Thursday, November 24, 2011

Rosy Bourke Hens in nests, November, 2011

Photo taken Nov. 18 of Rosie on four eggs.
Rosie laid four eggs. The first baby to hatch lived for less than a day. Not sure why, but its belly was very dark, not a good sign. It had a small amount of food in its crop. It was laying in front of Rosie, not under her. She probably realized it had died.

Rosie's two babies, and an egg that won't hatch.
Photo taken Nov. 23, 2011
The next day, she hatched another egg and two days later another. The last, and fourth egg, appears to be fertile, but isn't likely to hatch. Notice the dark color at one end and the big band of white on the shell in the photo. A fully mature chick should fill the entire egg. I think it died sometime before it completed its growth in the shell.

It's a mystery to me though, why a chick can have the strength to get out of the shell and then die anyway. Did it have a genetic defect and its mother helped it get out of the shell? Yet, it wasn't able to survive despite her assistance?

The other two appear healthy. Both have dark eyes.

Fuchsia sitting on five eggs. Photo from Nov. 18.
Fuchsia has laid five eggs, just as she did twice before. They are due to hatch within the next few days.

When Rosie's babies are three weeks old, I will pull them to hand feed. Fuchsia's will join Rosie's and be hand fed too. Since it is a third clutch this year for both hens, they will benefit from the rest.

I hope one of Fuchsia's will have pink eyes and be a hen ... we shall see.
Not a flattering picture of my favorite bird.
I love this white-faced, pink-eyed Bourke. I suppose
he is an opaline, fallow... Much prettier than the photo.
This lovely white-faced Bourke was hatched this summer from Rhett and Cherry. He was hand fed, and my sweetest bird. He's also the reason I hope Fuchsia and Flame produce another white-faced, pink-eyed hen as a mate for him. That's the real reason I let both Rosie and Fuchsia have third clutches this year, in the hope for a hen who looks like him. Rosie produced one in her first clutch and another in her second, but they aren't hand fed. Even though Rosie didn't have one in this third clutch, I'll hand feed them anyway.

Still have hopes that Fuchsia will hatch a pink-eyed baby over the next few days. If she doesn't, I'll have to spend more time hand taming one of Rosie's from her earlier clutches, however, I'm not certain of their sex yet.

May all your bird adventures be happy ones.

Happy Thanksgiving.
Peace & Blessings.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

CATS and HUMMINGBIRDS, Hummer Update

Admittedly, this photo is borrowed
from Google. Aren't they pretty?
Yesterday as I replaced a refilled hummingbird feeder, a little Anna's hen lit on it and stared at me. Instead of eating, she seemed to want to communicate something. I'm convinced it's the little hen we rescued last summer, unafraid and grateful.  

This morning, as I looked out our front door (we have a window in it), there was a gray tabby cat at the top of the steps leading onto our deck. More spotted than striped, he is quite a regal looking fellow.

I thought he was begging for food, but later decided he'd been drawn there by the many buzzing hummingbirds. I've seen this cat before. He's one of the strays who sadly lives in the woods. We've caught many of them in our "Have-a-Heart" traps. If they've been sick or injured, we've healed them before moving them to new homes or a shelter. Don't want them catching birds and chipmunks to survive.

He has evaded capture, but this morning he came back for a bowl of canned Friskies mixed grill. He left the Purina cat chow untouched. With a full stomach, maybe he will be less inclined to hunt. If I can win his confidence, perhaps we can catch him and relocate him to a shelter or, better yet, a loving home.

Mei-Ling considers Bourkes just other family members.
Boring, actually. To avoid being scolded,
she will seldom even look at them.
Interestingly, for the first time in her 8 years of life, my black Mei-Ling hissed. I've never heard her do that before. I lifted her up to look out the window at him as he ate, and she let us both know in no uncertain terms that she did not welcome him.

Other times I've brought stray females or kittens indoors, she never hissed at them.

Patches likes to watch the birds sometimes, but she never
threatens them. Admonished to keep her distance,
this is as close as she ever gets, and then only rarely.

In fact, our tiny calico is her best friend and she was a stray we decided to keep. That was because the first day I brought Patches home she walked up to our 75 lb. Malamutt (malamute and lab) and rubbed up against him, purring. He likes cats and apparently this is one dog she decided she should befriend immediately.

Our affectionate Patches is funny. This tiny calico will walk right under the dog, or over him, without any hesitation.

When I started this post, I wanted to comment on the hummingbirds. Our cats understand, "NO BIRDS!" It helps that they live with over 20 parakeets ... 31 at present, counting babies for sale. When they leave the house they are admonished with that command. We see them with mice, voles and moles, but not birds, even with all our feeders.

Wild or stray cats are another matter, however. Cats are meant to be domestic lap pets, not wild. People who release them into forests are not doing them or the wildlife any favors. It's sad. Animals deserve our respect and care, not to be mistreated or abandoned. I'd like to know who is responsible for the lonely cats that have, or are, prowling our woods. 

