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Hookbills will lay eggs when they are ready despite the type of nestbox used. Some parrots will lay eggs without nestboxes. Cage-laying parrots such as Amazons and Macaws may lay with or without a mate at the approximate age of 22. Smaller birds such as Cockatiels may start laying eggs anywhere with or without a mate by the age of 2. Most do need privacy and will lay at a much younger age when they are with a mate and given the proper diet, stimuli and environment. That subject will be addressed (aviary management) at another time.

There are many types of nestboxes on the market for all species of parrots - besides the homemade type. Metal is one type for northern climate indoor aviaries where the boxes would not get extremely hot from the sun in an outdoor aviary. Metal boxes are generally made in rectangular vertical (grandfather clock style) and horizontal shapes with a viewing hinged or slide-up hatch door. I had custom heavy duty hooked plates made for easy attachment to the cage rather than struggle with metal strips, nuts and bolts. Originally, metal boxes were only available as customized galvanized garbage cans. The originator of those boxes did a great job with hanging straps, attachment bars, smooth metal rings on the entry opening, nicely latched hatch inspection doors, and metal entry perches. These evolved into the current boxes available now that are less bulky. Wooden boxes are best in southern climates where birds are kept outside. Both metal and wooden boxes are also made in the boot shape to give the hen more privacy and to protect the eggs from being trampled on by the male. Heavy duty plastic boxes are also commercially produced mainly for smaller species birds. They would be the easiest to clean. Some nestboxes have both an entry and exit hole for mate aggressive species such as Cockatoos. This way, the hen can quickly exit if the male comes after her.

The best sub-strata for the bottom of the box is plain pine or aspen shavings or chips. All of my breeders prefer to start with a clean nest and then chew up plain pine chunks or shims to their own desired consistency. Many birds will throw out pine shavings until the bottom is bare leaving no cushioning for the babies. This can lead to splayed leg deformities. Never use cedar bedding because the oils in the cedar is toxic to birds.

Old World Aviaries
Scott Lewis of Old World Aviaries in TX made unique use of a library stool, which he claims is the best defended library stool in the country by his African Greys, Bogie and Bacall. The stool wasn't an intentional nestbox on my part. They raised three babies in that stool. But, you really had to watch out for your toes and ankles if you were in the area.
Gloria Balaban of Shady Pines Aviary in FL uses tissue boxes as a sleeping box for her Brotogeris Parakeet babies who like to snuggle together.
Shady Pine Aviaries
Grey Nestbox
This is a custom made metal nestbox with a slide-up viewing door from the PLANNED PARROTHOOD® Aviary in NY. Dimensions are 12"Wx12"Hx20"L. Mama Ruby is being held at bay with a barbeque fork to extend the life of my fingers. She's not very happy about it. Notice the slivers of wood and how they are interspersed with African Grey downy feathers. The parents prefer making their own nest bedding with the clean pine shims. Chewing the wood also stimulates the whole breeding and laying process.
Linda Seger of Treetops Aviary in NC also finds the most adorable post-nestbox housing for her babies - a toy house by Rubbermaid®. 
Treetops Aviary
Grey Babies
Pat always lets her babies of similar age and size play together and made them a little wooden box to play in. They love it. Sometimes as many as 6 will be inside it at the same time. Here a grey baby is standing in the doorway and a couple of eclectus babies are standing just outside the doorway as if they were asking grey baby if they could come in.
Andrea Wieboldt of Tejas Llamas and Birds inspects the Eclectus nest while the male Eclectus peeks in the entry door as he stands on the apartment floor, where he can also sleep.
Eclectus Pair
Boot Shaped Box

Boot Shaped Box

David Skidmore of Austral Eclectus Aviary in IN demonstrates the use of the boot shaped nestboxes for his Eclectus Parrots.

Pigeon Milk - Some Facts:

African green pigeons have some weird habits. Not the least of which is feeding their chicks on milk. No they don't steal it, they brew the stuff themselves.

Midway through incubating their eggs, something strange begins to happen to both Mum and Dad. A rush of the pituitary hormone prolactin (the same hormone that prompts milk production in mammals) makes the walls of their crop thicken up and blood vessels invade the area. By time the first chick scrambles from its shell, the adults' crops have trebled in weight and are sloughing off cells to form a cottage-cheese-like goo, called 'crop milk' or 'pigeon milk'. The newly hatched squabs feast exclusively on this for the first few days, thrusting their heads right inside the parents' beaks to gobble down the goodies.

Pigeon milk compares well with mammal milk; it's very rich in protein, moisture and fat, but contains no carbs. And it's more effective at promoting rapid growth than the milk in your refrigerator. Parent pigeons, however, only produce the stuff for the first week or so, and then they wean their little ones on to solids.

But why do pigeons go to all this trouble? The only other birds known to feed their kids on throat secretions are flamingos, who cough up a mixture of blood and fat. But flamingo chicks need to grow fast if they're to avoid being left high and dry when their shallow breeding pools dry out. Baby pigeons face no such deadlines.

The answer seems to be two-fold. Firstly, pigeon eggs are unusually small (relative to the size of Mum) and secondly, little pigeons are very well developed when they eventually hatch. As a result, pigeon chicks have squandered their entire food store (the egg's yolk) by the time they hatch. This is not normal. Most baby birds emerge with up to a third of their yolk intact. With this rich source of fat and protein embedded in their tummies, the chicks of other species don't eat for their first few days, giving their gut a chance to adapt to solid food. It's thought that pigeon parents cover this 'down-time' for their hungry chicks by coughing up pigeon milk.

Courtesy: www.mainlymongoose.blogspot.in
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