Brooding and Hatching:
The incubation period lasts from 17 to 21 days, depending on the temperature in the room and the relative humidity. In a warm room, with temperatures between 65 and 72 degrees F (18 and 22 degrees C), the embryos develop faster, but the brooding period is never shorter than 17 days. Normally one egg produces a single young, although twins do occur in exceptional cases. These twins have a much lower chance of survival. Brooding is almost totally the task of the female. At times however, the male keeps his brooding mate company at the nest. They sit side by side on the eggs, the male with his head toward one side, the female with her head to the other side. But the most important task of the male is to take care of peace and security. It is important for the breeder to know whether the eggs that are being produced are truly fertile. After three or four days you can usually tell the difference. If you hold a fertile egg against a strong light on a transparent plastic spoon, or just between 2 fingers, you will see dark red stripes on the upper yolk, a sign of new life. If the embryo is not visible after five days, you can be sure that the egg is infertile. But don't overdo the checking--once or twice is enough. You do not want to upset the birds.

Eggs usually hatch in early morning.(But not always.) The hatching bird has an 'egg tooth' on the upper mandible of the bill, which it uses to scratch its way out of the shell. Once it has wormed its way out, the little one will start softly begging for food, which the mother bird has made ready in her crop--the so called 'crop milk'. Sometimes the male assists her, but ordinarily there is a definite separation of duties. The male fetches food and offers it to his mate, and she in turn, feeds the young. The young are hatched naked and pink-skinned. During the first days of life their protruding eyes are still closed. Hatching doesn't always go without involvement by the breeder. Infertile eggs have to be removed, because hatchlings would otherwise break them and make a mess in the nest. You also need to decide once again if some females have too many hatchlings to feed. Distribute any extras in large broods to couples with a smaller number of hatchlings to raise. Select foster parents that have young of about the same age. Don't give either eggs or young over to the care of foster parents that didn't produce eggs or young of their own.

They sometimes peck the eggs apart and kill the young. Don't delay in moving hatchlings around, as foster parents are more likely to accept young a few days old than half-grown hatchlings 2 1/2 to 3 weeks of age. To promote acceptance of foster youngsters, especially older ones, rub their backs and wings with some droppings taken from the nest of the foster parents. They will then not give off their "own" odour, but rather the familiar smell of the foster parents. Mark eggs or young to be moved to foster parents with an odourless felt-tip pen and record the marking in your records. On live birds, put the marks on their backs. To avoid the possibility of mistakes altogether, give foster parents youngsters to adopt that have a totally different coloration. Don't depend only on feather color, but also use eye color. Lutino and Cinnamon Budgies, for example, have red eyes and can thus be moved to foster parents with normal eye color.

E-Mail: berniehansen@sympatico.ca



Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.