Though humans have been taming birds for more than 5000 years, parakeets became a popular choice only back in the mid-1800s.
Today, these parrots represent the most sought-after companion birds, accounting for about 45 million pets worldwide.
Despite that, most of us still don’t know how to raise baby parakeets or want to learn how to raise a baby parakeet
After all, first-time parents are clueless about how to raise ‘human babies’ either.
So, I have decided to write everything you need to know about rearing baby parakeets.
Now, becoming a ‘Parront’ i.e. Human parent of a parrot is an exhilarating feeling.
But it can be a shocking and exhausting experience if you are not even aware that your birds are preparing for nesting.
In worst-case scenarios, you will wake up one day and just find eggs in the cage.
This leads me to my very first and important point
How to Tell If Parakeets Are Preparing For Nesting?
Well, the most obvious sign is when two birds older than 6 months or so, become overly attached.
They will frequently preen and feed each other, sit on the same perches and keep on following each other around.
Most likely, that’s a mated pair preparing for nesting, especially if it’s early spring.
I said ‘likely’, because those two birds may just be BFFs of the same sex.
Normally, you can tell if a bird is a mature male from its striking bluish-purple cere.
In contrast, a year-round brown cere represents either a female or a young bird.
While keeping a track of your birds’ genders through DNA typing is a good idea, it is expensive.
Also, I haven’t met any birders who do that because somehow they always kinda know when a bird is nesting.
So, here are some additional nesting signs to look for:
- An aggressive male parakeet becomes extremely docile amid the mating season, constantly following the other bird and stepping on its tail feathers.
- Both birds start gathering any nesting materials available to them, be it some wooden shavings from a toy or their old feathers.
- A female parakeet can become more aggressive as the mating season peaks. She will also eat more than usual, produce larger stools, and frequently sit in the cage corners in a fluffed-up brooding stance.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to provide the pair with all the nesting essentials.
After all, parakeets start laying eggs within 48 hours of mating, typically one egg each day in a clutch of 4-6 eggs.
But before discussing how to take care of baby parakeets, let’s deal with the most asked question:
What Does a Baby Parakeet Look Like?
Like all newborns – naked, pink, fragile and a bit ugly.
I take it that ‘ugly’ is not the way you would wanna hear it, but then, I didn’t want you to get shocked when a ‘not-so-parakeety’ thing comes out of that egg.
You see, a parakeet hatchling is a featherless creature, barely 1-2 cm in length and about 1-2 grams in weight.
Its neck is long but not sturdy enough to support its head. Also, its eyes and feet are still developing.
In contrast, an adult parakeet is approximately 18 cm long, weighing 33-40g and boasting a wingspan of 28-33 cm.
But within a single month, these baby parakeets grow into ‘vivid colourful birds’.
Do Baby Parakeets Change Color?
They do in terms of plumage, but underneath they are still kinda pinkish.
Now, baby parakeets are born as rouge pink flesh with slightly yellow beaks.
But as they gain weight, their skins fade into slightly lighter tones of salmon colour and their beaks become stark yellow or canary.
It’s only when their feathers start growing that a parakeet turns into brilliant shades of blue, green, yellow, or white.
In fact, the black and white stripes on parakeet necks are just markings on their plumage.
That said, as parakeets moult, their new feathers can be of slightly different hues or patterns from their previous plumage.
It’s most commonly observed among the receding stripes that travel further back to a parakeet’s nape and away from its cere with each moulting.
Since parakeets grow within one month of hatching, therefore, their standard care varies on daily basis.
So, it’s best if you are familiar with their life cycle before learning to care for them.
Baby Parakeet Stages (In Life)
Here is a table explaining Baby Parakeet Stages in life through adulthood:
|Stage||Prominent Changes||Body Dimensions||Timeline|
|Egg||Embryo grows within the fertilized eggs as parents brood them.||An average egg is 1-2cm wide, 2-3cm long, weighing 2-3g at full growth.||Hatch after 18 days of brooding.|
|Hatchlings||Fragile & featherless pinkish babies with underdeveloped eyes and feet.||1-2 grams but gain weight every day.||1-9 days|
|Nestlings||Small pin feathers across the body with partially developed eyesight. Parents stop constant brooding, but the father starts grooming their feathers.||6-8 grams in weight that continues growing.||About 10 days, from day 9 to 18.|
|Fledglings||Developed feet & eyesight with wings feathers in growth.
Babies frequently stretch their wings to develop flight muscles.
|10-15g in weight.||From day 18 to 28.|
|Weaning||Beaks grow strong enough to crack seeds with flight wings fully grown.||20-24g in weight.||From day 24 to 35.|
|Young Parakeet||Fully-developed bird that can live without its parents.
