Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bird Shows – Also Buying Birds

In my previous Blog I promised Noah to talk a bit about my experience at bird shows. They are exciting and lots of fun. However, it’s a good idea to know how to reach the breeders/sellers after the show. Most have business cards, pamphlets, or something. If not, ask for a contact number and hope it’s real. You should recognize healthy birds and avoid those that seem lethargic. Expect healthy birds to be active, or at least responsive to you when you approach or talk to them, they should have dry vents and clear, alert eyes ...

The best price I’ve ever found on cages was at a bird show. I’ve since ordered more online, but shipping costs made them more expensive than from the bird show, and they were exactly the same. Boxes of California millet at the show were also more reasonable than from our local Grange. And, the quality was better.

When I decided to raise birds again, I investigated varieties that I’d not previously owned. Bourkes were said to be quiet, peaceful parakeets in addition to being beautiful. That won me over. I started looking for breeders, but none were close. However, there was an annual bird show in Hillsboro, Oregon and they listed Bourkes as a variety being offered. It was a 4-hour drive for us, but it turned out to be well worth the trip.

Our first bird show wasn’t as huge as others I saw in Ohio, but there were a lot of bird dealers present with all kinds of birds. The number of finches was particularly impressive. There were also lots of parakeets, and at least three people had Bourkes for sale. The one thing I never saw at any of the Hillsboro shows was a Scarlet-chested, or Splendid, parakeet.

The best-priced Bourkes were offered by an elderly woman from northern Washington near the Canadian border. A friendly male Bourke came right up to the side of the cage when I talked to him, so he was my first pick.

The friendly hen I selected at the show apparently had the same color band as the male indicating she was a close relative. So, she stayed and the woman pointed out another hen she was certain was unrelated. I took her and named the pair Rhett & Scarlett.

Scarlett turned out to be a wonderfully sweet bird, but not very robust. In her too short lifetime, she produced only one baby, Bonnie. However, she fostered another bird’s egg and when a hen rejected a newly hatched chick, I gave it to Scarlett whose infertile eggs were close to a hatch date. She fostered the baby … something that’s not supposed to happen. As I said, she was a very sweet bird. Yet, fostering that baby wore her down and she died before the baby was fully weaned. Rhett finished feeding it. Although elderly, Rhett is still with us and still producing!

A year after buying Rhett & Scarlett, I chanced to see an ad in our local shopper for Exotic birds and called to see if they might have Bourkes. Turned out that she had individual pairs of many kinds of birds, and Bourkes were one of them. I bought the Rosy pair and her only pair of Splendids. Later, I had an opportunity to buy two Normal hens from a bird store that was going out of business.

The Rosy male was quite a singer, so I called him Bing (as in Crosby). His mate became Cherry. They did not reproduce, so he acquired a Normal hen, dubbed Stella (a variety of cherry tree). Bing and Stella became champion producers and very tame, wonderful birds! As we’ve discussed before, all their Normal offspring were males and all their Rosies were hens. The males were the brown wild shade like their mother and the Rosy hens were dark pink like their father.

After Scarlett died, Rhett acquired Willow, the other Normal hen. He fed her and wooed her, but they never reproduced. Eventually, Willow found a mate with Bing, Jr. and they’ve done remarkably well at producing beautiful babies. Although Bing, Jr. is a Normal Bourke, as is Willow, their daughters have all been Rosies, and all the Normals have been males. He has to be heterozygous.

As Willow transitioned to Bing Jr., lonely Cherry went into Rhett’s cage. It was love at first sight, even if Cherry is a bit bossy. They have produced quite a few beautiful Rosies and Rhett’s sweet nature over-shadows Cherry’s pushy personality.

Wanting to add new blood to my lines, a few years later I made another trip to Hillsboro for the annual bird show there. I bought a beautiful Rosy Bourke male to put with Bonnie (actually not the first Bonnie who died young like her mother. This one is out of Rhett & Cherry). He became Clyde, and they’ve done well together.

That same trip, I also bought a white faced pair with pink eyes. They were a mistake. I bought them from the same woman I bought my first young pair from. She said she simply wanted to downsize her flock, but I suspect these were not two-year-old birds like she said. They had not interest in breeding and within the first year, the hen was dead on the floor. The male moved to an aviary elsewhere in trade for a Splendid hen. He did reproduce for that person, however, and I actually have a male Bourke out of that union … another trade.

