Sunday, December 12, 2010

Splendid Bourke Parakeets, or those Moody Bourkes & Splendids

Hello All,

Why are you so cranky today?
Seems like I've been posting a lot about wild birds lately. I could go on some more about the rowdy Steller's Jays outside ... those pretty dark blue birds, but it's about time I returned to the designated topic!

Splendid male keeping company with a Rosy Bourke hen.
This is about moody, or occasionally temperamental parakeets. I admit to naming one of my tame Bourke hens "Trouble." Probably haven't told you that before since it's not a positive name. Smile.

Trouble is a hand fed hen hatched early last year. Her brother is "Pastel" because in addition to pink, he has light yellow on his wings and blue on his rump ... three pastel shades. Trouble received her name after frequently refusing to go back into her cage. Of all my tame birds, she's always the last to go home. Catching her can be a lot of trouble.

Yet, she loves to fly onto me, take baths and eat from my hands. She's very tame. The trouble with Trouble is that she's probably TOO smart. They're all smart, but she's too smart for her own good. I had decided to sell my little trouble maker, but now changed my mind ... again. Very unusual for me...yea, right.

Most Bourke faces are darker than these two who have pink eyes.
This morning Trouble decided to stay with me almost the entire time she was out of her cage with the other tame birds ... six all together. She nibbled my hair and talked to me, being very loving. How can you sell one that does that? Silly, huh? Then when I decided they'd all been out long enough, I walked to Trouble's cage with her, Pastel and Flame on my shoulders. When I opened the door and leaned toward it ... all three went in! That was a first for Trouble. She was very mellow and sweet today.

Hand feeding makes any bird very tame. One baby being fed.
The others are older and occasionally like a taste of baby food.
Sometimes before I open the door and let everyone fly out, I will put my hand into the cage and invite them to ride out on my hand. Yesterday, for some reason Pastel refused to get on my hand. Now, this is unlike him. He's usually the first to jump aboard, but not yesterday. In fact, after everyone else was out, he still wouldn't get on my hand. After chasing him around the cage a couple of times, I told him he was welcome to stay home, that I wasn't going to open the door and let him fly out. He had to do it my way or stay put. So, he didn't get out yesterday. Today, however, he was very friendly and first to jump on my hand ... go figure.

What I'm leading up to with these stories is that birds have mood swings too ... just like we do.

Pink-eyed Rosy Bourke couple.
Some refer to the lighter shades as Pink Bourkes.

Snowbird, an albino budgie we had for 12 years was quite a character. She was very tame when out of her cage, but if you put your hand in her cage, watch out! She would attack the intruding hand and actually bite it, sometimes hard enough to break the skin. But, open the door and invite her out and she was gentle as could be. Pick her up and she wouldn't bite. There was something about her cage being her castle and she didn't want intruders. Cleaning her cage took place when she was out of it! Snowbird was purchased as a companion to Skybird, a tame, blue five-year-old budgie. A year after we bought Snowbird, our much sweeter Skybird, was dead on the floor at age six. He loved her too much, perhaps?

Splendid or Scarlet-chested Parakeet Pair. Hen is below.
As for Splendids ... well, every one of them is different too. Aging Rainbow isn't as tame as he was as a youngster. He doesn't bite, but he also prefers not to come out of his cage. His companions are my tame Bourkes and he gets along fine with them, but since his mate passed away over a year ago, he's lost his vim and vigor. Wish I could find him another mate.

Friendly Pair of Splendid or Scarlet-chested Parakeets.
His mother, Millet, was the sweetest Splendid I've ever owned ... well, maybe her daughter, Jewel, was just as sweet. I made no effort to tame Millet as she was purchased as a breeder. Yet, I could put my hand in her cage and she'd nibble my fingers or take treats from them. She was a wonderful little bird married to a terror ... her mate, Merlin, pulled her feathers and was abusive. Yet, he fathered and cared for his young. Fortunately, his sons and daughters all seemed to have their mother's personality.

