Pairs: Bonded, Proven or What? A Definition of Terms

There are many loosely defined terms describing pairs of birds. However, the meaning of these terms becomes very important when buying or selling birds, especially for breeding purposes. Confusion as to the meaning of these terms can lead to a buyer purchasing the wrong pair of birds.Pairs fall into three main groupings: Pairs, Bonded and Proven. There is no one definition of these, but understanding the differences can help to:

  • Eliminate confusion caused when the buyer and seller apply different meanings to the same terms.
  • Assure that the buyer asks the proper questions of the seller.
  • Improve the chances of purchasing the birds desired.

Some sellers are really tricky with their usage of the English language, so the more specific you can make your questions, the more likely you are to get truthful answers. Of course every now and then you’ll run across someone who will just flat-out lie to you.Another point to remember is that bonded or proven pairs are that way in their current environment. If moved, there is a possibility, that their relationship may change.

For those of you who are seeking to purchase only a male or female to create a new pair, be aware that a bird which is “proven” with one mate, may or may not bond or prove with another.

The following breakdown of terms are our personal definitions, but are pretty representative of most breeders.


PAIR – Two birds which have been placed together. Technically, a “pair” only means two birds – not necessarily two birds of different sexes – so if someone offers you a pair of birds for sale, it’s always wise to ask if they are a surgically or DNA sexed male and female or a pair that has laid fertile eggs together.

TRUE PAIR – A male and female which have been placed together – not necessarily with signs of bonding. These birds may often produce infertile eggs due to incompatibility, leading a breeder to believe that they are bonded when in truth they aren’t.


BONDED – Birds who show obvious affection for each other: mutual preening, feeding each other, showing distress when separated, very often mating activity observed (but not always). Note that a bonded pair can and very often IS two birds of the same sex. So a bonded pair may not be a true pair.

BONDED/EGG-LAYING – Same as above but with the addition of laying infertile eggs. This can also occur if you have two hens, so isn’t always an indication of a true pair.


PROVEN PAIR – A bonded true pair which has produced fertile eggs for the breeder who is claiming them as proven. Ideally these birds have hatched live chicks and fed them.

Many “proven pairs” are in environments where their eggs are taken from them for incubation by a breeder. So it is unknown whether or not these pairs would incubate, hatch, feed and otherwise care for their young.

Anyone seeking a proven pair with the intention of having them raise their own babies, should be sure to ask whether the pair has done this successfully before. If they haven’t, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t. Ask if the pair has had problems in this area or if the breeder chooses to always pull the eggs. If the eggs are always pulled as a matter of course, it just means that the answer to this question is unknown.

The decision on whether to buy or not to buy a particular pair is a personal one. However, the descriptions above should increase your chances of satisfaction.

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