So, maybe the buy wasn’t too terrible, as I ultimately got a Splendid hen from it. She mated with a son of Merlin & Millet, my first Splendids. That union produced three more sons, however, the hen died of egg binding with her second clutch. So sad. Merlin & Millet’s son, Rainbow, has had two other hens since then, but all eggs have been infertile.

In the past two years, poor economy has caused the Hillsboro bird show to be cancelled. With the price of gasoline so high, fewer people attended and many out-of-area sellers weren’t willing to make the trip to Portland, Oregon any longer.


The single baby photos are of our most recent addition, Band #25 for 2010, out of Chitter and Bella. As an aside, Chitter is the father of three clutches (8 babies) with Brandy, and an earlier clutch of three with Candy. All of Brandy’s babies had to be removed and handfed because of one death and injuries to other babies. He was my first suspect. However, no harm has come to this little one. Is Bella more protective? Or, was it Brandy who was guilty all along? If she has a clutch with her new mate, Rory, we shall see. I’m monitoring Chitter’s offspring, and later will monitor Brandy’s offspring very closely. Don't want to lose any.

Shared the photo of Australian parrots just because they're pretty and added a lot of color. Smile.

Peace & Blessings!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bourke Pairing & Nest Boxes ... Question from Noah

Noah asks: "I had a question about a pair of my bourkes and was hoping you'd be able to help.

Around 5 months ago my wife and I bought a pair of bourkes from a bird fair. We were told they were a proven pair and had just recently come off eggs (chicks taken for hand-feeding). Their age is said to be 2 years. Well, in the 5 months we've had them, we have not even seen any mating tendencies between them. They have a nest box and a constant stream of fresh foods we give them daily but they don’t touch ANY of the fresh foods.

Long story short, I'm confused. Cant quite figure out how or what I need to do to get them 'going' if they were said to be a proven pair. That, or we got lied to. If needed, I'll snap some pictures. Both are rosies.

Thank you! And my wife and I love your blog."

Noah, Thank you for the compliment. You made my day! My first pair came from a bird show too, but that’s another story.

If your pair is truly only two years old, that’s a perfect age for reproducing. However, there is the potential that the breeder wanted to rid him or herself of an older pair who were no longer productive. Sad, but possible.

If they aren’t eating fresh foods, it might be they never had them before. My Bourkes don’t like fruit and I don’t know why. But, they love vegetables. Their favorite is fresh Kale sliced into small pieces. They also like fresh spinach, lettuce, corn, carrots, peas, and broccoli. Be sure seed is always present.

About Breeding: If they’ve been with you five months that should be more than enough time to get used to their surroundings and feel secure. Could they have been in an aviary before and moving to a cage bothers them? That seems unlikely, however.

My guess would be that it is something about the nest box that puts them off. Is the opening big enough? My swallow boxes outside have an opening big enough for swallows, but too small to allow a sparrow to enter. A Bourke wouldn’t be able to get into them either. Our parakeet boxes have round openings two inches across. Some of my Bourkes are even using cockatiel boxes because I had some available. Too big is better than too small.

Although I’ve known people who had a pair nest in a Quaker Oats box on the floor of their cage, most Bourkes prefer a box with its opening near the top of their cage. But, where there’s motivation, most anything will do. What your birds need is motivation. Smile.

Are you using pine shavings in the bottom of the box? About an inch to two inches thick is good. Do NOT use cedar shavings…the odor will put them off. Budgerigars don’t use shavings, but Bourkes and Splendids do.
If you have a successful pair the male should be feeding the female. He should also be investigating the box to be sure it is “safe” before she enters. In rare instances, a female will enter first if the male hasn’t been attentive enough. But, correct sequence of events is that he checks it out first.

Lastly, but MOST IMPORTANT: Are they getting enough light? Day length triggers the breeding response. They should have over 12 hours of day light each day, preferably 14-16 hours. Artificial light works too. Where I live in Southern Oregon it’s currently still light at 9pm and light again by 5am. Artificial lighting isn’t necessary as our birds are all near windows.

