Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rosie Rosy Bourke and Her Baby Bourkes

Rosie is eager to escape from her brood of three and take a bath.

Rosie, happy to grab a bath.

Rosie's mate, on my husband, wants to
participate but is hesitant.
Rosie never hesitates.
A Spa moment without the kids.
"Take me away."
Cool and refreshing.

She also appreciates help with feeding her babies since her mate, Pretty Boy, isn't keeping up with the feeding ritual. He's younger than she is. A little help from us is appreciated.

Rosie steps out of her nest box. She's eating the extra
Exact Handfeeding Formula I give to hand fed baby birds.
She was hand fed and is used to it. It's easier than getting "milk"
from her mate and feeding the kids. It's ready immediately
and she stuffs her little ones with it.
Pretty Boy hasn't been totally dependable.
When I hand feed the current six, I give some to Rosie too. She, in turn, feeds it to her three who are fat little rascals.

Rosie's three babies are growing. The oldest is much
bigger than the other two. The unhatched egg was
probably between them, meaning these two are 2 and 4
days younger than their older sibling.

Happy Bird Raising with Peace & Blessings.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mites and an Update on Catherine's Splendid Question

Catherine's Comment on the Previous Post: 
"Since writing I'm pleased to say all three Splendids survived, even the smallest one we feared we would lose. They are all eating very well, guzzling food down like there is no tomorrow.

I have one other question. When looking the little ones over tonight I noticed these tiny insects falling off them, and when I squished them, they were bright red with blood. Are these mites or something else? And how would I get rid of them? My concern is using a spray on a chick so young.

Following the directions on "VITAFARM Avian Insect Liquidator"
rid us of mites in 2007 and we've never had them since.

The mother is also in a smaller cage, inside the house and nice and warm. She too us eating a lot better, although she still doesn't seem interested in her chicks. The vet has told us to watch her and if her wing doesn't improve, they've given us the details of an expert who lives an hour away.

You're website has been vastly helpful. I actually live in south Wales in the United Kingdom, but there's very little resources on Splendids, which is why you've been a God send. Thank you once again for everything."

My Response:
Thank you, I'm always grateful to know that my blog is helpful.

Your "bugs" sound like mites all right. They will sap a baby's strength. I discovered mites on my birds in 2007 and used the product shown here. I've never had them since. Birds in outdoor aviaries are more susceptible than those kept indoors, but it's possible to carry them inside on our clothing ... especially since many of us also maintain bird feeders outside for our wild feathered friends. It's a wise idea to always wash our hands when we come back indoors, particularly if we've been handling outdoor bird feeders and such.

The "Avian Insect Liquidator" shown here can be used on baby birds without harm, and I've done so. It is a concentrate and needs to be diluted. The best way to apply it is in a gentle mist. I made use of an eyeglass cleaner spray bottle that was empty and washed out. It gives a very fine mist and was very effective. Note that we marked the bottle "Mite Spray" so that it would never be confused with its original product. We also store it with our other bird products, away from "people" items.

We purchased this insecticide online from www.allbirdproducts.com 
Their catalog has good advice, and I called them once and found them very helpful. They have a toll free number in the USA. Doubt it will work in another country, but it is (888) 588-3892. They are in Hemet, California and their number there is (951) 927-5349.

The address on my bottle for the product supplier is:
VITAFARM, 3 Bye Street, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2650 AUSTRALIA. Phone (02) 6925 6222; Fax (02) 6925 6333. This information is from my bottle purchased in 2007, so I hope it is still valid. 

If the babies have mites, all the birds are likely to have them too.You definitely should get rid of these critters. Mist each and every one of your birds and as much of their cage or aviary as possible (but only after removing their food and water first).  Also spray perches and inside and outside nest boxes. My catalog from "All Bird Products" gives detailed instructions and is reassuring about using it on baby birds. It's a lot less harmful than the mites or lice.

Best of luck.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Splendid Hand Feeding Question and Answer

A female Scarlet-chested parakeet.

