Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Taming Bourke Parakeets

Hidden under my hand is a baby Bourke being fed,.
I spoke with a woman recently who wanted a hand fed Bourke so that it would already be tame. The two Bourkes on my arm at the left are equally as tame. Yet, the one closest to my shoulder was hand fed and the one by my elbow was not.

In fact, Pretty Boy, as I've started calling him was several months old before I decided to work to tame him. Generally, the younger they are, the easier to tame any bird. In spite of the fact that he wasn't newly weaned, he tamed down easily for me. There are exceptions, of course, but most Bourkes are gentle and sweet, so also easy to tame.  Success, however, largely depends on the person who is doing the handling.

Pretty Boy was in a cage with other Bourkes and Splendids scheduled to be sold. I looked at his deep rose color one day and decided he'd make a nice mate for one of my favorite young hens. So, he stayed and I started talking to him.

"Sweet" talking to Bourkes encourages them.
Talking softly to any bird frequently throughout the day is important. They are alert little ones and will listen to you. Honest. You can say almost anything, but I think they sense your intent. So, it's wise to tell them how much you care for them and want them to trust you. "Sweet" talk is as important to a bird you want to tame, as it would be to a newborn child. Talk to them as if they are a baby and they'll respond best.
Pretty Boy isn't hand fed, but he's tame.

Chasing a bird around in a cage will do more to frighten it then tame it. If you have a safe room, free of mirrors or uncovered windows, use it. Allow the bird to fly, and walk to it again and again until it's willing to get onto your hand or finger. It will tire. You may have to pick it up and put it on your hand, or open your hand and let it stand there. Once it sees it's not in danger, it will gradually begin to allow itself to sit on your finger. It can't hurt to offer it a treat that it likes. If the bird is panting (I hope it didn't get that tired), offer it a cup of cold water. A familiar container like it is used to in its cage is good. I like to offer the Bourkes spray's something they love.

Remember, all the time you work at taming any bird, never, never lose your temper or speak loudly at it. If your patience is wearing thin, give it up until another day. A soft, kind voice is the only way to tame a bird. Children are often good at taming birds ... but, only if they are sympathetic and kind to animals already. 

Pretty Boy would fly around the room until tired,
then would get on my hand or finger.
Gradually, he learned I was friend, not foe.

Another view of Pretty Boy ...
hand tamed, not hand fed.

Not all Bourkes like to be kissed, but some allow it.
Pretty Boy is fine with it, even though he's not hand fed.
Here he's more concerned about the photographer than me.
An important note: Never let your birds' beaks get into
your lips or mouth. Human saliva is full of germs that are
bad for birds!

Bourkes love to bathe and what's more fun than
 sharing it with an owner they love?

They keep me giggling with their cute antics.

Flame decided it was more fun to pick at my hair
while the others were elsewhere.

Flame is curious though.

Okay, I'm prejudiced in favor of Rosy Bourkes! Smile.
I find such pleasure in these small jewels. Better than any TV show!

If you let them, these are treasures that will give back,
not only entertainment, but also love.
Hope you had a wonderful, blessed Christmas
and will have a fabulous, safe New Year!
God Bless All of You!


Love4Feathers said...

Someone has mentioned to me to clip their wings ... how do do feel about that? Thanks, Sue

G. A. Lewis said...

Depends on a person's circumstances more than on the bird's. If you have cats or dogs in the house, I wouldn't clip them. If, however, you can't always retrieve the bird to put it back in its cage, then clipping might be appropriate. It doesn't hurt them if done correctly. Personally, I like to let my tame birds out to fly free, but they will always go back into their cage for me. They consider it their home. My untame breeders like to fly in circle inside their long cage ... it's good exercise, so there would be no reason to clip them. Birds that aren't tame are likely to bite when caught, even if their wings are clipped.

Love4Feathers said...

I have a tame male that has been with a female for some time now. He does feed her and tries to get her to go into the nest but she just won't.He goes in there and stays in there for long periods at a time.My problem is ... whenever I enter the room he will go after her and knock her off a perch or wherever she is. He gets mean with her. Then he comes to the side of the cage and makes these sounds to me with his mouth open and his wings open. I'm not sure what is going on here ... has this happened to you with any of your tame males? Thanks, Sue

G. A. Lewis said...

Are you certain you have a male and a female? When there are two males, one will try to coerce the other into behaving like a hen and try to feed them if no female is present.

If she really is a hen, and old enough to breed, perhaps she doesn't like him. Birds have preferences too, and if he's knocking her off the perch that's not typical. Usually female Bourkes are dominant.

He may prefer you to the other bird. Sounds like it. However, my tame males still follow their hens. She will land on me first and then he will. My one pair where the male is the tamer of the two, he still defers to her.

Sounds like they'd each prefer a different mate. Good luck.

H.Gerber said...

Hello. I just bought a hand fed baby bourke, should i get a second one from the same group, also hand tamed? my baby seems sad, totally tame, but just sitting still all day. the breeder says two will bond to one another and not to a human, is this so in your opinion?

G. A. Lewis said...

Hello H.,
A bird (or dog, cat or any animal) needs companionship. Even people. If you’re the only one your bird has, it’s going to ask for your attention with more urgency. I don’t wouldn’t call that “bonding,” however. All my tame birds fly to me and remain tame, even though they all have mates. The key to keeping a bird very tame is to give it lots of attention and let it out of its cage often. My preference is to keep birds in pairs so they have company when no one else is home. In spite of our best efforts, once in a great while you might get a pair of birds that simply don’t like each other. It’s rare, but can happen. Each bird has its own personality. I think that’s a minimum risk worth taking, and would advise you to get a 2nd Bourke if you want to. Both birds will be happier, and you will enjoy watching them interact with each other. Doing it while they’re still young makes the chance of their getting along well with each other even more likely.

Rachel Mac Farland said...


I have been using the method of letting my new Rosy Bourke fly around the room and following her and have had success of her stepping up on to my finger. She will even stay with me for about 15mins if I keep feeding her millet.

However, recently whenever I start to talk to her she will start to growl. She is 4 months old and the pet store did say she was hand fed but I have doubts as to whether this is true. I witnessed then handling her very roughly so I expected her to be pretty flighty.

My main concern is the growling when I speak with her or put my hand in her cage. Do I need to try another method? I would really like for her to feel comfortable with me. Any advice?

Thank you


G.A. Lewis said...

Hello Rachel,
My only suggestion would be to continue talking "sweetly" to her. Move slowly and gently, trying to reassure her that you care for her. Bourkes respond well to human speech. Sometimes when you go into her cage, don't remove her ... simply offer a special food treat, whatever is her favorite. Mine love cooked corn, or fresh broccoli or kale. Then remove your hand and stand and talk kindly to her while she eats. It may help. Let her know that you aren't going to force her to do anything every time you put your hand in her cage. Persistence and kindness pays off. Blessings and Luck.

Lara Phillips said...

Hello, lovely to see such love,
My bird was my mums and I wanted to get her company. I ended up purchasing two hens as I couldnt split them up. I was told they were hens one feeds the other is this natural for two hens? Or do I have the mum and baby or a boy and a girl? They are so hard to sex thankyou

Anonymous said...

This has made me so happy! I got two Bourkes two days ago as a present. So far I managed to get them to step onto a perch to go back in and one has let me stroke his chest gently. I am in love already. Such beautiful little creatures. I hope I can tame them like you have!.... Now to try and get them in For the night!