If you read my earlier blogs, last summer we had several visitors that upset our Bourkes and they didn’t breed. Hence, we used artificial lighting in the following fall and raised several clutches then. We turned lights on when we got up at 6am and they stayed on until the sun came up. In the evenings, the lights stayed on until 9 or 10pm. That triggered the birds to begin breeding.

Are your birds in a quiet place? They can get used to children or pets, but it might take a while if they were used to solitude before you bought them. Is the nest box secure enough that it doesn’t wobble?

Be sure your birds have calcium sources: cuttlebone and mineral block. I also like to give mine small amounts of Petamine breeding formula almost daily during breeding season. It’s a treat they love and should give them extra vitamins, etc.

I hope this helps. I’ll post later about my experience with my first pair from a bird show. It was much like yours. Good Luck!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bourke Parakeet Location & Coloration

Here is a map of the areas where Bourke Parakeets originated and still live in the wild. I would hazard a guess that there are now as many domestic Bourkes living around the world as there are living wild in Australia.

Probably there are more domestic Rosy Bourkes outside Australia and Tasmania than living there. However, Australian bird breeders raise Rosies too and seem to have a wider span of color varieties than anywhere else.  

As you know, Rosies (or Rosas in the UK) are not the native, natural color, but have been bred to increase the pink/rose shades.  Some Bourkes have even been bred to be more blue and even yellow, although the yellow looks rather washed out to me. See the photo at right of a "yellow" Bourke. It was taken from Doreen Haggard’s “Bourke’s Parakeets” book published in the UK. 

Will a yellow Bourke ever be as bright and colorful as a yellow Budgie or Turquoisine?  I don’t believe yellow Bourkes begin to compare with either of those parakeets.  Also, the bright pink and rose of the Bourke Parakeet is so very unique and unequaled in any other parakeet, so I see no advantage is striving for yellow.  However, I do enjoy the bright blue rumps on some of the Rosy Bourkes, and it is especially pretty on a Normal Colored Bourke. So, an all blue Bourke sounds attractive. Yet, Budgerigars have that color already firmly established. But, no others share in the remarkable shades of rose and pink found only in Bourkes.

This photo of two of my very young Rosy Bourkes shows the difference in color between a Rosy and a Pink. These two are siblings from the same clutch. They lack the blue rump that appears on both their Rosy parents, indicating perhaps that they are moving even farther from the Normal coloration.

Below is a Rosy Bourke male and a pair of Normal Bourkes. Notice the beautiful blue on their shoulders and the turquoise color at the base of the tail. The pink at the bottom of their chests is more muted and doesn't rise as far as on Rosy Bourkes derived from them. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bird Tales … on Changing Mates

A couple of months ago I talked about shuffling four pairs of Bourkes and two pairs of Splendids around for various reasons. This is an update on how effective that was.

Chitter left Brandy after they’d produced three clutches together, and she deserved a long rest. Chitter joined Bella who’d never had fertile eggs with her first mate, Rory. With Chitter, Bella laid two eggs and recently hatched one, her first baby. Finally successful, this hen’s future clutches with Chitter will probably be larger.

Rory was put with Brandy so she wouldn’t be alone, but her nest box was closed off so she could rest. After ten weeks, I reopened her nest box yesterday, and Rory is investigating it – as a good male should. Hopefully, Rory will do better with Brandy than he did with Bella. If not, Chitter is going to be kept busy hopping back to Brandy in a few months.

Candy, too, had once been with Chitter, and raised three lovely birds with him. But, she was constantly scolding him…an annoying sound. Dolph was a young, extra male and Candy took to him immediately. Last year and this year they cheerfully raised babies together. Although they were content, they produced less than beautiful offspring (in my opinion).

Bonnie & Clyde were the other Bourke pair I split up. Although perfect together, Bonnie needed a rest after three clutches.

Dolph and Candy switched mates with Bonnie & Clyde. With Dolph gone, Candy began asking Clyde to mate, but for ten weeks he refused her, sometimes even scolding. He never sang and sat quietly, sometimes with his head down…obviously unhappy.

Meanwhile, I opened Brandy’s nest box. She and Dolph both ignored it.

Taking a clue from these two pairs, I returned Clyde to Bonnie and witnessed instant bliss! Clyde perked right up and started strutting for her. Dolph went back to Candy and immediately began feeding her. These two pairs were apparently not intended to be split apart. In this case, both males knew who their mates were and remained loyal to them, unlike the promiscuous and productive Chitter.

