avoid breeding parakeets

How to avoid breeding parakeets

Now that we have added a boy to our formerly all girl flock, some folks have asked if we plan to breed parakeets. The answer is a resounding “NO”! I plan to avoid breeding parakeets for several reasons:

  1. I have enough parakeets and don’t want more, particularly with my husband’s allergies, three molting parakeets is about all he can take! Also, the world does not need me to make more parakeets, there are loads out there that need a good home. I see lots of home-based breeders who have a hard time finding homes for their babies.
  2. Breeding parakeets can be incredibly difficult. If it goes well, maybe not, but even provisioning a nest box, nesting material, and then keeping the babies and nest clean is more than I want to handle. And that’s just basic human intervention, assuming mom and dad budgie do their job caring for the babies. If they can’t or won’t I would have to take over feeding babies on a crazy schedule, with a full time job there’s no way.
  3. The health risks to my adult females is not worth it for me. Laying budgies can become egg bound, which is potentially fatal. Yes, I know that every female parakeet may lay eggs, whether they are fertile or not. But, we’ve been able to keep our two girls, both in breeding condition for over a year, from laying at all. If I can prevent it, I do not want the presence of a male parakeet to change that track record.
  4. If allowed to begin breeding we could quickly end up with an excessive number of parakeets. Also, I would then have to worry about the baby parakeets growing up and wanting to breed with their clutch mates/siblings. Animals don’t have a sense that incest is undesirable, so it would be incumbent on me to make sure they didn’t breed with close relatives. And basically everyone in the cage would be a relative.
  5. The cost of care and potential veterinarian costs would rise exponentially with the numbers of parakeets, and I’m not prepared to take on a large additional expense.

How do I plan to keep them from breeding and laying?

  1. Provide no nest box or anything that could be perceived as a nest. I’m aware that some budgies will lay just about anywhere, including a cage floor or just randomly while sitting on a perch. But, not providing anything that could be construed as a next box is one way to discourage laying. This means no flat wood perches, no food bowls that they can comfortably sit in, and absolutely no Coconut Hideaways , Sea Grass Bird Snuggle Huts or anything else that they can hide in, sit on, or may otherwise see as a desirable place to raise children.
  2. Limit daylight hours. We need to keep day and night even, if the budgies think that it’s springtime with longer days they may decide it’s a good time to start laying. We are going to make sure that everyone gets 12 hours of darkness and no more than 12 hours of light. If things start getting amorous we may push it back to more darkness than that.
  3. Separate the sexes. No one has expressed any romantic interest in Kevin yet, but it the cage starts rocking I will probably make the choice to keep Kevin caged apart from whichever girl wants to mate with him. We just got down to one cage, so that will not be ideal, but if they are only together under adult supervision, and with the third wheel of the other girl, hopefully we can keep these crazy kids from knocking beaks.

I know there’s no way to 100% keep them from laying eggs if their bodies tell them to do it, but I can still control what happens at that point. I’m sure that this is a bit controversial, or offensive to some, but I don’t believe that my female parakeets have a natural “right” to reproduce. I think that it’s okay for me, the ultimately responsible party, to ensure that we don’t bring more parakeets into the world. Here are some options for what to do if we end up with unwanted eggs.

  1. After the first egg is laid, complete the clutch with Dummy Eggs . Using the dummy eggs to get up to a full clutch of seven can make the budgie stop laying. At that point I would just leave her the fake eggs to care for until she was bored of them.
  2. As eggs are laid, shake, boil, or freeze them and then return to the cage. If boiling or freezing, make sure the eggs come back to room temperature before returning. Again, wait until the parakeet is tired of caring for the eggs and then remove.

I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that we can keep everyone in the friend zone. But, if not, I’m glad to have a plan for contingencies and unwanted eggs. I would encourage every parakeet parent to leave breeding up to the pros (including home-based pros, of course!) and also to be mindful of the fact that there is no shortage of parakeets out there already who are looking for good homes.

34 thoughts on “How to avoid breeding parakeets”

  1. Someone has their hands full 🙂

    My neighbor tried to keep her budgies from breeding. One of the females pierced a hole in the drywall in a well hidden place and she built her nest 😉

    Keep an eye on those tricky little birds…

    1. WOW – that’s some next level budgie trickery! I could totally see one of my girls doing that, she tried to put a hole in a wall just for fun last summer.

      Thank you! I’ll keep a close eye on them.

