Parakeet Courtship, Fighting, and Other InteractionsMy site has a number of pages explaining why parakeets should live in groups. They are trained by nature to live in giant flocks of hundreds or thousands of birds for safety and protection. For a parakeet, to be all alone is a sign of danger and one that makes them feel threatened. But what happens if you put two or more parakeets together?
First off, parakeets are like all other living creatures. They have moods. Sometimes they'll be happy with each other. Sometimes they'll be cranky. You have to accept the ups and downs. You can't really "interfere" in parakeet squabbles. Birds develop a "pecking order" where the dominant bird gets things first and shows who is boss. The other birds learn to accept this and they develop a happy world.
It's VERY important that you make their life as stress-free as possible. They should get fresh food daily, with separate food cups for each bird spaced apart from each other. There should be fresh water daily. Treats should be given in multiples so each bird has his or her own. If you have 3 birds, get 3 bathtubs. The less your birds have to fight over necessities of life, the more happy they will be together.
Courtship isn't necessarily just about male-female. It can be male-male or female-female. It simply means "I love you, fellow feathered creature"! Birds can even court their human owners. Parakeets don't have presents like rings or flowers to bring their loved ones. So they bring them food. Parakeets don't have hands, so they eat the seed, carry it in their stomach to their partner, regurgitate it back up, and then pass it mouth to mouth to their partner. This is what we humans THINK is kissing. It's not kissing! It's the partner sharing regurgitated food or making the motions. This is also how mommy birds care for their babies, so in either case it's the ultimate sign of tenderness. I have a Video of Parakeet Courtship online!
Birds don't have hands to itch themselves with - they can only use their feet and beak. There are some hard to get spots on a parakeet's body! They will soemtimes preen each other, getting to those itchy spots and helping to keep the feathers clean. Make sure that the birds are preening gently and not actively yanking to annoy. Usually the active yanking of feathers is accompanied by the "ACK! ACK! ACK!" annoyance of the yankee.
I see this all the time with my three parakeets. Pinto will be sitting to one side. Nazo will side step down the perch until she's next to Pinto. But Pinto wanted to be alone. So Pinto flies off to another perch. Nazo goes right after her and side-steps along to be near her. It's like real life. Sometimes you want to be alone. Sometimes you want to be with someone. The needs don't always match up well. Eventually the birds will find a compromise.
Biting / Pecking
It's hard to tell when parakeet behavior crosses from just "leave me alone" snaps to full blown harassment. If you have a generally happy cage, with plenty of food, water, good temperature, baths and playtime, and music playing, it's hard to imagine that one parakeet would get so truly angry that he would start harassing another bird. They are too good natured for that. Sure, they'll bite at each other when they're grumpy, or when they want to be left alone. But that should be an occasional thing.
But sometimes you just get a bird with a bad attitude. Maybe this bird was left alone for years and years in a dark corner and became a brooding grump. Now you get yourself a cute little baby and pop it in the same cage, and the brooding grump is furious. In this kind of a situation I *highly* recommend getting two separate cages, side by side, and letting the grump have his own space. Maybe over time he will come to accept the newcomer - but old dogs learn tricks rather slowly. A bird that's become territorial and angry and defensive will take many months to outgrow that behavior.
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