Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Splendid Question Regarding a Surprise Egg

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Sharing another Reader Question Below:

Female and male Scarlet-chested parakeets,
also called Splendid parakeets.

I just discovered an egg on the cage bottom of my pair of scarlets. I've had them for several years and they have never produced an egg. I read that if they don't have a nesting box they will probably not produce eggs. Well, they don't have a nesting box but now we have an egg. What do I do?
Neither the male or female seem concerned about the egg so my thinking is that it must be infertile. Should I remove it from the cage or just leave it for a while? Should I get them a nesting box?
Looking forward to your reply... thank you.
Future dad outside his nest box.
Hello Tamara,
I would get them a nest box. If she's laying, I suspect they are breeding, or she wants to. This egg isn't likely to be looked after by them, but fertile eggs remain good for several days after being laid. I'd put it in the box anyway even though it's unlikely to survive. You've nothing to lose if you do. Or, if you know anyone who has parakeets on eggs, you could try to foster it out.
I assume these are scarlet-chested parakeets, right? Also called Splendid parakeets. If so, they will need a parakeet sized nest box or larger...don't get one too small. Add some pine shavings to the bottom of the box. They sell pine shavings for hamster cages and such. My Splendid hens usually throw some (or most) of them out of the box. Then they form a bare area in the shavings, either in the middle, or in a corner. The pine shavings help keep the eggs from rolling away and absorb the babies' droppings.
Hen is on cuttle bone.

If you give your pair a box now, they may or may not go into it right away. It should stimulate them to want to continue mating and probably to try to raise a clutch. It's great fun seeing babies hatch; and where I live there's a demand for Splendid parakeets that goes unfulfilled. So, I suggest you let them breed.
Be sure she has enough calcium. She should be chewing on cuttle bone. I also have a mineral block and add oyster shell for mating hens. There are calcium supplements you can get for their water, but I've not used them before. With three other sources of calcium, I believe they have enough. However, if you have access to that instead of the others, then it's fine too. Be sure to carefully follow the instructions and change their water at least daily, with or without calcium supplemented in it.
Hens that are laying need lots of fresh water. They will drink and drink and usually also bathe in it.
A sister and two brothers.
Good luck. I hope you get to experience this fun-filled adventure. However, if they lay and brood and still nothing happens...well, first time parents aren't always successful. My first pair of Splendids hatched their first clutch, but didn't know to feed them. It was years ago and I wasn't hand feeding yet and lost all of them. Their second clutch, however, they did fine and raised the three they hatched very successfully. Best of luck.
Peace and Blessings! Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


My husband's Publisher is offering two eBooks FREE for the next 5 days. One is his. Merry Christmas!
For 5 days only, Wednesday, Dec. 26 thru Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012: Two FREE KINDLE eBooks.  "PROMISES," by E.G. Lewis or "GENESIS PEOPLE" by Sheila Deeth.

"PROMISES" offers Great Romantic Suspense. Link to for free book is below: 
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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Bourke Parakeets, 5 weeks old

These five-week-old Rosy Bourke parakeets are Rosie and Pretty Boy's babies. They are eating on their own, but still need some hand feedings to be sure they're getting enough to eat.

Last year we seemed to get several red-eyed babies from three different sets of parents. This year, we haven't had any with red eyes, but we are seeing a lot with yellow feathers mixed in with the rosy or pink. Not sure why there would be such a difference when the parents are all the same birds, both last year and this year.

I moved them into a larger cage and off the kitchen table today. Rosie kept calling to them, so I let her visit them to reassure her that they're all fine. She's on the far left.

One of the babies cheeps more than the other two, so Rosie fed her to shut her up. Rosie wouldn't feed the others. You might think that baby was the youngest, but actually she was the first hatched.

The babies above after their mom went home. While Rosie was visiting, Pretty Boy kept calling to her. He is hand tamed, not hand fed.

Usually I let Pretty Boy out to fly free too, but didn't this morning because the cats were nearby. Rosie stays on my shoulder or hand and I can take her anywhere, but I wasn't confident that Pretty Boy would.

