Parakeets, also called budgies, use nests and nesting materials to keep their chicks warm, dry, and safe. Home parakeet nesting boxes should contain wood shavings or saw dust from untreated timber. The correct choice of nest-box bedding and shape 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, but wood shavings will help absorb the chicks' waste. Invest in nesting materials that are preferred by the parakeet hen, but are also easily maintained. Note that female budgies will not like the nest altered after laying eggs.
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Nest for parakeets
A nest for parakeets has an essential component: a concave circle in the bottom of the nesting box. This is necessary if the nest box does not already have one, because it helps prevent the chicks from developing splayed legs — a skeletal deformity caused by the lack of a properly shaped nest. A concave circle also keeps the chicks near the warmth and food provided by the hen.
To create a proper nest for parakeets, use a small hammer and sandpaper to make a smooth, concave dish in the center of the nesting box. This rounded depression in the floor of the next box should be at the furthest end from the opening. It also stops the eggs from rolling around and getting stuck in corners when the hen moves around.
Nesting material for budgies
Parakeet nesting boxes 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 use as nesting material for budgies, 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.
Nesting material cautions
While there are several types of pet and bird bedding and litter, not all bedding is safe for chicks or birds that have direct contact with the bedding on a regular basis. For instance, corncob bedding, walnut bedding, and cedar shavings all have toxins, irritants, and other chemicals that are either harmful or fatal. Cedar also has an aroma too strong for budgies. Never allow birds to be exposed to cat litter, because the clumping agents and chemicals are both highly toxic to birds in any amount.
Also consider that a hen might 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.