Thursday, December 29, 2011

Program Progress of Partial Hand Feeding Coupled With Parent Feeding

Fuchsia and Flame's two youngest.

I blame it on the holidays … smile. I’ve not been hand feeding these baby Bourkes as often as proposed.

When you’re feeding babies 100% of the time you can’t be inattentive. When the parent birds are also responsible for feeding their young, it’s easy to put it off and let them take care of it.  

Of the six baby birds that I expected to hand feed twice a day, but not take over the entire feeding process, I’m now down to feeding two.

Rosie’s babies are older than Fuchsia’s. Rosie’s oldest refused to eat from an eyedropper and his sibling ate only a little. It was all too easy to choose to give up and quit feeding those two.

Fuchsia has four in this clutch. Although younger than Rosie’s, her two oldest weren’t happy about being offered an eyedropper either. I’m certain that if taken away from their parents, when hungry they’d eat the Exact Hand Feeding Formula with gusto. But, they weren’t hungry and resisted.
Baby in the butter dish is an older sibling.

The two youngest, however, have been more willing to eat it. One seems to particularly like it. I expect the four oldest baby Bourkes to be tamer because they’ve been handled a lot, but not as tame as the two youngest. I’m hopeful that, as adults, these two youngsters will be just as tame as those that were hand fed exclusively for the remaining few weeks before weaning.

The tiny white-faced baby with red eyes I may keep and pair with another white-faced bird. As I’ve said before, my goal is to down-size my flock until there are only very tame birds left. Not, that the others aren’t very friendly … they are. All will come to the cage bars and talk to me. They aren’t frightened and like attention.

But, I’m spoiled. I enjoy having birds fly to me and nibble my cheek, eat out of my hand—although several do that anyway who weren’t hand fed. In fact, two parent fed males are very tame and will fly to me. If you take the time to work with them, they tame down. My problem is having the time to spend on so many of them. However, Pretty Boy, paired with Rosie, is tame and he was not hand fed. The fact that she flies to me encourages him to do the same.

The larger Rosy Bourke youngster is a better eater than
the small white-faced little guy.
Speaking of Rosie, thankfully her last baby has left the nest box. She’s been asking to breed again! No, no … four clutches would seriously deplete her energy. Her mate’s too for that matter. Raising babies is intensive, even if the food is supplied to them. By removing the nest box, Pretty Boy is refusing to take her up on her offers, thank goodness.

Fuchsia, too, is eager to breed again. Frown. I’ve considered removing the nest box and feeding the last two babies exclusively. Do I want that much work? Hmmm…maybe not. It won’t be long before they leave the nest box too.
All have silver bands with EGL and year on them. Also OR for Oregon.
They each have colored bands to indicate who they are related to.
Fuchsia's young have a two-color pink and blue band shown here.

I love my birds and I love hand feeding babies. However, I have overdue deadlines. I’m editing “Martyr” for E.G. Lewis and trying to edit my own book, “Cast Me Not Away.” Both are past  their deadlines, and I hope they will be out soon. Have to knuckle down.

Peace & Blessings

Friday, December 23, 2011


Hello All,
These are about the best age to begin hand feeding.
Both are Rosies, but one has pink eyes. 

I can't believe I haven't posted in over a week. This must be a record for me, but 'Tis the Season... Busy, busy, busy. Aren't we all?

Because we've been in and out of the house so much, and home so much less, I've started a new procedure for hand feeding baby birds. This is one that is easier, takes less time, and I hope will make them just as tame.

These newly hatched babies can be hand fed, but at
this young it's more work and more risky. If your
parents are good ones, then leave them there for
the first two or three weeks. 
I've been hand feeding Fuchsia's babies about twice a day, once in the morning and again before we go to bed. Of course, this isn't often enough for baby birds. So, after I offer them Exact Handfeeding Formula they go back into the nest box where their parents can also feed them.

They don't have to have me feed them at all, but in doing so they get very used to being handled and begin to trust people. By only feeding them occasionally, they aren't reliant upon me for their food and don't eat as much as they would if totally hand fed. However, my hope is that they will still become as tame as my other hand fed birds.

