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. ;-)


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