Peace & Blessings 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Breeding Bourkes

Bourke Parakeets, unlike Splendids and some others, are eager to raise a second and third clutch of baby birds. Hens will return to the nest very quickly.

The photos here are of Fuchsia and the youngest of three babies in her second clutch. The oldest two have left the nest, but the last youngster is still lingering. If you look closely, she has a new egg under her.

Fuchsia with her youngest baby and a new egg.

She and Flame have been mating in front of the kids. He performs his duty with Mom, then hops off and goes to feed one of their recently fledged offspring. He's a busy guy.

Move over youngster, Mama's ready to start another clutch.

I decided to allow two young Bourke pairs to have a third clutch this year. However, it isn't wise to give your birds an opportunity for more than three clutches a year. In fact, restricting them to two clutches a year is less physically stressful, especially on older birds.
Baby Bourke Parakeets are fuzzy,
unlike baby Budgerigars (budgies).
Removing nest boxes will usually discourage them from trying to raise more young. I've found that some of my hens ask to mate even when a nest box isn't present.

However, their mates seem to ignore the "come hither" behavior. In Bourkes, and most parakeets, it is the father who identifies and checks out a nesting location prior to his potential mate occupying it.  If there isn't a suitable place for her to raise their young, he typically won't mate.

 One pair, Bonnie & Clyde, had their nest box removed after one clutch this year. They have made no attempts to mate without a nest box present.

That said, one year a hen did lay an egg in her feed cup. It was February, but she had not had a clutch for about a year. I put up a nest box for her and put the egg in it. She immediately went in and brooded the egg and laid others. Whether that egg was fertile or not, I'm not sure. She did raise some from that clutch.

Birds are individuals. Although there are typical behaviors, they can deviate from the norm.

One of these days, I intend to write something about avian genetics, particularly in Bourkes and Splendids. I'm not an expert, but I've learned a lot from reading and watching my birds' production. And, especially from the generous comments and information I've received from many of you.

Peace & Blessings.

Added Note: Knowing that Fuchsia wanted to start another clutch, I took this baby out of the box, scraped off any soil and added new pine shavings. Then put him back to allow him to leave when he was ready. I didn't want a new clutch to start out in a dirty box.

Friday, November 11, 2011

USA Veteran's Day, Nov. 11

In Memory of all our brave men and women in uniform.
God Bless them all, past and present.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Splendid Comments on Bourkes and Scarlet-Chested Parakeets

I’ve been asked if Splendids, also known as Scarlet-Chested Parakeets, are difficult to keep.
I didn't want to part with this little guy, but his new
owner sent me this photo of him. He's a sweetheart.
I suppose that every breeder’s experience is diverse. I’ve raised a few Splendids over the years, but have never had the success with them that I’ve had with Bourkes. However, I know a breeder in California who has trouble raising Bourkes, but no difficulty with Splendids.

There is a difference in how we raise our birds though. Mine are indoors, hers are not.

Face color isn't accurate. Face is a dark cobalt blue.
It's difficult to photograph, the flash reflects off it.
Perhaps that might explain the variation of success between the two species.

All my birds live in individual cages inside my house and the temperature fluctuates little all year long. Some come out to fly around, but others don’t.  Her birds all live in roomy outdoor aviaries. California is mostly a desert climate, warm during the day although winter nights can become chilly. Frost is rare there, whereas, where I live in Southern Oregon it goes into the low 40’s in the winter.  Although unusual, it can even go below freezing. Australian birds might not fare well in outdoor aviaries through winters here.

Splendids (Scarlet-Chested Parakeets) are curious
and friendly.
I’ve found that Splendids seem to be more prone to egg binding than Bourkes are. All my Splendid hens have laid larger eggs than the Bourkes. This seems strange since the Splendids are slightly smaller than Bourkes. However, it might account for their propensity toward egg binding.  Exercise flights in aviaries could be an advantage for Splendids by helping to keep them fit.

A Male Rosy Bourke
As an indoor pet, Splendids seem to fare very well. They are active little clowns and fun to own. They will chew up paper and like to put anything and everything into their water. Drinking water should be freshened often … preferably more than just once a day. They enjoy bathes, so cups may get emptied. It’s wise to also have another source of water, like a water tube dispenser.

Bourkes are quieter by nature than Splendids, and easier to keep in that regard. They have lovely lyrical songs that aren’t loud like Budgerigars or other birds. I’ve never identified any mimicking by Splendids or Bourkes like Budgies do. However, both will “talk” to you in their own lingo. They like attention from their owners, even if they aren’t finger tamed.

A Normal Bourke Male

Male Bourkes are especially good at beautifully singing, and they naturally weave in wolf whistles.  What is a wolf whistle? Here’s a sample:

Peace & Blessings.