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Guest eterri

The Benefits Of Same-sex Groups Or Pairs

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Guest eterri

Almost everything you read will say that budgies won't breed without a nest box and that they do perfectly well in groups of males and females. While this is often very true, I'm finding that it is far more common than one might think for things to go horribly wrong when you mix male and female budgies together. Not only are many people surprised with eggs, but some end up with a dead or injured bird due to fighting.

 

Male and female budgies are generally very different in personality. While each bird is an idividual, you're going to find far more females that are pushy, bossy, and downright aggressive towards the more laid back and docile male. Females can be sweet but they are also more likely to give you a painful bite. This isn't always the case, but more often than not, a bitey budgie is a girl.

 

When people email me with a problem that involves their budgies bickering or fighting, I can often deduce that the pair they first thought was same-sex is actually a male/female pair. The female is the troublemaker but the male always comes back for a beating because budgies are very social animals. They'll put up with partners that want nothing more than to push them around just so that they can have the company. It's hard to understand why, when they are separated, the "victim" still calls out for the company of the "bully" but this is often the case. Budgies really thrive on same-species companionship no matter how much "love hurts" but I've found that you can make life a lot easier for everyone if you keep your birds in same-sex groups or pairs.

 

Recently, I noticed breeding behavior in two of my budgies, Piper and Paris. For a while I just changed things up, made sure they were getting the appropriate amount of darkness (12 hours) and made sure there was nowhere in the cage or in the room that could act as a place to nest. No matter what, they still seemed to determined to figure out how to mate. I started getting scared that they would eventually figure it out and surprise me with eggs while I was at work. While I would've disposed of the eggs and replaced them with fakes, I still didn't want things to go that far. From what I have seen, once the female starts laying, it can be very hard to stop her and the laying itself is a large problem as it increases the chances of me losing my girls to egg binding or other complications.

 

Rather than continue to worry about the birds figuring things out, I separated them. I put my three males together (Paris, Peregrin, and the late Pippin) and put my three females (Piper, Pixel, and Phizzy) in a separate cage. The change itself was enough to bring Piper out of breeding mode. Paris seemed frustrated, but at least he wasn't the one in danger of becoming egg bound (as males don't lay eggs, of course).

 

Aside from the peace of mind that followed from not having to worry about egg surprises, I also noticed that the budgies got along much better. The females do a LOT more bickering than the males but since they're all pushy little devils who take nothing from nobody, it doesn't last long. It also doesn't escalate into an actual fight. An aggressive female waits for another budgie (usually a male) to show certain signs that he/she can be easily pushed around. Usually this involves him running, screaming, and sometimes making angry dolphin noises while she chases him around the cage. This is what usually causes a fight to escalate. A bully is more likely to pick on someone who they know they can take on but they're more likely to back down from someone who might just be able to put some hurt on them. That's a female budgie's world, really.

 

The males live peacefully. Even though Pippin, who recently passed away from his tumor, wasn't in the best of health, he was able to live peacefully in the cage with the two males. I worried about him being rejected and thought I saw signs of this at first but in the end, he had no problems with the other males he was caged with. Compare that to what happened immediately after Pixel (female) was hurt by the dog and then replaced in the cage and it's a huge difference. She was rejected by one of my other females (Piper) because she looked different and weak and it was the first time an actual fight had ever broken out amongst my flock.

 

Because of my own experiences as well as what I hear on an almost weekly basis, I really feel that keeping budgies in same-sex groups is best for everyone involved. The females will often work things out amongst each other despite a bit of bickering (though if you have one sick or injured it definitely needs to be caged on its own) whereas if a male were involved, he would be constantly pushed around. The males will often live peacefully and bicker far less than females. Egg surprises are still possible, but far less likely. Given how many young people get budgies, end up with eggs, and then decide they want to breed, this is probably what we should be advising anyway. There are far too many "backyard" budgie breeders in the world without having them pop up by accident as well. Many people aren't comfortable with freezing, shaking, or disposing of eggs so it becomes a vicious cycle that can be extremely tough to put an end to. Budgies are very capable breeders.

