1. Eliminate unseen agitators.
Rats, raccoons and the like can give your birds the midnight willies. Night frights aren't the only problem though, feral animals can carry disease or even kill your birds and their chicks. Make sure your breeding area is pest-free.

2. Check your light settings.
Lighting may not play a huge role in the breeding of very prolific species but it certainly can help. If your birds are indoors try letting them go through a "winter" cycle of 9 or so hours of light, then slowly increase to 12 hours. If they are outdoors make sure direct sunlight can creep into the cage at least sometime during the day.

3. Protein, calcium and carbs, Oh my!
A good diet is essential and your birds may already be on one, but did you know that there are certain foods that increase your chances for success? Wet foods are a necessary addition if you want chicks. Protein and calcium are good at stimulating hens to lay. You can provide them in the form of cooked eggs with the shell mashed in or by picking up some lay mash from a feed store.

4. Make sure you have a true pair.
This is fairly obvious, but many people out there just throw two birds together and expect something to happen or rely on inaccurate sexing methods like the pelvic bones.

5. Make sure your pair is bonded.
Not all pairs need to bond to have babies (just look at humans) but it certainly helps. The bigger and smarter the species the more picky it is going to be about its mate.

6. Do a health check.
If a pair bred well in the past but isn't now there may be a health problem. One bird may be ill or fighting off infection. Tumors will keep budgies from breeding as usual.

7. Give them their privacy.
Some pairs are shy while others are not. Make sure the shy ones aren't overbothered by you or other birds. Visual dividers can help but quieter species may not like being housed near louder ones.

8. Bigger is not always better.
This is especially true for nestboxes. Try giving your birds a selection. You may be surprised when your tiels opt for the smaller lovebird box. Birds can squeeze into fairly small boxes if they really want to. My friend Jaynee had an Indian ringneck lay in a budgie box when the regular boxes were taken down for the season, with no modifications to the entrance! Some birds like deep boxes because they are similar to a tree cavity. Others may even prefer an "open" box (missing on side, with a lip to keep contents from rolling out). The same goes for cages. A large flight is good for the off season but a pair may feel it has too much territory to "defend" while breeding in the same cage. Shy pairs may feel insecure in larger cages.

9. Watch for overcrowding.
Colony breeding can be wonderful (just read #10) but you have to make sure not to overcrowd your flights. Keep in mind that the cage will be even MORE crowded once babies fledge. Having enough food and boxes may not make a difference if the cage is just too crowded. Some weaker pairs may also want to be housed alone.

10. Keep good examples nearby.
Nothing helps birds not interesting in breeding like the sounds of other pairs with their chicks. This doesn't just go for colony breeders like budgies. Even my pet green-cheek would get all excited whenever she heard chicks I was handfeeding. Keeping good breeders near bad ones may help. Budgies are good because they are very vocal and usually go to nest before most other species will. This can also help cure bad parents. I had one budgie hen lay three seperate clutches of two eggs each and smash them all. Once one of my other hens hatched her eggs the problematic one settled down and laid a seven egg clutch and incubated it properly. It's as if she saw the other hen and thought, "So that's what I'm supposed to do!"

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