Friday, January 13, 2012

Breeding Bourkes, Splendids or other Parakeets

So many times in this blog I've stated that three clutches a year should be the maximum number allowed for any pair of birds, with two clutches a year being optimum.
Fuchsia, happily covering six eggs for her fourth clutch.
 Although not a New Year's resolution, I broke this rule the first month of 2012.

These two are siblings, both with white faces and pink eyes.
They were not hand fed, but unafraid of people.

In 2011 I restricted my oldest pair to only two clutches, and another mature pair to only one. However, my two young handfed hens − who had not raised offspring previously − were allowed three clutches. This was because they were so eager and healthy, plus I hoped to get more white-faced, light pink Rosy Bourkes like those shown above. 

These youngsters are all hand fed and very tame.
They're outside their cages for some free flight time.
Sweetheart in front is my favorite bird.
When Rosie's third clutch left the nest box, I immediately removed the box.

She'd been asking Pretty Boy to mate and unfortunately laid an egg on the floor of the cage. When I picked it up there was a small crack in it. She didn't lay a second egg because there was no nest box and no stimulation to continue mating and laying eggs.

Another view of siblings, a male and female, with white
faces and pink eyes. Rather tame, although not hand fed.
Male is for sale.
In the cage next to Rosie's, Flame and Fuchsia had four in their third clutch. Two were out of the nest and two remained in the nest box when they started mating again. Frown.

Tame birds out for free flight and visiting cages that aren't theirs.
Cages below them house parents with offspring not yet weaned.
At that point, I could have removed the remaining two babies and completed their weaning with hand feeding. Then the nest box could be removed and Flame and Fuchsia's attempts to have a fourth clutch would be thwarted. But, Christmas was approaching and I was away from home too much to feed baby birds 100% of the time required.

This cage houses four tame young Bourkes.
When the door is open, they go in and out on their own.
When Fuchsia's smallest bird finally left the nest box, she was sitting on three eggs! What to do? Toss them?

My "Sweetheart" ... favorite bird.
I am strongly Pro-Life. Okay, so these are only birds and not people. But... Everything inside me said, "Don't do it."

Now there are SIX eggs! None of my other Bourkes have ever laid that many. But then, none of the others ever hatched and raised five babies before either. Flame and Fuchsia did it with their very first clutch.

Flame and Fuchsia are young and healthy. As hand fed birds themselves, they love Exact Hand Feeding formula and often get some when I'm feeding Pipsqueek (I've written about her eating problem before). I believe the hand feeding formula, which is full of extra nutrition, has left both birds heavier and healthier than most birds who are feeding young ... especially when feeding large clutches like Fuchsia and Flame's. 

The angel holding a dove gazes down on these cages
and gently keeps watch over these sweet, lovely little birds.
Instead of looking thin and worn out, these busy parents appear very healthy. So ... in another week Fuchsia's eggs are to begin hatching. When this fourth clutch is two or three weeks old (or maybe less), I'll remove and hand feed them. That will be easier on Fuchsia and Flame. And, I will remove the nest box! 

When the Gouldians arrived, Mei-Ling decided to perch on
the back of this chair where she can see them better. The
Bourkes are old news, but the active finches have caught her
attention for now. Eventually, they will probably become like
another piece of furniture to her, and less interesting.
As noted before, we've had many cats (now and in the past) and they've all learned to live peacefully with our birds. So can dogs. It takes some diligence on an owner's part, however. It is necessary to ensure that a cat or dog are not left alone with birds until adequately socialized.

This can only be determined after keeping close watch on them for an extended period of time ... probably months. Also, each animal is different. Some learn quickly and want to please, others may not. I've taught both adult cats & dogs or kittens & puppies to accept birds and leave them alone. Puppies tend to be the slowest to comply ... even more so than kittens.

However, I can't honestly say which is easiest to train. It all depends on the animal (and an owner's patience).

Peace & Blessings.
May all your 2012 bird adventures be joyful.


Bonnie said...

Hello, I am very grateful for your blog and all of the helpful information about bourkes parakeets! I have a concern about my female rosey bourkes parakeet. I think she may be about to lay an egg, and last time around this time (a month ago) she displayed some odd behavior. She began to scream in a high pitched voice to her mate, and this would prompt him to feed her. However, the screeching would continue even right after she ate. I thought this was perhaps because she had an egg inside of her and thought it would stop when she laid, but then she started passing very watery droppings and eating constantly without ever seeming to feel full. When she began to sit at the bottom of her cage, and when I noticed that the male bourke also seemed to be passing watery droppings, I took them to the vet. He gave me an antibiotic to administer to them, and within 3 days they both looked much better. The female then laid a misshapen egg, which I think may have been the problem.

Two weeks ago, I decided to give them a nesting box in case they were stressed about not having a place to lay eggs. While they have peeked their heads inside, I haven't seen them go in.

My concern is that the female is making the same (very high pitched- more high pitched than her mating call to him) screaming sounds. Again, this prompts the male to eat and feed her. What worries me is that the screaming continues into right after she has eaten and she seems very stressed out. Her droppings are normal which makes me feel better. Is she stressed about the male's presence in the cage? (Their cage is quite big though; they are not cramped). Is this normal female behavior? Thank you for any guidance you can offer me on this!!!!

G. A. Lewis said...

Hello Bonnie,
Thanks for your questions. I answered them in a new post entitled "Screaming Rosy Bourke Hens." Here is a link to it:

G. A. Lewis said...

Actually it is entitled: Question on Screaming Rosy Bourke Hen.

This link doesn't appear to be live. I tried to make it so...

Unknown said...

Hi I'm looking to get a couple more Rosey bourkes and I was wondering if I can get them from you as it seems that you do breed but although I am so interested in getting more because I have three of my own one is a breeding pair and then their babies from the last clutch I really really love this so much they are so kind hearted and sweet and not messy or loud please let me know if you can if you do sell any babies I would really love to have some more

G. A. Lewis said...

Unknown? Send your questions to:, but include an email address. We sell young Bourkes, but do not ship. You'd have to pick them up somewhere near the south coast of Oregon: Coquille, Coos Bay or Reedsport areas.