As for the Splendids, Rainbow and Rivkah have eggs that are due to hatch and I hope they will. Rainbow Jr. and Jewel are still ignoring each other. However, nothing has been lost there as neither of them had fertile eggs with their previous mates anyway. If Rainbow and Rivkah produce, the swap will have been well worth it.

So, sometimes swaps work and sometimes they don’t … Fortunately, in this instance the two pairs that didn’t work out were both switched with each other and easily switched back.

May all your couples remain happy together and produce beautiful baby birds!

Source of name "Bourke's Parakeet" or Bourke Parrot

An article on Bourke’s Parakeets written by Graeme Hyde in “Cage and Aviary Birds” dated February 24, 2005 reads: “Major Sir Thomas L. Mitchell, the Scottish surveyor and explorer first sighted the beautiful Australian Bourke’s Parakeet in 1835, along the banks of the Bogan River in New South Wales, south-east of the present-day town of Bourke. He named it after Sir Richard Bourke, who was at that time governor of New South Wales (1831 – 1837).”

I couldn't find a copy of "Cage and Aviary Birds" by Graeme Hyde. However, Amazon does carry the one below by him, and has the interesting survival manual at right.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Recommended Site:

The most recent blog at site centered below isn't about birds, but it is fascinating reading about spices in the ancient world.

If you search that site, you'll find more photos and information on birds in ancient Israel, particularly the keeping of dove cotes like the one at left. They were often in caves and could be enormous. Amazing to me.

It's listed as "Aviculture in Ancient Israel." To find it, click on the link below, and when open, scroll to the "Categories" Section on the right column. Choose "Ancient Israel" and scroll down until you find it. There is fascinating information throughout the site. Read as much or as little as you like. The info. on Roman glassware particularly intrigued me. What vessels did they use to feed their pigeons and doves, I wonder?

This is for the current entry: "Put a little spice in your life! Check out this new series on Foods of the First Century. Part One deals with the spices mentioned in the Bible."


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Question on Sexing Bourkes

Question from Reader in South Australia:  "... I currently have a Rosa Bourke called Icarus. However, I am not 100% sure whether Icky is in fact a boy or a girl? When I bought him I was initially told it was a girl, and then on closer examination the seller told me it was a boy. I'm just wondering if there is a reasonably clear way to sex them? I've heard all different ideas regarding sexing them (colour of faces, the way they respond to your low whistling, etc.) - but the main thing people say is that they are hard to sex..."

If you will click on the label below called "Sexing," it will open previous posts for you on this topic.

Avian veterinarians can look internally and sex birds, but Bourkes are small and I wouldn't want to have that done to mine (besides the expense). The books say that females have flatter heads and sometimes darker faces. I've not found this to be a successful way to sex them. Instead, behavior is the very best identifier.

Males sing a lot and wolf whistle, especially in the spring and more often when they are single. Males with a hen are less likely to "call" for one. However, they may sing more than she does. Also, her song is less lengthy. Males behave differently too. At about three or more months of age the males typically begin a "display" behavior. They "strut" more than a female (who doesn't); they flair their wings at the shoulders at other birds ... flaring at females to entice them and at other males to intimidate them. Males also want to feed other birds. If no hen is present, the dominant male will try to feed the less dominant one. Hens don't feed a male (an exception to this is if their eggs did not hatch and they want to feed something. For a short time they may try to "re-feed" the male after he's fed them, just as they would have fed the babies that should have hatched but didn't ... kind of sad).

Because I've been around these birds, it's easy for me to recognize the difference in behavior at an early age. I realize it will to be harder for anyone who hasn't had several to compare with each other. When I first started breeding Bourkes, I made several mistakes on judging their sex. Now, not so much...the behavior is obvious to me. I hope this helps somewhat... Click on the tag for "Sexing" below for more information.

A Splendid Question ... Today is a Day for Questions ...

Ron in Delaware asked about Splendid molting patterns and personalities of Bourkes vs. Splendids.

Ron, I have four male Splendids. Two are sons hatched here. Before they were out of the nest, I traded a Bourke for an unrelated Splendid, sex unknown because he was very young. My parent birds produced three male Splendids and I traded one, leaving me with two.

