Bridget's Budgies

Want To Breed Please Read



As a responsible breeder you must make sure you do your homework before breeding any animal. Going into breeding blind increases the percentage of costly mistakes such as death and illness dramatically. There are many things you must think about and prep for when starting to breed budgies.

The downsides of breeding

Dead chicks

A chick can die for many reasons but the sad fact is almost all breeders have found a dead chick in their nest box at one time or another. This is the hard truth of breeding. Just a few causes are…

A chick can be crushed by the hen’s weight.

A younger chick can be overlooked and unfed by a parent when older chicks compete for food.

One of the parents can become violent towards the chicks.

A chick can use up all its strength from breaking out of the egg.

Inbreeding can cause chicks and young birds to die suddenly.

A hen can come out of breeding condition because of stress and abandon the chicks.

Most illnesses that the parents can survive and in many causes carry can kill chicks.

Dead parents

A budgie can die from the stress of over breeding.

Some pairs can lay multiple clutches in a row. Two clutches in a row can be safe as long as both parents are healthy and strong. But I wouldn’t let a hen lay three clutches in a row. Her calcium can be depleted.

Also a male can pass away from malnutrition. The weight loss of feeding the hen and chicks can take a tool on a male.

Females can become egg bound if they aren’t given proper calcium.

In colony breeding hen’s are known to fight sometimes to the death for food and space. Chicks and eggs can also be harmed or killed by a rival hen

Splayed legs

Splayed legs is just one thing that can go wrong in the nest box. This is when a chicks legs are splayed out on either side of their body. A chick can grow like this for a couple of reasons. Not enough calcium, no bedding in the nest box and the weight of a female are usually the causes of splayed legs. You can reverse splayed legs in a young chick up to about two weeks old. I had a chick with splayed legs once. He was the only chick in the clutch and the hen’s weight caused his legs to splay. I used the makeup sponge method and it worked fine. In a little less than a week he was good as new.

What are you looking to breed?

There are many things to consider when first buying a pair of budgies. Of course the first thing on every good breeders mind is health first. You don't want to be breeding birds that have a short life span or are more susceptible to illness. Temperament should also be thought about. A bird that is easer to tame will make a better pet. You should also be 

thinking about body type. Things like a dropped tail or a concave back aren't traits you should be breeding into your birds. Also things like good wing placement and posture are things to look for. Then the color mutation. Everyone has different ideas on what color is more pleasing. Picking birds that are pleasing to you. This is a batter option than 

trying to please everyone else. Also study up on the color mutations you would like to breed. It’s not as easy as you would think. Consider what the standard of that color mutation is.

Types of budgies

American, English or a mix

American (pet type)

The American parakeet is known for being a smaller version of the budgies. They are known to be great singers and have a lot of energy. These are the birds you see in most pet stores.

English (show type)

The English budgie is much larger than the American and have a more pronounced chest, forehead and a higher feather density. They are known for being more laid back and quieter than the American type.

American English mix

I find the mix to be the best of both worlds. The mix should be some where in between the two sizes. Although some mixes can look more like the American or the English. They are also talkative and playful like the American but also laid back like the English.

Keep in mind that every bird is different. They don't all take to these traits 100% of the time.

Type of breeding

Cabinet breeding vs. Colony breeding

Cabinet breeding is when you have one cage and one nest box per breeding pair. This is the better choice out of the two breeding styles for many reasons. You choose what pairs you want to breed. This makes it easy to draw up a pedigree and decreases the chance of inbreeding. This method is safe for the adults and chick because they don't have any competition for space or food.

Colony breeding is when you have one cage with multiple nest boxes and multiple breeding pairs. This isn't the best choice in terms of safety for the adults and chicks. Hen's become more aggressive wile they are in breeding condition and will fight, sometimes to the death for space and food. This can cause death to the adults, the chicks and eggs. You also can't tell what hen has mated with what cock. Inbreeding and bad traits can be bred this way.

Cage set up


You will need a breeding cage. My breeding cages are about 15 inches High x 30 inches Long x 11 inches Deep. That's a normal size for a breeding cage. Make sure you buy a small bird breeding cage you don't want your pair to be able to escape through the bars of their cage. About 1/4 of an inch is the normal spacing between bars for small birds. Also remember that you will need space for a nest box, most breeding cages come with doors for the nest boxes to fit into. The back of the breeding cage should be covered this makes the breeding pair feel safer knowing they aren't' out in the open.

