Can You Put Paper Towels in a Nesting Box for Cockatiels?

Basic paper towels keep the bottom of your cockatiel's nest box soft and dry.
Basic paper towels keep the bottom of your cockatiel's nest box soft and dry. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

If your cockatiels have recently bred, they'll need a nest box in which to lay their eggs and care for the little ones once they hatch. Keep the box clean, dry and well-insulated by lining the nest box with soft, absorbent material. A variety of materials are suitable for lining a nest box, and paper towels are just fine.

The Nest Box

Your expectant cockatiel pair requires a nest box that is at approximately 12-by-12-by-12 inches in size, the National Cockatiel Society advises. The front of the box should have a 3-inch hole to allow access to the mother and father birds, according to the American Cockatiel Society. The top or back of the box should also have a door that you can open to inspect the babies or eggs inside. Smaller boxes don't provide cockatiel pairs enough room to raise their broods of between three and six eggs; the birds might not enter a box that's too cramped. Prefabricated cockatiel nesting boxes, usually made of wood, are available in pet supply stores; you can also use cardboard boxes or wicker baskets in a pinch.

Lining the Box

Once you've provided your cockatiels a nesting box, line the inside with soft nesting material. Paper towels are absorbent and smooth, and you can easily change them to maintain cleanliness in the nest. Place several layers of paper towels or similar bedding along the bottom of the box for ample cushioning of the eggs, recommends the American Cockatiel Society. Make sure there is a small indentation in the center of the paper towels to form a "nest bowl" to keep the eggs from rolling around the nest box floor, recommends the Cockatiel Cottage website. The paper towel lining will also prevent the babies, once they hatch, from developing leg deformities caused by walking on a wet, slippery box floor.

Safe Nest Materials

When using paper towels as bedding, choose those free of potentially toxic scents and dyes. Avoid using any paper towels that are directly attached to the central cardboard roll, which may contain adhesive residue. Adhesives may contain zinc or other toxins, warns Zinc toxicosis is a potentially fatal condition for any bird who ingests it, as expectant parents may accidentally do when arranging their nesting materials. Unlike ground corn cob, paper towels won't allow bacteria and fungi to fester with regular changing, according to They also won't irritate the birds' respiratory tracts and skin like the aromatic oils contained in wood shavings.

Nest Maintenance

Not only can you use paper towels inside the nesting box, you can use them to cushion the babies when you are cleaning the box, too. When mom and dad are outside of the box, place the little ones in a bowl lined with paper towels in a warm, draft-free area, recommends Completely change their bedding and scrape away their droppings. Re-line the nest box and put the babies back inside. Do this every other day to prevent feces from building up inside the box. In addition to paper towels, other paper products like newspaper or wood chips and nontoxic sawdust make acceptable bedding options for the nest box.

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