Parakeets use nests and nesting materials to keep their chicks warm, dry and safe. The correct choice of nestbox bedding is important to prevent skeletal disorders in growing chicks, such as a splayed leg. There are different nesting materials on the market that are safe and suitable for nesting parakeets. Invest in nesting materials that are preferred by the parakeet hen, but are also easily maintained.
A concave circle in the middle of the nesting box is necessary if the nest box does not already have one. Use a small hammer and sandpaper to make a smooth, concave dish in the center of the nesting box. This prevents the chicks from developing splayed legs, which is a skeletal deformity caused by the lack of a properly shaped nest. This also keeps the chicks near the warmth and food provided by the hen.
Parakeet nestboxes also require bedding. Unscented pine shavings are the most commonly used and least expensive bedding. Unscented pine shavings are readily available at most pet supply stores, and can be purchased on large or small cubes. The hen will arrange the shavings to her liking, so make sure there is enough in the nesting box so the hen can build a nest of proper size and shape.
Paper bedding is also safe for usage in parakeet nestboxes, and it comes in a variety of shapes, textures and colors. Shredded paper, paper towels and paper bedding sold at pet supply stores make convenient, inexpensive and sanitary nest box fillers. Newspaper is also safe; however, when using newspaper, avoid color and glossy paper to prevent possible lead poisoning.
What Not To Use
While there are several types of pet and bird bedding/litter, not all bedding is safe for chicks or birds that have direct contact with the bedding on a regular basis. Corncob bedding, walnut bedding and cedar shavings all have toxins, irritants and other chemicals that are either harmful or fatal. Never allow birds to be exposed to cat litter, because the clumping agents and chemicals are both highly toxic to birds in any amount.
A hen may abandon the nest if the bedding gets disturbed. For best results, provide fresh nesting material before the hen lays her eggs, giving her to adjust the nest. Once the hen has a clutch of eggs, do not change the bedding until after the chicks are weaned, which is about two weeks after they hatch. Contact your avian vet for advice if the bedding must be changed before the chicks are weaned.