Breeding parrotlets is not for beginners. Parrotlets are aggressive and can be challenging to breed unless you become educated on their needs.
1. Parrotlets breed best when you have more than one pair, and they can hear but not see one another. Set up barriers between the cages.
2. Parrotlets breed best in cages that are at least 24 by 24 inches. Yellow-faced parrotlets need bigger cages at least 24 by 36 inches. Nest boxes should be small, grandfather-type boxes at least 10 inches tall, 7 inches wide and 7 inches deep. I use a 2-inch nest hole with a small perch underneath and fill the box up to a couple of inches to the hole with clean pine shavings.
3. Parrotlets do not build nests but chew and move shavings around, so make sure they have a lot even if it must be replaced from time to time. Place the box on the outside front of the cage in the highest corner possible. This way, the parrotlet will only see the inside of the cage when it looks out of the nestbox and feel more secure.
4. In the wild, parrotlets nest in tree cavities. They also prefer fence posts, if available. Several biologists have had success with the birds nesting in man-made boxes even when tree nest cavities are available.
5. Breeding pairs of parrotlets need more food and better variety than pet parrotlets. Include some seed in the diet of breeders. This increases fertility and helps prevent stress bars in the offspring. Give them a mix higher in fat and protein, such as safflower-based hookbill mix with sunflower and hemp.
6. They also need fruit, vegetables, greens, whole-grain breads, cooked dried beans, rice and pasta. Higher protein foods such as egg food, tofu and cooked lean chicken should also be added. Sprouted seeds are also excellent. Cuttlebone and mineral block is a must, as is powdered calcium and vitamins sprinkled on the fresh foods several times a week. Calcium is extremely important to prevent egg binding in females, so supply as much cuttlebone as the females will eat. Many hens will eat a 6-inch cuttlebone a week for several weeks prior to laying.
7. Most parrotlet species do not have a programmed breeding season. However, it is best for the health of the birds to limit the amount of clutches they have per year. Most breeders allow their parrotlets to have two clutches, then rest for two to three months, then let them breed again. This usually results in three or four clutches per year. Parrotlets lay a white egg every other day until a clutch of 6 to 8 is reached; some hens will lay as many as 10 but 6 to 8 eggs is average.
8. Incubation is 21 days. Chicks hatch in the order they were laid. Most breeders pull them for hand-feeding at 10 - 14 days.
9. Parrotlets should be fed every four hours but not during the night. They start picking at food at 4 to 5 weeks and are usually weaned by 6 or 7, unless they are spectacled parrotlets, which usually take 8 or 9 weeks.
10. Parrotlets do not bond with the hand-feeder, but rather they bond with the person who they spend the most time with after they are weaned.
11. Most species are mature at a year.
The International Parrotlet Society (IPS) offers free classified ads to it's members, registered bands, breeding cooperatives and a parrotlet placement program for unwanted and abused parrotlets. IPS has also raised funds for avian research that resulted in groundbreaking research at Texas A&M University on avian gastric yeast (formerly "megabacteria") and will continue to raise funds for veterinary research in the future. IPS also works with conservationists and biologists on studies of parrotlets in the wild. You can help support all of these worthwhile causes by becoming a member of IPS.
IPS works hard to educate it's members in its bimonthly journals on the proper care and breeding of parrotlets. IPS was the only organization to have birds placed on the Approved List for Imports and then worked with its members to import many different color mutation parrotlets. IPS is still working to have new colors in different species also placed on the Approved List.
For more information contact:
IPS, P.O. Box 2428, Santa Cruz, CA 95063-2428; (831) 688-5560;