      1. I just housed my PoPeYe with the Cocktails..separated him from the girls..Thank you for your article, it really helped.

      2. Mine did too! She literally brought our blinds down from digging in the drywall/spackle around the brackets our old blinds. Great excuse to get new ones though haha.

  2. My parents wanted to get a male budgie Currently we have two female budgies. If we are to get a male my concern was just this. I know that birds won’t breed if they don’t really care for each other and if you don’t put a nest in their cage. I wanted to know more. I sort love the idea of getting another budgie just because their so great to have as pets. I mean we are only first time bird owners so I want to educate myself on this. I just wouldn’t want them to mate. Everything time I go to the pet shop is see how many them there are so I get a sad seeing them there. So, this is why I don’t really like breeding. Or the idea of it. Especially when have dogs you know that breeding is unnecessary when there’s just so many in dogs shelters that need homes.

    1. We’ve had Kevin with the two girls for well over a year now and have not had any eggs laid, so far so good!

      I have caught him mating with each girl once, though, but they can do that without laying eggs, and without any available nest it seems they are able to keep laying urges at bay. Also they don’t seem that interested in forming romantic bonds, I’m not sure if that’s because with three of them it just doesn’t make sense to pair off or what…

      Anyway, Kevin is such a delight I say give it a try and just be prepared to make a tough choice as far as what to do with fertile eggs if you end up with them. I do believe that just because they lay eggs doesn’t mean we would necessarily have to have baby parakeets, but I know that not everyone would feel comfortable with destroying fertile eggs. I completely agree that with all the birds in the world already who need homes it feels unnecessary to make more. Best of luck whatever you decide to do!

  3. Hello! I am the proud new owner of two baby parakeets (purchased at a pet store) as of last week. We *think* one is a male and one is a female based on the cere and their behavior, though I know it is early to be certain — we estimate them a few months old. They are in the same cage and seem to have bonded. I notice the one we think is the male has stood on the other one’s back. Nothing “happened” but it stood there… ad they kiss and preen all the time. I am now totally freaked out after Googling way too many things that I’m going to come home one day to a bunch of babies I do *not* want for all the reasons you state above. Wondering how this all turned out with your bird, a year later?? Please tell me there were no eggs LOL . Thanks for all the amazing info on this website!

    1. Hi there! We are still 100% egg free!! Even though there were a few instances of…umm…private time, those have tapered off and although we do get lots of preening and feeding each other it’s just friendship apparently!

      I think the thing that does us the most help is making sure they have a lot of time out of their cages and toys, since it seems like busy and distracted budgies have less interest in getting cosy.

      Good luck!!

    2. Same problem! I got them a few days ago and they seem to be nice to each other, some occasional fights but they are never that severe. May I ask if yours layed eggs yet? I’m scared that mine will.

      1. I can’t speak for the person who commented above (loridraws), but mine have not laid any eggs at all. They have certainly gone in and out of breeding condition as well, so it is possible to stay egg free even in those conditions.

      1. Of course! I still have not had either of my girls lay an egg.

        Sadly, our boy Kevin passed away at the end of November this year. He was with us for three wonderful years and we had no breeding activity the entire time.

        I know that some female budgies will lay eggs even without a male around, so I still think that what I’m doing it working to discourage that behavior.

        If you want to keep up with our little flock you can find us on Facebook as Home Keet Home (assuming you’re on Facebook!). I try to post updates once or twice a week about what they are up to.

        Thanks for commenting!

  4. I have 3 girls and one boy and yesterday I caught one of my girls and my boy kissing and bobbing their heads and they are doing the same thing as I am righting this I absolutely do NOT want any of my parakeets pregnant what do I do?

    1. It’s totally possible that they will be affectionate by head bobbing, kissing and feeding each other without moving on to anything else.

      But, do make sure you don’t have anything like cocunuts huts, or other flat surfaces and hideaways that your female might identify as a good place to raise babies.

      Other than that, if you 100% are not able to dispose of eggs or deal with babies (both of which I understand) you could consider separating them.

      Good luck! I have had my girls and boys together now for 2 years and they smooch all the time but rarely ever move beyond that and we’ve had zero eggs. So, it is possible!

      1. Have you looked into a silo type feeder? Check out Amazon or Chewy and search for the JW Pet Clean Seed Silo Bird Feeder. The part of the feeder that the food pours into should be too small to look like a viable nesting place.

