Saturday, April 23, 2011

SEXING LUTINO BOURKES ... Malcolm's Question

Malcolm, your server in the UK won’t accept my email replies to you.

Malcolm wrote with a question about his pair of Lutino Bourkes who don’t appear to be interested in each other and he wonders if there is a way to sex them without putting them through a vet exam.

This Lutino Bourke is not one of my birds. Wish it was.
I've previously written about sexing Bourkes, and particularly about their behavior as a way to sex them. The dates to reference on this blog are May 25, 2010 and June 17, 2010.

If you enter "Sexing Bourkes" in the search feature above, you will get those posts and others that reference sexing. There are also "Labels" at the end of each post. Click on a topic and it will bring up all related posts.

As you may know, adult normal Bourkes are easier to sex because the males have a tiny blue line of feathers over their cere (nostrils).

In Lutino's, like Rosa’s, look for the male to stand up straight, throw his shoulders back and flair his wings slightly. He may only do this when he's mature and interested in breeding because there's a hen present, although I've had youngsters in mixed cages tell me what sex they are this way (and it always proved true). When mature hens flair their wings, it's typically downward as they lean forward, as if to sweep the ground. They also put their tails up and cheep to attract a male.

The odd thing about that female behavior is that I've seen males do that when their own mate is no longer willing to breed. Are they showing her what they want her to do, maybe? Or, is it because of a hormone change in older birds? That's something I've been considering writing about.

Here's a link to one of my posts on sexing. Click here >  More on Sexing Bourkes
Best of luck.
Peace & Blessings.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Where Are the Hummingbirds?

An Anna's hummer at feeder even in snow.
In twelve years of living on Oregon's south coast we've always had dozens of hummingbirds ... especially in the Spring when they migrate back. But, even in the winter the Anna's hummingbirds remain all year and don't migrate. So, our feeders have always had frequent daily visits. During breeding season they can become a bee hive of activity and the birds will even land on our hands.

So, what's happened to them all of a sudden? For the past three weeks, there have been NO hummers ... absolutely NO hummingbirds at any of our feeders on three sides of the house, north...west...or south.  We keep them clean, and I've taken them down several times, washed them thoroughly and put new syrup in them, (same formula: boil four parts water to one part sugar one minute and let cool). Probably even replaced the syrup before necessary to be sure it's fresh, but still not birds.

Rain or shine, they were always here!
I called our local Fish & Wildlife office to inquire, and he said he'd look into it and call me back. He hasn't. Is it just us, or are others in the area missing birds too? So far, I've met only one other person with feeders who says she's wondering what's happened. I don't know any others to ask, but would like to.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ask Questions...

As I read the key search words that bring visitors to this site, there are a lot of questions. Many I've answered in previous posts, but sometimes the search questions are unique. Even if they are not, it can be daunting to find answers buried in multiple posts. That's why label topics at the end of each post are helpful. They will sort through related articles for you.  

Rosy Bourke hen briefly left nest. The first of four eggs has hatched.
Don't hesitate to contact me with a question. For instance, someone searched on Google: "How long for Bourke parakeet eggs to hatch?"  They found this site, and I hope they located the answer in several of my earlier posts.

For the record, the answer is: typically 18 to 21 days and they usually hatch every other day. Ambient temperature has an effect too. Warm weather tends to encourage eggs to hatch sooner. Cold weather may delay hatching. Also, as noted in an earlier article, hens don't have to start brooding their eggs immediately. Count 18 to 21 days from the day they actually begin sitting on their eggs. Remember to keep a cup or bowl of water available for her to splash in, as eggs may need moisture, especially in dry climates.

If you have a specific question, you can reach me via:

Happy birding!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Portrait of Rosebud, female Rosy Bourke Parakeet

Rosebud, Rosy Bourke hen hatched Spring of 2010.
We've decided to let one of our very tame young hens fly the to speak.

Rosebud hatched last year and was handfed with her sister, Fuchsia. Our handsome Flame, also hatched last year, has singled out Fuchsia for his mate, and Rosebud doesn't really have a bird assigned to become her mate--although she is trying to steal Pretty Boy away from gentle Rosie.

In preparation for sweet Rosebud's departure sometime in the near future, here are recent photos taken of her.

We are waiting a few more weeks to replace our nest boxes and let our flock begin raising young again. They are eager, however, and so are we ... absolutely love the excitement of new baby birds.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Handfeeding Question & Answer

Janice writes:  "I am raising some rosys also. My hen is on her 2nd clutch of the year. The 1st egg hatched April 1, the second on April 3rd, and the 3rd egg on April 8th. All were fine this morning. The parents were in and out eating and I assumed feeding all babies. Well I checked in the box around 8:30p and 1 baby was dead, and the smallest one is near death. The largest is fat and happy. I hand fed the smallest by 8:45p, and it ate well. It is so tiny, it must be the chick that hatched yesterday. I only put small drops of formula on its beak and watched as it drank it down, the drop was low, I added another until I saw the the crop was full, or nearly full. The chick stopped so I did also. I returned it back to its mother. I will check it again in 2 hours."

The first bird I ever hand fed. Spicy is a male Normal
Bourke whose mother hatched four babies, but would
only feed two. I lost one before realizing the problem,
and rescued him. He's several years old now.  When older,
his parents raised clutches of four without any problem.
Janice, it sounds like you are doing the best you can with the baby. Be sure to feed him all that you can stuff into him, and every two hours for a newly hatched baby. Follow directions on the box as it will be a warm, thin formula at first, and later need to be thickened up.