All three babies, who are actually younger than the one I traded for, gained their red chests quickly … long before the other male did. I don’t remember exactly how long it took him, but a year or more is probably the case. Even when his red feathers began to come in, they came in a lot slower than the others. Yet, today they all look alike. He was older and slower, but he caught up with the rest. I hope your bird will do the same. As for losing his tail and not flying well… that happened to the “late bloomer” too, but not to the others. He now flies equally well and looks just like them.

I think being slow to get their red chests has something to do with their parentage, and different birds sometimes develop at different rates. That said, the common scarlet-chested parakeet in its wild color is beautiful, but is being domestically bred to acquire different-looking birds. Some have more red and some less. Some have no red at all and are all yellow or blue in front.

So, although the odds are against it, you might end up with something that looks different than the standard Scarlet-chested parakeet. The person you bought your bird from should be able to tell you what the parents were like.

About personalities of Bourkes vs. Splendids: Check out the labels at the bottom of this post and click on “personalities” and/or “Splendids and Bourkes” and/or “Relationships.” This was discussed at length in earlier posts and the labels should find them for you.

Typically, Splendids are little clowns who like toys and games and will “play” more than Bourkes. Our “pink parakeets” tend to be more subdued. However, each bird has its own personality. I have one female Bourke who loves to play with bells and toys, unlike most of the others. All of my Splendids like the toys and are more active than the Bourkes.

My one and only handfed Splendid (actually the father of the three babies we discussed) was very tame, but once he got a mate and I quit handling him as often, he quit being as tame. He still comes to the door and nibbles or pecks my fingers, but doesn’t want to leave the cage any longer. If I force him to, he will sit on my finger, but is reluctant about it. He used to try to “feed” me and was very affectionate. However, he’s transferred that to a mate and other than talking to me every morning and trying to get my attention, he’s not interested in leaving the cage to visit. He’d rather talk to me and nibble fingers through the bars.

The same is true for a male Bourke that I hand fed. I didn’t keep handling him after he got a mate. He’s still willing to sit on my finger, but he could care less about me. He’s only interested in his mate.

Perhaps if these males had tame mates things might be different. I’m planning to give that a try with three handfed youngsters I intend to keep (and not sell). Odds are good that I’ll get a pair from those three and if not, I’ll hand feed until I do get an unrelated tame bird of the right sex. Then, I intend to handle them more frequently than I did with the others. Interaction and “sweet talk” is key.
Best of luck. Just be patient with your male Splendid…as long as his diet is healthy, give him time and you should have a beautiful bird.

Here are some young Splendids who don't have all their red in yet. It did eventually fill in all the way across their chests.

A Reader Question & Answer

Richard writes:
"I have 2 baby Rosy's. One left nest too early and parents pecked it. I removed it and have had no problem hand feeding it. The 2nd one stayed in nest for about 6 or 7 days then left which caused the parents to peck it as well. the 2nd one is prob 3 or 4 days older than the 1st one. This second baby will not submit to hand feeding, therefore I am sorta force feeding it. it has lost some weight but now is about 15 to 18 days old and seems active and loves to fly. Has anybody experienced this behavior. it is hard to weigh them but I think they are around 1 1/2 ounce. Thanks in advance for any response. RICHARD"

The only reason I can think of for parents to peck their own young is that they want to go back and start another clutch. In the wild, once young birds are old enough to fend for themselves, their parents will try to chase them off. That's true of most birds, not only Bourkes. I suspect that your babies may not have left on their own. Their parents may have chased them out of the nest. Or, if there are other birds present, sometimes birds who want that nest box will try to steal it and injure the young in it. If you have multiple birds in an aviary, I'd make sure there were several more nest boxes present than pairs of birds. 

It's sad that your babies from this pair seem to be out of the nest too early. I'm glad you were watching and able to protect the young ones.  The baby that you say doesn't want to be hand fed ... usually they adapt to it eventually unless they are already able to feed themselves. I'd be sure you have other food available for it. Spray millet is supposed to be the easiest food for young birds to begin eating on their own. I've been adding breadcrumbs and other things to my hand fed babies' diets and they seem to enjoy them.

