Frequently Asked Questions

The Socal Nestbox is a repository for fact-checked information about all things bird ownership. Whether you’re interested in keeping a parakeet indoors, or a flock outdoors, our resources should answer many of the questions you have, or take you to the right answers. If you have questions that we have not yet answered, we recommend checking out the following resources or contacting your local veterinarian for questions related to the health of your birds.
The rate of lay will depend on the type of chicken you decide to get, but it’s safe to assume that you’ll be able to harvest an egg every 1-2 days. For more information on different breeds, laying frequency and other breed characteristics, click here.
The legality of owning chickens tends to differ from city to city and town to town, so it’s important to research your city’s local codes before jumping in feet first. Oftentimes a city that allows chicken ownership will require that a chicken coop is placed a certain distance from the property line to avoid the nuisance of sound pollution. While you might be excited about your brood, a neighbor might not be so happy about being woken up by a chicken loudly laying an egg! We encourage you to check local laws and then to talk to your neighbors about your plan. If you run into issues down the road, fresh eggs are always a great way to warm someone’s heart!

A: Chickens are social animals that live in flocks within which a pecking order (yes, it’s a real thing!) determines their access to food and shelter. So, if you want a happy and healthy chicken that regularly lays eggs, it’s good to have at least two!

On average, chickens live about 8-10 years!

If you’re looking for chickens, local feed stores or local poultry associations are great places to find healthy chicks. Hatcheries are also a good option but may have restrictions on the minimum number of chicks you can purchase.

While all fluffy chicks look adorable, they may not all be healthy and safe to bring home. For this reason, chickens should only be bought from reputable sources. But not to worry! If a source is a member of the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP), you can rest easy knowing your new addition is egg-cellent. The NPIP is a cooperative testing and certification program that makes sure that poultry meets certain vaccination and health standards before being sold. Curious to see which hatcheries and farms have a clean status in your state? Use this map resource to find out.

It is especially important to check that your source vaccinates chicks on the day that they hatch for both Marek’s disease and coccidiosis. 

Marek’s disease virus is a very common, highly contagious and fatal disease that can be found in any environment where there have ever been poultry birds on the property or nearby. It typically will infect young birds and it can take several months before birds show any symptoms and/or die. Marek’s disease is not treatable.

Poultry Coccidiosis is a highly contagious parasitic disease which affects the intestinal tract of poultry and can be fatal to them. 

If you’re thinking about buying a mature bird at a trade show or over the internet, it’s important to isolate your bird for 30 days to make sure they aren’t carrying any viruses that can be passed to existing birds. Isolation entails keeping the bird at a minimum 6 feet away from your other birds for the entire 30 day duration.  If they get sick during this period of time, contact a local avian veterinarian for advice.

How quickly disease spreads across a flock depends on a variety of factors. Most diseases spread from bird to bird through contact with feces, contaminated food, improper ventilation, and direct contact. Crowded or dirty enclosures or infrequent cleaning and changing of food and water can create situations where disease spreads very quickly! To learn more about common bird parasites and diseases, click here.

You should exercise extreme caution! If you think your other birds are sick too, take the following steps: 


  • Immediately isolate dead or sick birds away from the rest of your healthy birds, so as to help prevent the spread of disease between birds.
  • Make sure your sick ones are at least 33 feet away from the rest of your flock and that they cannot reach your healthy birds physically or by coughing/sneezing through the barriers that divide them.
  • Use separate equipment, litter, feed and water sources for your isolated birds. In your daily feeding schedule, feed your sick birds last.
  • After handling your sick birds and before handling your healthy birds again, ALWAYS change into clean clothes, and wash your hands thoroughly.


  • Clean and disinfect all equipment that the dead or sick birds have come into contact with.


  • Check for symptoms of disease on the dead/sick birds.
  • Call your local veterinarian for next steps. 
  • Find a vet in your Southern California area here.


  • If this was a sudden death in your flock or you have an unusually high number of sick/dead birds, it is critical that you report it to help limit the spread of disease. 

Call the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s sick bird hotline at (866) 922- BIRD (2473).


Yes, but only some bird diseases are transmissible to humans. Diseases which can pass from animal to humans are called zoonotic diseases. 

Salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis are the most commonly reported zoonotic diseases in poultry. People can get both through contact with poultry or by eating improperly cooked eggs, egg products or contaminated poultry. Always washing your hands with soap and water after handling poultry and practicing good biosecurity is crucial to protecting yourself against these diseases.

A list of more of the most common zoonotic diseases can be found here.