Overgrown Beaks in Jardine’s Breeders

Hi All, About three years ago, when I noticed that some of my Jardine’s pairs were no longer in love with each other, I put three pair plus a couple of spare singles in a large flight cage together to see if they would re-pair.

One pair stayed together and the others switched mates.

Within three weeks of putting Jasper and Maude together in their own bungalow, they had a honeymoon and produced a nice clutch of fertile eggs. The babies grew well and were very sweet. About the nicest I’ve ever raised.

A few months later, I noticed that the lower mandibles of both Jasper and Maude were overgrowing. One interesting observation was that Jasper’s was overgrowing on the right side of his lower front mandible and Maude’s was overgrowing on the left side of her lower front mandible. I pulled them and trimmed the beaks, but they grew pretty fast. Maude would start to lose weight if I let it go too long, so I had to be attentive. I have no clue why both birds’ beaks would start to overgrow at the same time like this..

Well after a time, they laid another clutch of eggs, which were fertile. I hesitated to trim Maude’s beak because she was sitting tight in the box and I was never able to catch her out of the box. For fear of damaging the eggs, I left it go. The babies hatched and died. Probably because she couldn’t feed them. So I started pulling her and doing beak trims again.

After more time passed, she laid another clutch of fertile eggs. They were developing nicely and when they were about due to hatch, I pulled her out of the nestbox and sure enough, her beak was overgrown again. I trimmed it so she could feed the babies when they hatched. Well, that didn’t work. Since I pulled her out of the box, it was no longer a safe place. She abandoned the eggs and they died.

Finally in total disgust, I closed off the box. There is no point in letting them lay when they just lose the babies. (No, I don’t incubate or feed from day one.)

It’s been six months. I have not had to trim their beaks since I closed off the box. Their beaks are fine and normal. No overgrowth.

Does anyone have any idea what those two are doing in the box to make their lower mandible grow up one side so they can’t eat properly or get their beaks closed? Any idea why it is the opposite side on each of them? Is that a significant fact?

thanks, gloria

<<<However, both beaks started overgrowing at the same time and both stopped overgrowing at the same time. No other birds are experiencing this beak overgrowth, so it has something to do with those two birds….and their nestbox. Hmmmm, I wonder if the plastic….but the other J pairs have the same plastic boxes and live in them too. >>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Gloria,

You might consider a heavy wooden nestbox, and maybe coarser bedding for them to chew on.

It kinda sounds like the beak activity may be with each other while in the box…BUT still….I’d be thinking of increasing their vitamin *A* during breeding to ?maybe? add more hardness and strength to the beaks.


Hi Diana, That was good thinking about them possibly chewing the nestbox, but I didn’t give you enough information. Their nestbox is plastic so they can’t chew the inside of it. They do have a wooden perch that they occasionally chew. This pair are not big chewers. They do love to be in the nestbox, though. Other information I forgot to share: the diet has remained the same and they have not been on antibiotics. Also, Jasper has completely plucked Maude’s head down to her shoulders. This is interesting because Maude had completely plucked her previous husband in exactly the same way. She had gorgeous coloring before being paired with Jasper. An extremely large, bright, deep orange patch almost covered her head. (My most beautiful Jardine’s..sniff)

Susanne, I was thinking along the same lines as you, that they engage in beak wrestling/feeding in the nestbox, but it doesn’t make sense that they wouldn’t do this also outside of the nestbox. However, both beaks started overgrowing at the same time and both stopped overgrowing at the same time. No other birds are experiencing this beak overgrowth, so it has something to do with those two birds….and their nestbox. Hmmmm, I wonder if the plastic….but the other J pairs have the same plastic boxes and live in them too. If it were just one of the birds, I would be thinking an individual sensitivity??

I wonder if I should try giving them their box back? I can feed day one chicks now because I quit my job to go to school.


Gloria, If I were you, I’d invest in a nestbox camera – if possible. I recently spoke at the Bird Clubs of America convention in Wichita, and while there met Joe and Carla Freed who own Petiatric Supply. He had a demo set up there in his booth of how the camera mounts to the nestbox door, and of how the film looks when played on television. The cameras cost $175 apiece, and are mounted on plastic nestboxes.

Although I had heard of other breeders who are doing this, I had always imagined it to be quite a costly and difficult thing to do. I changed my mind after talking to Joe and Carla, and seeing how easily they can be installed. The more inspiring part of my exchanges with them, however, was watching the Bodini Amazon hen in the nest box, who had been filmed previously. We spent many long periods, both at their home and standing around their booth, watching this hen in the nestbox. I was mesmerized, and what I saw raised many questions in my mind. More than anything, it was apparent that the hen doesn’t sleep much and works hard at turning the eggs. It gave me a good appreciation for the work the hen does even before feeding starts.