I wonder how your birds did with their first clutch...? They sound like they could be young birds and will do a better job of raising more of their young next year. Or, the babies could have a genetic problem and aren't meant to survive. The fact that they hatched though, means that they were strong to begin with.

I've rescued many babies by hand feeding them when their parents weren't able, or willing, to do so. That said, I have one bird that's a year old and still cannot entirely feed itself. He's like a concentration camp survivor who is alive, but not thriving. I feed him one or two times a day with a handfeeding formula and give him nestling food, which he seems to be able to eat some of. However, for whatever reason, he cannot hull seeds like other birds. When he wasn't thriving in the nest, I took him out and started hand feeding. If I had not done that, he would have died. Yet, perhaps he should have... He is a sweet, very tame little bird, but having to hand feed him for years to come does not appeal to me.

I don't want to frighten you though...most of the babies I've hand fed have grown into perfectly normal, healthy adults and they were all well worth the trouble.

Watch your babies to be sure the parents are keeping them warm. If they've rejected feeding them, they might (or might not) refuse to keep them warm too. Baby birds can expire from being cold even quicker than not being fed. When I've removed babies from the nest, I keep them in a box with pine shavings and a paper towel that I can throw away when soiled. I have a small electric oil heater that I place near the box to keep the temperature very warm. It's helpful to have more than one baby in the box to keep each other warm. You might want to hand feed BOTH babies so that they are very tame once grown, and to keep each other healthy and warm as they grow. That's my suggestion...if you hand feed one, do the whole clutch.

Best of luck. May your baby Rosy Bourkes thrive.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Budgerigar Personalities vs. Splendids or Bourkes

A safe way to hold baby Budgies and not have them fall off
 a child's lap. These four pale blue babies haven't fledged yet.
I love Budgies and have owned many of them in my lifetime. My grandfather raised and sold them before Bourkes or Splendids were even heard of in the USA. As everyone who loves birds knows, each individual bird has its very own personality, just like every other animal and person.

That said, there are some similarities among related species. Budgies tend to be active, fun and intelligent little birds. They come in almost every color of the rainbow, excluding red, pink or solid black ... although I'd expect to see a solid black Budgerigar parakeet someday if anyone sets out to give it a shot (something I once considered, but never attempted).

Budgies like to chew on anything interesting, and will sample crumbs off your table, or nibble the page edges off a book, newspaper or magazine. Houseplants need to be a safe variety that won't hurt them, and you may want to keep an eye on your Budgie if he or she lands on a curtain rod holding expensive curtains. There's no guarantee they won't chew holes in them too, or the molding around windows, or picture frames. That said, they won't all do that.
Male Rosy Bourke.

Bourkes usually aren't chewers, but they also aren't the playful little clowns that Budgies are. They are less active, but develop an attachment to their owners too. Most tame Bourkes will kiss, sing and climb all over you, just as a Budgie does. Like Budgies, they are curious birds, but typically they take fewer risks than a Budgie will. They tend to be more cautious. Bourkes sleep a lot during the day and become very active at daybreak and dusk. Budgies are happy to be active any time the sun is shining.
Male Splendid or Scarlet-chested

Splendids chew almost as much as a Budgie. They have active personalities like Budgies, and spend more time awake during the day. They aren't a morning and evening bird like a Bourke. They love water and will put anything and everything into their drinking water, requiring that it be cleaned frequently. Like Budgies, Splendids love swings and other toys. They are clever birds and I've seen them learn to open cage doors.

Albino Budgerigar Parakeet.

Budgies are good mimics and will try to copy what you say to them. Bourkes and Splendids won't. However, Bourkes do wolf whistle naturally and have a pretty song. Budgies chatter and talk more than the other parakeets, and some of them can become noisy... particularly during breeding season.

Male Splendid on left and Normal-colored Bourke male on right.
The uncommon coloration in Splendids and Bourkes makes them a uniquely beautiful pet.  Budgies are inexpensive birds with great personalities and, when tame, they make wonderful, affectionate pets ... especially for kids! Every parakeet variety has its advantages, and it's fun to learn as much as you can about each of them before selecting the right one for you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Budgerigar Parakeets, Adult or Baby Budgie Identification

Adult Male Budgie

Very Young Budgie
Compare these two photos for an easy way to recognize a young Budgerigar Parakeet.

Notice the ring around the adult bird's eye. See the black spots on either side of his chin. In this case, there are two on each side of the bird's head, below his beak.  

His nostrils (cere) are dark blue, indicating he's a male. As she matures, a Female's cere will turn brown. The baby Budgie at the right has a light colored cere that will change to either color as it matures. Although dots aren't always present, they are one more sign to check for in identifying a mature bird.

Baby Budgies also usually appear to have very "soft" feathers. It's difficult to explain the difference, but by comparing an adult and a baby together, the differences are noticeable... In the same way that a puppy or a kitten seems to have softer fur than they will when they are grown, there is a subtle difference too in the feathers of young birds. I suppose you could say they are "fresh and new."

Notice, too, that the baby Budgie's eyes are very dark throughout. This will eventually change, but offers a clue along with the light cere color that you are observing a very young Budgie.