Parakeets in nature often use grass or feathers to line their nests. Under captive conditions, parakeets typically breed in wooden nest boxes. Inexperienced hens sometimes kick their eggs out of the nest depression and nesting material keeps these eggs from rolling too far from the female and breaking. The correct nesting material offers other benefits as well and parakeet enthusiasts should always supply their breeding females with material to line their nests.
Wood shavings work well as nesting material for parakeets. Unscented pine shavings are best and the female parakeet arranges the shavings to some extent as it suits her. These shavings should be about an inch thick and must be placed higher along the sides of the nest box to prevent the eggs from rolling into a corner and becoming stuck. You also can use wood shavings that pet shops sell for guinea pig cages instead of pine shavings, but they need to be large, as the dust-like shavings will get into your parakeets nostrils.
Additional Benefits of Wood Shavings
The female parakeet may throw out some of the wood shavings initially, but eventually will settle down to lay her eggs. Wood shavings reduce soiling of the wood of the nest box once the chicks have hatched. Wood shavings also absorb any moisture that is created from the feces of both the mother and her chicks, which are confined to the nest box for several weeks. Some parakeet hens throw their eggs out of the nest depression and the wood shavings stop these eggs from rolling about and cracking. Some parakeet breeders do not handle the nesting material because they believe that their scent discourages the birds from using it, but most captive parakeets are tame enough not to consider this a problem.
Nesting material acts as a cushion in the nest box and absorbs moisture. A number of materials can be used. Paper fiber encourages nesting behavior and is both absorbent and soft. Parakeets that are housed in small indoor cages sometimes nest on the cage floor. Paper fiber is a good material to use in these circumstances. Eggs on the cage floor are not as contained as those laid in the confines of a nest box, and the paper fiber keeps them from rolling about.
Cotton fiber is available in a small carton, which is secured to the cage with a metal clip near the nest box. Pull a small amount of this nesting material through the opening in the box to encourage the parakeets to use it. The female parakeet helps herself to as much of the fiber as she needs. This material satisfies your birds natural nesting instincts.