I've found that they love shredded wheat cereal, and will chew on a rice crispy or a corn flake, but don't like them as well. They love fresh greens, especially Kale and Spinach. I also offer mixed vegetables (previously frozen). They don't get any of this every day...just as it's convenient to provide it. A variety of parakeet seed mix is always present, however, as are two or more sources of fresh water. That way, they can begin trying to feed themselves even before they are ready and gradually work into it. By the time they are fully feathered, parakeet seed should be available. They may be too young, but they can still try to work with it and learn as they go.

My birds are not in an outside aviary...they are all inside pets...all 28 of them at present! Much of the year, our weather here is too cold & damp outside. Bringing Bourkes inside and interacting with them helps to tame them. Even the birds I bought wild as adults are so used to me now that I can reach in and out of their  cages to clean them and none get upset. They're very sweet.

I hope your parent birds improve over time and become more attentive parents. Meanwhile, those you hand feed will become favorites. If they are feathered you can get away with feeding them four times a day. Newly hatched chicks need to be fed every 2-3 hrs during the day, and once during the night. A good rule of thumb is feed them when their crops are empty. The Kaytee Exact Hand Feeding Formula I buy has detailed instructions about hand feeding that is very valuable.

Best of Luck!

UK Readers who Hand Feed ... please respond.

Hello to our friends in the UK!

Can you tell Deborah what you use to hand feed baby birds in the UK, and where to find it?  Thanks much! Add a comment to this and I'll try to post it ASAP.

Kaytee Exact Hand Feeding Formula is available online and can be shipped to the UK.  However, Deborah needs it immediately.  Thanks for the help!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Answer to Deborah's Post

Deborah wrote:
"Hi, I wonder if you would be able to give me a little advice? I have a pair of Bourkes. The hen has hatched two sets of eggs but each time she has appeared to abandon the nest once they hatch and all the babies have died after a few days. She has now hatched another 4 chicks but seems to spend very little time in the nest box and I'm not sure if she is feeding them. I am out at work all day and it is possible she goes in the nest box during the day but whenever I am home I rarely see her in there and she does not spend the night in there. Is this normal or should she be in the box most of the time. I don't know how they are keeping warm! Do these little ones need hand rearing or should I leave our Ruby to look after them...and risk losing them again?"

Most Bourke hens spend a lot of time in the box with their young and do sleep with them all night. Mine only leave to defecate and grab a quick drink of water before heading back in. The male feeds the hen. If he isn't doing so, then he's a problem for her and she may need help feeding them.

I hope it isn't too late to help hand feed them. Find some "Kaytee Exact Hand Feeding Formula." It's available online, but you don't want to wait for it to arrive. Call around. Our local Grange carries it, as do a few other pet supply stores. Follow the package instructions. It's easier than you might think. You'd need a small dish and eye droppers. If all four survive, you will probably use half of a 5 lb. bag until they are eating on their own, but you can start with a smaller bag if that's all you find. Time is of the essence right now.

Don't be afraid to pick up the babies and look to see if they have food in their crops. It's pretty obvious. Their skin is thin and their crops will be very swelled with food. They are full when their crops are so full they are visible around (or over) their shoulders. Parents usually stuff them so full that I don't worry about over feeding them. They'll  refuse more food when they're full.

When I have babies in the nest I keep the room they are in about 70-72 degrees, so if mom leaves, they have a better chance of survival. With four they will help keep each other warm. Even eggs in the nest help warm the first babies that hatch. If she's hatched four, she must have fed the first one or two something to keep them alive until the others hatched.

Since you aren't home during the day, I'd feed the babies before going to work, but leave them in the nest and hope that she also feeds them. Then feed them again when you get home and before you go to bed. A small heater in the area of the nest box will help keep them warm too. If you're lucky, mom will do some of the feeding and you will only have to supplement them. As they grow, they can get along with fewer feedings, but when tiny they need to be fed every few hours. When mine are tiny, newly hatched, I get up in the middle of the night and feed them to be sure they are okay. However, if she's in the box with them I wouldn't disturb them. If she's not there, then feeding them during the night for a week or two will help keep them warm ... being under nourished makes them more susceptible to getting cold.

If you can get them through this, you will be glad you did. Hand fed babies are so tame and affectionate. Bourkes are easy to tame, but being hand fed makes them really special.