Pretty Boy... Dad to the birds above.

I don't believe either cat would ever hurt one of our birds, but I'd rather be cautious. If the birds are out flying, I try to be sure the cats are either outside or locked in a bedroom. Better safe than sorry. In spite of that, I've had birds fly and land right in front of our black Mei-Ling and she freezes. She's afraid of getting into trouble.

Mei-Ling being introduced to a baby Bourke.
She is a very gentle and obedient cat.

Patches wanting some attention.
The baby bird being fed doesn't interest her.

It's actually the older calico I worry more about. She's a stray we took in several years ago and, as she's gotten older, her hearing is going. I can't yell, "NO!" and be certain she will hear me these days.

This morning it didn't seem fair to wake her up in her chair and lock her in a bedroom when she was so happy where she was. I knew Rosie would be easy to move from one room to the other in order to visit her youngsters.

Merry Christmas everyone!
Our front yard this morning with four deer. Two young
ones in the middle are licking each other. It's been
raining for several days and many deer come to graze.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Peacocks Flying

I received these great photos in an email. I've seen Peacocks in zoo's and parks all my life, but never like this.



Peace, Blessings and Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mama Bourke Parakeet to the Rescue!

Our power went out yesterday at 4:30 p.m. due to high winds and probably a tree down on power lines somewhere. It didn't come back on until 9:45 a.m. this morning, and the temperature where the birds are was only 66 degrees Fahrenheit this morning. Colder than typical, but no drafts so everyone did fine.
Fine... Except for one near disaster!
Babies in a clean, new tissue box. Notice open door of cage.
I've been hand feeding three babies from Rosie and Pretty Boy since December 9. They're four weeks old and fully feathered, so I didn't worry about them getting too cold. They have a tissue box to huddle in and keep each other warm even though the power outage meant no heat source over night.
Last night I boiled water on a gas stove to mix Exact hand feeding formula and fed the babies via a reading lamp for my Kindle.
The "Mighty Bright" light for my Kindle. It was wonderful
for a power outage. Brighter than a candle and didn't flicker.
All should  have been well except that when I got up this morning I discovered that, after feeding the babies in dim light, I'd left the door of their cage open! The babies weren't in their tissue box or in the cage. I yelled to my husband, "Watch where you walk! The babies are out of their cage... And, where are the cats!?"
Now, the cats spent the night closed in our bedroom with us, but they came out to the kitchen with us at sunrise. We hurried the two of them back into the bedroom and closed the door; although I don't really think they'd have hurt the little birds. They know better and have always been very good, even if a bird lands right in front of them by accident. (It has happened in the past).
Mei-Ling is really rather bored by the birds, but I like
to remind her that they are to be left alone. She complies.
The babies in my hands are about a week old.
Immediately I retrieved one baby from under the kitchen table. Hubby found the next one on the floor between the refrigerator and the kitchen counter. No problem finding those first two and didn't expect a problem finding the third one. But it was!
We didn't have power yet and still very little morning light through windows. With bright flashlights we hunted high and low. The babies can fly...maybe not expertly yet, but they fly. After searching above, below and behind every nook and cranny in the kitchen, we went into the living room and then into the laundry room with the dog (he's behind a dutch door and they could have flown over the half door). When we couldn't find the bird, we started carefully moving furniture. After about an hour we'd looked everywhere we could think of. Then I got the bright idea that maybe Rosie could find her lost one.
I let her out of her cage. Rosie was hand fed and is very tame. If these babies had been from Cherry, who wasn't hand fed, this wouldn't have been possible. Rosie has been out several times when I've fed her youngsters. Their hand feeding began a week ago at three weeks of age. She's never tried to feed them while I feed them, but has stolen some Exact from them. She loves it.
Rosie flew to the cage where the first two now resided, still waiting for me to feed them until I could find their sibling. She called. I listened. Thought perhaps the baby would call back to her, but realized with so many other Bourkes in the house, I could scarcely tell one whisle from another. But, she could... She understood my request to her and went into action. She flew around the living room and back to the kitchen twice and on the third pass I was facing the cages when she flew past me with a baby flying right behind her! He had followed his Mama home. Where he was, who knows! But she led him home, God bless her. No doubt my prayers to St. Anthony and St. Mary helped too. (I'm convinced all the saints have a special fondness for birds). 
I let Rosie get into the baby cage with her young and she fed the wayward youngster, but not the other two. Perhaps rewarding him for coming with her. In short order, I heated water, mixed formula and fed all three with Rosie stealing bites in between as her reward.

