Breeding Condition:
Normally, Budgerigars get into breeding condition in November or December, the females somewhat earlier than the males. Naturally, both sexes should be in breeding condition at the same time, or else they won't mate. Note that the mating urge slowly wanes between the end of December and the end of January. Continue to keep the sexes separated during this first phase of the mating urge. Give all your birds a varied, balanced menu, including animal fats. Again, give the birds uncontaminated twigs from fruit trees, willow, or the like for diversion. You can practically depend on the first breeding phase to end by late February, and in early to mid-March the second breeding phase will commence. By the end of March both sexes are usually in top breeding form. These dates, of course, are approximations, and experience will teach you when your own birds pass through the first breeding phase. We have bred budgies from September until April or may of the next year.

Summer is usually their rest period. (May to end of August.) The determining factor for the onset of the mating urge is day length, the number of hours of daylight per day. This is equally true for wild and domesticated birds. Wild birds are also influenced by the presence of ripening grass, weeds, and grain and the availability of water. But these supplies don't materially influence the mating urge in captive birds, because the breeder constantly furnishes these necessities. Artificial light affects the birds in the same way as natural light, and this factor causes grief for breeders who aren't careful with their lighting. If you want to trigger the mating urge, expose the birds to 13 hours of light and 11 hours of darkness. (We keep our lights on from 6:45 am to 9:45 p.m. all year round. This is 15 hours of light and 9 hours of darkness using an electronic timer for the on/off times.) Breeders run into problems with day length when they get careless with their lighting schedule and leave lights on an hour or so longer one night and shorter the next. This much irregularity is enough to upset the triggering mechanism in the birds. The message in all this is that you have to be consistent in timing the lights. You can find timers that do the job automatically, some with dimmers some with fancy electronics that allow you to make timing variations from three seconds to 30 minutes. I prefer exposing the birds to as much natural light as possible.

Some breeders leave the lights off in the morning so the birds can get used to the natural morning light which increases as the days progress. I do switch on two night lights in case they get disturbed at night and lose their perching. A male in good breeding condition has a beautiful blue cere. He is in constant motion and takes in everything in his surroundings. He reacts to everything that interests him by pulling his feathers together tightly and carrying his wings high. And just about everything interests him! The female ready to breed has a deep brown cere. She also is highly active and especially in the morning, she constantly calls to her mate. Budgies are in top breeding condition during their second and third years. Outwardly and internally, they are completely developed at that age. Avoid mating two young birds or two old birds together. Instead, give an older male or female a young mate. Beginning breeders must be aware that Budgies mature gradually. They often worry when they note that the young they raised are lighter in color than their parents and that they are less developed. The worry is unnecessary. As the birds mature further, new breeders discover that the colors darken and become stronger. This, however, is not necessarily true for light colored birds, where wavy markings on the back and wings are not desirable. One may find that these become more pronounced as the birds grow older. And yellow Budgies may gradually develop a green haze over their feathering.

E-Mail: berniehansen@sympatico.ca