Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bourke Parakeet Question and Answer

This is our smallest nest box. The others are larger.
Rosie is sitting on four eggs. She's very tame and
a very good mother. Possibly my favorite bird.
Carolyn writes:

"We have been gone on vacation for two weeks. Before we left, I candled the eggs. They all looked the same to my very untrained eye, and I was not sure if that meant they were all fertile, or all duds. So I broke one open and it was infertile. But I left the other four anyway, to give the mama bird something to do.

… we got home yesterday and found this little cutie! I am guessing he is a little less than 2 weeks old. He is mostly brown with pink on his chest, and then his blue britches. Pretty darned adorable!

 I threw the other eggs away. [Eggs help keep babies warm, so best not to remove them. However, if he's already feathered, removing them wouldn't do any harm].

...I am wondering how to make sure he doesn't hurt himself when he is ready to leave the nest box. The box is currently about 6 feet off the ground. When he is ready to leave, should I put it at ground level? The door is about 6 inches above the floor of the box, and has a perch on the inside and outside. Any idea about how long before they are normally ready to fly? Also, should I take the top off the box so he starts getting some light?  …this is our first baby bird."


Congratulations Carolyn. Don't move the box or take the top off. Baby birds are used to being in the dark. Also drafts are not good for them. He's snug in his box. Better to leave well enough alone. You don't want to change something that will upset the parents. In nature, nothing is changed while they're raising young.

As for flying, he's not going to hurt himself when he leaves the box. Six feet isn't far even if he fell, but he will probably fly long before he hits the ground. Yet, if he did, his fall would be broken by the fluffiness of his feathers...he'd "glide" down. Birds are light weight and able to fall...even unfeathered babies are likely to survive a long fall. Six feet isn't far at all, so don't worry.
When he's getting close to leaving the box, you will hear him flapping his wings. They rehearse flying and strengthen their wings before they leave the box. He won't have any trouble reaching the opening...if his mother can get in and out, so can he. Young birds need to be capable of flying as soon as they leave their nest, or they'd be at risk from predators. After he leaves the nestbox, his father will take over much of his feeding. Young Bourkes need to be fed for two or more weeks after they've fledged (come out of nestbox) before they can fully eat on their own. Don't separate him from his parents until you know he's eating enough by himself (parents no longer feeding him).
After he's weaned, his parents are likely to go back and start another clutch pretty quickly. Once he’s out of the box, I suggest you clean the nest box and add fresh pine shavings in preparation.
This is Sweetheart. He has a white face and pink eyes.
He was hand fed and is very tame. Looking for a mate
for him...hopefully a Lutino Bourke hen.


Teri T said...

I have a bourke hen that I am looking for a mate. She keeps laying eggs and sitting ever sense her (what I thought was her mate) died. I have come to the conclusion he was a she. Should I remove her eggs?

G. A. Lewis said...

Hello Teri, If she's with other birds that have nest boxes and she is sitting on the eggs I'd leave them until you get a mate for her. Otherwise, she is likely to keep laying eggs and challenge her health. If she's a lone bird, a better option would be to remove the nest box completely until you find her a mate. Hopefully, that will prevent her from laying.

Meanwhile, to keep her healthy make sure you provide her with lots of healthy extras (treats and toys) and make calcium readily available in addition to seed.

Search Bourke breeders in the state you're in to find her a mate. Good luck.

Teri T said...

Thank you G.A.,
She is a lone bird and there is and never has been a nesting box. She makes a place in the corner of her cage and lays them there. I will check with the breeders in my state thanks.