Friday, May 14, 2010

Bourke Behaviors

Thanks to “Sags” for his comment on the last post. I thought I’d address some of the ideas he raised. He said he’s been told another way to sex Bourkes is by looking at two birds sitting “together; a hen will generally sit flat to the perch, whilst the male will be more upright.” I believe this goes along with my observation that males “strut” their stuff during breeding season. They may sit higher to stay alert and protect their mate. However, at other times during the year, I see no difference in how they sit on a perch.

My bird pairs are mostly in cages of their own, 30 inches long by 18 inches wide and 18 inches high. The length allows Bourkes to fly in circles, something they do well.

Sags also says he thinks “hens will bite with a vengeance, much more than males when held.” I haven’t noticed any difference. However, I’ve learned how to catch or hold them so that I won’t be bitten. When reaching into a cage, I may use a washrag to capture birds I feel are likely to bite with “a vengeance.” Then they can bite the rag all they want to. I also keep a bird net handy in case one escapes, but I seldom need it. Of course, tame birds don’t bite!

When I was a kid my grandfather taught me how to hold wild budgerigar parakeets to avoid nips. You pin their head between the second knuckles of your first and second fingers so that they can't turn their head to bite. This hold works fine on Bourkes and Splendids too. See photo example at left.

Note that in the UK Bourkes are called Rosa Bourkes and in the U.S. we call them Rosy Bourkes – same birds. Sags added, “As you say Rosa is sex-linked, but a rosa hen paired to normal male will only produce normal looking coloured birds, the young males being split for rosa...unless the father is split for rosa (only males can be split) then you get both rosa and normals in the young males and hens.”

I didn’t know that only males could be splits. I have Normal males who produce Rosy hens, and realize they are splits (heterozygous), their father was a Rosy. All my Normal hens have only produced Normal males and Rosy hens. Their mates have all been Rosies. I expected that a Rosy hen with a Normal male would produce Rosy males and Normal hens. That’s what I had interpreted from what I’d read, but have not put it into practice before.

Recently, for the first time, I have a Rosy hen with a Normal male. Their first clutch was fertile, but the eggs didn’t hatch. If Sags is right, then all their young will be Normals. It will be interesting to watch this happen, if they manage to hatch their eggs. That hen is starting a new clutch now.

Sags said, “… I just wish I was as successful in breeding my birds. Things are not going too well so far (only last night I removed a dead chick, a lutino splendid)....I blame the British weather!”

When I have hens on eggs that are about to hatch, I make sure that the room they are in is at least 70 degrees or warmer. I think my success is because my birds live indoors where it’s always warm. They also get lots of light from large windows. Along with seeds, they get fresh greens and veggies too … maybe that helps.

Sags said, “Incidently, it’s my pictures in the link for sexing splendids. The wing bar is not 100% reliable, but helps when used with the differences in colour.”

Thanks again for your comments, Sags! I like your photos at:   It's a great site with wonderful web cam shots of babies in the nest!

P.S. I get my birds’ bands and bought the bird net from: L & M Bird Bands in San Bernardino, California.
May your birds bring you peace & joy. Here are two of my latest, almost adult babies.


neversink7 said...

The reason only males can be split to sex-linked traits is because as opposed to humans, the male birds have XX as the sex chromosomes and females are XY, so when the traits are on the X chromosome, the males can have either 0, 1 or 2 copies while the females will either have or won't have the traits. hope that makes sense.

mandypoo2009 said...

hello, just another question for you if you dont mind answering. i took a 3 week old baby bourke out of her nest on saturday (today is thursday) she is one of three but her mother stopped feeding her, she is quite fluffy with her feathers coming in slowly, however, checked on her siblings today and they are fully feathered,looking like bourke's .
Is there something i am doing wrong as to why she is not growing as quickly being hand fed as apposed to parent fed?

G. Lewis said...

An answer to Mandy's question can be found at "Hand Rearing Parakeets, Question and Answer." Here is the link: