What is the appropriate nest design for our parrots? PART II

January 28th, 2016 | by Tony Silva
What is the appropriate nest design for our parrots? PART II
Tony Silva NEWS

Read also the first part of this article:

What is the appropriate nest design for our parrots? PART I


“T” and “Y” shaped nests

Some nest types have better husbandry application than others. The best example that I can site is the “T”- or “Y” shaped cockatoo nests, which have two entrances and a division down the middle. This type of nest prevents an aggressive male from entombing the hen inside until she starves. It also makes killing her inside the nest more onerous. The double entrance permits the female to flee from a male intent on harming her.

If the male’s wings are clipped, the hen has a significantly better chance of escaping unharmed than if a standard grandfather type nest was used. This style of nest can also be employed for other aggressive parrots, including Cuban Amazon (Amazona leucocephala) and Hispaniolan Amazons (Amazona ventralis) and the Australian Blue-bonnets (Northiella). The size of the this double entranced nest should be adapted for the size of the species for which it is offered


budky T shape2

Drawing of T-shaped nest from Rahul Sharma.

budky T shape

Drawing of T-shaped nest from Rahul Sharma.


“C” shaped nests

Some species are difficult to breed because they require a specialty nest— a box that breaks the standard concept in aviculture of the grandfather type box standing up or laying on its side, the latter most often used for macaws. I write this with the green conures of the genus Psittacara, a notoriously difficult group to induce to nest, in mind. Between 1988 and 1991, the USA imported at least 37,750 Mitred Conures (Psittacara mitratus) from Argentina according to the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) trade data that I reviewed; I looked at only large shipments; the actual figure of total imports would be significantly greater if small shipments are also tabulated.

Even if only a percentage of these birds reached breeders, then in theory US aviculturists should be producing large numbers yearly. In fact, only a couple of handfuls of young are bred yearly. This species along with Wagler’s (Psittacara wagleri), White-eyed (Psittacara leucophthalmus) and Red-masked Conures (Psittacara erithrogenys) have not proved willing breeders, though they are very successful in the wild and with the exception of the Wagler’s Conure have a flourishing and growing feral population in Florida.



Most pairs in captivity wait years to commence breeding. I often state that they finally accept the traditional nest because they have grown tired of waiting for a nest that they find suitable to be provided. For this group I have designed a ”C”-shaped nest; the nest is attached to the cage so that the actual nesting chamber sits above the front top of the cage and in a manner like a C that has fallen forward. This style of nest seems far more willingly accepted than the standard conure box (a vertical rectangle) typically offered.

This same nest can be provided to other fickle breeders in two other positions: either vertically or flipped over horizontally to resemble a “U”. I find that some of the Eupsittula conures that nest in termitarium will take to it willingly when placed in the latter fashion. Some African Poicephalus, for example, like the nest in a vertical position.


budky C shape

Drawing of C-shaped nest from Rahul Sharma.


Unconventional nests

The use of an unconventional nests is necessary when a pair demonstrates that it dislikes the nest being offered. The best example that I can cite is a pair of Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao) in my collection. This pair never entered their nest, laying eggs from the perch. After two clutches of broken eggs and all attempts to entice them to enter a nest failed, I started to watch their behavior. This showed that the hen spent a lot of time on the enclosure floor, near the front. I then provided them with a chicken nest in that precise spot. Within a week the hen was inside. They now nest in that most usual nest that sits on their cage floor.


“B” shaped nests

Finally some species prone to egg breakage may respond very well to a specially adapted nest the so-called B nest. The intention is to try and exclude the male, who is often the one responsible for egg-breaking, and to make the nesting chamber so dark that that the male is thwarted from easily visualizing and ultimately breaking the eggs. The narrow passageway to enter the nesting cavity and very dark interior often achieves this. This nest has been used for Blue-headed Macaw (Primolius couloni), Hawk-headed Parrots (Deroptyus accipitrinus) and Black-headed Caiques (Pionites melanocephalus) pairs that had a history of breaking eggs.


buky B shape

Drawing of B-shaped nest from Rahul Sharma



The nests described above are only a sampling of what can be used or what should be kept in mind when developing yet another nest style. The key to success are to study the wild habits of the species which you are trying to breed, to then observe the behavior of the birds in your aviary, to accept no barrier in design, and to share the design that has led to the success so that others can also be successful. Only by doing this will aviculture be able to rewrite the standards put on paper by E.J. Boosey nearly six decades ago.


author: Tony Silva

author of drawings: Rahul Sharma

Title photo: TJ Lin, Wikipedia Commons


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