The best stage to tame birds.
|25-32g in weight.||Parakeets older than 7-8 weeks.|
|Adult Parakeet||Mature birds that can breed and have experienced at least one moult.||33-40g in weight.||Birds older than 6 months.|
Now, you may have noticed that certain stages overlap each other in time.
That’s because parakeet bodies develop simultaneously, and we have named each phase differently only for the sake of understanding.
How To Take Care Of a Baby Parakeet?
The best way to raise baby parakeets is to aid their parents with materials and comfort, so they themselves can do their job without stress.
That means, once you detect a mating pair, you must set up a nesting box and provide better resources to the prospective bird parents.
Here is a step-wise approach to it:
Step 1: Setting up the Nesting Box
A parakeet’s nesting box should meet the following criteria:
|Nesting Box Criteria||Details|
|Size||Large enough to host two adult birds and all their babies.
Ideal dimensions: 12” length x 12” width x 12” height
|Material||Wooden box as cardboard is too flimsy and steel can become extremely cold.|
|Nest Bedding||Untreated woodshavings, Raw oats or Shredded paper.
But Commercial Cat Litter is easier to use and maintain.
The bedding layer should be at least 2-2.5 inches thick.
|Conditions||No direct source of light, but not completely dark either. 28-35°C temperature.
No cool air drafts but enough air ventilation.
The nest should remain clean and dry at all times.
Step 2: Arraying Cage and Nest placement
If you have several parakeets in a single cage, it’s best to put the mating pair in a separate cage during the breeding season.
However, if you have multiple pairs, you should at least install cage separators within a single cage.
Now, you can put the nesting box within the cage, but that will only reduce space for parents.
Also, it will be hard to directly keep track of your baby parakeets.
So, I recommend putting the nest outside but adjacent to the parent cage (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Representing Ideal Placement of Nesting Box for Parakeets.
This arrangement will give you the freedom to inspect eggs or intervene with the babies, especially in case of emergencies.
Step 3: Maintaining the Nest and Resources
While parents keep grooming their chicks, it’s your responsibility to keep the nest clean and provide fresh food on regular basis.
However, you shouldn’t unnecessarily meddle with the chicks because
- Your parakeets are now ‘possessive parents’ that can become aggressive towards you if you try to touch their chicks.
- Baby parakeets are extremely delicate, and your touch can risk them either infection or injury
- Parakeet chicks need feeding every hour or so, but your meddling can cause parent parakeets to lose interest in their babies.
But you should meddle with nesting birds when:
- An egg hasn’t hatched even after 25 days of brooding. It’s either not fertilized or rotten. So, it should be thrown away after candling (i.e. inspecting egg contents against a light source).
- A chick has died and the parent birds are avoiding its corpse. You must dispose of the dead body before it becomes infectious.
- You are sure that parents are eating their own eggs or pulling the pin feathers off baby parakeets. In such a case, you may need to raise the baby parakeet yourself.
So far, the conversation may have given you some idea about raising parakeets.
Baby Parakeet Food – What Do They Eat?
Well, that depends on the age of that baby parakeet.
For parakeet babies younger than 3-4 weeks, the only source of food is that partially-digested material that their parents pour directly inside their beaks. But parents try to feed raw materials to older babies to wean them.
Generally, a baby parakeet that can crack seeds is considered weaned.
However, even weaned baby parakeets remain dependent on their parents unless they learn to fly outside of the nest and fend for themselves.
But a baby parakeet younger than 36 days should be given either commercially available bird formula or soft foods.
Here is a table to help you decide on food items for your parakeet babies:
|Parakeet Age||Food Source||Remarks / Suggestions|
|1-18 days||Parents directly feed the baby.||Provide parents with fresh veggies, boiled eggs, pellets, mix seeds as well as calcium and vitamin supplements.|
|18-33 days||Parents continue feeding their babies but expert birders can feed commercial baby bird formula to relieve their birds from parenting stress.||Don’t try feeding the bird with some experimental homemade juices or glucose water.
If you must, then feed them commercial bird formulas.
|Day 34-42||Chiefly baby bird formula, but try feeding thin slices of apple and soft foods like a spoonful of boiled potatoes or cucumbers.||Before offering any new diet, test if the babies have weaned by putting a shallow container of seeds.
If they crack seeds on their own, they are weaned.
|Day 42 onwards||Adult parakeet diet including sliced or grated carrots, apples, peaches, pears, pea pods, lettuce, cucumber, corn, commercial pallets, seeds, and boiled eggs.||Try a variety of foods but birds’ daily diet should contain at least 40% fresh vegetables or fruits while the rest 60%
should come from seeds and pallets.
Don’t add seasonings or salt to any food.
There are two FAQs people often ask regarding the Baby Parakeet diet.
1. Can I Feed Mealworms To Baby Parakeets?
You can but I advise you don’t unless your vet suggests so.
Now, wild parakeets often feed insects to their babies.