So, all is well that ends well. Deep sigh.

Morning after rain and wind storm.
May none of your birds ever get lost, or if they do,
may you find them safe and sound with little effort.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Moved these three hand fed babies into a cage today.
They were four weeks old yesterday, Dec. 15, 2012.
There is parakeet seed and spray millet available,
but they're not eating on their own yet.
Received two Bourke questions in email this morning. Thought I'd share them with you.
Question on Temperature:
My male randomly died today, not sure why? They had food and water. Are they sensitive to cold? It did get really cold last night.
Thank you.
Bourkes are Australian birds. It's very warm there. Mine are indoors and the temp never goes below 68 degrees Fahrenheit...usually 70-72. If they are protected from drafts they can withstand lower temps if they've gradually become accustomed to them. But, drafts are deadly for any variety of parakeet or Australian finch. Extreme cold is going to stress them and the weakest will die first.
I'm sorry you lost your male Bourke. I'd watch the hen closely. Was she in a more sheltered place, a nest box perhaps? If not, she could also come down with a cold or something else from being stressed by the low temperature. If mine appear to have a health problem that involves their breathing, I put them in a small cage, cover it with a towel or something like that, and then (outside the cage, but under the towel) I put a mug of boiling water that has a teaspoon of Vicks VapoRub in it. The vapors help clear the bird's breathing and help them recover. Be sure they have good food and clean water in the cage.
I've known people who lost a bird because they forgot to replace their water source. Usually the hen is the first to go because they require lots of water since they produce eggs. But, water...clean water is essential too. I hope it wasn't so cold that their water froze. If temps are that low, they shouldn't be in an outside aviary. Although you said they had food and water.
I met a couple who raised Budgerigar parakeets in an outside aviary on the Oregon coast where I live. They wintered them outdoors in an aviary. I would not do that. However, Budgies aren't as valuable as Bourkes, so they felt if the weakest didn't make it, they weren't concerned. I would be!
When I lived in Calif., I had a sheltered outdoor aviary, and the Oregon coast is warmer than the rest of the state of Oregon, but it still can get very chilly in the winter. So here, north of California, all my birds are indoors in individual cages. The tame birds get to come out and visit almost daily, but some of our breeders are always in their cages 18"x30"x 18".
I hope you can find a replacement for your male Bourke and that you have another alternative for them if they are in a cold or drafty spot.
Peace and Blessings,
Our birds are all indoors. These 3 cages are in the living room.
We have 4 cages in a nook off the kitchen, and used to have
more in the living area before I began downsizing our flock.
A Reader in Finland sent several questions.
Question on Behavior When Breeding:
Hi Gail,
Thank you for your [earlier] response to my question. I live in Finland! It's very cold here at this time, but we keep our apartment warm at 70F degrees. The days are very short, but I keep artificial light on. I don't have a special sunlight or UV bulb.
Eight days ago I hung a nest box high to mid height on the outside of the cage. [A previous question asked about nest box height. I told her to hang it high. Nest boxes should not be on the floor of cages].
Both the male and female are interested in the box but have not entered it. The male will stick his head in and sing a pretty, quiet song. He also shakes his feathers a lot while examining the box. The box size is 8 x 7 x 5 1/2 inches- a parakeet size. I put a few pine shavings inside like the ones for the hamsters but not too many as I don't know if they like a lot of fluff. The top is white plastic and slides open. But because it's white plastic, there is much light inside the box. So my two questions are, do bourke's prefer it to be dark inside the box? And when should I take the box away if the they decide not to go inside and use it? Thanks a bunch!

