Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bourkes for Sale on East and West Coasts - Enjoy a Video

Hello All,
Currently, we have lots of Rosy Bourke babies hatched recently and some still in their nest box. All are used to people, some are hand fed and very tame.

Write to me for information at We are located in Southern Oregon.

Also, Jill in the Boston, MA area shared a video of her baby Bourkes. All are Normals, but split. Their mother is a Rosy Bourke and the father is a beautiful Lutino. 

Parents of the Normal babies in video. Father is a Lutino,
Mother is a Rosy Bourke. She is probably the daughter
of a Normal hen with a Rosy male.

Enjoy the video of Jill's baby Bourkes. You can contact Jill at

CLICK BELOW to Watch and Enjoy

Peace & Blessings,

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Pretty Boy at left with his pink-eyed youngster on right.
I’ve written about cleaning and replacing nest boxes before breeding season. However, I haven’t written about keeping them clean between clutches.

Most of my hens are meticulously clean while on eggs. They leave the box to defecate. However, after babies hatch and begin to grow, nest boxes start to become soiled. Two babies in a nest aren’t bad, but four can make the boxes pretty dirty.

When that happens, I temporarily remove the half-grown baby Bourkes, and place them in a safe, confined place. A large butter tub lined with a paper towel works perfectly for this. Old pine shavings are removed and fresh ones added. I press them down before returning the babies to their box.

Notice how dirty and crusty the pine shavings have gotten.
Three babies beginning to feather, but not ready to leave box.
My Bourkes live indoors and are very familiar with all of us, so cleaning out boxes with babies still in them is not a problem. If you have birds in an aviary, and they aren’t used to you coming and going, consider whether removing the youngsters is wise or not. I doubt a Bourke would ever abandon their nest because of a short-term cleaning, but there is a slight risk with birds that aren’t used to people.

Although I don’t always clean out boxes that have babies in them … unless they’re very dirty … between clutches, I always do. New babies are better off in a clean box. The photos with this post are of Rosie’s box. Currently, her second clutch of three is still in the cage with her and her mate. They’re being parent fed and learning to eat on their own, but not ready to leave home yet.

A photo of old shavings completely turned over by hen.
Loose and no longer crusty, but gray after previous use.
Rosie, on the other hand, is more than ready to start a new clutch. I had planned to remove her nest box, but changed my mind. These pictures illustrate how dirty a box can get, and how she decided to make it useful again. She turned over all the shavings to make the box ready for another clutch. She worked hard to make the formerly crusty, dirty box shavings soft and pliable, albeit old and gray.

Nevertheless, I felt that clean pine shavings are preferable. I set an empty 40 lb. dog food bag on a chair where it was easy to reach and, using a metal ladle, scooped shavings into it. With a sharp knife, I scraped hardened droppings and food off the sides of the box. Then, I vacuumed the interior.

An empty pill bottle blocks entry to nest box.

It might be advisable to remove the boxes to vacuum them. However, my birds are used to hearing the vacuum cleaner. It’s not very noisy as it’s an in-home vac with the motor in the basement. What they hear is loud air flow.

While I cleaned the box Rosie stayed away. She seemed to know what was going on. I did this between clutch one and two. However, before vacuuming, I decided to block the entry hole to be safe. I used an empty pill bottle that fit. Easy to put in and take back out.

Investigating her box after it has been cleaned out.
Windex was used on the sides after scraping off dry food & dirt.
Then the box was aired out. It will be throughlyscrubbed
 before it goes back up for use next year.
Later, satisfied with her box, she's fluffed
(wings out) and ready to lay an egg.
With about an inch of clean pine shavings in the bottom, I packed them down for her. As soon as the pill bottle went away, it didn’t take her long to investigate. She has already formed a “bowl” in the center. She is fluffed and ready to lay an egg, which I expect any day now.

Meanwhile, she and her mate, Pretty Boy, are still doing the deed. I expect all her eggs to be fertile. Smile.  

Pretty Boy on bowl. His three youngsters in background.
Rosie is out of sight in the nest box.

