Friday, June 4, 2010

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!


neversink7 said...

Rainbow is very pretty! Since you watched him grow, I was wondering if you can tell me if the male splendids continue to get more color even after 2 years of age. Mine are a bit over 2 years old now but seems to have a bit less blue over the head and less red on the chest.

BTW, my "plucky" splendid pair has stopped plucking the minute I removed the 2 younger babies they were plucking, so I think for sure they were tired of feeding them. The babies are growing well on handfeeding, and I'm finally starting to see the start of new feathers growing out, but unfortunately because I had to pull them at such a late age, they REALLY hate being handfed :(

The Splendid Bourke Bird Blog said...

I traded for another male Splendid when ours were very young. He was slightly older, but his color didn't start (or finish) as quickly as our babies. However, he has just as much color, it just took a couple of months longer. After two years, the blues might deepen, but I don't think you'd get any more scarlet. Our youngsters all had all their color by the time they were a year old...actually, even sooner than that. People are breeding Splendids to have full scarlet chests, and some are mostly blue with no red...lots of variations are possible.

Melissa Korhonen said...

You wrote that it is unuaul behavior for the male to enter the nest box while she is on the eggs. My male bourkes occasionally enters the nest box while she's sitting on the eggs and it sounds like he's feeding her. She only has two eggs at the moment and she comes out a few times in the day to eat and poop. He will feed her outside of the nest box, but I've never seen him feed her from the nest box opening. Also I never see her asking for him to feed her when she's in the nest box. Do you think this is a problem? I am not set up to do any kind of hand feeding.

G. A. Lewis said...

Melissa, Each pair works out their own methods. These two sound like they are doing fine.

Our nest boxes have a perch on both sides of the opening, so maybe that's why he feeds from outside.

Typical clutches are 3 to 5 eggs, but having only two could be because it's their first clutch. I wouldn't worry about that either.

Peace and Blessings, Gail