Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sexual Behavior in Bourke Parakeets - Interested Hens, Disinterested Males - Question & Answer

Opaline Bourkes with pink eyes. Cousins from 2011.

Elizabeth writes:

"I was looking over your site a little and found it very interesting. [Thank you!]

I have a question about male bourkes. My male is a lutino and close to a year now, I also have a rosy hen that is about two. The hen squats in position to breed all the time, however she will also do it just seeing me walk into the room. My question is why my male does not seem to show much interest in her? I do not have a box up and am not interested in having babies at this time, but would love to have baby bourkes at some point. Do you have to have a box in order for bourkes to breed? [Usually]

Will a hen demonstrate the breeding posture in front of another hen? [Yes, if no male is present]. My lutino seems rather placid, I have never seen him put his wings back and strut like you were describing for male behavior. The lutino was parent raised and I received him shortly after being weaned and easily trained him. He will sit in my hand while I pet him, and likes his cheeks to be rubbed but only slowly. I did for a short time own another male bourke purchased with the hen but he passed away from a heart attack. He was very old, and my hen also demonstrated to him, but he also did not do anything..." [Perhaps because he was old and/or unwell].

One of my favorite birds. Notice yellow at end of wings.
Rump, where blue is often present, it's yellow.

My answer:

Very young male Bourkes sometimes don't respond to females. Most begin to get interested at slightly over a year of age, but some may take longer. I wouldn't worry until two years old or more. It would be unusual if a male isn't interested by then. However, birds have preferences too and sometimes pairs simply won't bond. When that happens I swap partners and usually that works. Since you don't have that choice at present, a nest box might stimulate the male to act like a male.

Even without nest boxes up, most of my hens are displaying right now. However, the males they've bred with before are ignoring them. I believe this is because Bourke males typically enter a nest box (or hollow tree) first to be certain it is safe for their mate. Without a nest box present, they are less interested in attempting to start a family.

With your pair, if your lutino is actually a male, and since there isn't another male Bourke present, he may not see any reason to display. There is no competition to challenge, and the hen is already willing, so why bother? If you really want to test whether he's a male, I recommend putting up a nest box. If suddenly there are 8 or ten eggs in the nest box you can be reasonably sure you have two hens. Hopefully, however, you will begin to see mating and have fertile eggs. If you don't want to keep the offspring, I'd bet you can find a pet shop that will be happy to buy them from you.

Personally, I am overjoyed watching baby Bourkes hatch, begin to grow and feather out. With a lutino and a rosy, all their offspring should be lovely birds.

If you live anywhere near Southern Oregon, I'd consider doing some trading with you. I am hopeful my young white-faced, pink-eyed birds from last year will produce lutinos next time around. Some have a lot of yellow on them. Smile.

Birds are such a blessing and bring such joy.
Peace & Blessings to You.


Love4Feathers said...

Like Elizabeth, I am also having a hard time with the males. The females are arching but no luck with the males. One of my females seems afraid to go into the box... I was wondering if I should have a different opening than usual? Has anyone ever run into this problem? Thanks,

G. A. Lewis said...

Hello Sue,
Typically male Bourkes check out a nesting place for their mate before she enters it. It's not surprising that she is hesitant to enter if he's been unresponsive.

However, I've had two hens without mates enter a box and lay multiple eggs--not something we want.

If you are certain you have a male, did he have a different mate at one time? Usually they will transfer their affection, but not always. Is he old enough to be interested in mating? Two years is optimal.

Is he feeding her? If not, he may not like her. Occasionally birds refuse to pair off with a certain bird and will accept another choice.

How much daylight are they getting depending on where you are. This affects all birds, and maybe him more than her. About 14 hours or more is good.

Does your nest box have pine shavings in the bottom? Is it large enough? Is there a perch outside for the male to sit on?

It's still early in the spring. If this is a young pair, they may do better in a month or two.

Best of luck.

Pintu Kanti das said...

Hi, I've a pair of Bourkes bought since March last year. Seller i know age. I.m confirm one is male as he use to put wings back when sing with my Whistle where other one only flipping wings with broken tone.Also she (I assuming she is female) demonstrate the breeding posture seldom. I housing them with Linnies pair who already raised 2 clutches. Cage sizes 95 x 65 x 65 and nest box is 30 cm(H) & 23cm2 space. I don't know why they not showing interested with Nest box as well as mating. sometimes female trying to nibbling but male fly away to other perch. Linnies always roaming both nest box though spend night or laid in their own nest box. (Is it the cause they afraid to get in nest box?) My bourkes pair sometime resting on hole perch of Linnies Nest but not their on own nest box? they like spray millet but if i put in nest, they never shown interest to get in and eat. I just remove their nest box. food and water I keep always keep in cage. But sunlight as my cage I fixed in a corner where Sunlight can't reach directly but daylightand wing enough. Some times I give then UVA, UVB light to them. In Singapore Bourkes and Linnies not much available I could not adopt another bird to exchange. I need your wise advise how to make them interest for breeding. Thanks in advance. /Pintu