Since it is soon the mating season, it is high time to take a little interest in this area! What are the main stages in the reproduction of Psittaciformes? What is important to know? Here is an article from Charles Drigon, working at Parrot Wildlife Founation, with whom I collaborate for some projects!
The reproduction of parrots revolves around several stages. These can vary from one species to another however, we find great similarities among the 400 species of psittaciformes listed.
When the couple is formed and the parents have reached sexual maturity – which varies from one species to another – they can then behave sexually and begin the activity relating to the incubation of eggs and the rearing of the young. which will last several weeks after they have emerged from the nest.
All parrots are nesting, that is, young are born naked and unable to feed and move around on their own. Parrots are therefore the reverse of hens, which they are nidifuges : the young leave the nest quickly after hatching. Parrots nest in the wild in height, in cavities dug by their care or naturally in rock, in termite mounds or in tree trunks. Reproduction regulation is based on several functions of the control system neuroendocrine, which are complementary and interrelated. Birds always nest at the best time or when food is more abundant and easily accessible after the young hatch. All parrots have only one breeding season per year, during which they lay one or more times.
In most species from temperate regions, the enlargement of the day in winter and then in spring, leads to the growth of the gonads (genital glands which secrete sex hormones). Day length should logically have less influence on the reproduction of species from tropical regions. However, in captivity, handling the length of the day can still have a stimulating effect on the reproduction of tropical and even equatorial species.
In the cockatiel parakeet (nymphicus hollandicus) photostimulation improves breeding performance, while in the orange-winged Amazon (amazona amazonica), it does not seem to influence the start of reproduction but rather the success of it. Ornithologist and curator Vincent Serventy reported a positive relationship between rains and sexual activity in desert native species like budgerigars (melopsittacus undulatus) and bourke parakeets (neophema bourkii). During the hormonal surge in Psittaciformes, it is possible to observe behavioral changes such as behaviors such as displays, during which the male courts the female, more accentuated destructive behaviors but also a more exacerbated aggressiveness towards other birds and animals that share the territory of reproduction.
When the necessary conditions are met, the male and female will mate. In most cases the male climbs on top of the female, or the couple turns their backs, lifting the rectrices so as to stick their rumps to put their cesspools in contact. After that, the female will invest more in her nest to be able to lay her eggs, which will each have several days apart. In some species, this interval is even counted during the week.
Then the female will gradually begin to hatch the eggs in order to keep them at a temperature high enough to allow the embryo to develop properly. Moreover, its development begins even before the eggs are laid, so that when the egg is deposited, the embryo is at the “blastoderm” stage. At this point, it can go a few days without dying in the absence of incubation. In fact, during this period the laying usually only takes place at a specific time of the day. The female will also make sure to turn the eggs regularly so that the yolk does not stick to the wall of the egg and cell development stops. The young will then hatch with one or more days of delay. The number of eggs is more or less constant within the same species, as evidenced by this data table, produced from medium from several pairs of parrots:
At the end of the incubation process, hatching takes place after a period of 20 to 30 days depending on the species. 24 to 48 hours before the start of it, the air chamber extends within the egg. It will represent 20 to 30% of its volume. The chick will then pierce the chorioallantoic membrane which separates it and breathes for the first time. After that, it is imperative that the egg is not turned over again.
© Article entirely taken from Parrot Wildlife Foundation, November 2020, consulted on 02/19/21, available online: https://parrotwildlifefoundation.org/2020/11/25/la-reproduction-des-psittaciformes/