If you own cockatiels, then you already know how fun and loving these small parrots can be.
In fact, they bring so much joy into the home that many owners consider delving into the world of mating cockatiels.
If you are considering mating cockatiels, then there are many factors to consider.
I have compiled all the basic information you will need to know about cockatiel egg laying and their reproductive schedule here.
Let’s dig in, starting with one of the most common questions I am asked.
How often do cockatiels lay eggs?
Cockatiels lay 1-2 clutches of eggs per year. Cockatiels lay about one egg every 48 hours until they have a full clutch. Each clutch will have an average of 2-8 eggs. Incubation time can vary, though on average it will last about 20 days from when the hen begins to incubate.
Keep in mind that incubation periods can vary, and those eggs may hatch in succession.
Because they are laid 48 hours apart a hen may not begin to incubate her eggs until there are a few in the nest.
If she does sit on the eggs before they are all laid then expect them to hatch over a period of days.
How do I care for mating cockatiels?
Mating is a very stressful process for birds, so we have to make sure that we take optimal care of them.
This way the eggs and fledglings will have the best chance at being born strong.
While wild cockatiels tend to breed in the spring or summer, domestic cockatiels can breed year-round with environmental adjustments.
This could include exposure to increased natural light and longer days (even if artificial using indoor lighting).
Keep their environment warm, with plenty of moisture.
A mating pair needs a cage that is large enough to accommodate a nesting box and room for ample exercise.
Make sure that they have lots of toys and a variety of food to keep them stimulated.
Soft foods are especially good for a mating pair, as this is what they would feed babies.
Females that are nesting may not want to leave their nesting box, even for food or water.
Keep everything she needs close to the box so that she can access enough nutrition during this stressful time.
Make sure her diet is rich in calcium as well.
Hens will lose a lot of calcium in the egg laying process.
Good foods for mating cockatiels include leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes, and their regular pellets.
Make sure they also have plenty of access to water and ideally to full spectrum or natural light.
How many clutches is it healthy for a cockatiel to have?
It is standard for cockatiels to produce 1-2 clutches of eggs per year.
In captivity it is possible for your cockatiel to lay 3-4 clutches because owners can manipulate their surroundings to extend the mating cycle.
Even though it is possible to have more than 2 clutches in a year, many experts strongly advise against this practice. 1-2 clutches is a sustainable number for cockatiels so that they can remain healthy and happy.
Remember, laying eggs and nesting is quite stressful, especially for the hen!
If cockatiels lay too many eggs it could cause a number of health problems, including calcium deficiencies leading to brittle bones, malnutrition, weight loss, and even seizures.
It also can cause excess stress and poor mental health.
This will have an impact on the care the fledglings receive.
A healthy mom will help to raise healthy babies.
Even if you wish to limit your mating pair to 2 clutches, it is possible that they will lay more.
In captivity birds often have more regulated and safe environments, encouraging mating behavior.
If your birds continue to lay eggs, then you will have to make some environmental changes.
This should discourage mating and give your female a rest.
This includes shortening light exposure, removing nesting boxes and nesting materials, and even keeping the pair in separate cages.
The more drastic the environmental change the better, as it will help interrupt their hormone cycles.
What if my cockatiel is not sitting on her eggs?
First off, remember that your hen may not sit on her eggs until she has laid the full clutch.
If she lays an egg or two and does not begin to sit on them, don’t panic.
She may be waiting to begin incubation, so give her a few days and see if she lays more.
Not sitting on eggs is a very common challenge for cockatiel owners, particularly for young hens who lack experience or are stressed.
Just because a hen can lay eggs does not mean she is mature enough to raise babies yet.
A cockatiel that is not healthy or does not feel safe may also avoid sitting on her eggs, even if they are viable.
If your bird is not sitting on viable eggs, then you can remove them and incubate them yourself. It is still possible to have healthy chicks.
Another common reason is simply that the eggs are not fertilized.
In this case they may be ignored or even pushed out of the nest.
If this is the case then go ahead and remove the eggs, as they will not hatch.
When do cockatiels start and stop laying eggs?
Most cockatiels reach puberty around 5-6 months old.
This is when they physically may begin to exhibit signs of sexual behavior.
However, they will not reach sexual maturity until 9-12 months old.
One year is a good benchmark for sexual maturity, and many experts recommend waiting until they are 18 months old to breed.
Then they can safely mate and lay eggs.
If they stay healthy and don’t have too many clutches per year, then cockatiels can lay eggs until they are about ten years old.
This is somewhat early given their long lifespan.
Many will live 16-20 years in captivity.
Once you have healthy cockatiel eggs you will need to begin to consider raising the chicks!
Egg laying is merely the first step on your exciting journey into cockatiel mating.
If you take care that your mated pair is healthy and their eggs are well cared for then you will be sure to have healthy fledglings soon.