Sunday, March 20, 2011


Rhett's overgrown beak.

Another view of his overgrown beak, like a fish hook.

He didn't struggle or complain at being handled.

Rhett, my very first Bourke, is getting old and his beak too long. Birds with overgrown beaks are generally elderly, like Rhett. I’m currently caring for 22 adult birds, and Rhett hasn’t received enough of my attention lately. I failed to notice how “long in the tooth” he’d become. His mate’s beak has been trimmed in the past, but his was hidden within his feathers and went unnoticed until today.

Typically the overgrown portion of a bird’s beak will be a different color than the rest of the beak. If a bird’s beak is not too dark, you can hold them up to the light and see a blood vessel running through it. That’s the living portion of the beak.

Maybe because he's old and wise, he held perfectly still.
Although notice that his head is held securely between two fingers.

Overgrown portions are much like fingernails and can be clipped away. Occasionally, they will pop off by themselves. Obviously Rhett’s didn’t do that and, since it had become very long, I needed to step in. By the way, if you accidentally trim a beak too closely…Heaven forbid…you can stop the bleeding with a little cornstarch.
The trimmed portion of the beak.

It's a half inch long!
If you have larger birds, or birds who struggle, one person can hold the bird while the other one trims. However, Rhett didn’t struggle and my husband held the camera instead. Clipping Rhett’s beak was simple and easy.

As you can see, he is no worse for wear and when I opened my hand, he surprised me by remaining there. He even let me switch him to another finger. He’s a smart bird and realized he was being helped.
My sweet patriarch after job is accomplished! His mate in back.

So friendly and accepting, and he is not one of my
finger tamed Bourkes.
What is interesting about these photos of Rhett on my finger and hand is that I’ve never made any attempt to tame him. I purchased him over a decade ago, at 9 months of age, along with his first mate, Scarlett. Neither of them were babies. They were intended to be breeders. Yet, he has always come to the cage bars and talked to me. He never seems afraid, even when his cage is cleaned.

This was the first time he has gotten this much handling, and he gave me no trouble. I think he was showing his gratitude by acknowledging that he isn’t afraid of me. Sweet baby … I love him. We have several sons and daughters of his who are also breeders, and our six very tame Bourkes are his grandchildren…cousins of one another. 
He was willing to stay with me as long as I was willing to hold him. He even let me transfer him from one hand to the other. Cherry, in back, has a beak longer than it should be too...not as long as his was though.

Rhett is a wonderful patriarch. He and sweet Scarlett are responsible for my love affair with Rosy Bourkes.

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