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A Bit of A Problem

Reggie

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As some of you already know I have three budgies. The older two (Jersey (female) and Manny (male)) were already bonded when I brought Happy (male) home (quarantined him, let them meet, added him to the flock - the whole nine yards). At first there seemed to be a problem between Jersey and Happy where Jersey wouldn't let Happy eat from the dish at the same time as her; she'd peck him away - nothing too serious just enough to get him away from the dish - squawk, flap her wings at him. Per advice from someone on this forum (I can't exactly remember who) I got new dishes and added more to the cage so even if Jersey was eating the pellets, Happy could eat some seed mix or whatever was in the cup at the time. That worked for a little while, but I don't think it eliminated the problem. Though they do get along better now and sometimes Happy will "flirt" with Jersey, they'll preen each other, and they'll talk back and forth. The aggression seems concentrated on the food dishes and feeding times.
Happy used to have scuffles with Manny (more like furious wing flapping and light pecking, nothing that draws blood), but they're nicer to each other now. Neither of the older birds exist harmoniously with Happy, but they're not aggressive in an alarming way. It may just be normal male/male behavior since I believe Jersey is in breeding condition. (She's got a dark brown cere, but no other signs of breeding have been displayed.)
Happy is now going through his first "baby molt." I frequently am interacting with my birds and I noticed how much heavier Jersey and Manny are than Happy. He seems skinny and very light, and it might be their significant age difference (Jersey and Manny were both hatched around January/February of this year and Happy wasn't hatched until around April/May). I don't believe any of them have ever been weighed, and after I get the check I'm expecting in the mail I was going to pick up a small scale (like the kind used for packages). I'm just worried that there's more going on than I see on a daily basis, and that Happy isn't eating enough. (Oddly, this aggressive behavior only centers around pellets and seed, and when I offer fruits/veggies they all eat nicely together and even "share" sometimes.)
I have a few questions that I'd love to have answered!

1) Was it a wrong decision for me to just put Happy in the same cage as the bonded pair? Would I have been better off just leaving him separated after quarantine?
2) Do the bonded pair feel threatened by his presence? How do I make them comfortable around him if they are?
3) Should I take either Jersey or Happy out of the equation (temporarily)? Would this help him eat more?
4) How can I discourage food aggression (or whatever Jersey is doing)?
5) How can I make sure Happy is eating the right amount/that he's at a healthy constant weight?
and
6) If I take Happy out of the bigger cage and separate him, will that be an incentive for Jersey and Manny to breed? (I don't want them to breed.)

I hope this is the right place to put this! I appreciate all of the advice people can offer me!

BONUS:
I'm also wondering if there are "winter foods" that are higher in fat that I can feed my birds so they can stay warm through the night. I do use a space heater quite often, and since October started my room hasn't been any colder than 70 degrees fahrenheit. Mostly I'm just wondering if I should change their diet to accompany the colder weather!
 
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BeeBop

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camelotshadow

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Three is not the best number even if its a huge cage. The bonded pair may feel the new guys an intruder. The new one may end up fighting for one of the others as potential mate. Lots of stress. They keep him from eating its not good. He would be better in his own cage & maybe someday getting him a bigger one & introducing an friend for him.

The budgies will mate even if the new guy is in town. Its just going to stress eveyone.
 

Reggie

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Thank you! I was going to move him, I'm just worried about him being lonely because I can't get another budgie right now.
 

Monica

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1) Was it a wrong decision for me to just put Happy in the same cage as the bonded pair? Would I have been better off just leaving him separated after quarantine?
Maybe. Maybe not. I've kept odd numbers of birds before, unintentionally. Many of my birds have been rehomes, and I once even kept budgies, and had more females than males. (again, unintentional)

2) Do the bonded pair feel threatened by his presence? How do I make them comfortable around him if they are?

More dishes. (as has already been done) Bigger cage. More perches. More toys. Pretty much, more "everything" so hopefully less to bicker over. Otherwise, separate cage next to the current cage.

3) Should I take either Jersey or Happy out of the equation (temporarily)? Would this help him eat more?

Birds, just like humans, can vary in weight. Is it possible that Jersey and Manny are overweight where-as Happy is at a perfect weight?

As long as a bird isn't too fat or too skinny, it shouldn't be an issue! You can tell by the keel bone. You want a bird with a nice, rounded keel bone, kind of like a boat. Not sharp/thin, not fat where the keel bone is recessed.

4) How can I discourage food aggression (or whatever Jersey is doing)?

More dishes.

5) How can I make sure Happy is eating the right amount/that he's at a healthy constant weight?
You can buy digital kitchen scales from grocery stores, too. Just make sure it weighs in grams!

So weighing and feeling the keel bone.

6) If I take Happy out of the bigger cage and separate him, will that be an incentive for Jersey and Manny to breed? (I don't want them to breed.)
Maybe. Maybe not.



BONUS:
I'm also wondering if there are "winter foods" that are higher in fat that I can feed my birds so they can stay warm through the night. I do use a space heater quite often, and since October started my room hasn't been any colder than 70 degrees fahrenheit. Mostly I'm just wondering if I should change their diet to accompany the colder weather!
My birds have been in temps as low as the 60's, or even the high 50's in the winter. Didn't really change the diet. They did fine.
 

Reggie

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@Monica Thank you so much for the specific answers! I think the next thing I'll do is buy a gram scale so I can weigh them and make sure they stay healthy. It might just be because Jersey is an older female and Happy is a younger male. Since I've made this post I haven't seen any bickering - which is quite odd.
 
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