Saturday, July 24, 2010

Personality Differences in Bourkes, Splendids and Budgies

As I played with my tame young Bourkes this morning, it struck me how different they are from other varieties of parakeet. I held a baby Bourke out for my husband to see and he instinctively reached over to pet it on the head.

“They don’t like that,” I said.

“Yes, I’ve noticed. They’re very different from the budgies, aren’t they?” he replied.

It’s true, Bourkes and Splendids are approximately the size of the common Budgerigar parakeet, but their personalities differ widely. Budgies and cockatiels like to have their heads scratched. Bourkes do not.
BOURKES: Although they sing, Bourkes are typically quieter than a budgie and less active during the day. They are happiest, most active and sing more often at dawn and dusk, napping a lot throughout the day, especially in the afternoon.

As pets, some Bourkes will nibble at you, offering kisses. They like to ride around on an owner and can be trained to prefer a shoulder to the top of your head. Some will even come to you when called, and bathe in a stream of water running into your hand. But, they are less likely to do either than a budgie. As a rule, they are more reserved and careful. A positive in their favor is that they don’t chew on everything in sight like a budgie will. If you line their cages with paper, some will chew on it and others won’t. However, those who chew it do so a lot less enthusiastically than other varieties of parakeet (so they’re less messy). I’ve read, but can’t confirm, that in a planted aviary, Bourkes leave the plants alone. Mine love greens such as lettuce and kale, so I keep house plants away from their cages to be safe.

SPLENDIDS: I’ve called these little birds clowns in the past and I still think of them that way. Not only are they brightly colored like clowns, they act the part. Splendids love toys and bright objects, especially mirrors. In the wild they feed on the ground and will spend a lot of time on the bottom of a cage or aviary floor. As for lining their cages with paper … expect it to be shredded regularly. They like to chew. And bathing is a must for them. They like taking baths and, unlike Bourkes, tame birds will easily bathe in your hand if you encourage it. Water is their element and water cups will quickly be filled with anything they can find to put in it. Hence, their water needs to be changed more often than any other bird species I’ve ever owned. They make soup of their water, placing veggies, paper, seed shells, whatever they can into it.

Splendids are more active than other parakeets. They do a lot of pacing when in their cage and probably are happiest in an aviary or, when tame, being allowed to fly about the room. Individual birds can be very interactive with their owners. However, if not tame, they tend toward being easily frightened. I keep a night light on in the room with Splendids after dark to protect them from crashing into the sides of their cages if something suddenly scares them.

BUDGERIGARS: Active and intelligent, the only drawback to a tame budgie is that they chew and can be noisy. Otherwise, they’re confident little guys who make great pets and are very interactive. They learn to repeat human words that owners can understand when no one else does. Clearly, they do not repeat as well as a parrot, but they try. They come in almost every color of the rainbow, except red or pink. Those colors are reserved for Splendids and Bourkes. Another plus in their favor is that their droppings are typically drier and more concise than other birds’. That might offset their tendency to shred paper and anything else within their grasp.

NEOPHEMA’S: There are many varieties of Neophema Parakeets and I’ve not experienced others, although I’d like to get to know Turquoisines better. Their colors are gorgeous and I hear they are a fun bird to keep. Perhaps someday I’ll find a breeder willing to accept a pair of Bourkes in trade for a pair of “Turqs.” Other Neophema varieties include: Neophema chrysogater, chrysostoma, elegans, elegans carteri, elegans petrophila and pulchella.

Parrakeets of the World  - The photo above was taken from this book. Here is a link for it at


Marie Arden said...

My female 12 yr old rosey Bourke died yesterday. I have 1 one yr old female now should I get another female or a male?

G. Lewis said...

I'm going to take your question to the home page and answer there to make it more easily viewable to all. Thanks for the question!