Therefore, feeding mealworms to parakeets as a protein source is generally considered a good idea.
However, the parakeet in your house is probably a descendant of caged birds from 200 years ago.
So, we don’t know if your parakeet has good enough immunity that still exists among the never-caged wild parakeets.
But we are sure that a baby parakeet is more prone to infections than an adult bird,
Consequently, feeding live insects to baby parakeets is usually not a good idea.
But feeding mealworms to your nesting female parakeet is often encouraged as she has just lost a lot of nutrients laying those eggs.
Also, adult birds should be given mealworms on rare occasions as treats.
2. Can I Feed Milk to My Baby Parakeets?
A rule of thumb for feeding birds is to not feed them things that they are not accustomed to eating in their natural habitat.
I assure you birds never owned cows and they are probably lactose-intolerant.
No, you must never feed milk to either a baby or an adult parakeet.
In fact, ‘Crop Milk’ which is a secretion that certain birds feed their babies, is essentially a ‘protein-rich saliva’ and not milk.
But I suppose, even ornithologists found that spit-feeding idea so gross that they named it ‘crop milk’ and not ‘crop-slobber’.
However, if you are so fixated on feeding ‘milk’ to your baby parakeet, I recommend a few drops of coconut or almond milk.
Of course, these aren’t really milk but they at least have the word ‘milk’ in their names.
And well, I can be reasonable enough to let you have that much joy, it’s your bird after all.
But ‘how to feed’ is trickier than ‘what to feed’.
How To Feed a Baby Parakeet?
Again, the best way to feed a baby parakeet is to let its parents do their job.
But inexperienced parents can sometimes break their own eggs and even crush their live babies. So, if you must take care of a parakeet younger than 28 days, then you should feed it the baby bird formula.
For that, you should read the instructions written on the baby bird formula box.
But frankly, I haven’t met any birders who do that because most of them just mix two spoonfuls in 1/4th cup of luke water to make a liquid slurry that their birds can drink.
That said, birders are rather sensitive to the method of ‘how you feed’ the baby:
|Through Spoon||Through Syringe|
|Method||Put baby formula in the spoon and let the baby drink by touching the spoon to its beak.||Put the formula liquid in a syringe after removing its needle, and fill the bird’s crop by directly pouring the liquid dropwise.|
|Advantage||The baby can drink as much as it wants and will stop on its own once satisfied.
Only gentle handling is required.
|The food remains warm.
Can feed multiple birds in a single go without making a mess.
|Limitations||Can be laborious and messy if you have several birds to feed.||Expert skills are needed.|
After feeding the bird make sure to wipe excess material with a paper towel, Otherwise, food particles may permanently change the shape of a growing beak.
Baby parakeets older than 33 days can usually feed themselves.
All you have to do is put a bowl of soft food for them.
Having dealt with bird food, you may be wondering:
Do Baby Parakeets Drink a lot?
They do but until weaning their water intake comes mostly from their parents.
You see, parakeet hatchlings are entirely dependent on their parents for food, cleansing as well as regulating body temperature.
Even fledglings that have fully grown wings cannot find their own food as they can neither leave nests nor crack seeds.
Parent parakeets forage and pour partially-digested liquid food directly into the beaks of their broods.
Since at least 50-70% of this feed is water, baby parakeets don’t need to drink water directly.
The hand-fed baby parakeets don’t need to drink water either as the baby bird formula mix already contains enough water.
But that means that parent parakeets need a constant supply of water to hydrate both themselves and their babies.
Also, baby parakeets older than 1 month directly drink a lot of water.
How Much Water Does a Baby Parakeet Drink?
Since parakeets don’t have sweat glands, they only lose water either through respiration or defecation.
So, in moderate conditions, an adult parakeet needs to drink water up to 30% of its body weight.
That makes a daily intake of 50-60 ml for an adult parakeet and 80 ml for a parent bird.
Meanwhile, a baby bird needs at least a spoonful of water every 3-4 hours.
Perhaps, you are excited just for baby parakeet cuddles, wondering:
Can You Touch Baby Parakeets?
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,
You see, baby parakeets are so delicate that they can even get crushed under the weight of their brooding parents.
Here’s another thing
They are exceptionally prone to diseases and infection as their immune systems are still underdeveloped.
This means, you holding a baby parakeet poses several health risks to it.
When Can I Handle Baby Parakeets?
Well, no earlier than at least 18 days after hatching.
To be fair, I wouldn’t have recommended even that but you may have to touch those babies while cleaning the nesting box.
So, you should remain extremely gentle and alert while handling them.
However, one-month-old parakeets are easy to handle and ideal for taming.
How to Clean Baby Parakeets Nest Box?
You can do so by following these steps:
- Layer cat litter on a tray and gently shift the baby parakeets one by one to it.
