Breeding Greycheeks can be challenging, and a lot of thought and planning needs to put into this endeavor.
In their natural habitat, Grey-cheeks don't build their nests in the canopies of trees; but they prefer to build their nests in protected areas such as active termite mounds or tree hollows and line their nests with moss. The lack of captive breeding success appears to be the degree of difficulty in reproducing these conditions in a captive environment.
Choosing your breeding stock
The first step is to start with several pairs of healthy, sexually mature breeding stock. All adult breeders should be surgically sexed -- this will also allow the vet to view the sex organs and identify any birds that are not viable breeders due to a pre-existing condition. Newly introduced birds need to be quarantined to protect your existing stock from a disease outbreak.
Breeding success is not always guaranteed, as some pairs are known to take a year off from breeding. Having several pairs will ensure a good working flock. Pairs should be introduced slowly to allow them to bond properly -- which is important for yielding fertile eggs.
Housing / Set-up:
Aviaries or breeding cages work well. First of all, would recommend checking out this website for samples -- and even instructions as to how to build the breeding cages / aviaries yourself. Cages should be large enough for the feeding dishes, natural wood branches (i.e., Vine Maple, Alder or Maple), in addition to allowing for the birds move around freely and if possible fly - to maintain muscle mass and good health. It is preferable that all cages can be serviced from outside so that you don't disturb the birds in their breeding activities.
The nesting box should be attached to the outside of the cage -- of course, that doesn't apply in the case of an aviary setting. Situate the nest box in the most distant corner, and the feeding / water dishes next / close to the aviary door. A cockatiel / lovebird-sized nesting box, lined with suitable nest litter should work fine. Options are decomposed non-toxic saw dust, corn cob, wood shavings (i.e., Aspen shavings) or other suitable materials. Please note that wood shavings - such as pine, cedar and redwood - give off aromatic hydrocarbons (phenols) and acids that are toxic and can cause dermatitis, allergic symptoms and irritation of the digestive tract. They should not be used in cages, aviaries, or nestboxes. The larger the wood chips the better, so the parents don't feed it to the babies or the chicks accidentally ingest it. Other options for nesting material include shredded paper and clean straw / dried grass.
Visual barriers between the breeding cages is recommended to give each pair more privacy. In an aviary, situating nesting boxes away from each other should work fine. Please look out for any birds that are being targeted by bullies in the aviary. If necessary, separate them.
Breeding and Raising the Young
It will take some time for birds to bond and get settled before getting "down to business." If all goes well, you can expect a pair to lay about 3 to 6 eggs per clutch, with 1 to 3 clutches a year (each egg measuring about 2 x 1.6 cm).. The hen will incubate the eggs for 22 up to 26 days, while the male stands guard outside the nest. Once the third egg has been laid, both parents will remain in the nest box most of the time - except for feeding. It is important to check the nesting box once a day -- preferably during feeding times, so that you minimize the stress to the parents.
During nesting, the parents will become more territorial and aggressive. This is normal behavior, as they are protective of their brood.
The chicks should start hatching at about 26 days, and should be pulled for handfeeding when they are about 10 to 14 days old to socialize them properly.
Other Relevant Websites:
- Breeding your Brotogeris - All you need to know about setting up and maintaining your breeding pairs
- Brotogeris as Pets - Find out about their personalities and care requirements
- Common Health Problems of the Brotogeris
- Brotogeris Species .... Photos of the Various Brotogeris Species for Identification
Species Research by Sibylle Johnson
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