Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bourke Questions and Answers

Flame feeding Fuchia through opening into her nest box.
When this was taken their five eggs had all recently hatched.
Quite a brood for them to keep fed.
Shawn wrote to say he raises budgies and cockatiels, and is unfamiliar with Bourkes. He sent the list of questions below. Although most have been answered in earlier posts, I'll address them here all together.

01. What are the foods for Bourkes?
  • Bourkes will eat anything that a Budgie eats. Parakeet seed is their primary diet. However, mine also love fresh greens like spinach, kale, lettuce, broccoli, etc. They also like most vegetables, such as cooked corn, peas, carrots and green beans. Always have sources of calcium available, such as cuttlebone and mineral block.
Four cages with nest boxes attached outside.
These rectangular cages are 18"x30"x18".
Skirts help control scattered seeds.

02. What about the cage size for Bourkes?
  • Bourkes need to fly and can't do so in a tall narrow cage. Their cage should be oblong or rectangular.  My smallest cages are 30 inches long, 18 inches high and 18 inches deep 18"x30"x18". One pair per cage except when their young are present with them. Aviaries or flights of any larger size are beneficial too and can accommodate more then two birds.

A larger cage that is three feet high, 30 inches wide and 18 inches deep.
Some of this year's young Bourkes share it while waiting to be sold.
03. Did the parents feed the babies like as Budgerigars?
  • Male Bourkes typically check out a new nest box to ensure it's safe before a hen ventures inside for the first time. After she settles in, my male birds seldom go back into it (although other people's have). Male Bourkes will feed the female while she's on her eggs. She in turn feeds the young when they hatch. She seldom leaves the nest except to deficate. Males often sit outside the door as if keeping watch, and feed her through the entrance. Once the babies are two to three weeks old, experienced hens begin to spend more time outside the box, allowing the young to keep each other warm.
  • Fathers begin to also feed their young once the babies are feathered and able to reach the entrance to the nest box. They will often be fed through the entrance until they leave the nest. Parents continue to feed their young after they are outside the nest box. This lasts at least two weeks or longer.
Flame & Fuchsia's five babies in a nest box
that is barely big enough as the babies grow bigger.

04. Is it possible to rare up the babies without Hand Feeding?
  • I think you're asking abour rearing or raising babies by their parents. Most parent Bourke parakeets successfully raise all their young. However, there are occasional exceptions. When my Normal Bourke, Willow, and her mate were very young, she would hatch four eggs but reject the two youngest. In her case, I learned to watch carefully and if a newly hatched bird wasn't being fed, I pulled him to hand feed. Only one of her babies ever starved, and it happened before I knew what she was capable of. Later, as a mature hen, she did raise four babies many times.
  • I don't know why this would make a difference, but my hand fed, tame hens have never abandoned any of their offspring even while very young themselves and with large clutches.
A nest box with a slide-up side opening.
This one was used by parents, Bonnie and Clyde.

05. Size of the Nest Box for Bourkes?
  • For instructions and size of nest boxes, see the "Pages" tabs above and click on "Building Nest Boxes."
  • Size is subjective. I've had several pairs raise their young in former cockatiel nest boxes. They did well and probably enjoyed the extra space. Another hen had a much smaller parakeet-sized nest box and reared five babies in it successfully. However, I cleaned it twice before they were weaned. It was very crowded with six birds in the box, so the pine shavings had to be replaced to avoid unpleasant odors and keep the babies from getting their feet stuck together from an excess of feces. For this reason, a box that is too big is better than one that is too small.
  • There is one major difference between raising Bourkes and/or Splendids versus raising budgerigars and/or cockatiels. Bourkes and Splendids like pine shavings, or something similar, in the bottom of their nest box. Budgies and cockatiels don't need them. I give my birds about an inch of pine shavings in the bottom of the box (never use cedar - it is too aromatic). They will scratch around and make an indentation for themselves.
Two breeding successes.
White faces with pink eyes: Opaline, fallow Bourkes.
I hope this is useful to many of you. If you have other suggestions, don't hesitate to comment below.

Peace & Blessings to you and your Birds.

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