Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dinosaurs That Learned To Fly

I've long known about the fossil Archaeopteryx. However, I had no idea that science has uncovered so many other dinosaurs with feathers, or the beginnings of feathers. I followed a link from Fox News and discovered fascinating artists' renderings of what many may have looked like. Very interesting. This is one sample and there is a link below to all twenty-one pictures. Thought you might enjoy them as much as I did. 

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Credit: Photograph © Julius T. Csotonyi ( Image used with permission.

MicroraptorLike Archaeopteryx, Microraptor was about the size of a crow and had teeth, claws and feathers on all four limbs that it may have used to glide between trees. However, it is more closely related to dinosaurs than to birds, and many scientists believe that this 124 million-year-old dinosaur may be the long-sought missing link between the two groups.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Each Parakeet variety is different, and so are the methods for sexing them. This post is intended to clear up a mistaken idea about sexing Rosy Bourke Parakeets. It may have occurred because of a discussion over sexing young Splendids. 

Splendids and Bourkes sharing a cage.
I've posted before that young Splendid (Scarlet-chested) Parakeets can often be sexed before a male's' red chest fills in. Simply look under a young feathered bird's wings. Hens have a white stripe under their wings. If the underside is all black, they are male. Occasionally, you will see broken white bars and their sex is still questionable. In my experience, the birds with broken white bars later lost those bars and were males. However, I don't guarantee that this will always be the case with all young Splendids who exhibit broken white bars.

Splendid wing photos are courtesy of:

Underside of Splendid hen's wing.
Underside of Splendid cock's wing.

Broken bar. This one turned
out to be a male Splendid.

A comment was made that Bourkes, too, have white bars under their wings and that this is indicative of sex. Not so! When I first read that, I thought, "Can this be true? After all the years I've raised Bourkes have I overlooked something this simple?" 

Rhett Jr. is definitely a male Rosy Bourke. All my male
Rosies exhibit a white stripe under their wing. This is
not a valid way to identify sex in a Bourke.
To verify or deny that comment, I grasped some of my tame birds and looked under their wings...(this is not a position they particularly like).

Sugar, a Rosy Bourke hen. The underside of her wing
is very much like the male Rosy Bourke's. Her face is
darker, which is often the case with hens vs. cocks.

In all cases, my male Rosies have white bars (or stripes) and so do my female Rosies. There was no significant difference. It was interesting to note, however, that my Normal males don't have a white stripe ... only the Rosies do.
Spicy, who is mated to Sugar above, is a Normal male Bourke.
Notice that under his wing there isn't any white bar.
That's different from the male Rosy Bourkes in my flock.

The lovely color wheel below was made by Washington State Artist Chris Maynard of Featherfolio. All of the small feathers from Bourkes and Splendids below came from our flock. Smile.

A Link to:  Feather Art

Peace & Blessings.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Breeding One Pair of Bourkes, A Question

Allison writes, "We were recipients of a bonded pair of Bourkes (she is a rosy, he is normal) when a breeder claimed they were taking up too much space and the female laid sterile eggs anyhow. John and Agnes seem pretty happy here, and I have hung a nest box on their cage which they are definitely interested in. Would you be willing to provide a bit of guidance to a novice? Thanks in advance."

Long-time readers please bear with me. Much of this has been covered before, but it can be difficult to locate among so many posts.
Male Normal Bourke with
blue above the cere (nostrils).

Allison, I hope you actually have a male and a female. Bourkes will often bond with each other, even when the same sex if  there are no others to choose from. Normal male Bourkes have a tiny band of blue feathers over their cere (nostrils). Females don't have this. Males also have brighter blues and pinks, but without a female to compare them to it will be hard to see their differences. Rosies don't have this advantage, but behavior gives them away.

When old enough, hens (both Normal or Rosy) will squat down, lift their tails and chirp. Males throw their shoulders back and slightly lift their wings outward at the shoulder. They stand tall and appear to "strut." That's a sure sign that a Bourke is a male.

If you have a young pair of both sexes, there shouldn't be any problem. I once had a hen who seemed to dislike her mate. She scolded him and fussed all the time. After two successful clutches with him I changed their mates. She quit scolding and fussing. Both birds were happier with their new partners. However, when they didn't have any choice, they still raised babies together. After separating them though, the house was calmer and quieter. The two birds were both happier from then on.

Beginning the mating process by balancing on the hen's back.
He will wrap his tail under hers. If successful, after he hops
or flies off, she will stand still for a few moments before moving.
Rarely, you will have a hen who can't stand still during the mating process and moves causing the male to lose his balance. Or, you might have a male who can't seem to balance adequately long enough to fulfill his requirement. However, this is something that even the most timid of birds seem to overcome as they mature. Loud noises in the house can upset them. Visitors they aren't used will discourage breeding temporarily. Over time, however, most birds get used to almost any situation and find opportunities to mate. You can help though, by providing them with peace and quiet. 