Peace & Blessings.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Banding The Youngest Bourke

Flame and Fuchsia's current three baby Bourkes.
As mentioned previously, we decided to give the birds nest boxes late this year. Hence, they started laying later and we still have baby birds.

Both Rosie and Fuchsia are still feeding their last three babies each from their second clutches. I've not let any other birds have a third clutch this year, and only allowed Bonnie and Clyde one clutch. Rhett and Cherry, our oldest pair, were the first to reproduce and I removed their nest box after two clutches. They were willing to have a third.
About to band this year's youngest so far, Baby #24.
Silver band for us is EGL. Year is 11, OR for Oregon.
Colored bands indicate parentage.

Rosie and her mate, Pretty Boy, have recently been mating repeatedly. They began as soon as their three had left the nest box. In fact, I think Rosie chased the youngest out. All three still require parent feeding. Yet, that hasn't stopped their parents from wanting to start another clutch. Pretty Boy is taking over most of the feeding. However, soon the babies will adequately feed themselves.

It's interesting what Rosie has done to their nest box. Normally, I clean the boxes before the birds go back for another clutch, and replace the pine shavings with fresh.

I didn't plan to allow Rosie a third clutch. I noticed her in the box before it was removed, and looked inside. She's completely turned over all the pine shavings that were stuck together from baby bird droppings. Although not fresh and clean like it would be after I worked on it, she's done a pretty fair job of cleaning things up and tossing the shavings so that they are soft again. It must have taken a lot of work.

This is as large as a foot can be for "budgie" bands. Bigger
and it wouldn't slip on. I waited a day or two longer than
necessary. Too soon, however, and they slip off in the nest.
Do I want to make Rosie lay eggs on the floor, or in a feed cup, because there is no nest box? I don't think so. I'll clean the box for her, give her fresh pine shavings and allow her that third clutch. She's young and healthy, as well as eager.

Then, there is Fuchsia. She and Flame are the parents of one of the sweetest birds I've ever owned, the one I lost last Monday. Would they produce another pink-eyed baby in a third clutch? One could hope they might. Currently, their three have dark eyes. They're younger than Rosie's. I am very tempted to allow them a third clutch and hope for another like the one that's gone.

In the past, there have been a couple of times when I didn't get a box cleaned out fast enough and there was already an egg in the used box. I temporarily removed the egg, quickly cleaned the box, added new pine shavings forming a "bowl" in the area I knew the hen preferred, and put the egg in it. Both hens accepted this and continued to lay other eggs, even hatching the one that was temporarily moved and replaced.

Although not finger tamed, Rhett's first hen, Scarlett, even accepted two babies and raised them after their own mothers rejected them. I think the other hens were restricting the size of their brood, whereas Scarlett's eggs (with the exception of one) were always infertile. Yet, she wanted to be a mother.

She and Rhett fostered several offspring from adopted eggs. That's not unusual. But what is uncommon is that Scarlett accepted two newly hatched baby birds at different times and raised them. She was a remarkable little Bourke hen and very sweet. She was never extremely hearty though and has since passed away. Rhett, on the other hand, is still with us. Rhett and Scarlett were my very first pair of Bourkes.  

My second pair of Bourkes were Bing (a beautiful singer) and Cherry. They weren't ideally matched and eventually I was able to give Bing another mate. He and a Normal, Stella, produced many beautiful offspring before they passed on. I've no idea how old they were when purchased, nor how old Cherry is either. When Scarlett died, Cherry went to Rhett and the rest is history. Over the years, they've produced and produced ... although she's not the sweetheart that Scarlett was and bosses Rhett terribly. Fortunately, their offspring all seem to inherit his exceptional disposition.

Year 2011 Baby #24 is banded. Blue & Red band will
always indicate his/her parents are Flame and Fuchsia.

