Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Keeping Bourkes, A Question and Answer


It's been a long time since I talked to you but I still have my bourkes and they are great! I have been through some tough times trying to keep them healthy as they had some issues with malnutrition and temperature control. I have used lots of info from your site but there are 2 specific things I am looking for.
1) What is the temperature that is best to keep them in (my vet said 70-80 but that's a big range and they seem to like closer to 80)
2) What is a good humidity level for them? In the dryer air of fall I'm struggling keeping them at 35-40%.
Thanks for all your help and this wonderful blog!


Hello Kim,

Unless eggs are in an incubator, I've never worried about humidity. Bourkes originate from Australia which, I believe, is mostly dry. Any comments Australian readers?

Any good mother hen will control the humidity for her eggs by bathing. She will bathe and take whatever is needed into the nest on her feathers.Therefore, it's important that birds have water to bathe in. This can be as simple as their water cup.
A very young Bourke using the water cup to bathe.

My birds all have one or two cups of water (I use the ones that came with the cages and put seed in bowls in the middle of the cages). I also have water tubes so there is always drinking water if they splash it out of their cups. By putting seed in the middle of the cage,  fewer hulls end up outside the cage. For cleanliness, avoid putting food or water under a perch. I also keep a cloth skirt around the base of the cage to capture excess seed and hulls.
Your vet is correct about temperature. They come from a warm climate and like being warm, especially when breeding. However, when the power has gone out, mine have been exposed to temps as low as 63 degrees Fahrenheit without any problem. But, there were no drafts! Drafts are bad news for any variety of parakeet or finch.
Typically, our house is around 70-72 degrees F. winter and summer. We get a few days in summer when it can go into the 80's. That doesn't hurt the birds, and 90's probably wouldn't either. But, they get fresh, cold water every day and usually more often on hot days. They like cold water, even though it will soon go to room temperature. Birds can drink it warm, but our birds get excited as soon as it's changed. They fly to it immediately to bathe in the new cup of fresh, cold water...even in winter. I think they also find it humorous to splash me before I can step away!
You mentioned malnutrition. I always keep an ample supply of quality parakeet seed available in all cages all the time. They also have cuddle bone, mineral block and oyster shell (always) to ensure enough calcium since all are breeders as well as pets. Periodically, they get other treats like spray millet when they are breeding and need more fat in their diet. I also offer cooked mixed vegetables, mostly peas, carrots and corn (their favorite).
Hand feeding at three weeks of age to ensure very tame
Rosy Bourkes.

Peace and Blessings!


Anonymous said...

I keep scarlet chested and bourkes. They are all kept in outside flights. Temperature where I am lows form 23 deg F in winter up to 110 deg F in summer. Scarlets hate high humidity.

G. A. Lewis said...

Amazing. Hopefully, anyone else who wants to do this will gradually let them acclimatize. Also, be certain they have a draft free shelter to go to. These temperature extremes will stress them and I wouldn't expect them to live productive, long lives. There's a reason why birds in the wild normally have shorter life spans than captive birds. Better living conditions. Assuming yours are well fed during winter and have plenty of water during the summer, they have an advantage over wild birds searching for those things and still coping with weather extremes. Thanks for sharing.