  5. I am so happy that I have finally found intelligent and helpful advice about NOT breeding birds. We’ve rescued some very sad birds and put them into a beautiful and large aviary. I can not believe how different and interesting they have become. Unfortunately one of them started making large holes in logs we have in there so we added a nesting box and we’ll need to boil her eggs as you’ve suggested. Luckily “Winter is coming John Snow” so hopefully……. Thank you for your much needed advice to new bird lovers and if you have any advice for keeping an aviary warm in a house without electricity I’d be most grateful……..

    1. I’m glad you found the post useful! I know it can be a touchy subject.

      Unfortunately I don’t have any aviary experience, best of luck keeping your flock warm!

  6. I’ve found a Pet shop that has really healthy looking birds compared to Petsmart, but they’re all young, so no idea what gender they are. The store said they don’t know either. So it’s random. If I buy 4 of these at once (who are already sharing a cage in the store exhibit) will they be OK in my cage at home as they mature into adults? I’ve got a nice big cage for them ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00SK7HOYA/ ) and I plan to have multiple food and water feeders etc, but I’m worried I will end up with multiple females. Worst-case scenario from the gender lottery would probably be 3 females and 1 male. That sounds like World War III to me. I don’t think budgies are known to kill each other, so if I ended up with the absolute worst case scenario gender-wise, would they eventually just learn to get along, especially since they all came from the same pet shop cage at once? Or would it be blood baths as adults? The only reason I would like all males is because they’re pacifists compared to females.

    Also, if you were to just take the eggs away instead of replacing them with “dead” eggs, does the female just keep laying eggs or does she eventually give up? If you just toss the eggs, does the budgie get over it or is there some kind of mental or physical harm?

    1. Hi Crystal! It can be hard to tell the sex of young parakeets, but not impossible. If they still have bars on their heads and you want boys then get birds with very pink ceres. Avoid budgies with pale blue ceres, particularly if there is white around the nares (nostrils).

      Either way, if you end up with a mixed bag pack of four (even if it’s three girls) you’ll probably be okay. There are a lot of horror stories out there, but most of the time a mixed gender flock of an even number is going to be okay. Especially if they grow up together.

      In that worst case scenario, especially if they do decide to start breeding, there is definitely precedent for parakeets killing each other, particularly breeding females who are extremely territorial. But, in that instance you’d see the issues coming before it got to that point. My two girls had to be separated into different cages after some minor bloodshed.

      Going for all males is a great idea. Are you part of any parakeet groups on Facebook? Typically if you post pictures while you’re at the pet store in one of those groups several experts will pop up to help with identifying the gender. An experienced parakeet breeder can usually tell literally on the day the bird hatches! (I’m no where near that good!).

      If you were to take eggs away without replacing them with dummy eggs the female may just keep laying indefinitely, so it’s important to replace the eggs so that she knows when she’s reached a complete clutch of eggs. When they don’t hatch she will lose interest eventually and when she’s no longer paying attention to the fake eggs it should be safe to remove them. Laying eggs indefinitely really depletes a female parakeets and would cause physical harm if left unchecked.

      But again, probably not that common of an issue.

      Let me know if there’s anything else I can help with, and best of luck!

      1. Thanks for the reply!! Judging from their cere colors (super pink vs white around the nostrils) and dominate behavior, I believe I ended up with 2 girls and 2 boys. They instantly paired off boy/girl and boy/girl, and the girls of each pair are definitely in charge of their respective boy. So far everything is pretty harmonious other than the usual pecking order squabbles. I don’t have anything like a nesting box inside the cage, so hopefully it will never be a problem when they grow up enough to be able to breed. If they start trying to use the food dishes for it, I’ll replace with those silo feeders to discourage that. There’s really nothing else in the cage they could use except the cage floor itself, which is all wire grid, so it’s not going to be easy to sit on any eggs down there.

        If they start popping out eggs, I’ll try tricks with controlling the daylight or fake eggs etc. I have zero problem destroying eggs, I just don’t want them fighting because they’re hormonal nor do I want the females risking their health by constantly laying eggs.

        They can have sex all day for all I care, but no eggs and no over-the-top fighting! harmony and peaceful thoughts only lol

      2. It sounds like you have a really good plan for how to handle any possible breeding attempts and you haven’t made breeding seem like a viable option with nests etc., so that’s awesome! Hopefully it won’t be necessary to deal with laying budgies or unwanted eggs, I’m sending all harmonious and peaceful vibes to your flock!