- Partially cover the tray with a dry thick towel and put it in a warm area. Alternatively, light a heat lamp next to the tray.
- Now, throw away all previous nesting material from the nest box as reusing it may pose the risk of infection.
- Scrape out any materials stuck at the nesting box bottom.
- Then, use a dry cloth to cleanse the entire box if it’s made of wood. But if it’s made of vinyl plastic sheets then wipe-clean it with vinegar and water solution.
- Fill the box with about a 2.5-inch layer of new nesting materials (wood shavings or cat litter).
- Shift the chicks back inside the nesting box.
If it fits, you can directly put the tray inside the nesting box.
Now that I have suggested using a heat lamp during nest cleansing to keep the chicks warm.
You may be curious and want to know..
Do Baby Parakeets Need a Heat Lamp?
Since parakeets are tropical birds, they are not as susceptible to colds as other avian pets.
However, nestlings do require a temperature range of 28-35°C. So,
If your parakeet nest is colder than 25°C, then a heat lamp may be a great idea.
But you must ensure that the heat bulb you are using is safe for birds i.e. it is not coated with non-stick materials like PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) as its fumes are toxic to birds.
I recommend choosing a low-intensity red-light or infrared heat bulb over a white heat bulb as the latter might disturb the bird’s sleep-wake cycle.
Speaking of parakeet sleep, you may have questions like
Do Baby Parakeets Sleep a lot?
They most certainly take a lot of naps.
But whether that’s normal depends upon what you think is a lot of sleep.
You see, the hatchlings are born blind and appear asleep all the time however, they aren’t actually sleeping, just too weak to move about and too blind to look awake.
Inexperienced birders often assume that giving a pitch-black atmosphere to such blind baby parakeets will be easy on their eyes. However, that’s a grave mistake because baby birds need some light to develop their vision or they will grow permanently blind.
That said, too much bird sleep may be a cause of concern when:
- Parent parakeets stop feeding a baby and it’s past at least 3 hours.
- The baby hasn’t moved an inch for 5 hours or so.
In both these cases, contact a vet before it’s too late.
Parakeet fledglings are supposed to sleep about 20 minutes every 3 hours.
But they are also quite active birds that frequently stretch their wings to develop muscular strength for flight.
Meanwhile, pet parakeets older than 1 year take fewer naps during the day as they mostly sleep at night.
This brings us to wonder:
Do Baby Parakeets Sleep at Night?
Like adult parakeets, baby birds also take 10-12 hours of sleep during the night.
That means you will have to switch off lights & draw curtains as the sun sets in, and then, let the birds sleep for at least 10 hours until the sun rises.
As a bird parent, you may be concerned about how a baby parakeet survives the night when it must be fed every 2 hours.
Or if you have kids of your own, you may be awed at how baby parakeets let their parents have freaking ‘10-hour solid sleep’.
Mayhaps, you are even hoping to learn a trick or two from those craft…I mean ‘CUTE’ parent parakeets.
Firstly, bird breeding season is aligned with summers which have relatively shorter nights.
That means that parakeets will naturally have their sleep cycle reduced from a 12-hour schedule down to 10 hours.
Secondly, bird crops allow them to store and ingest food at intervals. Therefore,
Parent parakeets fill the crops of their babies at bedtime and just hope that the babies will survive the night.
Perhaps, parakeet chicks are too weak and scared to complain.
Or maybe, it’s because they are Australian so they are simply grateful to be alive.
Either way, they do survive the night.
Besides, parakeets make ‘really caring parents’ because they feed their hungry chicks the very second thing in the morning.
Well, yeah because parent parakeets eat themselves first.
Now, ornithologists will delude you with the idea that parent parakeets eat first because ‘they need to partially digest food before they can pour that feed inside their babies’.
But that doesn’t explain how parent parakeets find the luxurious time to be lovey-dovey, beaking and feeding each other while the babies are crying out of hunger.
Or maybe, parakeets understand that hungry parents are cranky and impatient which can be extremely unhealthy for the chicks.
How Long Do Baby Parakeets Live?
On average, somewhere between 5-10 years.
But some can die earlier while some may even live up to 15 years.
However, several eggs are born unfertilized so they never hatch.
Also, baby parakeets are most vulnerable within the first 2 weeks of hatching when a slight change in their surroundings can be fatal. That said,A parakeet older than 6 months is not considered a baby, but a mature parakeet.
Such mature parakeets are capable of breeding but they often make inexperienced parents.
Also, younger females are more prone to egg binding.
So, if you have baby parakeets and you are hoping to raise more chicks, then a good idea would be to discourage mating before they are at least 10 months old.
Also, limit breeding to 2 clutches per breeding season, otherwise, your parakeets will exhaust themselves.
If you have been looking up baby parakeet guides, I take it that you have baby parakeets at home.
I hope this article answers all your queries and I wish all your birds grow healthy and tame.