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Breeding Birds in the Family Cage

First things first Ė before you can breed your bird, you need to know if you have a male or female. D onít lose heart if you arenít sure, most bird owners donít know until she lays eggs or when he doesnít. Plus, with few exceptions, there are really no outward visual characteristics, there doesnít even seem to be any personality differences between males and females.

To get a definitive answer, DNA testing (using a blood sample) is the way to go. Bird breeders will often use this method because not only does it determine the sex, but it can also tell you the stage of maturity. The downside is that you need to find an experienced avian veterinarian and the method requires general anesthesia.

Dating and Mating
If you already know your birdís sex and are interested in setting him/her up with a mate, unfortunately, itís not as simple as putting a potential suitor in the same bird cage. It turns out that some birds are extremely picky.

Also, donít be surprised if two birds of the same sex appear to be bonding. Itís just as common as a pair of the opposite sex. If you do have two birds of the opposite sex who show interest in one another, they will usually remain bonded until one of them is taken out of the cage.

If you intend on starting a family, you will need to provide them a nesting box (make sure itís the appropriate size for the species), plenty of room to move around in the cage, privacy with a bird cage cover and last (but most important) an abundance of bird food. Interestingly, birds will instinctively not bring children into this world if food is in short supply.

Feeding Time
You will also need to think about her diet, especially her calcium and phosphorus intake. Calcium is essential for bone formation, muscle contractions, proper functioning of the nervous system and eggshell formation. Phosphorus is the other key nutrient for birds and works hand-in-hand with calcium to produce bone formation, metabolize fats and carbohydrates and is calciumís helper in egg formation. A little extra Vitamin D3 can also help these nutrients work together.

Without the proper nutrition, your bird may develop weak bones that could fracture easily. She will also lay thin-shelled eggs and itís possible that sheíll produce babies with the same bone abnormalities.

Depending on your particular bird, she may have additional, and unique, nutritional needs, so be sure to seek out species-specific information. Ask your veterinarian and breeders for their input. 

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