  7. I have a male and female and they mate all the time with no nest box. I don’t want them to have babies but separating them would be impossible as they are so closely bonded they will scream if the other is out of sight non stop. So far my female has not laid eggs despite them mating and I don’t know what to expect really. Someone on a forum told me they can mate for entertainment only with no nest box,is this true??

    1. That is true, they can mate for pleasure only and the female will not lay eggs if she doesn’t think conditions are right to raise babies.

      Hopefully that’s what your pair are doing!

  8. Interesting thread – we are concerned re: babies as well, we have a mauve budgie which we are not 100% sure about the sex as his father had an atypical Cere Pink/Peachy with white rings, he is a Fallow, and his mother was from what we understand a Cobalt. He has been content on his own for now with us being home so much, we have considered if we should get him a pal, so that when life returns to more normal he won’t be alone. We have a large flight cage for him now, and have considered a Cockataiel ( to be housed at night in a separate cage) as I have been afraid of the whole making babies thing, also I like the idea of a more low key bird as our Kevin ( lol) is quite active, but also loves to have his downtime. So this is very interesting article. Any thoughts or experience on mixing breeds? Would having separate cages beside each other even with two budgies help with this issue too, in your opinion of course ?

    1. Hi Kelly!

      I don’t have any direct experience with mixing breeds of birds, but anecdotally I know it’s very common to have multiple species of birds in one household and it usually works out pretty well with budgies and cockatiels. You are definitely correct that they would have to have separate cages at night in particular since budgies can be so territorial and aggressive at times.

      If a cockatiel doesn’t feel like the right fit you could also try a different kind of parakeet, like the Bourke Parakeet, Grass Parakeet or Canary Winged Parakeet. These are all slightly larger than the budgie but in the same family. The Rosey Bourke and Canary Winged parakeets are also known to be a bit more mellow, which might be a good fit. They would still also likely need their own separate cages for bedtime.

      Separate cages for budgies would probably also help deter breeding, but wouldn’t be a total failsafe, unfortunately. Especially if they had loads of time out of the cage together to develop a romance 🙂

      Best of luck with deciding what to do! Oh, if you’re on Facebook you might consider joining the group “parakeets” and posting a picture of your mauve budgie to get some input on the sex, there are some very reliable experts in there who are always willing to help!

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  9. Hi Kristen, thank you for this information! We’ve had a male/female pair of budgies together for close to 3 years and we have just started to notice strong mating behaviours. The female began repeatedly tearing and lifting the paper lining the cage, even after frequent paper changes, amd she has now laid at least one egg that we can see. I just ordered the dummy eggs and plan to ensure that any natural eggs do not hatch. I am so glad that I found this article, thank you for this advice!

    1. Hi Krissy, I’m so glad the post was helpful! I hope that the dummy eggs work to help your girl stop laying! Best of luck.

  10. Having read all of the above comments I’m in a panic. Rescued parakeets started laying eggs this week. The thought of destroying eggs is unthinkable. After this round I will remove deep food dish and nesting box ( which i added after the first egg) and start keeping cage covered at 6 pm. Also if I read correctly take any babies out of cage after 42 days? Anything else I should be doing?

    1. Before this round of laying is over you could buy dummy eggs and add them in to the nesting box, which would hopefully curtail further laying (if the hen believes she’s already done).

      I’m not sure about the babies, I’ve been able to keep all my female parakeets from laying. Hopefully someone can comment here or you will be able to find a good resource for how to help your parakeets raise babies!

      Best of luck to you.

    2. I have 3 baby’s hatched….I am also freaking out and have ordered what I need to take care of the baby’s when mama makes her decision to neglect them but so far the mom and dad are both doing what they are suppose to. I have 3 females and a male and had to separate 2 of the females from the other pair because mama bird before laying any eggs just had this hate for my current oldest bird and may or may not have bit off a toe when they first met ….and may or may not have tried to take another about 2 months ago. When merry the mother of the baby’s started laying eggs….I was meant to remove the eggs after the week they were laid and then help her move on from the loss since I went through that with my first bird years ago….however I 100% forgot and when I finally remembered one baby had already popped so this ONE time I will keep the children and hand feed them when it comes to it. (I have friends that want to take the baby’s in after they are eating on their own) My first parakeet Leona had to get fed the same way as the baby’s will be fed when before she passed away due to an ovarian tumor. It will be a learning process for sure but fifers crossed no little lives are lost . I love animals way to much and would hate to go through loosing the little aliens .

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