Peace & Blessings

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Sad Post... On Loss & Sorrow

Sweet Primrose
A Heavenly Flyer.
I’ve written and rewritten this post in my mind over and over. It must be cathartic to do so. This was written Tuesday, Oct. 18, although not posted immediately. I considered it first, but decided to share it as we all face disappointments in life.

 If I could wipe yesterday from my life, I would. Don’t we all have days we wish had never happened? It began with a phone call while I was still in the shower. My husband answered only to hear that a relative in another time zone had died. We grieved for that family, though we didn’t know her. She was only 32.

We’d also learned a day ago that our son-in-law lost his job after 15 years with the company. Perhaps it is another sign of our times.

Later, we opened the mail to find a bill we'd disputed had been turned over to a collection agency. We’ve already wasted so much time trying to rectify this and now have to start all over again. It’s not a large bill, but it's one we don’t owe. The time and trouble over it have exceeded its worth.

Friend of Primrose.
He misses her.

So, when the accident happened yesterday, perhaps my mind wasn’t where it should have been. But that’s an excuse…a  justification.

In previous posts I’ve talked about potential hazards to birds and many things to avoid. I believed I was the epitome of safety and care for my birds. I’ve lost more than a few feathered friends, sure. But, the losses weren’t unusual and I was able to deal with them as timely, unpredictable or unavoidable. Each occurrence was sad, but nature can sometimes be brutal.

This one was different. I spent most of yesterday weeping and had difficulty sleeping last night.

I hesitate to admit to this error. I’m ashamed, hurt, guilty and upset with myself. Only time will help erase the sense of loss. My husband tells me to quit beating up on myself, but what else can I do?

 Others have faced far worse loss, but that thought isn’t consoling. Four decades ago I lost an infant daughter to SIDS. A bird isn’t a child, but this hurts in a similar way. Both seem so senseless. There have been other losses, too. Cats, dogs, birds, relatives…somehow we cope. And, I will cope with this, but it is still fresh. Perhaps I’m supposed to learn sympathy and understanding for those who have also accidentally killed a pet with a car, a recliner, a garage door… It happens, and I’m certainly not one to judge. Especially not now.

I let all my tame young birds out to fly around yesterday morning, as usual. They bring such joy and I wish I could focus on that joy at this moment. My favorite, a young pink-eyed hen I’d hand fed and decided to keep, is the one I lost.

She had also formed a special bond with her look-alike. The two were always together, side-by-side at night, flying together when outside their cage, and often crowded together on my left shoulder, nibbling at my cheek.  

She spent a lot of time on the floor, and I knew that was something to be careful of. I usually followed her with my eyes, reminding the dog to lay still when she approached him and climbed up on his leg. To her, all the pets were just another family member. She was usually followed around by her friend, so I decided to keep him too, and allow them to become a pair as they seemed to want to be. They looked just alike, although he was slightly larger and they each had a different colored band identifying their parents.   

It was just me and the birds in the kitchen and living room. The cats and dog were outside. The doors to the other rooms were closed. No dangerous hot lights, no potential hazards. Window blinds down, so an inexperienced bird wouldn’t fly into a window. All seemed safe.

 I named her Primrose, but have yet to name her best friend. As I leaned over the kitchen counter feeding Pipsqueek, who can’t totally feed herself, there was a ruckus in the cages behind me. I thought a bird had fallen behind the cages and upset the young birds in those cages. I turned quickly to go retrieve that bird who, it turns out, somehow found its own way to freedom.

In turning so quickly, I felt something under my foot. In a flash so many things go through your mind. In that instant, I knew. I hoped beyond hope that what I’d stepped on was the dog’s toy, or something else. But I knew that it couldn’t be, and small birds are so fragile.

I picked up her bleeding body and cried, “No, no, no! Please God, no!” But the answer was not what I wanted. She never made a sound, but gently died in my hands.

My husband came rushing from another room, and held me as I wept hysterically. I’d done it. Me. How could I have been so careless? How? How? How?  

He took my bloody shirt and cleaned it for me, while I stroked the lifeless body of a bird who’d been so beautiful and sweet. The little bird who’d nibbled at my cheek, and was always so eager and loving.  

