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Cockatiel nest box
Cockatiel nest box
Many breeders of cockatiels have their own preferences towards the type of nest box they use.
Maybe they can only source a particular type and size from their local petshop or maybe a particular size and was were recommended and have had good results?
This article is on the type of nest box I like to use and have had really good results over the years.
Most of the boxes I use I have built myself to the same specifications although I have bought the odd one at auctions etc. that have been good boxes with similar/same spec as mine.

The boxes I use are pretty universal so can also be used for other parakeets. 
This article is primarily based on a colony breeding setup for cockatiels, however the box specification are the same for a single cage bred pair.

As you can see from the picture I like the box to be 18" tall, the reason for this is sometimes you get a hen in particular that isn't as tame/steady as others and more cautious around humans or other birds so may prefer the deeper box to feel more secure.
Smaller boxes will be used by most but this is just a standard size I prefer.

Depth & Width: 
I like the nest box to be no less than 10” deep and wide but prefer to be 12”.
I like the birds to have plenty of room as you will see both parents in the box at the same time.
This ensures the birds aren’t cramped in the box with plenty of room for their long tails and able to maneuver much better when turning eggs.
The hen will generally lay her eggs in the center of the box so a smaller box isn’t ideal as her tail will be bent up the side of the box making things a bit more difficult.
An average clutch of eggs is around 4-6 eggs so allowing plenty of room for the chicks to grow and the parents also has to be taken into account.
Imagine 5-6 chicks in the box prior to fledging? They take up quite a lot of room in the box and the parents still have to get in the box to feed them, smaller chicks can get flattened if space is limited.
The entrance hole is approximately 2” round, however some birds will chew this to suit them. 

Nest Materials:
When first filling the box I like to fill it quite deep approximately 3” deep, some hens like it deep some will empty some out until they are happy.
I fill the box with 2 different layers, the first layer being a damp peat based compost to around 1½” deep (this helps with humidity, you can spray the outside of the base of the box in hot weather to help keep this damp) the rest is filled with either small shavings or preferably a product called easybed or drybird.
These products are small wood chips generally used for cage and internal aviary floors, I find them much better than shavings as its less dusty and holds together better.
You will see on the picture the inspection door is 3” up from the base of the box, this is to allow for the deep filling.

Inside The Box:
From the base of the box to the perch I like to provide a ladder. 
The ladder is mostly for the chicks to climb out of the box although the parents will use also with the deeper box, just makes life easier for them.
I like to staple mesh on for the ladder, I bend the bottom and top of the mesh so its doubles this leaves a small gap between the rest of the mesh between the box; this helps them get a grip better.
Some breeders make a flat wooden type ladder which also works, I just find these get chewed away and may allow mites to get behind the bits of wood? 

Inspection Door:

I have tried several door types over the years and by far the easiest is the one I now always use.
When I build boxes I always build some doors different orientations either left or right, you then have a choice of where you can hand the box in either cage or aviary.
I find the side door much better for inspection as you don’t need to lift the box down from the mesh to inspect like with boxes with a lid only.
Also with the type I use you can place the door at the back of the box, handy if your hanging the boxes on the outside of an inside flight.

Nest Box Placement:

I like to place nest boxes for cockatiels all at the same height and approximately 12”-18” from the aviary roof, the roof is generally 6`6” tall.
Spacing is approximately 2`- 3` apart, some pairs are perfectly happy close to others but others like a bit of distance and may squabble with other birds if too close, its all trial and error with the birds your breeding.

Hanging the boxes is simple I just use small cup type hooks and hook on to the mesh.
I like to use hook size just bigger than the ones used for net curtains, this makes the box sit flatter to the mesh, however if you use larger hooks you can put a piece of wooden batten at the bottom of the box between the box and mesh to stop the box tipping forward too much. 

If you keep all the boxes the same size, at the same height and provide double the boxes per pair you won’t 100% guarantee good results as it’s all down to your birds to whether they are in good breeding condition and you actually have male and females, not always easy with some of the mutations to sex them?
However what this will help with is potential issues with birds settling down to breed sooner, reducing squabbling for a particular nest box and generally helping towards a much more successful breeding season.

© Karl 2018
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Cockatiel nest box - by karl - 05-01-2018, 06:17 PM

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