This mixed clutch are of different ages, but all fine for
hand feeding. Notice the pine shavings in bottom of
cardboard box with a paper towel over them.
The towel is changed at each feeding, and top of
box is folded shut, keeping them warmer in a
dark, safe place similar to their nest box.
This is a test ... if it works, it will make hand feeding much easier in the future when the goal is only to make them very tame. Only rarely have I had to hand feed because of problem parents.

Young Bourkes are easy to tame if they're handled frequently. However,I'm not able to devote enough time to taming this many once they are weaned, out of the nest, and flying on their own. By hand feeding them as nestlings, they become tame and stay that way.

Peace & Blessings. Have a wonderful,
May God Bless You, your loved ones and all your pets.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Raising Bourkes, a Question from Sarah

Sarah writes: "Hi - I have just purchased 2, 5ish week old bourkes to finish hand raising (they're the blue mutation and I couldn't let it pass!!). I have been breeding budgies for 8 years but I have never hand raised a bird. Have read your blog and thank you so much I love it! I was wondering if you have pictures of your birds you could send me so I can see how old mine actually are. They are developing their flight feathers and their main tail feather is about 1.5 inches long. If they were budgies, I'd say they were about 3 weeks old, but I have read that bourkes develop much slower."

At 17 and 19 days old, good ages for hand feeding.
ANSWER: Optimum time to hand feed is said to be at three weeks of age, but that's subjective. I've had to feed some from the first day they hatched and they did okay. Parents are the best at feeding, especially while they are tiny little guys. My preference is to wait until their feathers just begin to start emerging. Once they are fully feathered, they may resist being hand fed and it can be harder to get them started. 
Same two youngsters. I intend to begin hand feeding
them in two days, as the next two days are very busy
and hand feeding requires a big time commitment.
Fuchsia's babies. Oldest is two weeks
(14 days old). Youngest is one week old.

I haven't raised budgies for a while, but it never seemed to me that they grew any faster than Bourkes. I assume they take about the same amount of time to grow, but I've never put it to any test. If there is a difference, it's slight. Egg incubation time is the same, so growth probably would be too.

I've asked Sarah to send us photos of her blue Bourkes. I would love to see them. Our Normals have blue rumps, and a few of our Rosies do too, but not an unusual amount of blue on any of them.

Fascinated by the idea of a blue Bourke, I found this site:   It gives some insight into the "blue factor" which apparently is a mutation in Bourkes.

One week old baby in my hand has pink eyes.
Fuchsia was hand fed and is very tame.
She doesn't worry about me handling her
babies. This is her third clutch so she's very
confident and trusting.

May all your eggs hatch and all your birds sing beautifully.
Peace & Blessings.

Avian Connection and eBay ads are up.

As an FYI, I posted an ad on eBay's classified ads, Kijji, and also on Avian Biotech.
You can post there too. Here are their links: Kijji for eBay Classifieds   Avian

Best of Luck. Contact me for information about my birds at

Peace & Blessings.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lutino Bourke Parakeets ... On a Happy Note.

These beautiful photos were contributed by Jill Warnick.
Thank you, Jill.

The parents of this clutch of four babies are a Rosy Bourke hen and a lovely Lutino father who looks like three of these...

Because color is sex-linked in Bourke parakeets, I'd guess the normal coloration will be a male through the hen and the lutino's will be females from their father. However, admittedly I've never raised lutino's and haven't investigated their genetics.

With a mixed pair of one rosy and one normal, it has always held true that hens looked like their father and cocks looked like their mother.

An exception to this was a normal pair I owned who threw rosy hens. This was because the normal male's father was a rosy, making him a split (half & half), or heterozygous for color. I'm an amateur at bird genetics, but am fascinated by it. Smile.

Have you seen the completely red African Gray parrot? He's amazing.  Here is a link to my post on it.

Check the Archives for other informational posts that might be of interest.

Egg Hatching Update to Previous Post

In spite of his mother's assistance,
this baby didn't survive.
His four older siblings did.
Fuchsia's fifth egg didn't quite make it.

As you can see from this photo, the hen attempted to help this one out of the egg, but too late, I think. Yesterday only his beak and cere were showing through a small hole. This morning, it was as you see it.

