Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rosy Bourke Hens and Black Spots

On Jul 6, 2011  Thomas wrote: "Why do my female rosie bourkes have black spots all over their backs?"

Here's my response:  

Female Rosy Bourkes are usually darker than the males, especially their faces. However, there is a wide variation of color possible in Rosies since all of them are descended from Normal Bourkes (the wild color in Australia). If your birds are receiving adequate nutrition, the dark spots are not unusual. My hens aren't completely pink on their backs either. The dark edges on some of their feathers may not show up in the photos, but they're there. The males are less likely to have this, but can.

A young bird of a different color. See comment attached to
this blog for information on pied colors, different than this one.
Occasionally, we will get a baby that isn't truly pink or rosie. They can be "pied" and I've also heard people refer to "rainbow" Bourkes. Here is one of ours.

It's unlikely the dark color on your hens is caused by a deficiency, but all birds can show feather damage if they suffer an illness or go through a period of time where they receive inadequate food. Starving birds don't produce healthy feathers. I discussed stress bars on feathers in an earlier article. Here's a link to it. 

Rosy hens are likely to have darker areas on their backs, and it's not at all unusual. One of my hens suffered egg binding and lost feathers due to a treatment with mineral oil that saved her life. The feathers came back very dark. A few months later, after another molt,  they were pink again. Here is a link to that post.  
After losing feathers damaged by mineral oil, they grew back
in dark. This is Sugar about a year ago.

This is Sugar after molting off the darker feathers.
They came back in as they were before being damaged
and then regrowing in darker.

 These are before and after photos of Sugar, who suffered egg binding and survived.

Currently, she's on eggs again without any problems. Trust me ... this REALLY IS the same bird.

Peace & Blessings,

1 comment:

neversink7 said...

Just a comment on genetics of bourkes. Rosies are technically from the opaline mutation, which alters the pigment distribution. Most of the times bourkes become pink all over, so majority of the time they are "rosy", but some birds can have more yellow, more grey, more green, more blue, or a bit of all of the colors, thus the "rainbow". Therefore, they are really not pied although there is actually a pied mutation in bourkes as well. Breeders can try to selectively breed for more of one color versus the other leading to rose opalines with very little grey, green opaline, or blue opaline, etc. Nice explanation seen here: http://perruchedebourke.free.fr/mutations/mutations1gb.htm