An Answer:
In Finland, that's great. Glad to hear you found my blog. Smile.
It sounds like your birds are very interested in the box and considering it. All my boxes are wood and dark inside. Assuming wild Bourkes would use a hollow tree in Australia, it would be dark inside. Bourkes have very good eyesight in dim light. As you know, they are most active early in the morning and late in the evening when the sun is first coming up or going down. So, the light box "might" turn them off, but I can't be certain of that.
I'd bet that if you replaced it with a wooden, darker box, they'd be quicker to go inside. But, that's my guess. I've never known anyone who used anything that was translucent like your box seems to be. I hope it has a way for you to open the top or side and see the eggs and babies as they grow.
As for removing it, unless you plan to replace it with a wooden box (or maybe cover the outside of the one you have?), it's not necessary to remove it. They might eventually use it. However, the mother bird probably sleeps a lot inside while on the eggs...the light might make that more difficult for her...? I put about an inch of pine shavings in the box. Bourkes aren't budgies and want the shavings. Some toss a few out if they think they're too many, some push them aside, but they all want and need them. They cushion the eggs and help absorb the babies' droppings.
I notice a lot of excess food in nests that it almost seems some mother's build a "shelter" around their babies that looks like a round nest. It's the regurgitated food...either from them or maybe it comes from the excess that overfed babies regurgitate themselves. I notice if I overfeed the hand fed babies, they sometime spit some up.
You will want to limit your Bourkes to two or three clutches a year. Clean the nest box after each clutch and put fresh pine shavings back inside.
You mentioned artificial light. It doesn't have to be any special kind. Any lamp or overhead lighting with any kind of bulb is fine. Light of any kind is fine to stimulate breeding. Twelve to sixteen hours of light is appropriate.
Best of luck. These birds are so lovely and fun to raise.
A Normal Bourke male outside nest box with mate inside.
An Update and Other Concerns:
Hi Gail,
Thank you for your help. Since that time the female has entered the box and after 3 days of spending a lot of time in there she laid an egg. This was yesterday evening. But then she came out of the nest and has not been sitting on the egg and is not interested. She was also a bit aggressive to the male. I had the lights off through the night and they slept outside of the box.
This morning she ate breakfast and then went back in the box. Does this mean there is a problem with her or the egg? Will the egg die since it's been abandoned for so many hours? Right now she is going in and out of the nest box and for some reason the male is flying around the cage crazy like. I usually let them out to fly around but should I let him out while she is in the box? Thanks again for your help. You are such a successful breeder.
Hens don't usually sit on their eggs until all of them are laid and Bourkes typically lay an egg every other day. So, you probably have no reason to worry about her. Also, it's not uncommon for them to be "grouchy" when laying and take it out on their poor mate. You've heard the expression "hen-pecked?" Bourke hens can be bossy. Not all, but some.
As for the male flying "crazy like," he's excited he's going to be a dad! ;-) He will settle down and then probably act that way again when the first egg hatches in 18-21 days. New dads are always excited. After several clutches it may not be as exciting to him any longer. Smile.
It sounds like they are doing exactly what they should be. If you have plenty of calcium present and she uses it ... chews on cuttlebone, for example ... she should be fine. A hen that experiences egg binding will usually sit on the floor of the cage all fluffed up and obviously miserable. I have posts on what to do if that happens, but it's less likely to occur then the likelihood that all will go as it's supposed to.
You asked about letting them fly around outside their cage. Do they go back in when you want them to? If so, then a short fly around isn't going to hurt. If they typically give you problems about going back into their cage right away, just to be safe you might want to wait to let them out until after the eggs are hatched and the babies are several days old. Since this is their first clutch, they might be better off devoting their time to it.
Best of luck. I hope the pair managed to successfully breed and that the eggs will be fertile. If they are not fertile, let her decide when to abandon them ... usually about 28 or more days after the last one was laid. I always recommend that we not remove them until she leaves the nest. Also, if three out of four or five eggs hatch and one or two don't, leave them there. Sometimes they are very late, but even if they're not good, they help keep the babies warm. I remove them after the babies are fully feathered or not at all. Sometimes they slip into the pine shavings, get lost, and are removed when the box is cleaned between clutches.
May all your eggs hatch!
Rosy Bourke hen with her young. Leave egg shells alone.
They can provide calcium for hens. Leave unhatched
eggs alone too. Even if infertile, they help warm babies.
A Later Update:
Thank you Gail and God bless you! You have eased my mind. It's all those little things that worry me. I'm keeping a diary of these things too.