Catherine writes:  "I'm wondering if you can help me. Our female red chested parakeet (splendid) had her first clutch. Out of 6 eggs only 4 hatched. Sadly, the very smallest chick completely vanished. I could find no sign of her, not in the nest or on the floor. Now the hen has damaged her wing. We checked the chicks and yesterday their crops were still full, however this morning they were empty. So we put the nest box on the floor so the hen could get access to them easier. The hen took no notice.

When we went back late afternoon 2 chicks had clambered out of the nest and stood under their mother, but she did not feed them, just ignored them. The smallest chick was still in the nest, and when I pulled it out, I thought it was dead, but it was still breathing and after heating it up in my hands it started chirping. Since then I've taken them into the house to hand rear them. Reluctantly they are eating from a syringe. The vet has ordered us chick feed. We estimate the chicks to be 2 and a half weeks old. Can you give me advice on how often to feed, how I'd wean them in the future etc? We've never had Splendids before and I don't want to lose these chicks. Thank you!

A male Scarlet-chested
Splendid Parakeet.
Not sure where you live, but most communities in the United States have Granges or Pet Stores that carry Exact Handfeeding Formula for birds. I hope the chick feed your vet is getting isn't for chickens. Buying Exact at a pet store might be more expensive than ordering online, but you need it NOW. I recommend calling pet stores and/or anywhere else that sells pet food or caters to birds. Try to find it immediately.

If you enter "handfeeding" into the search window on this site, you will get other posts about feeding baby birds.

Since your babies haven't been fed enough recently, I'd offer them warm food every two hours during the day for the next few days. I'd even be tempted to get up in the middle of the night for the first day or two, just to get them healthy again. Try to feed them until they look like their crops are swollen and large. If they shake their heads, and refuse food, they're full. If they want to keep eating, let them.
You need to keep them warm as well as fed. A space heater near the box they are in will help. I've even put a piece of flannel over tiny ones with no feathers. If all three survive they will help keep one another warm. Since they've missed feedings, they will be more susceptible to cold, so warmth is even more important.
First thing, try to find some local business that carries the hand feeding formula and go get it. Once your babies are eating well, and seem healthy, you can cut back to feeding them four times a day ... about every four to five hours.

After my babies no longer huddle together inside a box (especially at night), I make sure there is other food available. Even when they start pecking at it, you will need to continue feedings for a while. They may get some food from seed, but not enough. Continue to offer feedings at least two weeks after they appear to be eating some food on their own. I give them spray millet and a nestling formula, as well as parakeet seed. They also get Petamine Breeding Formula. All of this isn't necessary, but I have it, so I offer it. They also like the usual vegetables, kale, spinach, corn, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, peas, etc.

It's not surprising that an injured bird gives up on her young. She is focused on recovery, poor thing. I recommend bringing her indoors too. Confining her in a small cage will give her wing a better chance to heal and protect her from harm. If she's staying on the ground, she's at risk from night time predators. Better to keep her warm and safe during her recovery.

If your birds are outside, even in an enclosed building, it's possible that your hen threw the dead baby chick out of the nest and a rodent found and carried the body off overnight. They can get into spaces you'd never believe possible, and are attracted by bird seed.
A pair of Scarlet-chested, or Splendid Parakeets.

 Best of Luck. If you're not too late, you will have wonderfully tame, beautiful birds.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

RAISING BOURKE PARAKEETS, Handfeeding and Helping Parents

Six young Rosy Bourke's. These are hand fed, very tame and sweet.
The six youngsters I'm hand feeding are doing great. All are fully feathered, and some will fly to me and sit on my shoulder. The four oldest are eating on their own, but still like getting Exact Handfeeding Formula when the younger birds do.

Another view of my babies being hand fed.

In her second clutch this year, Rosie has hatched three of her four eggs. Although the fourth is fertile, it is unlikely to hatch. It's been too long. It will remain in the nest, however.

