Parrot Nest Boxes
From time to time, we get emails asking us questions on many subjects about breeding, handfeeding, incubation and many other questions. We get over 50 emails each day, sometimes more, and of course we just cannot answer them all personally, we instruct them to visit our website for our articles and videos that are helpful. But we do answer some and we post them here in hopes that it might help others. So here goes.
Email question from. T. Bledsoe, Miami, fl:
Hello Royal Bird Company, we have a question, what size or how big should an african grey nest box be? we purchased a male and female sometime ago, they should be 4 years or older by now and we had a person build us a wood box, but it just seems too small, its about 24 inches square and x 30 inches long in the boot and is 30 inches tall and the entry hole is 10 x 10, its a boot shaped box, it just seems small due to both go in the nest, how big are your boxes that you use for greys??.
ANSWER: Wow...thats a big box. waaay way too big....
Well, the question should not be how big should the nest be? The question should be how small should the nest be? Most birds will nest in hollows of limbs and trees in their wild native lands. Where would a bird find a hollow tree the size you said? 24 inches square, 30 inches long and 30 inches tall , that is close to what we use for macaws, your nest is way way too big for greys, the nest should be tight, this way the birds feel secure, if the entry hole and the nest chamber is overly large they will feel that a predator may enter, so the tighter the better, the entry hole being 10 inches square is absolutely too big, our largest hole is 5 x 5 inches for most amazons and that is kinda large for small amazons, the birds want to feel secure in that other larger birds and predators cannot enter the same hole, and the nest we use mostly is our stubby boot and the classic style boxes, the classic is the most simple, its around 12 x 12 square and 24 tall, the stubby boot is 24 tall and has a 12 x 12 inches square and the boot is 18 inches and the entry hole is 4 x 4, this box is used when we think we need a little more room than the classic with birds that both like to stay in the box, however we have many pair of amazons and greys that do fine in the classic 12 x 12 x 24 tall box and this box is plenty large enough in most cases, the biggest mistake is that people try create a nesting box the way the humans want it to be and they need to understand and to know what the birds want and use in the natural world. again think about this, where would a bird find the size of nest you are trying to use, and understand that when birds feel secure they will use the box for nesting, i feel that your birds may just see your extremely large box as a resting or sleeping area. We have many conure breeders actually think that their birds need lots of room, We have seen the most success in small boxes like 8 x 8 nest chamber, this is more natural size as in the wild. Conures like sun, and jenday in the wild never nest in large cavities, they will always be in a very tight fit, like a hollow limb, WHERE would you find a hollow limb at 12 inch square. Its just ignorance on these breeders part. We have been breeding professionally for over 40 years, with the world largest yellow naped breeding and research center. We have collected massive amounts of nesting and breeding data. We have manufactured nest boxes for over 35 years. And we always are amazed at how much socalled breeders just DONOT know about wild nesting sites. Birds in captivity will actually breed in almost anything, give a conure an amazon box, that is 12 x 12 x 24 inches tall, and YES, they will breed. But NEVER NEVER would these birds pick a natural nest site that is this large. Hyacinth macaws in brazil nest in a small tight nest, most have a nest chamber size of around 3 feet deep which is MOST important than the square size of the bottom of the nest 24x 24 size of a tree. This is why most breeders have very little success with the breeding of hyacinth macaws. The nest they try to use are WAY too large, causing eggs being scattered, not being incubated properly. In the wild they as do ALL parrots, will nest in smaller cavity, This increases success of properly incubated eggs.
The humans try to use nest like the humans think the birds should have. However birds in captivity may nest in many size and designs of nest boxes.
Using the correct size will always increase the chance or success of the breeder.
We got our first pair of Blue Yellow Naped from howard voren.
This great pioneer
bird man was lost to us in 2015.
Keeping in mind we did not pull all eggs for incubation in 2000 as we do now. We stupidly let them stay with the pairs.
We had trouble with eggs being fertile but not hatching. they seem to get a couple weeks old in the nest and then just basically die early in shell, and also, we had eggs damaged in the box. We had been one of the world largest breeding center for yellow naped amazons even then, and thought we knew what to do. We have published over 25 articles on yellow naped, and also have published over dozen artilces on nest boxes, wild and captivity nesting.
We had more than 100 breeding pair of 5 different yellow naped amazon species and subspecies. We were very successful with the parvipes and the the Caribe yellow naped subspecies, this sub species of yellow naped are almost non existent in the wild, we have 2 pair of this rare species and i think at this time, NON are left in the wild, Only in captivity are they counted now. There is less than 100 pair around the world. We used cctv cameras for over 30 years for watching and recording 100's pairs nesting and breeding. We thought we knew all we needed to know. WELL WRONG WRONG....
After discussing with voren after a year or 2. we found out that this mutation likes a very small nest cavity, we were using boot boxes, 12 x12 x 24 deep. Nest chamber was 12 x 12. Howard Voren told me several times, ITS TOO LARGE. So, after having trouble for a couple years. We looked at what he was using, and he laughs. and tells me, it looks small right???
The nest chamber was around 10 x 10 and 24 tall. SIMPLE and small.
We had our metal man make some extra smaller amazon boxes.
We started to use the smaller box special made for them, 10 x10 x 24 tall.
the very first try, and 4 fertile and all pulled after 20 days of natutral incubation and all hatch, by the time they were 3 weeks old, They are back in the box and again 3 eggs fertile and all pulled 20 days, and all fine. We tried experiment, went back to 12 x12 and 24 tall boot. Back to the same problem, but this time they even reluctant to enter and stay, very nervous, THE BOX WAS TOO BIG, too much room, the birds do not feel secure. Back to the smaller boxes but a little deeper this time, 30 inches tall. The birds rushed into the box, and the rest is history, We now have 4 generation of blue naped, and we have 7 generation breeders of parvipes,and caribes and the even more rare Honduran variate of yellow naped. We are no doubt the world largest most successful center specializing in this species. We share our info with 4 breed and release centers in central america. we have published and was accepted by UC Davis animal dept research info published online.
We use the smaller versions on all amazons, and its amazing how much we didnt know. Once someone sees where these birds actually nest in the wild, they never really know that the boxes they are using are not what they would breed in in the natural habitats. Think about it, where are they going to find a tree hole as big as what you try to get them to breed in. But some birds like suns, jendaya, blue crowns and chery heads will basically breed in anything. But a smaller nest chamber may increase security and they may even be more prolific.
But if you are trying to breed and that is the goal, then maybe go with something else, or not, its up to the breeder to take responsibility and understand their birds and what they want and or need, in diets, breeding needs, and make the changes accordingly, what works for one person may not work for you, we spend hundreds of hours each year in study of our birds, we research each species and the needs of each pairs, make video, make notes, collaborate with others each year, we then make changes as we see fit for our collection, and each pair may need something different than the next.
A good responsible breeder should always be researching, and thinking about what their birds need and make every effort to evolve and make changes in the way you do things, change is good, and good luck to you.
thanks. Mike Richard, RBC Director.
Yellow Naped Amazon 2 hours old
thanks, Mike Richard, RBC Director. Royal Bird Company
We own and operate one of the largest, selective and most successful breeding farms on the east coast USA. today.
We are professional responsible breeders and we continue to educate people how to properly maintain their birds.