Bourkes usually lay an egg every other day. Eggs typically hatch in 18 to 21 days. Cold weather slows down hatching, hot weather speeds it up. If they don't set on the eggs immediately, don't worry. Many hens wait until some or all of their eggs are laid. This can allow them to hatch closer together. If you received an older hen, she might be beyond egg laying age. They do quit laying at some point in time. I can't give you an exact age as my ten-year-old pair is still reproducing. However, another hen I've had several years has quit laying. She came to me at an unknown age.
Rosy Bourke male outside a cockatiel nestbox.
It's larger than needed, but they've raised many babies in it.
When it comes to a nest box, bigger is better than too small.

My website has lots of information about nest box size and so on. Bourkes aren't finicky, but they do like an inch or so of pine shavings in the bottom of the box (don't use cedar). Mine are indoors and the temperature is around 70 degrees most of the time, give or take two or three degrees. People do raise them outdoors, but they are more prolific in warmer temperatures. All parakeets of every variety are susceptible to cold drafts and need draft-free shelter.

Last year, at the advice of another breeder, I added rabbit salt blocks to my cages. These provide minerals, especially iodine and Vitamin D. It took the birds several months before the hens sampled them, but eventually they did. As promised, my birds were more successful in 2011 than in any other year. Indoors they don't receive enough sunlight, even through windows, so the blocks provide more of what they need.

Iodine block on bottom of cage.
Enough calcium is also necessary. Supplements are available to add to their water, but I prefer giving them cuttlebones, mineral blocks and oyster shell. This year, possibly because of the added salt blocks, not even one of my hens had a problem with egg binding, something experienced in the past. There is a post on egg binding on the website HERE.

Healthy birds have healthy youngsters. I like to give mine mixed, cooked vegetables and fresh greens in addition to parakeet seed.

Good luck. I hope they do something for you. Because color is sex-linked, your baby Normals should be female and the Rosies will be male (opposite sex of the parent colored like they are).

Peace & Blessings.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I received a series of photos of this albino hummingbird
via email. It sparked the idea of doing this blog on white birds.
I've recently raised many white-faced, pink-eyed Opaline Fallow Rosy Bourkes, and white birds are of special interest to me.

My investigation of Pink and/or Red Birds HERE brings so many people to this site that searching out white birds seemed like a good idea. 

Hopefully, you'll find these photos fascinating too.

Many photos of this bird are being passed around in email.

Many of these photos came from Google Images. If any are yours and you wish credit, or to have them removed, please let me know by writing to me at: As far as I could ascertain they appear to be open domain.

Thank you.

Albino Blackbird
Albino Robin
Not unusual, but beautiful, an albino Peacock.
All white Cockatiel.
I've never seen an albino Crow before.
Very interesting.
An albino and a normal Frogmouth.
A rare white hawk. Not certain of the
Common House Wren in an unusual color.
White Indian Ringnecks.
White Kiwi, not its normal coloration.
Another Australian bird. An unusual white Kookaburra.
Mockingbirds aren't typically white. This one is lovely.
A white Ostrich.
An albino Penguin.
A rare white Screech Owl.
We have lots of Swallows visit us, but I've never seen
a white bird like this one. Would like to.
We get lots of Towhees at our place.
Have to admit that I like their native colors
better than this one in white.
Is a white Vulture any less ominous?
They are supposed to be very
intelligent birds, however.

I hope you enjoyed this composite study of many of white and/or albino birds. Peace & Blessings.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lutino Bourke Parrots or Parakeets

Jill shared a video with us of her three lutino babies, offspring from a Normal hen and a Lutino father. They're beautiful. Click on "Lutino Bourkes" below to view.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Handicapped Pipsqueak, but very tame

After two years of hand feeding a little hen who cannot feed herself, Pipsqueak is going to a new home.
Most birds would be very upset by this, but not
Pipsqueak ... sometimes called "Pippers."

She's very sedate and allows almost any handling.
Naturally, the water is warm and comfortable.

Whatever genetic abnormality makes it impossible for her to hull and eat seeds, requires Pipsqueak to be hand fed two or three times a day for her entire life. Another bird lover with time on her hands is taking over responsibility for this sweet little bird.

As you can see from these photos she is very trusting. She flies well, but still allows me to blow dry her feathers after a complete bath. She doesn't bathe herself and occasionally needs a cleaning in warm water and a blow dry on warm/medium setting. She actually enjoys the warm air on her feathers.

Pipsqueak, who "pips" and "squeaks" to be fed, wasn't doing well in the nest, so I took her out to hand feed. There was a reason she wasn't growing as well as her siblings, and perhaps I should have left her in there to die a natural death. But, I didn't and here she is today. Do you put a bird like this down? Many would, but she was so sweet that I couldn't.

Don't expect your birds to like blow dryers. She's very unusual in this respect and nothing seems to frighten her. 

She even spreads her tail to encourage warm air through it.
Moving her around to get everything dry and she's very cooperative.
It's impossible not to love her, even though she's been a
time sink for two years. She will share her love with someone else now.

Happy St. Valentine's Day.

May you be patient and loving with your birds.
May they bring you love and comfort.
Peace and Blessings!

Monday, February 13, 2012

2011 Bourkes Sold

Young Rosy Bourkes hatched in late 2011.