As you may recall from an earlier post, Rosie's first clutch of three produced two pink-eyed baby Bourkes, but one died. I believe this was because she didn't feed it and I failed to notice in time. The problem, it seems, is that her mate, Pretty Boy, is very young ... younger than she is. I've watched and he quits feeding her before she wants him to. She continues to loudly chirp, begging for more, and he quits sooner than he should. This appears to be typical behavior for one-year-old males.

Rosie with three babies under her. I'm helping her along by offering
Exact Handfeeding Formula in an eye dropper. Her mate isn't feeding her
enough, so she's getting a little help from a friend. Don't want her to abandon
any of these sweet little ones because she thinks she can't handle them alone.
I've had other hens who behaved in the same way, refusing to feed all their clutch because the male is not supportive enough. In Rosie's case, with this second clutch I've decided the help. She is a hand fed bird and very tame. She was accustomed to eating from an eye dropper and these photos are my first attempt at offering her Exact Handfeeding formula while she's in the nest box.

With Flame and Fuchsia's five babies, I did the same thing, although I started giving it to them when their babies were much older than Rosie's are now. Also, I didn't offer it to Fuchsia when she was in the nest box, but only when she came out of their cage. They'd both eat it and then take it back to their huge brood. It was their very first clutch and all five are doing well. Flame, however, is a two-year-old bird, as are both Fuchsia and Rosie.

Rosie's three babies on Sept. 19, 2011.

Some people recommend waiting for birds to reach the two-year mark before allowing them to breed. However, Rosie was soooo ready and Pretty Boy was the only available male. In spite of their losing one youngster, two more are healthy and beautiful. I expect the three in this clutch to survive if I watch them closely. One even has pink eyes.

Fuchsia is also on eggs again, recently laid. She and Flame are remarkable birds. This is their second clutch and once their babies are fledged, I will remove the nest box.

Rhett and Cherry raised seven babies this year and I removed their nest box. Cherry would like to raise a third clutch, but we have enough youngsters for one year. We are overwhelmed with lovely pink baby Bourkes!

May all your Bird Adventures be happy and enriching.
Peace & Blessings.

Friday, September 16, 2011

WING CLIPPING: Question on Clipping Wings

QUESTION: "Someone has mentioned to me to clip their wings ... how do do feel about that?"

This question came in attached to my "Taming Parakeets" post. Thought I'd share the answer with everyone.

This isn't one of my birds. I've never
clipped their wings. This photo comes
from "Bourke's Parakeets" by
Doreen Haggard.
ANSWER: This depends more on a person's circumstances than on the bird's.

If there are cats or dogs in the house, I wouldn't clip them. If not, and 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 always go back into their cage for me. They consider it their home.

Most of my breeder pairs aren't finger tamed, but they're tame enough to come to the side of the cage and talk to me, nor do they go crazy when their cage is being cleaned. They like to fly in circles inside their long cage. It's healthy exercise that they shouldn't be deprived of. There would be no reason to clip their wings, plus the males use their wings for balance during breeding. So, if you plan to breed then don't clip their wings.

If you have a bird who isn't tame, and you want to work with them, then clipping can be an advantage. Their feathers eventually grow back, hopefully after the bird is now used to you and will sit on your finger or shoulder.

Birds that aren't tame are likely to still bite when caught, even if their wings are clipped.

I would never criticize anyone who feels a need to do this. It's done to larger parrots, cockatoos and macaws routinely to avoid losing them. I suppose parakeets can also fly outdoors given the chance, so there is a risk of losing them too if their wings aren't clipped. If someone in your house, possibly a young child, is likely to open the front door at an inopportune time, then clipping might be wise.

It's important not to cut the flight feathers too close, there are blood vessels in the lower part of the feathers. The photo above gives an idea of how far to cut. Better to not cut enough then too much. You can always go back again, if necessary. If you do cut too close, cornstarch will stop the bleeding. But, I hope you NEVER have to use it.

Again, each situation is different and needs your evaluation and decision.

