The Lonely Life of an Expectant Avian Dad

Spring may still be weeks away, but in southern California, the birds don’t care. They are building nests, laying eggs, and raising babies. I couldn’t be happier about it all. But in a few species where the hen goes into the nest box and isn’t seen until the chicks need feeding. In fact, she needs time in the dark nest box to get in the mood to lay the eggs. The male bird hangs around the cage looking lonely and wishing this whole thing was over so he could have his mate’s companionship again. (I know, that’s a totally anthropomorphic view of the situation, indulge me.)


This thought first occurred to me when my female Indian ringneck parakeet, Orion, went into her box and stayed there. Up until that time, she had been in and then come out. Then gone back in. Now she’s committed to the nest, which hopefully means she has an egg or two to sit on. Wraith, the possible father, hangs around the aviary talking to himself, complaining when I go to say hi and looked at the fresh fruits and vegetables as if I am offering pathetic excuses for avian cuisine. Now and then I will not see him when he has probably gone in to feed his mate. I hope to hear the cries of hungry chicks in about 23 days.


red rumps murray and darling
Before the Nest Box


I have to think Murray, the male red rump, is a bit relieved that Darling has gone into the nest. She really doesn’t like him and attacks him even now, whenever she comes out of the box. She has about 4 eggs now, and Murray sits far away from it near the feeder, singing his little heart out. Luckily he has lots of toys to keep him busy. He’s only going to wait 17 to 20 days before his part in the child-rearing begins.

View from outside. Babies have black beaks

Finches have it easy, as they both sit on the nest, both take turns feeding and will both raise the chicks. Their incubation time in quick, 14 days. The chicks will leave the nest quickly, only 21 days after hatching, and will be eating on their own in 4 more weeks. Life is hard in the part of Australia where these hardy little finches originated. They are keyed to breed often and get the kids raised and out so the parents can start another clutch.

So far, neither my American budgies or my English ones are seriously ready to go in the nest boxes. That’s probably fine as I will have my hands full with the red rumps and ringnecks.

adult budgies

I joked to people that when I put my orange front conures together, they barely noticed each other until I gave them a paper bag to play in. As soon as Dani got Sunny in the sack, everything worked out between them. Now, a few bags later, we hadn’t seen Dani for a few days. Mike joked that I should look for eggs. Hmm. Sure enough, when I lifted up the bag which they had chewed one side out of, two white eggs rolled away from Dani. We don’t know for sure if Sunny is male, so there’s a possibility the eggs are not fertile.


Dani looking normal


I placed a shallow plastic tray with nesting material in the cage, gently put the eggs into it, and covered it again with the bag. A later check showed Dani happily nesting there. Two days later, I checked and the eggs, three now, rolled out. Dani and Sunny had chewed the plastic tray to bits! Luckily, I had a shallow wooden nest box which at hand, and put the eggs in with more nesting material. At last check, all continued to be well.


Andy's Sunny
 Mr. Sun



Dani is seriously splay-legged so I will be extra vigilant with her chicks should the eggs hatch. Sunny is such a sweet and loving bird, I hope these babies are like him. They may let me co-parent so I don’t have to pull the chicks but can still make them sweet babies.

So it goes, hopes and dreams waiting to hatch and pairs waiting for that slice of immortality that comes from procreating. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next Sunday.

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