Home | Bird Breeding | Spring’s Affect on Parrots, Budgerigars, Canaries, Finches and Other Cage Birds: Aggression, Nesting Behavior and Other Signs of Breeding Readiness

Spring’s Affect on Parrots, Budgerigars, Canaries, Finches and Other Cage Birds: Aggression, Nesting Behavior and Other Signs of Breeding Readiness


Inca Tern-PairThe longer days and warmer temperatures that are (finally!) upon us may cause some behavioral changes in our pet birds.  Pet owners are often surprised by this, because even birds that are housed alone may show confusing personality changes and odd behaviors.  Furthermore, the behaviors may not occur every year, even though seasonal temperature and light changes around the bird remain similar.

Aggression Towards People

Take extra care around your birds, especially the larger parrots, during the spring, as hormonal changes can spur aggression even in normally calm, affectionate individuals.  This can happen quite suddenly to either males or females.  It is best to keep parrots away from your face and to supervise them closely around children during the breeding season.

Nesting Behavior

Purple GallinuleHens of most bird species will search the cage floor for nesting material, often quite frantically, when breeding readiness sets in.  If a nesting site is not available, they may carry feathers and bits of material about continually, seemingly unsure of what to do with them but unwilling to let go.  Cocks will become more vocal, and will show greater interest in the hens.

The Droppings

The droppings of female birds may change appearance during the breeding season, becoming larger and, in those species that produce greenish feces, a dark brown in color.

Physical and Behavioral Changes in Budgerigars

The cere (the area above the bill, which houses the nostrils) of a breeding female budgerigar will turn deep brown, and she may become quite destructive.  Cuttlebones and toys that were given scant attention in the past may now be demolished in a matter of minutes.

Amorous male budgies will begin to call while constricting the pupil of the eye and banging the beak on perches and cage bars.  If a hen is present, the male will usually display before her with comical, (to us, at least…hopefully not to the hen!) bobbing head movements.

Further Reading

An interesting article on the hormonal changes that occur in cage birds during the breeding season is posted at http://www.exoticpetvet.net/avian/season.html.

For information on other aspects of bird breeding, please see the following articles on this blog:

Nest Boxes

Infertility in Pet Birds

Overproduction of Eggs  



  1. avatar

    I was erroneously sold a female canary. When she never sang, I figured out what happened. It was never my intention to breed canaries. I later bought a male. There are in separate cages side by side. The female has taken to sitting in her food constantly like she is trying to hatch eggs. Do I need to take away the feeder and replace it with one she cannot sit in? Is this harmful to her in any way? Again, I have no desire to breed canaries. I just cannot find the answer to my quesions.

  2. avatar

    Hello Linda, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your interest in our blog.

    Unfortunately the presence of the male is likely stimulating the nesting behavior. Keeping the hen out of sight and hearing range might help, but she may already be developing eggs in which case she will likely lay.

    The presence of a potential nest site can also spur the female to lay, replacing the food cup with a narrow-mouthed feeder would be a good idea in any event.

    If she does lay, and hasn’t mated, you can let her brood the eggs; she will give up at some point after the normal incubation period has passed. Pulling the eggs will cause her to lay a replacement clutch.

    Please write in if you need any further information.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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