Sending Splendid & Bourke Blessings Your Way.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


These are the two youngest of five babies in Fuchsia's clutch.
She may look like she's willing to feed her baby, but she's
really stealing a bite of the Exact formula for herself.
Mandy Asked: "Hello, just another question for you if you don't mind answering. I took a 3 week old baby bourke out of her nest on saturday (today is thursday). She is one of three but her mother stopped feeding her, she is quite fluffy with her feathers coming in slowly, however, checked on her siblings today and they are fully feathered,looking like bourke's. Is there something I am doing wrong as to why she is not growing as quickly being hand fed as apposed to parent fed?"

My Answer:  If there's no physical problem, I'd guess the baby may not be getting enough to eat, is not consistently warm enough, or both.

Perhaps your baby is the youngest in the clutch and therefore slower? Hopefully, the reason the mother quit feeding it is not because it had a physical problem. I have one that I'm still feeding twice a day after more than a year because it can’t adequately eat on its own. It has remained slightly smaller than most Bourkes, but it's too sweet to consider putting down. It also eats slowly compared to healthy babies. It doesn't "guzzle" its food. Does yours? Guzzling is a healthy sign.

When you started hand feeding this youngster, did you try returning it to its mother to keep it warm? Some hens will accept the baby and keep it warm even though they don't feed it. Others, push them aside. It's easier for you if Mama keeps the baby warm, but risky at first if you don't watch them closely and retrieve them if necessary. Sounds like you're past that place, however.

Just fed with a very full crop.

View from above shows full crop extending over the shoulders.

Rotund crop from below. Wait until almost empty
before feeding again. At this age, feed again in
about four hours.
Parents literally stuff their babies so full they look like they will burst. We need to do the same thing with hand fed babies. They are rarely full when we think they are. If the baby stops eating before its crop looks like it could burst ... protruding in all directions like an over inflated basketball ... then perhaps the food has cooled too much, too fast.

They like it warm. Not hot, but very warm. Exact Hand Feeding Formula has directions that give the degree range. It's a good idea to start this way until you're familiar with what temp feels right. They say about 105 degrees Farenheit or (102 to 110). For one bird I mix one teaspoon of Exact into two teaspoons of boiling water, stirring until it's cool enough to feed. I test it on the underside of my wrist like you’d test human baby formula.

Try to use a very small container for the food, one that holds heat. (Goodwill and Thrift Stores have an assortment). You can also sit the small container in a bowl of very hot (nearly boiling) water to keep the bowl of food warm. Be careful not to slop more water into your food mix.

Healthy babies "guzzle" down the food from an eye dropper very quickly, so feeding only one baby should make it easy to finish feeding before the food cools too much. I assume you're using an eye dropper. If not, you should.

How often are you feeding the baby? I'm feeding my current clutch four to five times a day, about every four hours. Newly hatched chicks need to be checked every two hours and fed if the their crop is empty. For the first week of life, I get up twice a night, then drop it to once a night at age two weeks. After that, I sleep through the night and feed them only during the day (but I don’t sleep in).

Are you keeping your baby warm enough? Dry enough? Accumulated droppings are wet and cold, so clean the box every time you feed them. Mine have pine shavings under paper towels. The paper towels absorb droppings and get tossed each time the babies are fed.
Box on table above a heat source. Notice they can move
closer or farther from the heat as they need to. Box is
closed when they are not being fed.

I put an electric oil heater near (not under) my box of babies to be sure they stay warm. The box is long enough that they can move toward or away from the heat source. Also, I've learned to feed more than one at a time. That way they help keep each other warm. Even though our home is 70 to 74 degrees inside this time of year, at night I use the heater. I don't use it except for hand fed babies. Otherwise, their mother keeps them warm enough.

Good luck. I hope your little one grows up to bond with you as a healthy, loving and affectionate pet.
Fuchsia at bowl and Flame on my hand. These two babies
aren't theirs, but they treat all four alike - with disinterest.
They're still feeding the three left in their nestbox, but seem
satisfied to let me take over on the two youngest and the
two shown here from another pair's clutch.  Their main
interest is in the "delicious" Exact Hand Feeding Formula.
These two parents were hand fed babies themselves a little
over a year ago.

Peace & Blessings