Pair of Normal Bourkes in their wild color. Hen in front, male in back.
They say that Bourkes will never mate with any other species of parakeet. Yet, when Millet died and Merlin was alone, I put this male Splendid in a cage of single female Bourkes. One Normal hen (native color) decided she wanted to mate with him and gave him her "come-hither" behavior. Eventually, he paid attention.

Splendids have interbred with Turquisines and other small parakeet varieties, but never Bourkes. He decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, his normal behavior was to pull out a feather from his mate's back before lifting his second leg up. The first time he did it to Willow, the normal Bourke hen, she looked startled and moved away. The second time he pulled out one of her feathers during an attempted coitus, she attacked him! From then on he was terrified of her and kept his distance. That was fine with her! There's a lesson in that. Ladies don't accept abuse, or you may die young like poor, sweet Millet. Be a Willow! Willow eventually got a mate, younger than she, and they raised many, many baby Bourkes, both Normals and Rosies. She's now retired and he's still her loving companion.


Lauren said...


I have a pair of normals, both split to Rosey, who are great regular breeders for me. But...they lay 5 eggs, only seem to raise 3 even if all 5 hatch. Last clutch they raised 4 although one did die about two or three weeks after fledging. They were still with the parents.

They have just hatched another clutch, 5 eggs, 4 hatched. I was prepared to pull a couple babies, have a fish tank brooder warmed up and ready to go. Unfortunately I was hoping to wait until the chicks were a couple weeks old. I didn't check the box yesterday and found today that two chicks were dead. So I've decided to pull the remaining two and had raise.

What temp do you like for week old chicks? How often do you feed week old chicks?

I have a pair of Roseys too. They gave me two clutches last spring but both were infertile. I think they were young. Since then the male(up to now could only tell by behavior) has developed some blue on his face. Not much but it's there. The pair are feeding eachother and I think are ready to try again. Last time I never witnessed them breeding. I'm hoping they get it right this time.

I want to add Splendids to my collection but need to save some money for them.

any advice would be appreciated.


G. Lewis said...

Hi Lauren, Sorry I didn't notice your comment sooner. Baby chicks should be fed as soon as their crop is empty. If newly hatched, check them every couple of hours. If they are a week old, I'd feed them before going to bed, and set an alarm to get up at least once in the middle of the night to feed them again...maybe at four-hour intervals over night. Once they're feathered you can skip the night feeding and probably feed them three or four times a day. The younger they are the more often they need to be fed. Crops need to be almost empty in order to be sure it moves on through. Parent birds feed the babies until they look like they will explode, so feed them until they look very, very full or refuse to eat more. If you see a bulge over their shoulders from the back, they're probably getting enough. Exact handfeeding formula gives good instructions on density of food by age of your babies. Good Luck.

As an aside, my Bourke parents when young often reject more than two babies. Sad. However, as they've aged, they've raised up to four, but never five. I've learned to check the babies every morning, afternoon and evening. If they don't appear to have been fed, I pull them to hand feed. Sometimes I've put them back with the parents to keep them warm...they feed the first two and I feed the last two. Temperature for a box or fish tank? If it feels warm to my hand and the babies are warm, it's probably okay. Eggs need to be at 98 degrees, so that's about right for babies. I've not used a thermometer with babies, but trust what I feel with my hand. If the house is 72 degrees, I put a small space heater near their box. When old enough they move toward or away from the warm side of the box. If possible, hand feed more than one baby at a time and they will help keep each other warm.

G. Lewis said...

Lauren also says she wants to add Splendids. These little clowns are wonderfully active fun birds. HOWEVER, be prepared for a lot more work! They foul their water almost as soon as they get it. I give them extra containers of water, hoping it will stay drinkable for a full day. Still, it begins to get yucky within an hour or two and after 24 hours may smell.

I like to put newspaper in the bottom of my cages to keep them cleaner and can change the paper more often than clean the wire on the cage floor. Splendids make short work of newspaper. They shred it, play with it, put it in their water. They chew more than Bourkes, and sometimes toss small things out of the cage and onto the fresh vegies, for instance. They are fun, beautiful and take more time and trouble. Bourkes are quieter, cleaner birds... That's why I have so many more Bourkes than Splendids. Smile.

Both varieties are sweet-natured and make good pets.