Concaves Yes or No? – The Late Gordon Davis, Florida USA

After forty years of concaves and their continuing problems I visited a friend Carolyn, a few miles down the road who was breeding budgerigars without the use of concaves. This I could not believe and despite her many validations for their discontinuation it seemed ridiculous to me who had bred birds after scraping, soaking, disinfecting, and rebuilding concaves for years.

Later that year I used NO CONCAVES with a sampling of matings using sisters for control and experimentation. By the end of the season those without concaves hatched more fertile eggs and raised more chicks than those with concaves. I thought that this was probably a fluke, but continued the experiment again the next year on an expanded basis. This time I used the sisters that had been equipped with concaves the season before as experimental and their siblings who had not had concaves before as the control. Again, those hens without concaves produced more young than those with concaves. As hard as my head was, I now had to tell Carolyn that she had made a point in budgerigar breeding that was difficult for me to accept, but that credit was due her and her hens that had been without concaves for several years.

That was ten years ago and I have never used a concave since. My hens get a handful of pine shavings mixed with oat groats after they drop the first egg. After each subsequent egg they receive more shavings, a little more each time. The eggs have no concave to roll around in and become addled; when the first baby hatches it is seldom smothered or made useless or spraddled by a heavy hen.

My nest boxes are made of cardboard and are inserted into a wire basket that hangs on the outside of the cage. The box may be withdrawn at my convenience and may be opened at either end for the health and convenience of the birds and their babies. The boxes are readily acceptable to the birds and are easily destroyed by burning when they become bad. The cardboard insert and shavings are clean and free of bacteria, fungus, virus, and odour; and that stack of dirty, properly cupped out concave blocks are no longer stacked by the washing machine awaiting their regular soaking and disinfecting.

Much of budgerigar breeding is dependent upon us the breeders. We have been taught to believe that budgerigars must have concaves to have comfortable productive nests wherein to place their eggs. Those lovely Australian trees where the birds place their eggs have no concaves, nor do our budgerigars breeding in captivity (but still responding to their biologically programmed instincts) need such bad sources of contamination.

You, too, may wish to experiment with your sibling hens and alternatives to concaves. You are encouraged to do so.


Filed Under: BeginnersBreedingFeaturedManagement



Terry Tuxford About the Author:

Terry Tuxford first began breeding budgerigars in 1979 and joined the BS in 1980. He was elevated to Champion in 1985 when he went into partnership with Brian Poole. This partnership is probably one of the longest existing partnerships in the UK hobby today having lasted some 27 years so far and is still going strong. Terry and Brian are also partnered by Yvonne Tuxford who joined the BS in 1990.

Terry demonstrated his penmanship early in his budgerigar career and wrote in the second edition of Budgerigar World. Little did he realise then that in just over 8 year’s time he would become editor following a 20 month apprenticeship with founding editor, Gerald Binks. Terry went on to edit a total of 245 editions up to May 2011.

In 1993 Terry took his Budgerigar Society Judges final examination and was awarded Subsidiary Judge of the Year and has gone on to judge the Budgerigar Society World Show on three occasions as well as many top shows at home and abroad. He is also an accomplished speaker and has been a guest at societies throughout the UK as well as Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and many other European countries.

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  1. John Cave says:

    When visiting Gordon while living in Florida USA I was amazed to see someone using the wire & cardboard nesting boxes. There were plenty of healty chicks and almost all of the cardboard was chewed to the point you could see completely inside. The hens didn’t seem to mind vistors and where very happy in their nesting situation. Although I don’t use the wire/carboard I have discontinued the concave using the pine shavings instead and haven’t had any problems without using them. I do after the last chick is hatched and abount 10 days old change the shavings and replace with clean. The hens don’t seem to mind. Budgies are very accomendating to their surroundings.

  2. Reference: Abstract copy of Gordon Davis opinion on the subject nest-box from the BSP Yahoo Group thread date 31st July 2009 – 02nd August 2009, compiled by The Voice of Budgerigar (VoB)

    “You may wish to try the card board nest box. They easily insert into a wire basket that hangs on the side of the breeding cage. They are so easy to clean and they burn so well. A new one inserts just as well for another day in the nest activity and the birds love them.

    We have been using them for a good many years and those who come to visit are amazed (or confounded) when the cardboard nest is pulled from the wire basket to reveal another four chicks in development. When we have the accommodating birds set up we keep the young together by age once they have been banded.”

    Upon another question he explained;
    “When do when start breeding? We NEVER stop. We breed some budgerigars all year without interruption.

    What about humidity? During the summer in the Mid West during the summer we have high humidity 90 plus day and night. When the sun goes down the corn takes over. In spring and fall the rain helps. In the winter the snow and ice cover the frozen lakes. Without great care more birds, especially chickens, drown in the shell than for any other reason.

    In Florida the natives complain about heat and humidity but they have never lived in central Illinois. For several years, when we were going back and forth, we came to Florida in July to relax and to escape the Mid West humidity of 95 to 99.

    The birds have a normal body temperature of 104. So long as they are away from the rays of the direct sun and have ample water they seem to have no ill effects from the heat or the humidity. We do use fans in the summer and an exhaust fan in the east wall of the aviary all year.

    Concaves are bad for incubation, especially during periods of heavy humidity and high heat; the eggs are in way of the hen’s attempts to control the distribution of air under their body cavities. It has now been twenty years since we have used a concave. In their natural habitat there are no concaves in the nests that they carved out of the tree. Those concaves were hallowed out, CAREFULLY PLACED, routinely disinfected and scrubbed, and returned to the nest box with routine regularity.

    In budgerigar breeding there is no more intense “waste of time” than the use and care of concaves.

    What are the conditions like in your neighborhood? ”

    In last he said to me “We have never seen a plastic nest box. Where can we locate one??? ” Gordon Davis & Teddie

    Habib Ur Rehman,Pakistan


    U.S.Consulate General, Karachi – Pakistan shared this super video on clay nest box. I shared this on Pakistan Avicultural Foundation The Budgerigar World through Terry Tuxford.

    Greeting welcome to all USA cage bird and budgerigar breeders.

    Thanking you,
    Habib Ur Rehman, Pakistan

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