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!

1 comment:

neversink7 said...

I think even if the pair is truly a young breeding pair, it may take longer than 5 months for them to get into the breeding mood, especially if their previous environment and diet is a lot different than the one provided to them now. When I bought my young turquoisine pair, they were just over 1 year old and should have been able to breed already - the hen even laid an egg during the flight in the crate, but because they were aviary bred, they were quite flighty and easily startled for a few months and also took a bit of time to learn to eat the new foods. I think in my case it helped they had other birds in the same cage showing them what to eat. It took even more months for them to cycle back into breeding mood - after molting and etc. Overall the process took a little over a year.