Nesting Blocks and the Breeding of Parrots

The breeding of parrots has been enhanced by numerous innovations in nest boxes and the way that they are set up. Nest boxes have one major flaw which is the ability of the parrot to partially or completely destroy the box by chewing on it. Most quality metal nest boxes are lined with wood, which means that even the metal boxes are vulnerable to the parrot’s beak as far as breeding success in concerned. All of my success has been in using nest boxes made of wood, including using them for macaws and other large parrots.

In the wild, a parrot will excavate a hole in a tree limb or trunk by chewing into the tree. Once inside, the chewed tree material is used for lining the bottom of the nest and the excess is discarded. When the nest is complete, the parrots tend to stop chewing on the tree and get down to the business of raising a family. It is in their best interest not to destroy the nest by over-chewing for numerous reasons. This is important to know, because just as your nest box gets chewed apart is when the parrots are most likely to be ready to breed. This could cost you, at a minimum, the price of a new nest box up to an entire season and hundreds or thousand of dollars in lost income and chicks.

For this reason, I recommend the addition of what I refer to as "nesting blocks" to all nest boxes designed for parrots that are capable of chewing them into nesting material. This would include most parrots from Senegal size on up. The blocks are made by ripping a soft wood 2" x 4" board into small pieces. These pieces are approximately " x " x 1 ". The blocks are then placed into the nest box. The blocks may be placed on top of whatever nesting material you are using, or a larger quantity may be used alone. The smaller the bird, the fewer the blocks, and for larger birds, say Greys and up, I use quite a few of the blocks as the only nesting material in the box. The parrots will shred the blocks into small pieces that are similar to small wooden matchsticks or toothpicks. The eggs sit up on the material and do not sink down into it to be lost or improperly incubated.

I have found that once the blocks are chewed, the parrots tend not to chew on the box itself. The nest box is made of a harder wood and it’s smooth surface does not lend itself to chewing when there is an ample supply of easy to chew nesting blocks in the nest box. Additionally, once the nest is complete, the parrots tend to lay a clutch of eggs. After all, that is why they were doing all that work in the first place!

Good Luck,


P.S. It is actually quite dangerous to rip the larger boards into the small pieces. "Ripping" is a woodworking term meaning to cut with the grain of the wood. Please do not try it unless you have a large table saw and are skilled in its use. Most people would agree that a clutch of babies is not worth a finger or two!

(click for a larger photo)

(click for a larger photo)

These are macaw eggs on shredded blocks. 

Notice how the eggs sit up on top of the material for easy incubation and don't sink down and get lost.


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