As we know, the parrot species are extremely social and love being around other birds. But what about when it comes down to a mate? Macaws mate for life and raise their offspring together, but what about parakeets?
In answer to the question, parakeets do not mate for life. They do however, have one mate at a time and like to work together to bring up their offspring. When a parakeet’s mate passes away it will eventually feel the need to find another mate to raise more chicks.
It’s interesting to know that most species of bird are monogamous (only have one partner at a time). Keep reading to find out why.
Why are parakeets monogamous?
It’s not quite as romantic as it first sounds. The more chicks a couple has, the better they become when caring and ensuring survival of the babies. First time parents can be inexperienced and can even destroy the unhatched eggs to prevent them from getting diseases. The mother will kill the offspring if she is feeling stressed or thinks the cage does not have enough space. This is why having a large cage is so important. The birds will learn how to parent together and ensure the next set of chicks are happy and healthy. The mother will tend to the eggs whilst the father goes off to get food and vise versa.
How does a parakeet recognise its mate?
Male and female parakeets have different, distinct calls.
When a male and female start courting the male will start to imitate the female parakeet call to impress her as females are more interested in calls that sound like her own.
The female however, does not copy the males call. When the couple get together and eventually have chicks, their calls change again.
Researchers say that parakeets can recognise each other calls after 70 days of not seeing or hearing one another! It is thought that parakeets call to each other to keep in contact so they can maintain their special bond. It is similar to humans, we keep in contact with our significant other to maintain the bond!
What happens when a parakeet loses its mate?
When a parakeet loses its mate he/she might mourn his or her loss similarly to how we feel when we lose a loved one. It’s important to not change your parakeets daily routine as any sudden changes could distress your pet further and even make your bird depressed!
You should look out for these common factors that indicate your parakeet is mourning:
- Calling for the deceased bird
- Looking around the cage for its mate
- Loss of appetite/ Not eating
To aid your parakeet through the mourning period you could do the following:
- Comfort your pet with soothing sounds
- Talking to him/her calmly regularly
- Encourage play time
There is no set time for how long your parakeet will mourn for. It could be sad for a day, a week or even a few months. It is so important to let your pet go through the stages of grief to avoid further upset and depression. If you are concerned about your parakeet you should take him/her to an avian vet.
How do I know if my parakeets are mating or wanting to mate?
Before anything happens, the male and female parakeets must be bonded to one another and be of full maturity. You may notice they are following each other around the cage, perching next to each other and the male will regurgitate on the female. Once all of these things have happened the parakeets are fully bonded and the female will settle, lean forward and lift her tail. Mating will then begin.
My parakeets have bonded, will they have chicks?
Once your parakeets are fully bonded, you might want them to have some chicks! The likelihood is, if you have only one male and one female bird, they will bond with each other and become mates. If you think your parakeets have bonded (look at above question for how you can tell) they may begin the mating process. It is important that you have the right set up and are able to care for the newborn chicks.
Cage breeding or colony breeding?
If you have a male and female parakeet/s, it is likely that they will bond and breed. There are many ways you can house your birds.
Cage breeding is when you have a male and female parakeet in a large cage with no other birds. The cage will need to be big enough for the both of them and the chicks. They will need plenty of space to fly around. You will also need lots of perches and a nesting box attached to the side of the cage. This is where the mother will lay her eggs and leave them until they are ready to hatch. You should place the nest box where you can reach it and check on the chicks. First time parents may destroy the eggs before they hatch – especially if the cage isn’t big enough. Cage breeding has many benefits. Firstly, you can make sure there is no inbreeding and secondly, you can ensure all the parakeets are safe and healthy. Many first time parakeet breeders prefer this method over colony breeding.
Colony breeding is when there are a number of parakeets in an aviary. This is similar to how they would mate in the wild. To have a number of birds, you will need a large space for them so they do not feel cramped. The aviary can be inside or outside, but if your enclosure is outside it will need to be sheltered from the wind, rain and direct sunlight.
Inside the aviary, you will need lots of perches of all different shapes and sizes, lots of bird feed and nest boxes for when the females start to lay their eggs. Colony breeding is all about the parakeets finding their own mates. You introduce 4 males and 4 females to the aviary at the same time and let them find a mate for themselves.
There are a few things to watch out for when colony breeding.
Firstly, males may fight whilst they are competing for a mate.
Secondly, it is important to note that if males do not bond with a female, they will still have the desire to mate so might try to court with already paired up females.
Thirdly, you should be aware of inbreeding within the group.
Either way it is important to keep a very close eye on the birds as you don’t want them to really harm each other. Eventually, all the birds will pair up and begin to bond and then the mating process will begin but if you are worried about this, you could start by cage breeding.
Put each male and female bird in a smaller cage (large enough for them both) and then once all pairs are bonded place them into the aviary. The parakeets will usually stay with its bonded mate.
Each breeding method is down to the owner of the birds. If you only have one pair of birds, cage breeding is your best bet but if you want to have lots of birds and ready for a huge commitment, then colony breeding is for you!
In conclusion, parakeets are usually very loyal to the male/female they are bonded to. It’s amazing they can recognise their significant other’s bird song without hearing it for 70 days & help each other parent their offspring. If you feel like your bird might be lonely, maybe it is time to get him/her a mate and to have them start a family! Before you get your parakeet a mate, it is a good idea to do plenty of research beforehand.