If all goes well, the female starts investigating the nest box and spends an increasing amount of time there. Sometimes she may spend the better part of a week in and around the nest box before she starts laying. At night, however, she is likely to sleep outside the box, though very near it. Sometimes a female spends all night hanging from the bars of the wire mesh or the cage. It's a mistake to force her to "sleep right" on a roost or something apparently more suitable. The result of moving her would be to create a nervous and out-of-sorts bird, meaning a delay in further breeding activity. After mating, the female no longer pays much attention to the male. She spends her time principally with inspecting the nest and its immediate surroundings. She keeps going in and out of the nest box and gnaws at the roof or entry of the box. To help dispel this nervous gnawing, provide several twigs from fruit trees, willow, or other soft wood. Put these in the nest, next to the bowl. She will continue to enjoy working on these once she is brooding eggs. It efficiently helps relieve her boredom.
Seven days after copulation, the first egg is due, although it can take up to 19 days to arrive. Leave the female undisturbed at this time. She is very sensitive to disturbances. Stop cleaning the cage for a while. Young females can get so upset from people coming to clean their cages that they lay their next eggs on the floor of the breeding cage or stop laying altogether after producing one or two eggs. Don't worry if the female pulls out several breast and stomach feathers. She is just preparing to brood her eggs better by baring her brood spots. (Note: Not all hens do this.) This is the place on her body where the surface temperature is higher than elsewhere because of an increased blood supply. It happens that young females lay eggs on the cage floor without apparent reason. They can be put into the nest box carefully if they aren't cracked or broken. The female may or may not accept such eggs for brooding-it is an open question. Most females, however, catch on quickly as to how things are supposed to go and deposit their eggs properly in the nest box. Budgies usually lay their eggs in the afternoon. After the female has laid the first egg or two, she tends to spend a lot of time in the nest box and she even spends the night there. Her cloaca relaxes and she is able to relieve herself again. When she leaves the nest from time to time, it usually is to defecate. The droppings are large and soft, compared to their normal character. Each additional egg produced is preceded by a new copulation, although it is quite normal that after the first copulation several additional ones take place the same day and the following days.
While laying eggs, the female may throw all the sawdust out of the nest box. I believe it is safer from the standpoint of preventing egg breakage to put the sawdust back--but do it very quickly at a time when the female is off the nest. If the female again exerts herself to remove the sawdust, then let it be as she prefers. The female will produce a new egg every other day. She may start brooding the moment she has laid her first egg, and if so, the first egg will hatch two days before the second egg and so on. If she doesn't keep brooding the first egg consistently, however, there can be a day's delay in the hatch. It is even possible that the first two eggs will hatch the same day. Ordinarily, however, if five eggs hatch, one can assume that the oldest member of the clutch was hatched eight days before the youngest. The first clutch consists of five or six eggs on the average. The second clutch can go up to 10 or 18. Especially in such large clutches, the infertile eggs should be removed. If you can't tell, or if there still are a large number of eggs left, distribute the extras among other breeding pairs of Budgies. Do not forget to keep good records on the switch! We usually do not let the hen raise more than 6 babies in a nest box.
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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.