Nest box

A nest box is where the hen will lay her eggs and rear her chicks. There are many budgie nest boxes out there. I like to use the basic wooden ones with a concave bottom built in. The concave bottom is crucial for the hen to be able to roll her eggs around and keep them in a central place for her to sit on. If your nest box doesn't come with a concave bottom you can buy them separate.

Nest materials

Nesting materials make it easy for you to clean out the nest box. They also absorbs the liquid form the droppings in the nest. The bacteria from the droppings can kill the chick wile in the egg. There are many nesting materials out there but I use corm cob bedding. Usually a first time hen will end up kicking the nesting materials out of the nest just keep putting more in and she will eventually stop.


Supplements and food

I think every breeder goes about feeding and supplementing their breeding pairs diet differently. There are many breeding and conditioning mixes out there. You need to make sure you pair is strong and healthy before and wile they are breeding. The breeding process takes a lot out of the pair, so it is crucial to give the proper nutrition. I prefer giving my birds their normal seed Ecotrition. I also put Quiko calcium concentrate a calcium supplement in their water so the hen will be sure to have enough calcium to lay strong eggs and chicks. Putting half of a cuttlebone in the nest box will also give the hen calcium as well. Do your research on different breeding diets. Fresh veggies, fruit, egg food and other breeding/conditioning mixes should be considered.

Buying the pair

Pet store or shelter vs. Breeder

Pet store or shelter

Buying a budgie from a pet store isn't all that bad if you don't mind not having the birds background information. Most pet stores or shelters don't have any information about where the bird came from, how it was brought up or what it's pedigree is. They may not even know how old the bird is. If you are lucky you can find a small pet store that breeds their own birds. I recommend a small pet store rather than a large one just because they usually have more background information on your bird. If you don't have this information you can get a bird that doesn't have the genes you are looking for. Also large pet stores are know for buying birds in bulk from a bird farm. These locations work much like a puppy mill. The parents are usually bred too young and breed until they pass away. Also the chicks aren’t hand fed and are usually taken away from their parents too young.


You can usually get much more information about the birds you are purchasing from a breeder. Breeders usually keep pedigree charts and pay close attention to their birds health, personalities and color mutation. Also they will be more willing and able to answer any questions you have about your birds in the future. Breeders may or may not hand feed their chicks and usually wait until the chicks are weaned before they are sold. You may also be able to purchase a bonded breeding pair. This way you don't have to wait for them to bond. Cutting down on waiting time.

Getting ready to breed

Now that you have a male and a female you can start on the breeding process. Right, wrong. You need to wait until both birds are at least one year old. Some breeders wait until their birds are eighteen months old. It is during this time where the birds gain strength. If a female is too young she can have complications with egg binding. This is also a good time to bring the birds to an avian vet and get a total lab work up on them. This will make sure your bird doesn’t have any hidden illness that you aren’t aware of. If you have two birds that are in good health and have been conditioned for about two to four months or so you are ready to start the breeding process. You should put both birds in the breeding cage that has been cleaned and prepped for breeding.


It takes time for a pair to bond. Sometimes two birds can hit it off right away and other times it takes months for a pair to bond. Sometimes two birds want nothing to do with each other. Just like people bird have to like there mates.

Signs of breeding condition

You can tell a cock is in breeding condition when his cere is bright blue. But keep in mind that some color mutations such as albino, lutino, recessive pied and lacewing can cause the males cere will stay a purple his entire life. He will sing more and louder. His head feathers will stand on end and he will start bobbing his head more often. A hen's cere will turn a darker brown color and become crusty. She will probably take to the cuttlebone and chew anything she can.

Encouraging mating

You can bring a horse to water but you can't make them drink. Sometimes it just takes time for a pair to mate but there are a couple things you can do to encourage breeding.

Offer more food and water.

Offer more light throughout the day.

Sometimes misting the pair once a day helps.

The sound of a radio or running water all day can help as well.

Breeding records

Having a good cense of a time is essential to breeding. It gives you an idea of what to expect and when to expect it. Things to keep track of are...

Name of the male and female

Color mutation of pair


Date you put the pair in the breeding cage

Lay dates

Hatch dates

Chicks gender

Chicks color mutation

Breeding has started

Signs of breeding

Both birds are in breeding condition.

Hen has started to get in and out of the nest box.


The hen's vent will get enlarged and swollen a couple days before an egg is laid her droppings will increase in size dramatically.

The cock will feed the hen more frequently.

Egg care

Counting the eggs

Checking in on the hen every morning and every evening should give you an idea of when an egg is hatched. Tapping on the nest box before opening the top will teach your hen to get off her eggs so you can count them. Some people number the eggs so they can tell what order the eggs will hatch in. If you do this make sure you use a water based marker. Some high fume markers can be lethal to the chick growing inside the egg. Eggs should be laid every other day.