Fuchsia had pushed the dead baby-in-egg out in front of her, making it easy for me to remove it from the nest. Her other four babies were huddled under her. She made no protest.

Judging from other egg shells with "serrated" edges, I believe she may have helped some of them out of their shells too.

Sadly, this baby would have had pink eyes. Happily, there is still one other baby in the nest with pink eyes. My husband believes the birds with these light colored eyes are genetically not as strong as the others. I hope he's wrong. We have four from earlier clutches who appear strong. One is out of Rhett & Cherry, two from Rosie and Pretty Boy and one from Fuchsia and Flame plus the one still in the nest.
Same baby removed from shell.
His neck looks odd to me.
Perhaps a reason for his demise?
Or, the dark belly?

After removing the egg/baby, I put warm water around the shell and removed the embryo. I didn't expect it to revive, but gave it a shot anyway.

One sign of a truly dead bird is if its eyes are sunken. These partially were. I was certain it was dead, but still warmed it and watched it before discarding it. Even if I'd intervened early yesterday, I doubt he'd have survived. If he couldn't get out of the shell, then there was probably something else wrong with him. Sad, but Fuchsia has four others!  ;-)

Eyes are slightly sunken. They would have been pink,
not dark like most Bourke parakeets.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Question for my Reader/Breeders...Smile.

Fuchsia, 12/03/11. Four babies and an egg hidden under her.
Hello All,

This morning I checked Fuchsia's nest box while she was out. Her last egg, the 5th, had a small hole in it and I could see the beak and cere (nostril) of the baby inside. He was moving.

Four hours later, I checked again. The egg looks the same and the baby wasn't moving. My hubby thinks he's only resting. Hope that's true. I realize hatching is a long, labor intensive undertaking, but no change after four hours? 

I read a post once from someone who said she helps her cockatiels out of their egg shell. But, I've also read that you should never do that, and so far I never have. 

I lifted the egg while Fuchsia was out of the nest and was so tempted to chip away a tiny piece of shell, but didn't. She's been such a wonderful mother. Wouldn't she help if it's needed?

So far, she has four healthy babies and one has pink eyes. I'm hoping this last baby will too.

Fuchsia returned to the nest to immediately cover her last egg and the
smallest of her four youngsters. She's very tame and likes getting
extra attention, even while she's caring for eggs or baby birds.
She's my favorite at the moment.
Any suggestions on how long to leave the egg alone before intervening? I hope I haven't already waited too long. I'm erring on the side of caution and leaving Fuchsia to decide if her last offspring needs assistance.

Any thoughts?  Thanks!

Friday, December 2, 2011


Rosie had four eggs. Three hatched, but
only these two survived. White circle
around babies are their own droppings.
Rosie and Pretty Boy's two youngsters are banded. She lost one baby for some reason. It was the only one we lost this year and survived for just a day.

Fuchsia is covering four babies and an egg.
Dark area in corner are her own droppings.

Fuchsia and Flame have four  babies in the nest, newly hatched.

One egg remains. The third in this clutch has pink eyes, smile.

Photo by Joyce Sunseri

I find it interesting how various birds of the same variety behave in different ways. In my countless Bourke pairs, I've only had one male who made a habit of venturing into the nestbox wtih his mate. All the others remained outside once she took up residency. They'd feed her either at the entrance, or when she came out, but they didn't venture inside.

This photo was sent from a reader of this blog. Obviously, her pair share the box. Aren't they sweet? This clutch is from October. Thank you for sending us photos, Joyce.

Below are photos of babies waiting to be sold. Our local pet shop will take some, but not all of them. I've reduced the price to $50 each. Some are hand fed ... all are used to human activities going on around them. Most males and females can be identified by their behavior. Also, males tend to have lighter colored faces than the hens. All are sweet-natured.

Five or six birds in one cage are too many. An aviary is better.
However, these youngsters are housed here only temporarily.

 The young birds in this cage regularly come out and fly around the
living room and kitchen. They are very tame youngsters that let
me return them to their home cage when I want them to go back in.

View from above of Newly weaned babies. They have
extra food containers and extra water to be certain
they have no difficulty finding what they need.

Front view of newly weaned babies.

Babies from a previous clutch. Enjoying sunshine.
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