Q & A: “Why is my pair of parrots not breeding?”

June 14th, 2016 | by Nanda Kishore
Q & A: “Why is my pair of parrots not breeding?”

The essence of keeping any living thing as a pet is in giving it the very best you can afford. And I believe that once you are providing everything the animal/bird wants it will breed. Among the most commonly asked question I get is “why is my bird not breeding???” I quote Tony Silva sir here: ”  you must listen to your bird and the bird will always be talking to you “

I believe that any animal, insect, plant or bird that has reached maturity want to find a mate and procreate. It is a very natural phenomena. But, birds are also in many ways like us. They reproduce when their nutritional, physiological, emotional and environmental needs are ideal.



I live in a hot and dry place and most conures needed higher humidity. Soo we had to work to increase the humidity. A few people told me to keep humidifiers, a few told me to keep earthen pots full of water around the aviary etc. However, the answer was very simple. We use gunny bags (jute cloth bags) as a floor and we spray water on the mat to increase the humidity. We have noticed that the humidity goes from 10% to 85% in no time.

Note: the gunny bags are treated with potassium permanganate (KMnO4) or Virkon S to kill all fungus, bacteria and viruses.


Cockatiels soft  Black Cockatoos softAsiatic parrots


Right nest box?

The next question was nest box dimensions…. I always liked large spacious nest boxes. Then I realized that birds feel comfortable in narrow, deep tree hollows with a tiny entrance. Hence, now our nest boxes for sun conures are 7″ x 8″ x 24″ (18 x 20 x 60cm) with a 2″ (5cm) entrance hole. The entrance hole should ideally be the highest point the bird can reach (there should not be a perch higher than the nest box entrance hole). We also block the nest hole with a few twigs so that the male works its way into the nest, impressing his partner.

The chewing of the twigs also instigates the males to breed. That is the reason that our nest boxes also have a lot of twigs and wood pieces. I have noticed that Patagonian Conures and Peach fronted Conures are amazing in pulverizing wood to powder.

Note: we soak the wood in Virkon S for 2-7 days so that the tannins get out and fungus dosent grow. We then dry them in the sun and then we stack them in the nest box.

I believe that most parrots like a small peep hole somewhere in the nest box and we usually have a couple of holes drilled randomly in the nest box.



Orange-fronted Conure at the nest box entrance (c) Lubomir Tomiska



The perches have to be of varied diameters and at different levels of the cage. As the birds feet can be exercised. If the male or female have a missing foot or wing, I provide two perches one in front of the other so that the female get a little extra support. However, I have noticed that in the absence of a double perch, the birds will copulate happily on the floor of the cage too. We also do a lot of reading about the region where the birds spend the time in the forest (floor like grass parakeets, thickets like most toucans and turacos or tree top dwellers like lorikeets) If the bird is mostly dwelling on the tree tops we keep the birds above eye level. You can also decide if you want a suspended cage or a traditional cage depending on the specie of parrot you choose.

We also have a few methods / tricks to get the birds to fall in love with each other.


Spraying water

One of the biggest secrets to my breeding success in birds is that we spray water on the birds almost everyday. We use hand sprayers to spray the birds. I don’t use misters or sprinklers as the bird may sit away from the falling water. I have noticed that even in finches bathing is a sign of breeding. Finches that don’t take bath in the water bowl usually don’t breed. Once you drench the pair they will start to preen themselves. The bird can preen its whole body except its on head. The birds will team up to preen eachother’s head. This is a good way to increase bonding.



Red-rumped parrot bathing (c) Patrick_K59. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.



Another very important aspect is enrichment. Everyone knows the importance of this but, very few aviculturists provide their birds with a lot of enrichment. Large cages with a lot of natural stuff to play, destroy, and eat is enrichment. It can be a transport cage full of nuts tied to the roof… or a coconut tied to a corner … to a swinging branch perch. Without good enrichment the birds tend to get lazy and develop a zoonosis like behaviour.



And one of the most important tips to breeding is diet. We follow a very lean diet for conures and macaws for a few months and suddenly change the diet to a high protein, increased calcium and vitamin E filled diet. The moment the diet is changed we usually see all our conures inside the nest box chewing away wood.

We provide large pieces of ripened ridge gourd, drumstick, okra, coconut, carrot, beetroot, palm leaves. The pair will then team up to pulverize the above. This is another way to bond the birds.



Above all the biggest secret to get your bird to breed is to have love and compassion to the bird and its life and its rights. It is my belief that birds can sense emotions, and will love you if you love them.

And hopefully soon, you will have eggs and later tiny little naked chicks 😉


author: Nanda Kishore

Title photo: Pair of Red-bellied Conures (c) Lubomir Tomiska



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