Why was she on the floor at my feet when the room is wide and big with so many other places for her to have been? She was at my feet because she wanted me to pick her up and put her on my shoulder as I'd done countless times before. This time I didn’t realize she was there and reacted to the noise behind me without thinking.  

Unlike all the other birds, she found it difficult to fly higher than my waist. She was getting stronger and better at flying and I’m sure she’d have caught up with the others in time. But, she never feared anything, and I was always ready to scoop her up.  

Why wasn't I watching out for her? I have no answers, only sorrow. We buried her yesterday afternoon near others we’ve lost, although not in such a horrific way. 
This morning her friend flew around the house appearing to look for her. I gave him lots of attention. He, too, nibbled on me and is very sweet. I’ve told him over and over how sorry I am.  

Primrose was the daughter of Flame and Fuchsia. They currently have three babies in their second clutch, but none have pink eyes and a white face like Primrose.  

Rosie and Pretty Boy also have three babies in their second clutch. Theirs are cousins of Primrose and one does have a white head and pink eyes. That baby isn’t hand fed, but I took it out of the nest and held it today.  
Rosie and Pretty Boy's baby from 2nd clutch.
The bird who loved Primrose showed some interest in this baby. It’s fully feathered and almost ready to leave the nest. The oldest sibling has been out of the nest box for a week and the second left their nest box today. 

What is it that makes birds who look alike be drawn to one another? They don’t have a mirror to tell them what they, themselves, look like. But, Primrose and my other pink-eyed baby, were drawn to each other even though other young birds in the cage were not related to them either.

Part of my pain, is knowing her future mate is robbed of the one he chose to love.

Same baby from Rosie and Pretty Boy.
Hasn't left the nest box yet, will soon.
I ask myself over and over why I spent weeks successfully rehabbing a wild hummingbird, only to lose my favorite Bourke? Why have I inconvenienced myself twice a day for more than a year by hand feeding Pipsqueek who is unable to adequately feed herself? Why do I continue to  maintain and provide for another bird that is wild, unattractive and will never have any value? Why not lose any one of them instead?  

I’ve prided myself on being soft-hearted and caring. Then this happens, and I feel like a horrible person. Unable to forgive myself.  

"It was just an accident," my husband tells me over and over. But, I feel careless and stupid.  

Raising birds can be fraught with disappointments … it goes with the territory. There are always losses in life. But, for whatever reasons some are harder to deal with than others.  Hopefully the long-term joys outweigh the disappointments, and we will focus on the joys and release what causes us sorrow.   
April Heather, sleeping.
She went to Heaven when 64 days old.

Normally, I'm an optimistic person, but it’s difficult right now. I loved that little bird. I pray that God makes space in Heaven for little birds who look like angels and love like them too. I hope she’s sitting on my baby daughter’s shoulder, tickling her cheek and making her laugh. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Food For New Bourke Parents, A Question & Answer

This Spray Millet has been worked over by the birds.
Not all the seeds are there any longer.
Question: My Rosie Bourke just had a baby hatch, this is our first. Do I need to give her special food? Is there anything I can do or should do? She has 2 more eggs in there with her!

Answer: Your Bourkes can exist on seed alone, however, there are healthy things you can add. I provide Petamine Breeding Formula because it has healthy vitamins. They don't need a lot of it, just some each day. It's not a requirement, however. They also like fresh vegetables ... spinach, broccoli, kale, lettuce. Also cooked mixed vegetables, cooked peas, cooked corn, cooked carrots (or fresh shredded carrots). Mine enjoy an occasional piece of bread, especially with added seeds in or on it (like sunflower or sesame, etc.).  Birds also enjoy rice.

A young Bourke eating Spray Millet. Parent birds below.

Spray millet is high in fat content and very good when birds are feeding their young. Parents typically lose weight during the weeks they're feeding babies, so spray millet is healthy then. The rest of the year, you want to only give it sparingly so they don't become obese ... that's not likely to happen when they're raising their families, however.