Candling and Laying

You should always wash your hands before picking up any egg. You want your hands to be clean and rid of bacteria. You can use a flash light to candle the eggs. You should wait until the last egg is five days old before candling any eggs. This makes sure that you will be able to see the embryo in the egg. Try not to role the eggs wile you are candling them. A fertile egg will have a red center with small red veins coming out from it. You can see the heart beat if you look very carefully. An infertile egg will have a yellow yoke in the middle that will be transparent. Now that you have candled your eggs and hope there are fertile ones in the clutch you need to wait. If any eggs are infertile they can be removed from the nest box. The hen will usually lay another egg in place of the egg that was taken out.


The hen usually waits until she has two or three eggs before she sits on the eggs 24/7 After this she will only come out to mate, eat, and relieve her self. Otherwise she will stay on the eggs 100% of the time. A hen usually lays about five eggs but they can lay only one or even up to fifteen. Be sure you have enough room for your growing flock before breeding.


It takes about 18-23 days for a chick to hatch. The chick has what's called an egg tooth. This is a small white tooth like bump that is on the chicks beak. They chick will cut a circle completely about the egg cutting it in two halfs. Then the chick will push it's way out. Never try to help a chick out of the egg. This could cause the chick to bleed to death if it is separated from the egg too soon. The chick will be featherless much like a mouse with it's eyes shut.

Feeding the chicks

The cock will feed the hen who will then feed the chicks. The hen will feed the chick by flipping them over on their backs and regurgitating her food. You can make sure the chicks are being fed by looking at it's crop. It should be a bulging yellowish mass at their chest. If you find that a chick isn't being fed you should give it to another breeding hen with chicks that are around the same age or start hand feeding.

Hand feeding vs. Parent raised

Parent raised chicks are more often than not untamed as chicks and are harder to tame in the long run. You don't have the upper hand when they are chick to earn their trust. On the flip side the chick get what’s called crop milk from the mother. Crop milk gives the chicks nutrition they don't get from formula and this may cause them to have a weakened immune system.

Hand fed budgie are much more tame and in turn make better pets. You can also charge more for a hand fed budgie because of their good nature and for the time you put in to feeding. On the other hand, hand feeding a bird when you haven't done it before can be daunting. If you decide to take the chicks out of the nest and hand feed it on your own you will need to feed the chick every two to three hours day and night. Making sure the chicks crop empties once a night. If not it can cause the chicks to get a sour crop. Also don't over feed the chick this can cause you chicks crop to stretch. I recommend a eyedropper but for the first week and a half or so you will need to feed the chick with a spoon.

I like doing a little bit of both. Because I'm not home 24/7 I let the chicks stay in the nest with their parents until they are weaned. I start hand feeding the chicks when they are about two weeks old once or twice a day. Waiting until they are two weeks old gives the chicks time to grow their down and build an immune system. I keep hand feeding until the parents have weaned them. When they can eat seeds I offer them seeds when I take them out of the nest. I still take them out once or twice a day to keep them hand tame. This has worked the best for me. I don't need to be up all hours of the night feeding chicks and they are still get hand tamed. You also don't need to worry about brooders and heating lamps.

Sexing chicks

Gender testing vs. Observational sexing

Gender testing is 99.9% effective. There are a couple ways of testing your chicks gender. There is an egg shell test, feather test and a blood test. These tests are easy to perform and the provider will give you directions on each test. Usually the test results take about a week to get back.

Observational sexing is all up to you. You can usually tell a male from a female by looking at the chicks cere. A males cere will be purple all around and a females cere will have white rings around the nostrils. But there are some causes that a chicks cere doesn't fit the description. You can sometimes tell a male from a female just by their color mutations. Some color mutations are sex linked if you can understand how the gene works you can tell a male from a female.

Flying the coop

The chicks can be sold when they are about eight weeks old. English chicks mature quicker than American budgies. I would say seven weeks is ok for an English. As long as the chick can feed itself and maneuver around it's cage with ease it is ready to go to a new home. Some breeders sell their chicks when they still very small and still need to be hand fed and warmed. They say it's an easy process and take their money and run. This usually ends in the chicks death. Most people think that hand feeding is flattening you hand out and letting the chick eat from your hand. Not true at all.

Tips and tricks

Clipping the vents of an English or English mix bird will make it easy for the pair to mate. Sometimes the long feather of the vent can get in the way of breeding.

A breeding pair usually breeds after a molt.

Sometimes a breeding pair goes into condition because they can hear the peeps of another pairs chicks.