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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys.

Two babies hatched yesterday! They're delightfully ugly little worms!

My cockatiels are first-time parents (and I'm a first-time breeder) and I have a couple of questions.

1. How long can the parents be off the nest before I should worry about the hatchlings being too cold?
2. How long after the babies hatch should I leave the unhatched eggs in the nest?
3. How often should I clean the nest box (upsetting parents vs bacteria, which is worse)?
4. What neglectful behaviours should I be watching out for, besides empty crops and abandoning the nest?

The parents are very dedicated and seem to be doing everything right, I just want to know what to look out for.

Background:
Hen: Trilby, 9, cinnamon.
Cock: Charlie, 6, pied.
Parents get on very well, and have been wonderful at sharing nesting duties. They have been dedicated parents to mostly unfertilized eggs in the past (only two have been fertilized before, both DIS), but no babies. A new house with more natural light and more controlled humidity seems to have done the trick.
They're both very affectionate while they're off nest duty, and both are inclined to bite and generally act ferocious while on nest duty, which I assume is normal.
The chicks appear healthy, but I haven't looked too closely because I don't want to upset the parents. They certainly sound healthy - little peeping noises every hour(ish).
Parents have usual diet of seeds, leafy greens, and cuttlefish, plus supplemented bread (with added linseed oil and salt), and extra millet. I'll try to pick some egg mix up for them (or just feed them egg) tomorrow. I've also been adding vitimin/calcium supplement to their water since the first egg was laid.

Is there anything else I should be doing?
 

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1. The parents can be off the nest longer because the eggs will keep the babies warm. An hour tops is the amount I would be comfortable with.
2. Are the eggs fertile? Did you mark them as they were laid so you would know when they would hatch? Candling them will help determine this. DIS eggs needs to be removed but infertile eggs can stay til the babies start to get pin feathers.
3. Clean it as little as possible. The bacteria is OK for the babies because it helps build their immunities.
4. A baby pushed to the side, not getting fed. You've got the others.
 

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The peeping sound is the babies being fed!

The length of time the parents can stay away from the nest depends on a lot of factors, such as the age of the babies, the number of babies, and the temperature in the house. Multiple babies will help keep each other warm (and the remaining eggs too), but unless your house is very very warm you should start getting nervous if the parents are away for more than 20 minutes or so.

I always like to refer newbies to our sticky on nestbox litter just in case they need the info: http://talkcockatiels.com/showthread.php?t=27688 Proper litter is really important, and this information isn't as widespread as it should be.

Leave the eggs in the nest as long as the babies are clumping together. The eggs will give the babies something to lean on, and the residual heat in the eggs will help keep the babies warm while mom and dad are away. The exception would be an egg that's damaged and leaking, that's a bacteria hazard so take it away. When the babies are older they'll be able to maintain their own body heat and won't clump together any more, and any unhatched eggs will be sitting there cold and alone. You can remove the eggs at that point.

When the oldest babies are about a week old, the parents will stop brooding the chicks and will spend most of their time out of the nest. This is normal so don't freak out. When the babies are a few days old the parents will start stuffing them so full that their crops are bigger than their heads.

Pellets are an excellent baby food if the parents will eat them. The parents will drink water to soften the pellets for the babies. Soft food is easier for the babies to digest, so you want to provide lots of high-nutrition soft food. Soaked or sprouted seeds are a good baby food.

You don't have to clean the nestbox at all if you don't want to - the parents never clean house so it's normal for cockatiel babies to grow up in a pile of poop, and it seems to be good for their immune systems. It's also OK to clean the nestbox if you don't like the mess. In a typical clutch of 4 to 6 chicks, it'll start getting really nasty in there when the oldest babies are about a week old.

P.S. Chicks back away from the center of the nest to poop, and sometimes they get "lost" on the way back. If you see a baby that's off by itself, move it back to the cluster right away. This only applies to very young chicks whose eyes haven't opened yet. By the time their eyes open, they're not so vulnerable and may choose to wander around by themselves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks to both of you.
There are some pellets in the seed mix, and I'll pick up some sprouts too.

Nesting material is mostly cardboard, so I'll probably have to replace it. I've got some pine shavings that will do nicely. I'll leave them with the cardboard for the moment though, as they seem warm enough for the time being.
 

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The problem with the cardboard is that it will be hard for the babies to grip and could cause splayed legs so get that changed as soon as you can. As to the pellets in the seed mix, do the parents actually eat it? If not, those are just fillers and are a waste of space in your seed mix.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The parents eat it sometimes, but not always. They're both fussy about their food, so introducing new things is usually a slow process.
I would have introduced egg and biscuit mix into their diet weeks ago, but their track record with fertilization hasn't been good, so I actually didn't expect the eggs to hatch.
I've mixed some in with their seed, and sprinkled some on their bread. Hopefully they'll get the hang of it soon.

And yes, the paper/cardboard will have to go.
 
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