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Discussion Starter #1
My family and I adopted a female cockatiel of an unknown age (we were told she was old) about two years ago to join our family of two cockatiels (male and female, unbonded). She has always been a bit withdrawn (story was that she was separated from her mate) so we just let her be and give her the same opportunities as our other birds (we leave their cages open when we're home and watch TV and such with them on our shoulders). She was always very reluctant to come out of her cage, but seemed to enjoy it when she did venture out. She was also very hands off, no scratching her head, no touching her, etc., but she would give kisses.

Recently, I have noticed a sudden change in her behavior. She's been biting the paper on the bottom of her cage (she never did that before) and now almost demands to come out of her cage when I come home. She has holed herself up in our other female cockatiel's cage and bites the paper in there and generally has made a home for herself in there. She actually chased our other female out of it. She is also acting aggressive towards our other birds, when generally she's been the one being terrorized by them. Unprovoked, she would hiss and chase our birds around.

Today when I came home, she didn't chirp when I arrived, and she didn't want to come out of her cage (she was sitting on her perch). I finally coaxed her out and she sat on my shoulder for a while. I noticed that she let me scratch her head, and just generally seemed very lethargic. When I put her back on the cages, she sat on the top of our other female bird's cage, puffed up a bit, and looks as though she's either breathing heavily or rocking front to back. She's been like this all night.

All this behavior signals that she may be nesting, but her being on top of the cage has me puzzled. Does anyone know what might be going on with her?

On a side note, our male cockatiel is about 15 years old and seems to have no interest in mating with either female. I think he's too attached to me, lol.
 

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Yes it does sound like shes a bit hormonal and nesty, here is a thread on hormone reduction techniques to read, http://talkcockatiels.com/showthread.php?t=32330. You may want to look into getting a grate to put at the bottom of the cage so she cant get to the paper as its probably whats stimulating the nesting behaviour.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for that reassurance! I was home with one of our families cockatiel's the night/morning of his death and I don't want to go through that again yet. I think we did away with the grates since we didn't want them getting caught in them, so I may have to look for them. Is it bad if she continues this behavior? I don't mind if she lays eggs or nests, I just don't want anything to be wrong with her. If she does continue this, will my male be attracted to any of it even though he's shown no interest in her?
 

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If she does continue to be hormonal she may start laying eggs as well as continue to be aggressive to the other birds and protective of her "nest", you may not mind that but you have to consider the risks as well.

Here is a little blurb from the thread I linked in my previous post, " If she hasn’t been mating with a male the eggs will definitely be infertile, and egg production will place a heavy burden on her physical resources. An egg contains all the materials needed to build an eggshell and a complete baby bird, and every molecule of this comes from the hen’s body. This nutrient drain occurs on a very fast schedule, too. Unlike a human mother who has 9 months to take in all the materials needed to make her baby, the average cockatiel hen will lay an egg every other day until she has a clutch of 4 to 6 eggs. It’s obviously undesirable to put a hen through all this strain unless she has a sexually competent mate and you have an active desire to breed your birds. If the hen isn’t healthy and well-nourished enough to lay normal eggs, she is at risk of dying from egg binding, egg yolk peritonitis, and other problems related to the egg-laying process."
Its an excellent thread to read on hormones http://talkcockatiels.com/showthread.php?t=32330.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Last night she laid an egg in her cage. It feels like a soft-shelled egg. She is back to her normal behavior this morning. The guides you all gave me said to leave the egg in there until she abandons it (she hasn't noticed it yet) and mentioned the dangers and causes of soft-shelled eggs, and also mentioned "medical emergency." My bird seems fine. No blood and she doesn't appear to have egg binding. The soft-shell is probably due to lack of calcium since we do give them quite a bit of seed mixed with pellets. I also give them cheese and cereal and she has a cuttlebone in her cage. Any other sources of good calcium I can give them?

Any suggestions for what I can do now?
 

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What she really needs is a full spectrum light, she can have all the calcium in the world but without that or access to direct sunlight (not through glass) she wont be able to absorb the calcium to use it. Take the soft shelled egg out, its going to break if she even tries to sit on it anyways and that's just bacteria city. You can get her fake eggs and try those to see if that may stop her if she already has a full "clutch."
 

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A liquid calcium supplement made for birds will provide calcium, D3, and magnesium. Some pet stores have in on the shelf and some don't, so if you call around to local stores you may be able to find it. There are several different brands but they all seem to be the same. This is a quick way to get bioavailable calcium into her. But be careful not to overdose, especially if she's eating pellets. Pellets also contain these ingredients, but apparently she isn't eating enough pellets to completely fill her needs.

Cooked egg will also provide calcium and D3. As long as she's laying eggs, she can be considered to be a breeding bird and can have a small amount every day (1/4 teaspoon). Non-breeding birds should only get egg once or twice a week because of the high levels of protein and cholesterol. I make scrambled egg for birds by nuking a beaten egg in the microwave for 45 seconds, then cutting it up and freezing it in a sandwich bag. Then I take a small amount out when I want to give the birds some egg.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I give my birds scrambled eggs with cheese quite often, but she has never wanted any. I left for work today with the egg in the cage, but took the newspaper out. What if she breaks it before I get back? I'll look into that liquid calcium supplement.
 

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If she breaks it then you'll have to make sure you clean everything up because that can cause a bacteria issue.
 
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