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Breeding Parrotlets
The following Breeding Parrotlets article was
Kindly Written by Dave Simons.
Breeding Parrotlets
Dave Simons has over 30 years Psittacine experience and to date owns many Parrot Species including Parrotlets, Conures, Cockatiels, Kakariki's, Budgies and Pionus.
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Breeding Parrotlets
The parrotlet or Forpus are little dynamos. They are related to the Amazon and would say from our experience some of their ways can be seen in their larger relations, the Amazon.
The native location for the parrotlet ranges from Mexico, through South America to Northern Argentina and Paraguay. The Pacific originating from the North West coast of Peru.
There are many parrotlets available these days and they can be colourful little birds. Some examples being the Spectacled, Green Rump, Mexican, Celestial, Pacific and of course the many mutations that are indeed colourful like the American White, American Yellow, Lutino, Blues, Fallows and so on to name a few.
Despite their small size they are indeed a true parrot in every way. A small parrot with a big attitude!
Parrotlets are on the whole a quiet bird, ideal for people who live in apartments or have neighbours close by and are concerned to excessive noise. Personally we have found our budgies can be noisier!
Breeding Parrotlets
Parrotlets can breed from around a year old; sometimes a little younger though is preferable they are at least a year old. Males tend to be more colourful, usually having blue eye brow to them and blue in their wings and tail.
Parrotlets can breed using a budgie nestbox that can be bought ready made from most good pet stores or avian stockists. The concave available for the boxes is preferable in them to avoid the eggs rolling about and maybe going cold if too far away from the hen to be incubated. Average clutch size is 4-5 eggs though more have been known to be laid, have heard of up to 9 in one sitting. 4-5 is ideal number to ensure the hen can cope and cover the eggs adequately for incubation. Candling the eggs can help if a large number of eggs are laid to possibly remove any infertile eggs or alternatively an incubator can be used. On average 2 clutches a year is the norm for a pair of parrotlets.
Incubation is around 21 days and the hen starts to incubate usually once the second egg is laid.
Breeding Parrotlets
Mating can take place many times. A strong, steady perch is desirable. The male tends to grip the perch with one foot and place the other on the back of the hen. If ready to receive the hen lifts her tail and stoops low to the perch.
Mating is often done in a sideways action and does not last long but can take place many times. The sideways mating instead of the usual back sitting is said to be somewhat unusual by some as a mating posture for a parrot.
The cock encourages the hen into the nestbox by calling and displaying to her. The cock is usually the first to check the nestbox out followed by the hen.
Bedding in the nestbox we use the small wood chippings you can buy, often used for reptiles too. A liberal scattering in the box is sufficient.
Breeding Parrotlets
If any gaps around the concave board we fill these in with the chippings to avoid injury to the parents or an egg becoming trapped, or a chick at a later date. Quite often the parents will remove the chippings and seem to happily rear the young on bare wood flooring.
Like many birds, the eggs are laid on alternate days and then hatch alternate days so there can be quite an age difference between the youngest & oldest chick in a large clutch.
The hen usually does the incubating; we have found often the cock will share in this overnight. The hen is fed by the cock and only comes out the nest a couple of times a day to maybe eat a little, drink and defecate.
The arrival of the 1st chick can often be heard by a gentle cheeping sound coming from the nest. We have found our hand raised birds are usually happy for nest inspections during incubation and once the chicks hatch. The hen stays with the chicks, feeding them and can often be heard the cries of the babies for food every few hours. The hen rarely leaves the nest. The cock offers food to the hen and as we found, continues to share duties overnight in the nestbox. On occasions if the hen has come out the nest and the cock thinks been out too long you can hear him calling her back into the nest as much as to say time to get back to it!
Breeding Parrotlets
Like most altricial birds, they grow rapidly and are naked apart from a fine covering of a down like fuzz; eyes are closed and are deaf when they hatch.
The chicks are usually rung 10-12 days of age. Leg size L is the norm for a parrotlet and is simple to do this once been shown or done a few times.
Breeding Parrotlets
If choosing to hand rear the chicks they are usually took when 2-3 weeks old.
Once you have rung the chicks it is best to check the parents do not try and remove the leg rings as see it as a foreign body. Often ringing late in the evening works well when the nest activity tends to be quieter and settling down for the night. Usually if no mishaps with leg rings by the morning then all is well and the parents have accepted the rings on the chicks.  Close observation is useful in case of any problems.
If the chicks are took for hand rearing the chicks need to be kept in a brooder at a average temp of 31.7’ C / 89’ F # at 2 weeks and as they grow and get their feathers this can be reduced slowly. Feeding starts around 7.30 am and is around 4 hourly, finishing around 11.30 pm. You can tell by the crop how full it is and how well the bird is feeding and food passing through the crop. We also keep a close eye on the droppings of the chicks.
Hand feeding we have found some chicks prefer a bent spoon and others a syringe to be fed from. Formula should be mixed as per instructions on the packet and offered at the right temperature. We also weigh our chicks each morning before being fed and keep a record of this to ensure growth rate is good and weight is staying stable, etc.
By around 12-14 days the eyes are starting to open, feather fuzz starts to appear and each day can see a change in each of the babies where growing so fast. By about 3 weeks of age you can usually get an idea of the sex of the chick as the blue of the male is appearing.
Weaning starts around 4-5 weeks of age. Parrotlets can seem to almost wean themselves overnight and often independent by about 6 weeks of age. During weaning we offer fresh apple, grapes, millet, sunflower hearts which then progresses to a full parrot mix and we offer a good cockatiel mix, fresh fruit and vegetables are offered daily too.
Hand feeding is continued and then reduced, often we find the bird will start resisting hand feeding and we observe their eating and drinking to ensure they are eating well independently.
The chicks seem to find their wings around 4-5 weeks of age and soon master the skills of flying. By now they are in a cage and start off with perches low down till their flying and climbing skills improve. Usually by 7 weeks they are independent and refusing hand feeding altogether. We keep the chicks till at least 8 weeks of age to ensure they are fully independent. Once they have started to fly we start basic training such as the ‘step up’ command in readiness for them moving on to their new homes and owners.
Like any bird, raising a parrotlet is a wonderful experience and we keep a photographic diary of each chick to pass on to their new owners as a record of their growing and early life.
This is a guide temperature as some species require little warmer. If the chicks are huddling together then they are chilly and can turn temperature up a little, likewise if they gasping they are too warm so can turn temperature down a little.
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The above Article was kindly written by Dave Simons
Breeding Parrotlets


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