It’s possible that they are chewing or beaking the nestbox ladder inside in some repetitive way. Since birds are so “visual,” their behavior often changes in relation to visual stimulus. Even if not chewers outside the box, they may be triggered to chew inside the darker nestbox. If a nestbox camera isn’t an option right now, I’d open the box, but place chunks of soft 2×2 pine or fir inside immediately after opening the entrance and see if that makes a difference.

Just some thoughts. Please keep up posted about this…it’s quite an interesting “puzzle.”

Pamela Clark

>Gloria’s mystery is that the beaks of her pair overgrow only when they >have access to a nest box… > >Carol Hi Listers, I have about 20 adult Jardine’s. About half have overgrown beaks. Seems the beak grows fast during breeding season (Gloria’s nest box is a breeding stimulation?).

The beak actually grows even, but keeps growing and growing. At some point something has to give and it breaks off. Most break off crooked, which makes sense that they would. Now that the beak is broken crooked, the short side allows the top beak to grow longer (lower) on that side, while the high side of the bottom beak forces the top beak over to the opposite side. You end up with a beak growing crooked, and eventually will look like a scissors beak.

It can be either the top beak or the bottom beak that grows so fast, although it usually seems to be the bottom beak.

We do not have enough information to know exactly why this is happening, but Carol is right, they chew nests that are 9+ feet deep/long. These nests are in *living* Podacarpus (sp?) trees.

I may be using my flock of Jardine’s in a research trial, since I have so many in one place. While we are pulling blood, perhaps I can have some one do a little research into the beak thingy too. Jean

Isabel’s beak began overgrowing dramatically this winter: it was ground down during a checkup in November and by the beginning of January she couldn’t close her mouth completely because it had grown out so far. At one point it grew to the point her lower beak began to split slightly in only a month since her last touch up. Since I was flying back and forth from NY to CO, she saw two different avian vets who had two entirely different perspectives on the growth spurt–and both have a fair number of lesser Jardines in their practices. The CO vet was significantly concerned and insisted on a complete blood workup both then and a few months later. The NYC vet told me it was nothing to be worried about and seemed annoyed I kept harping on it. I had to press him to get him to perform the second blood test the CO vet asked for. The fast growth and dueling opinions between vets continued until her beak stopped it’s rapid growth in May. Isabel’s beak had never crossed at the tips before the growth spurt and she never suffered an injury to her beak. Now, however, the tips will cross if overgrown. There was some reference on this list to how switching to a harder food (Harrison’s, I believe) alleviated an overgrown beak, but Isabel has always eaten Harrison’s and I don’t feel it’s chewing on a pellet that is or isn’t the problem. It appeared suddenly, lasted about half a year and seems to have subsided on its own. I’d be glad to hear some reassuring things about the whole thing myself. Oh. And having suffered so many trips to the vet to have her beak ground, Biz is now terrified of her carrier which is real pain. I keep trying to take it out during the day to let her accumulate good memories to go with the bad, but it’s no go. I can stack a little trail of Nutri berries right up to it and she won’t touch of any of them.


Reading the posts so far, I would speculate along the same lines as Carol: the excess beak growth is hormonal, related to the need to dig large nest holes in the wild. It starts at the beginning of breeding and stops when breeding is over. Some birds may experience more or less beak growth. The fact that Gloria’s birds have overgrowth on opposite sides is probably coincidental. Perhaps she needs to provide them with some chewable items, branches or whatever. I remember hearing that some cockatoo breeders provide wooden nest boxes with very small holes. The action of widening the hole provides breeding stimulation to the pair. Perhaps Gloria could do this for her Jardine’s to keep the beaks trimmed during breeding. Interesting…


Debi Schmitt wrote: A while back we were talking about over grown beaks in Jardines. I sent the message about it to Dr. Scott MacDonald. Just thought you might like to see his reply…even though Jean P. seemed to have the best answer. Jardines are known for overgrown lower beaks. They do tend to get scissor beak and have longitudinal cracks in their lower beaks. Why? I can’t answer this. It may be related to the structure which is very stout and broad, compared to other types of psittacines. A similar problem occurs in Hahns and Nobles which have a similar beak anatomy.

I suppose if it weren’t trimmed back adequately, it could affect feeding the young.Why it would get better when the nest is closed off I can’t say.