If you have other questions, you can also reach me via email at:  rosie.birds@gmail.com

Good luck!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

That's the Way the Egg Rolls...

Or, don't count your birds before they hatch...  Smile.

Sugar & Spice's third clutch of three eggs was fertile, but did not hatch. She stayed with them long after they should have hatched and I left her alone until she abandoned them herself. Opening the eggs, the babes were about half developed. Did they get cold one night because she was frightened off them? I keep a night light on so that won't happen. They could always find their way back. Who knows what caused it, I don't. It is, however, very disappointing ... most of all for her. Poor mama, she's never raised any babies.

On a happier note, one of Bella's two eggs has hatched! The other is due to hatch today or tomorrow and hopefully will. She, too, has had two clutches that did not hatch. Her first two were infertile. So, I moved her mate, Rory, to another hen who needed a rest between clutches and put successful, Chitter, in with Bella. He got the job done! Hurray!

It's unusual for a hen to only lay two eggs. She laid a third, but it was very tiny. Realizing it wasn't any good, she pushed it away. I have no idea why they sometimes lay tiny eggs, but that's better than when they have one too large to pass and egg binding is the result. (There's more on egg-binding in previous posts).

We have to watch this pair very closely. If you've been following this blog, you will remember that one pair were prone to injuring their young and their babies had to be pulled and handfed. I moved each of the parents to other mates. This is the male, Chitter, from that pair. Is Chitter the "bad" parent?  He successfully raised three babies in another household with a different hen before I acquired him.

The potentially "bad" hen's history is different. She also had a clutch in another household (not the same place) with a different mate. Only one egg hatched, and that baby died too. I didn't see it, so I don't know if it was savaged or died a natural death. If she is successful with the so-far unsuccessful Rory, she will have to be watched too. More so, if Chitter successfully raises his clutch with Bella.

After years of raising Bourkes, to find a "bad" parent is very unusual and highly unlikely. Most are very attentive and sweet-natured birds. I'm eager to see which one of the two it was, as there were no other birds in their cage with them.

Bella, on the other hand, is fiercely protective of her eggs and baby. Just peek into her nest box as I just did, and she scolds and hisses. Many of my hens are so used to me that I can pick them up and look under them if I want to, and they don't get at all flustered.

Bird at Left:  "Somebody tried to help catch me who isn't an experienced bird person. They grabbed and I got away, but lost my tail! It will grow back, but now they call me Stumpy!" Frown.

P.S. Although Stumpy's photo was taken today, the photo above is of Bonnie, not Bella. Since this is Bella's first successful clutch it's understandable that she's wary of intrusion into her nest box. I'm being very careful with her.  Bonnie is an experienced mom and accepts my "visits" as routine  and no big deal. Smile.

Peace & Blessings,
and if you put all your eggs in the same basket, may they all hatch anyway!

Friday, June 11, 2010

OPERATION eBOOK DROP For U.S. Military Overseas

United States Military deployed overseas who use an electronic reading device, iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Palm Pilot, Nook, etc., can obtain a free eBook from Cape Arago Press. This publisher, along with others,  participates in Operation eBook Drop to provide our troops with free eBooks.

Tell a friend or family member overseas to visit http://www.capearagopress.com/ to look at the books being offered there, then email EGLewis@capearagopress.com and he will send them instructions and a coupon to download a free copy.

We support all the men & women fighting to maintain freedom. 
God Bless them!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Problem bird ... slow to grow up!

The baby Bourke in my left hand has been slow to learn to eat. In the nest he was much smaller than his healthy sibling, and his lack of growth worried me. Therefore, I pulled him to hand feed. He caught up quickly in size, flies okay, but he's still asking to be handfed when others his age are eating on their own.

I've cut him down to two feedings a day and I notice he "nibbles" in the seed bowl and at the bottom of the cage. He appears to be trying to eat, and maybe even succeeding sometimes. But, he still begs to be fed and eats a lot each time. He likes cut up green Kale and when I gave the tame birds shredded wheat cereal one morning (they wanted to share mine)... he ate some of that. So, there are things he can eat besides Exact handfeeding formula, but parakeet seed or even spray millet seem to be a puzzle to him.

