Incompatible Birds

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Q: I have surgically sexed pairs of Timneh greys, Goffin’s cockatoos, nanday conures, blue-crowned conures and rosellas set up for breeding. They have cages that average 3 by 3 by 4 feet, with proper nest boxes. They are in a double garage out in the back of my house and have not been moved for two years. I have heaters, coolers, cross ventilation, air purifiers and fluorescent fixtures. They get a complete diet of all the necessary seeds, pellets, fruits, vegetables, vitamins and minerals. Nobody goes out there except to service the cages once a day. They are all well-adjusted. Why won’t they lay? I have no idea what to try now. I was told that they are all mature. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Your biggest problem is that the types of birds you are housing together are not compatible. With the exception of the nandays and blue crowns, they all inhibit the successful production of one another. In fact, I would be surprised if anything other than the nandays produced. It is not unusual for mature wild-caught blue crowns to take up to four years to begin producing. Another important thing is that, in general, Central and South American parrots react in an extremely negative fashion to large, flapping, white birds. To a blue-crowned conure, a Goffin’s cockatoo is a large bird. On the other hand, cockatoos appear to have an overall disdain for anything from Central or South America that can be as loud, or louder, than they are. In this case, both the nandays and the blue crowns fit the bill. African greys, regardless of what type, like their privacy. They have a very dismal breeding record whenever they are kept in visual contact with either conures or cockatoos. Then there are the poor rosellas. They must think they are on another planet. Every bird you mentioned has the ability to be intimidating to a rosella.

My advise would be to rearrange the cages in your garage, as well as to use some type of visual blind. The idea is to keep the birds from having visual contact with each other. For example, the cages could be placed side by side, and sheets of either plywood, paneling or metal can be hung between them. The only other potential problem that I see is your rosella cage. It is interesting to note that your smallest birds are the only ones that have a cage that is too small, even though it is approximately the same size as the ones you use for your biggest birds. Four feet is not enough flight length to make a rosella happy. I would consider expanding it to at least six feet. Rosellas evolved as grass seed feeders, and they are never truly happy unless they can fly down to the ground for a nibble now and then. Elevated flights are the smart way to go if you are breeding birds that don’t really care whether or not they ever fly down to the ground; most psittacines could care less. Unfortunately, the “grass parakeets,” of which the rosella is one, care quite a bit. They are never really content if they are cut off from the place where all their instincts tell them to go.