Again, you don't have to give them all (or any) of this ... but, a varied diet is healthy. Greens are especially good for Bourkes all year round.

Best of luck. If you can, send photos of your mother and babies. I'd love to see them.

Young Rosy Bourke Parakeets. Two with pink eyes.
For young birds Spray Millet is a good introduction to eating on their own.

Peace & Blessings.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Seven young Rosy Bourke Parakeets.
These youngsters are old enough now to eat on their own, but they still appreciate a treat now and then. It's also a way to encourage all of them to roost on me for a photo opportunity. Typically, when allowed out of their cage, they come and go on and off my shoulders.

One-year-old Pipsqueak being fed, with friends nearby.
I've mentioned Pipsqueak before. She's a one-year-old hen I took out of the nest last year to hand feed because she wasn't thriving. I later learned there was a reason for that. She is unable to eat properly, and Nature would have let her starve. I'm too much of a softy to let her die, so I feed her twice a day with Exact Hand Feeding formula and she does well with it.

These 2011 hand fed young birds are a real joy.
The other six youngsters I chose to hand feed this year are all eating very well on their own now. As mentioned earlier, I chose to feed two of Flame and Fuchsia's five babies because that's a lot for such a young pair to manage, especially since it was their very first clutch. I feared they might not cope with all of them, although now I think they probably would have.

The other four are the second clutch from my elderly pair, Rhett and Cherry. He was looking a little thin ... it's a lot of work raising baby birds. I didn't want to lose either of them from overwork, so I pulled their four too. I thought as long as I was feeding two, why not more. Actually, more is a lot more work. 

Six young Rosy Bourkes with Pip.
All my hand fed birds consider the Exact Hand Feeding Formula to be quite a treat, even when it's no longer required. I enjoy sharing it with them when I feed Pip. Even the adult parents like it.

Those in the photo above are all 2011 youngsters, recently weaned. They are all so sweet. Wish I could keep them all, but that's not reasonable. If you live near Southern Oregon, or want to visit the beautiful south coast with all it's scenic wonders, send me an email. I will have young Bourkes for sale.

A close-up of one of my pale pink babies with pink eyes.

Peace & Blessings.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Young Rosy Bourkes, 2011

Two 2011 youngsters.
Baby in front is from Flame & Fuchsia's first clutch. Pale, pink-eyed bird in back is from Rosie & Pretty Boy's first clutch.
Another view of Rosie's pale baby
from her first clutch.

Currently, Rosie is raising three more in her second clutch. One has pink eyes.

Fuchsia laid five eggs and two have hatched so far. The first has dark eyes. Haven't seen the second one yet, but an egg shell tells me the second in the clutch has hatched. Last time, in her very first clutch, all five survived and are thriving. Only one has pink eyes.

Bird on right is from Bonnie and Clyde. I've dubbed him,
"Sir Grayhead." Notice how the gray feathers go down into
his chest. They circle his head and back too. I've never had
one that looked like this. His father is a very deep rose and
some of his sons have also been (Pretty Boy, for one).
I think this bird is rather unusual and unique.
Aging Rhett and Cherry raised two clutches this year. They wanted a third, but I removed their nestbox. Also removed Bonnie and Clyde's nest box after one clutch. Both pairs would like to continue. However, we now have over 20 baby birds and will need to find buyers for most of them. So much for down-sizing. Smile.

All six who are hand fed are adorable. The two white-faced, pink-eyed babies have paired off and stay together all the time. They are not from the same clutch. One is out of Rhett and Cherry, the other from Flame and Fuchsia. I'm very tempted to allow them to be a pair, since they seem to want to be. However, they are closely related. One is an aunt (or uncle?) of the other.

My favorite hand fed babies from this year, 2011, above. These are a darker pink than Rosie's offspring. I'm tempted to keep these two who seem so fond of each other. Any name suggestions? I'm thinking about Primrose. We sold Rosebud, so we could use that pretty name again for one of these. Any thoughts?

Peace & Blessings!