All my birds love corn, but he won't touch it. I even squeezed it open and put it to his mouth. There's no reason he couldn't eat it ... just as easy as the Exact formula ... but he would have nothing to do with it! I've decided to call him Pipsqueek, or Pip for short. He does squeek to be fed and is a pip of a problem. Pun intended, smile.

Anyone else have a slow grower like this?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Better Info on Discounts

Cape Arago Press has put together some unbeatable discounts:

1) Save 10% on single copies of either WITNESS or DISCIPLE.
2) Buy them both and get one at half-price. That’s like a 25% savings on each one.
3) Buy WITNESS, DISCIPLE, or both, at regular price and get the eBook free.

And Cape Arago Press charges NO Shipping or Handling Fees in the U.S.! Do the math and count your savings.
As always, you’re welcome to download FREE Discussion Guides and other informational material from their website. 

SPECIAL BOOK DEALS Currently Offered.

Witness (Seeds of Christianity)
Okay, these books aren't about birds. However, they were written by my husband, Ed Lewis - an excellent writer! Smile. If you're a history buff, you'll like these wonderful novels that remain historically accurate. Learn more about First Century Judea while being delightfully entertained. 

E.G. Lewis's books are offered from all online booksellers, or through the Publisher, Cape Arago Press. Check out the SPECIAL DEALS on right now at the Publisher's website:
DiscipleCape Arago Press:

This website has sample chapters, video trailers and, if you move around the site, you'll find other fascinating facts.

PROMISESPromises is commercial fiction.
Read a synopsis of each of these books at:


Click on the web address above.

May You Have Peace & Blessings
& Good Reading!

More on Parenting

As I watched my male Splendid taking a bath this morning, ...of course he finished before I got the camera... I thought about how caring he's always been to his mates. Yes, mates. He's had three.

Rainbow was hatched to Merlin & Millet almost six years ago. He's now the patriarch of our Splendid Scarlet-chested parakeets (I know, it's either or, but I like the play on words). His first hen, Jewel, produced three lovely male Splendids. With her 2nd clutch a few months later, I noticed that her first two eggs seemed larger than typical. One morning, with no warning, she was dead. A third egg, even larger than the first two was stuck. She died of egg binding. (In another post, I'll try to talk about what can be done to save the hen, although I've posted on it before, it's important).

Maybe this is the best place to mention that Bourke hens go right back to the nest and lay more eggs as soon as their offspring are fledged...sometimes even sooner. In my experience, Splendids allow themselves more time between clutches.

Rainbow's 2nd hen, Jewel-2,  seemed to please him and he fed her, but they never mated. Her eggs for the past two years have been infertile. So have the eggs of a Splendid hen in with Rainbow's son from Jewel. For that reason, I swapped hens this year. Rainbow now has Rivkah, and Rainbow Jr. has Jewel-2.

Rainbow and Rivkah have hit it off and appeared to be mating on several occasions, or at least attempting to. I'm hopeful everything came together as it was meant to. Smile.

My experience with Splendids is that the males spend a lot of time with their hens in the nest box, encouraging and feeding them. When the eggs hatch, they help feed the babies and spend almost as much time with the nestlings as does their mother.

With Bourkes it seems to be different. Male Bourke parakeets remain outside the box, apparently guarding it from predators. They will stand on a perch or hang from the opening to feed the hen who comes to the opening. She usually only leaves to defecate, maybe grabbing a drink and possibly a quick bite or two. But, she primarily depends on her mate for sustenance while she's brooding.

What the two varieties of parakeets do have in common is that the males of both species check out the nest box days before she enters it. A male will make several reconnaissance trips before his hen ventures into the box. 

An exception to this rule for Bourkes is with my male, Chitter, who enters his hen's box while she's on eggs. He is also the father of the babies I've had to pull and hand feed to protect them from one of their parents harming them. It seems likely that it's him since he is also exhibiting unusual behavior by entering the box while his hen is on eggs. Most male Bourkes won't help feed their young directly until after they leave the box. He feeds the hen and she feeds the babies until they leave the box. Then he takes over the majority of their feedings, although she still helps.

Disclaimer: Every bird has a distinct personality all their own. What I've said here may not always prove true. It is my observation of my own birds; currently, six Splendids and 22 Bourke parakeets.  

Peace & Blessing to You and Your Birds! 
Keep Smiling!