THE LOVEBIRD NEST BOX
By Darren Montesin
One question that is often asked by novices to the hobby has a common theme and this concerns the Lovebird nest box. Nest boxes for lovebirds can be in any number of sizes, but as a rule of thumb, don’t go any smaller than a Budgie breeding box, and don’t go any larger than a Cockatiel. Something in between is ideal. I use various size boxes, but most are 200mm wide x 250mm deep x 300mm high (8"x10"x12"). Nyasa lovebirds seem to do better in smaller boxes.
The White Eye Rings are the best builders of the nest, and sometimes will fill the nest box right up to the point where it is almost impossible for the birds to successfully breed in it. Peachfaced are poor nest builders. This is because in the wild it is a natural instinct for them to steal the nest from Madagascan Weavers. They may add some nesting material to the nest, but very little. Therefore, with Peachfaced lovebirds, I build the nest for them. Alternativley, you could let some White Eye Ring lovebirds build a nest, and then swap it around with a Peachface nest box. With all lovebirds, I start the nest off by placing some clean wood shavings in the bottom and sprinkle it with Coopex Powder to help control mites. I Mix up theCoopex powder in the shavings. I use Cocos Palm leaves as my trees require regular trimming and my birds need nesting material every day. By doing this, I can kill 2 birds with the one stone! You can also use long grass, but avoid grass clippings as they can get moldy in the nest. Bamboo works good as well. Fresh Gum leaves are a good nesting material as the eucalyptus acts as a natural deodorant for the breeder. Try to avoid dry materials such as straw, as this will reduce the humidity in the nest box and the eggs may dry out.
I cut Cocos Palm leaves into lengths about 10 cm long and place these in the bottom of the box to generate interest as well as placing most of the remaining nesting material inside the Aviary. With Peachfaced, I place more material inside the nest box than the White Eye Rings and let them chew them and they will build the nest themselves out of what is already in the box. Some Peachfaced will discard some of the material in the box, resulting in an even more inferior nest, but they seem to do fine in the long run. The White Eye rings will build a good nest by themselves over a few days, working all day carrying nesting material back to nest in their beaks. Peachfaced will take strips off nesting material outside the box and carry them in their rump feathers back to the nest. They don’t add much to the nest and usually drop some of it back on the floor and don’t retrieve it. As a result, I personally don’t bother supplying Peachfaced with any other nesting material apart from what I have already provided in the nest. With all lovebirds, they have a bad habit of placing nesting material in their water dishes. It is thought that this is to clean the nesting material and add a bit of moisture to the nest, but they rarely retrieve it and it just ends up fouling the water . This can also result in green slime in your water dishes, so of course, regular changing of the water is required.
During Incubation, it is necessary to provide green nesting material every day. The moisture in the green nesting material will prevent the eggs from drying up. Once the chicks have hatched, continue on with providing nesting material on a daily basis as the parents will continue to add nesting material in order to keep the nest clean. Peachfaced however will not keep the nest clean. If the nest gets too dirty inside with excessive droppings, once the chicks have opened their eyes and can stand, I remove the chicks and replace the nest with fresh material myself. The chicks can then be put back into the nest box and the parents will continue to care for them with no problems. In Summer months, particularly with the White Eye Rings, I find it necessary to remove some of the nesting material in order to make for better ventilation and a cooler nest box. This however can only be done when the chicks old enough to be able to move around the nest by themselves .
After the chicks have fledged, The parents may start to lay the next clutch. You must keep this in mind if you wish to clean the nest box out. Do not clean the nest box out if they have already started laying eggs, as the hen will more than likely abandon the nest.
Happy Bird Breeding !!!