See, keeping a pet bird is one thing, but soon enough, you will want another one, then a third one, until it gets to a point where you'll want to breed and raise the chicks from infancy.
I know this because I've heard pets long enough( including a dog, fish, and now birds) to know you can never get enough of how adorable they are, and the younger one is, the more appealing they get.
With that said, budgies are probably one of the most common pet birds kept by newbies (and even kids), so quite often, I get people who want to breed them, but not sure how to go about it.
And by far, the most common question I get is what to put in a budgie's nesting box.
To give a little background for those not familiar with breeding pet parrots, most species require a nesting box to mate and lay their eggs.
Of course, they are a couple of reasons why that is, but from experience, parrots in the wild lay eggs in holes and cavities to protect their eggs from harsh weather and predators, the same way species like sparrows and pigeons make nests out of grass and straw.
At home, because your budgies do not have holes and cavities on walls and trees to lay, you have to provide a nesting box as an alternative to enhance their sense of security.
Great, now let's get into what you're required to have in a nesting box.
Personally, I'm a minimalist that understands budgies are the same (minimalist) in regard to nesting, so I only make sure the floor is flat, dry, and lined with unscented pine or paper shredding, plus there is a food bowl, and drinking point, mineral block (cuttlebone) concave circles.
I also place two perches at the very end of their cage to keep my birdies happy, but make sure it does not attract unwanted guests.
Budges are minimalist nesters and need little more than a dry floor area to lay their eggs on, lined with a soft nesting material like wood shaving or shredded paper: Omlet UK.
To find out why these items are so necessary and what more you can add to your budgie's nesting box, please read through the rest of this post.
What is The Best Nesting Material for Budgies
As we've seen above, one of the more essential things to have in a budgies nest box is some form of nesting material...so let's cover that first.
For starters, expect to get several suggestions if you ask around, but the two alternatives you'll never miss are paper shreddings and unscented wood shavings.
Now, while either of these materials have their pros and cons, I prefer wood shavings to paper because they don't soak up as fast (more absorbent) and tend to form a cozier bed for my birds .
Dump bedding not only encourages harmful bacteria but also releases ammonia, which is harmful to birds.
Shavings keep smells down and reduce ammonia in the air created by your bird's dropping which can cause your budgie respiratory and eye problems.
Unscented wood shavings, when spread on the floor evenly, is also more stable and sturdy hence less likely for eggs to roll over and fall out the door or through cracks.
If you live in the North where Winters are a little extreme, shavings will come in handy as well, since they tend to be warmer than paper, especially if the latter is wet and compact.
Even so, the good old newspaper is not without its pros.
Paper is free, readily available, and easier to change than wood shavings. Moreover, as far as small birds go, the only safe wood shaving is from Aspen pine.
The oil on other pine types can affect the respiratory system of budgies and other tiny pets such as hamsters.
Now, away from my preference, I asked a few other budgie owners which nest beddings they prefer, and pound for pound, wood shavings seem like the heavier hitter.
One argued that paper beddings seem to perform differently depending on how they are shred and the thickness, spread, and absorbency of the shreddings.
Shedded papers also work best if changed before they compact, so he would not recommend it unless there is a free and abundant supply.
The Other Items to Put in Your Budgie's Nesting Box
With nest bedding out of the way, let's turn our focus to the other items we mentioned in the introduction, just to see how crucial they are and the purpose they serve.
A concave circle in the middle of your budgie's nesting box is necessary to prevent the hatched chicks from developing splayed legs.
The condition is a skeletal defect caused by the lack of a slippery, oddly shaped nest, though it can also result from calcium deficiency or the hen sitting too tight on the chicks.
You can get concave circles in most avian pet stores or even online, but making one from scratch is a worthy and rewarding DIY project most owners try.
There are plenty of resources, including tutorials that are easy to follow even (even by newbies) on Youtube.
**#2—**Food and Drinking Spot
I know most owners do not put food and water in their bird's nesting box because of harmful bacteria that develop when the dirt and water get on nest bedding.
But I think it's not as simple as not putting food in the nest because quite often, the hens get malnourished during the nesting period if not fed adequately.
Personally, the way I circumnavigate this is small amounts of millet in the nest box, just enough but not too much as to cause any real concern.
As for the drinking point, I place it outside the box but inside the dedicated cage where my budgie can access it easily the same as a food bowl with a wider variety than just millet.
Since I can't predict when my nesting bird will come out of the box, I also make sure that the food bowl and drinking point are refilled in the event she ventures out when I'm not around.
In case you have a dedicated nester that rarely ventures out and you are wary of putting any fresh food in the nest, you could mix up some formula and feed her from the spoon a couple of times a day.
**#3—**Cuttlebone (Mineral Blocks)
Calcium is necessary for all parrots, especially egg-laying and nesting females.
Cuttlebone, mostly made up of Calcium Carbonate, is an ideal source for this and other minerals such as Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, and Zinc and should be added in a nesting budgie's cage.
Same as food bowls and drinking spots, it's best to place them outside the nesting box, though there is much harm in placing one inside other than limiting your bird's wiggle room.
Mineral blocks serve the same purpose and can be used as a substitute for cuttlebone.
Budgies love perches, so adding one in their space is always a good thing.
Of course, placing the perch inside the nesting box is not feasible, but you can put one in the cage for your budgie to use during food and resting breaks.
If you have a mated pair in the same cage in that period, two perches are recommended.
That's all for this post.
Happy Birding 🐦🦜🦉.