This afternoon she went to the nest and has been sitting on that one egg all day. She comes out to eat and then back in. :) Thanks again!

My Reply:
She is probably getting ready to lay a second egg.
My blog has lots of information. If you enter a topic in the search window, it will bring up previous posts on that subject. Or, look at the drop down "Blog Archive" in the left column. It lists post topics by month.
Always happy to help, and thank you for the blessing. ;-)


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Egg Incubating and Hatching - A Reader's Comment

Fuchsia hatching her last egg
A Reader made the following comments on helping chicks out of the egg when they aren't able to complete the process themselves. Although her comments are about incubating eggs, I had two chicks this year--one from Fuchsia and one from Rosie--that didn't complete their hatch. Her comment below could be helpful in the future. I'm not promoting or advising this. It is provided for you to decide its value on your own. It's something I'll consider in the future if I have a baby in the egg that I believe is in trouble. If you decide to help, note her comment about seeing blood!

Cherry with a new fuzzy baby
under her. Egg shell at bottom.
“I found your blog today while looking for information on Bourke parakeets and found answers to questions that I didn't know who to ask. I love your blog! [Especially those on incubating eggs]
I have incubated chicken eggs and duck eggs for many years and have one Cockatiel egg in the incubator at this time from a first time hen and cock that keep laying eggs with no success.
I have hatched chicks that were too tired to hatch after is how you do it:
Jewel, a Splendid hen, on eggs that
didn't hatch. It's not that they aren't
 covered, they weren't even fertile.
When you see that it has taken too much time for the chick to hatch, simply peel the top of the egg open. If there is blood coming out where you are helping the chick hatch, do not remove the chick from the egg. Simply put it back into the incubator and let it finish getting out of the egg by itself. This will mean that the blood flow and yoke has not finished absorbing. It will at least let the chick rest and breath during the finishing part of hatching. If there is NO blood coming from the area you are opening, go ahead and finish peeling the chick out of the shell. There is the chance it may still die, but you will have given it a better chance at life.
Hope the finish of 2012 is a good one for you.”  And also for you, and for all our Readers.
Something that I assume is that you want to open the area where the air sac is...the wide part of the egg. This allows more air to enter and replace what they've use. Any other comments on this are welcomed.
Peace to all, and may December be a Blessed month for each of us.
Merry Christmas
Brand new baby Lady Gouldian finches with their mom.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Beak Trimming, Canaries with Bourkes, Current Baby Bourkes and More

I've posted about trimming Rhett's beak before, but thought I'd add another note about it. This elderly Bourke of mine had a beak that gets "long in the tooth" over and over again because of his age.  It grows very fast and is hidden among his throat feathers. I have to keep an eye on him. Saw him yawn last night and thought, "Oh, my gosh. He's going to stab  himself in the throat!"

It's difficult to see it, but his beak shows up as a long dark
line that leaves his normal beak and bends toward his throat.
It's in the photo if you study it.

He isn't hand tame, but he's gotten used to this procedure.
I think he really appreciates it. One quick snip and it's
back to a reasonable length again.

The offending "dagger" on the counter.
Rosie and Pretty Boy's third and last clutch for the year. In
four days these will be three weeks old and at the best
age for hand feeding.
Proof that Bourke Parakeets and Canaries can be friends.
(Photo by Pamela May)


Bandit and Peaches. Both tame.
(Photo by Pamela May) 

Peace and Blessings.