper or pine shavings
- Make sure your birds are getting 10-12 hours of sunlight per day
Although parakeets are only pregnant for 30 hours, it might take a while to get a successful mating. Because parakeets mate for life, they often take their time when selecting a partner. Not only that, but you probably won’t see your birds do the deed.
Hopefully I’ve answered all your questions regarding parakeets and pregnancy. If you follow the above tips, I’m sure soon enough you’ll be a proud parent of baby parakeets!