The last of our 2011 Bourkes for sale have been sold. Some went to Salem, Oregon and some to Corvallis, Oregon.

Fuchsia at left and Flame above as they watch me
hand feed their last two offspring.
Even the two from Flame and Fuchsia being hand fed are gone and their hand feeding will be finished by someone else. Their leaving is both a relief and a regret ... love the little ones.

Flame, the father of these two in upper left, loves Exact
Hand Feeding Formula. He was hand fed himself and is
crazy about the stuff, begging to get some whenever
baby birds are being hand fed. He's quite the mooch,
although a good father and a very sweet, loveable bird.
Still have four adult pairs and two young pairs hatched in 2011. I've kept them because of their unique coloring and will put them together to see what we get when they're old enough. 

"Freckles" has white feathers scattered
throughout his pink ones. His face is
white and his eyes are pink.
He's a younger brother of "Angel." 
"Angel" is pale pink with a white face and pink eyes.
She will be paired with another white-faced, pink-eyed
male from 2011. Both are opaline fallows and unique.

Peace & Blessings.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bourke Questions and Answers

Flame feeding Fuchia through opening into her nest box.
When this was taken their five eggs had all recently hatched.
Quite a brood for them to keep fed.
Shawn wrote to say he raises budgies and cockatiels, and is unfamiliar with Bourkes. He sent the list of questions below. Although most have been answered in earlier posts, I'll address them here all together.

01. What are the foods for Bourkes?
  • Bourkes will eat anything that a Budgie eats. Parakeet seed is their primary diet. However, mine also love fresh greens like spinach, kale, lettuce, broccoli, etc. They also like most vegetables, such as cooked corn, peas, carrots and green beans. Always have sources of calcium available, such as cuttlebone and mineral block.
Four cages with nest boxes attached outside.
These rectangular cages are 18"x30"x18".
Skirts help control scattered seeds.

02. What about the cage size for Bourkes?
  • Bourkes need to fly and can't do so in a tall narrow cage. Their cage should be oblong or rectangular.  My smallest cages are 30 inches long, 18 inches high and 18 inches deep 18"x30"x18". One pair per cage except when their young are present with them. Aviaries or flights of any larger size are beneficial too and can accommodate more then two birds.

A larger cage that is three feet high, 30 inches wide and 18 inches deep.
Some of this year's young Bourkes share it while waiting to be sold.
03. Did the parents feed the babies like as Budgerigars?
  • Male Bourkes typically check out a new nest box to ensure it's safe before a hen ventures inside for the first time. After she settles in, my male birds seldom go back into it (although other people's have). Male Bourkes will feed the female while she's on her eggs. She in turn feeds the young when they hatch. She seldom leaves the nest except to deficate. Males often sit outside the door as if keeping watch, and feed her through the entrance. Once the babies are two to three weeks old, experienced hens begin to spend more time outside the box, allowing the young to keep each other warm.
  • Fathers begin to also feed their young once the babies are feathered and able to reach the entrance to the nest box. They will often be fed through the entrance until they leave the nest. Parents continue to feed their young after they are outside the nest box. This lasts at least two weeks or longer.
Flame & Fuchsia's five babies in a nest box
that is barely big enough as the babies grow bigger.

04. Is it possible to rare up the babies without Hand Feeding?
  • I think you're asking abour rearing or raising babies by their parents. Most parent Bourke parakeets successfully raise all their young. However, there are occasional exceptions. When my Normal Bourke, Willow, and her mate were very young, she would hatch four eggs but reject the two youngest. In her case, I learned to watch carefully and if a newly hatched bird wasn't being fed, I pulled him to hand feed. Only one of her babies ever starved, and it happened before I knew what she was capable of. Later, as a mature hen, she did raise four babies many times.
  • I don't know why this would make a difference, but my hand fed, tame hens have never abandoned any of their offspring even while very young themselves and with large clutches.
A nest box with a slide-up side opening.
This one was used by parents, Bonnie and Clyde.

05. Size of the Nest Box for Bourkes?
  • For instructions and size of nest boxes, see the "Pages" tabs above and click on "Building Nest Boxes."
  • Size is subjective. I've had several pairs raise their young in former cockatiel nest boxes. They did well and probably enjoyed the extra space. Another hen had a much smaller parakeet-sized nest box and reared five babies in it successfully. However, I cleaned it twice before they were weaned. It was very crowded with six birds in the box, so the pine shavings had to be replaced to avoid unpleasant odors and keep the babies from getting their feet stuck together from an excess of feces. For this reason, a box that is too big is better than one that is too small.
  • There is one major difference between raising Bourkes and/or Splendids versus raising budgerigars and/or cockatiels. Bourkes and Splendids like pine shavings, or something similar, in the bottom of their nest box. Budgies and cockatiels don't need them. I give my birds about an inch of pine shavings in the bottom of the box (never use cedar - it is too aromatic). They will scratch around and make an indentation for themselves.
Two breeding successes.
White faces with pink eyes: Opaline, fallow Bourkes.
I hope this is useful to many of you. If you have other suggestions, don't hesitate to comment below.

Peace & Blessings to you and your Birds.