What do you mean by bonded?
There is a common misconception about breeding cockatiels that all you need is a female and a male and they will breed successfully. This however, is not the case. Cockatiels are very different from animals like dogs and cats where a male and female can be put together for the purpose of mating and then go their separate ways once the deed is done. No, Cockatiels have to be compatible as a pair. Cockatiels choose their mates and form strong long-term (often lifelong) bonds with their mates, almost like a "marriage", and will raise their babies together. We refer to a pair that naturally choose to be together and bond this way as a bonded pair.
What is a bondage pair?
A non bonded pair sometimes referred to as a bondage pair is essentially the opposite of a bonded pair. These birds dont really like each other and do not want to raise babies together. Cockatiels will mate and lay eggs due to increased hormones and/or the fact that they do not have anyone they like better to mate with. Cockatiels will mate for recreational purposes as well and it does not mean the two are bonded. A telltale sign of a bondage pair is if given a nestbox the pair will fight over possession of the box, one or both birds will not let the other into the box, the fighting can get very violent, if this happens the box should be removed, they are not properly bonded. This is because the two cockatiels see each other as competition for the nestbox or an intruder rather than their mate.
Why is it important for a pair to be bonded?
Having a pair that are bonded to each other is very important for success when breeding. A pair that are bonded, like each other and want to raise babies together. A bondage pair does not want to raise babies together and therefore a lot of problems can arise when trying to breed them. Bondage pairs have a higher rate of problems incubating eggs and taking care of the babies properly.
Some problems that can happen when trying to breed a bondage pair are; excessive fighting between the pair, a female can lay the egg(s) off a perch instead of in the nestbox either due to the male not letting her have access to the nestbox or her not wanting babies, abandoning eggs or babies, and aggression towards babies. Overall you will have better breeding success with two birds that are bonded to each other.
What are the signs of a bonded pair of cockatiels?
1. The pair will sleep together.
2. The pair will sit together/follow each other around/just generally want to be together.
3. The pair will eat out of the same bowl together.
4. They will preen each other.
5. If given a nestbox the pair will share the box peacefully.
How long does it take for two cockatiels to bond?
This is a difficult question to answer because all cockatiels are different. Each pair take a different amount of time to form a pair bond. It can be a couple weeks or it could take months, you cannot rush or force bonding, but once you observe all the signs of a bonded pair listed above then you know they are bonded. Cockatiels should be given ample time to get to know each other and bond before adding a nestbox. Its also important to note that some birds are just not compatible with each other.
I hope this thread helps educate those looking to breed cockatiels about the advantages of breeding a bonded pair versus breeding a bondage pair. Letting cockatiels properly bond to each other before breeding is the best way to go! Bonded pairs make better parents and its more rewarding in the long run to know that your cockatiels are happy and healthy when breeding, and that their babies have the best chance at life