 

And contrary to popular belief, budgies can and will mate and at least attempt to raise a clutch without a nestbox. It's not the norm, but it is far more common than you might think. While they generally prefer certain conditions to breed, I've seen budgies being bred in some pretty horrendous circumstances. I've seen babies hatched in food dishes and even on cage floors. I've also seen babies get splayed legs, duck beaks, or worse but never see a vet because they were "accidents." The same people who refused to shake or freeze an egg because they wanted to "give it a chance at life" also refuse to get this life they're responsible for to a vet. We're all about giving things a chance at life until it costs us money or effort. But that's a different rant completely.

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Guest Phoebe

:hap: Well said, have had males and females together for years but never again, it just isn't worth the risk. :) And I might add that it is not always a guarantee that the same sex budgies will get along but we can always keep our fingers crossed as it usually works out and NO EGGS!!!

Edited by Phoebe

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Guest Lin

How very true Terri, and I think it applies to all birds, not just budgies. Certainly I agree wholeheartedly that female budgies, in a group, are nasty!

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thanks for the facts Terri, and they are based on your experience too which is awesome. I agree reading too much here about laying egges, babies trying to mate etc... That is why I decided on another male, there was no question. If I get more I will get male, unless for some reason I accidently get a hen because I thought it was a male.

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Very well put, Terri. My experience has been slightly different, but what you describe is very much normal behavior as a rule.

 

Just like with people, there is no guarantee the two birds you place together will get along well. It doesn't matter if they are same sex or opposite sex. Budgies are usually very social, so odds are they will get along fine. Usually they sort things out eventually, but not always.

 

I found that when keeping all males together, invariably the frustration level is higher between them when they are in breeding mode than when you have females together in breeding mode. As long as no one gets very randy, and they keep it to mutual feeding and preening, there is not an issue. The problems arise in part when hormones rage out of control, because normal males will not allow themselves to be mounted, and it is the male's job to keep other males away from his chosen partner...nasty fighting can and will break out. Any one here who has watched a bonded pair of budgies (especially in an aviary setting) can attest to having seen the male chase off other birds who may get too close to his chosen mate, whether there is a nest box near or not. Get too close to his partner on the perch, and watch out. Especially if he is feeding, preening, or actively wooing her and another bird's curiosity gets the better of him/her and he passes over the invisible line the male has set up. In same-sex pairings both males naturally wish to be the 'dominant partner', so the one who is the weaker of the two is either chased mercilessly by his boyfriend or starts the fight since what is going on is not in the natural order of things and he gets aggravated. I have taken budgies out for doctoring and to stop the bleeding more times than I care to. I have had males bite ME when attempting to seperate two that do not get along. What a great day, when everyone is squawking, bitten and bleeding.

 

Keeping all hens together in the same cage has never resulted in a fight over breeding rights. They seem to be content with mutual preening. Other than that, they just want their space. As Terri said, little squabbles over territory, a certain spot on a perch, or a specific toy is the worst I have encountered. And they do that whether they are in breeding mode or not.

 

Just a little info from the opposite side of the experience spectrum. I still prefer hens.

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hi I have a very broody pair of budgies, and they both started their process twice in a row without a nesting box, she had eggs and was ready to drop, so I then decided to accommodate their needs for the first time, they had 4 successful babies. The babies hadn't quite fledged when my cock started pushing on the hen again, I didn't want another batch as the first was unexpected. but I couldn't remove the cock as he was still feeding his hen and babies. I admit I attempted to remove him, but he was not happy at all, so decided to put him back in . once  the babies left the nest , I then had 6 budgies in one flight cage and had to buy a second cage for the 4 young as the hen was still grouchy and was spiteful to her babies.  Then the cock starts trying again straight away with his mate and again was successful, but I couldn't separate the pair as I couldn't have a 3rd cage. so again I now have a second batch of only 3 chicks this time, they are 22 days old atm. I did this time have to remove the breeding cock , as he is still insisting on mating with her, ive had no choice this time, ive had to borrow a small cage for him only tempariliy  . My hen is looking after her 3 new chicks very well on her own.  What I really want is all hens in one cage and cocks in the other. I want to separate the sexes as I also worry of in breeding between the four 5month old siblings. I cant rule anything out at this point. since they could be as broody as their parents.

I don't want the breeding pair to mate again, as it will probably kill her, twice in a row is not ideal. and would like to know if at this point can I put my two 5mth old hens in with mum and her chicks? Is it safe to?  and have the 2young cocks and dad in the other cage?? 

Will mum be okay with her 2 previous clutch hens whilst she has 22 day old chicks in her nest?

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