Here's a link about canker: http://www.greencrossvet.com.au/Pet_Care_Information/Article-209/TRICHOMONIASIS-Canker.aspx
As for an outside aviary. Your birds are likely to be exposed to things from wild birds. I haven't had an outdoor aviary in decades. I left California in 1984 and moved to Oregon where it's much cooler, so all my birds are indoors with me and it's never below 68 degrees and usually 70-72. Keep in mind, grasskeets come from warm Australia. When I had an aviary in California, three sides were completely enclosed (so no drafts: a bad thing), and one wall was a half wall. They had to fly down and out to get to the open-air flight. The enclosed portion had a light bulb for warmth in the winter. Nest boxes were in the enclosed portion of the aviary.
My website has a post on aviaries that I visited in central Oregon. Hers were in separate out buildings and heated. She had some flights that were open in the spring and summer and enclosed in the winter. Even worse than low temperatures for parakeets are drafts. They need a completely dry, wind and draft free enclosure. Why you lost yours in June and August is hard to determine. If a bird has been stressed and then goes into breeding mode, that stresses them further. That's a possibility.
When I lost my two Bourkes to canker, they were on their third clutch and next door to the birds I brought in that were infected. Only my two who'd recently raised babies were weakened enough to die. All others recovered with medication, even the two that transmitted the illness recovered. Birds that are laying or feeding young are expending energy and are weaker than at other times. That's why they need extra calcium, vitamins and minerals. Quality parakeet seed will provide vitamins. Compare what's in the seed you give them. Mine get Hagen Budgie Seed that I buy in 20 lb bags from PetSolutions.com. It’s vitamin enriched. I also give them spray millet when they are breeding or raising young. I have Petamine, mineral block, oyster shell and always cuttlebone. They randomly get assorted vegetables (peas, corn, carrots, kale). I usually share what we’re having for dinner. For some reason, my birds don't like fruit.
As for your Bourkes, if you have three males and one hen, do the males show aggression? I would expect some competition that might not be healthy. It would be beneficial to trade a male for a female, or buy two more that you know are hens. My website has a lot about sexing and explains the behaviors of male Bourkes. I can usually recognize males before they are a few months old and be certain of hens by six months, sometimes sooner, simply by how they act. Observation is key. I admit that's easier when they live in the house with you.
As for raising Splendids or Bourkes, I have more success with Bourkes, but less so with Splendids. Yet, I know two people who seem to do well with Splendids and can't get their Bourkes to do anything. Sometimes it's just the birds themselves...good breeder birds versus those that aren't. Best of luck.
It's possible, too, that you have two of the same sex and that they reverse roles to satisfy one another.
I'd check out their other behaviors. Males "strut" and throw their shoulders back. Hens don't. Unless one (or both) are doing this, you might have two hens. If you have two males, one may become less macho, so it could be less apparent than if you have two hens that never "strut".
Search "sexing" on this site for more info on this. You may need new partners for your pair. Good luck.
Males who throw their shoulders back and “strut” make their gender very obvious. Normal males also have a tiny blue line of feathers above their cere (nostril). Best of luck. Enjoy your Rosy Bourke... they are the sweetest of birds.
Cold or cool drafts are supposed to be bad for all Australian birds, including Rosy Bourkes. A constant draft would be worse than an occasional one. Hopefully, the Yorkies don't go in and out too often. My big old mutt asks to go outside 3 or 4 times a day and never at night. If he had free access he might go out more frequently. I'd question how often your birds are likely to experience the drafts. Also, how high are they from the floor? If their cage is high up, that would put them farther from the doggy door at the floor and heat rises. If they are on an end table set right beside the doggy door that would not be a good idea. But, if there were no other choice, I'd cover the cage at night to create a draft barrier. That might be a good idea no matter where in the room they are.
During the day, perhaps a shield on the side nearest the doggy door so that the draft would hit that side's barrier and hopefully bounce off, not hitting the birds. That could either be on their cage, or next to the doggy door to direct drafts in the opposite direction.
I would also note the ambient temperature where they are. Parakeets can experience lower temps when there's no draft. In the winter my birds are in a room that stays close to 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit, even at night. That's warmer than necessary, but I like to err on the side of caution.
It rarely snows where we are, but if it does, or it's really cold, we will even avoid leaving by the front door in the room where the birds are. We exit through our laundry room at the side of the house, so any cold drafts would have to work their way through the house before reaching the birds. Again, we might be overly cautious, but I'd rather do that than risk the birds. Older birds, very young birds, or birds that are trying to raise young are more susceptible to anything that stresses them.
As for a heat lamp ... A regular light bulb is enough...not a genuine heat lamp like you'd find in bathrooms, right? As a child growing up in So. California, we had an outdoor aviary and put an incandescent light bulb out there for the finches in the winter. They clustered near it, but could also get away from it. If you use one, it is important that your flight cage be large enough that they can freely move away from a heat source if they need to.
For the incubator we have baby finches in right now, we have a 25 watt bulb. It's actually too hot and I have to raise the lid about an inch to keep the temp at 92F. It was warmer for the eggs, but the babies are beginning to feather and get too warm.
It's hard to give you advice about the heat lamp without knowing exactly what you have in mind. I wouldn't want it to be too hot. Also, the birds might like to sleep in a dim room at night and the light would stimulate them to want to breed at a time when they shouldn't. If they are both the same sex, that might make them aggressive toward each other. Long daylight (or artificial light) stimulates birds to go into breeding mode.
I think a barrier against the drafts is a better option. Perhaps a plastic cover for the cage, or wrap a bigger cage. If you don't have a plastic cover, then a blanket would help. Depending on the temperature in their room, consider putting the blanket over 3 sides and the top, leaving the side away from the drafts uncovered. If it's too dark, they might get "night fright" and fly into the side of the cage. I confess that we keep a night light in the two rooms where our birds are. Bourkes see well in dim light and they can avoid becoming frightened if they can see where to land. That said, we've had power outages that frightened the birds. If that happens, I go into the rooms and speak softly to them, reassuring them. They know my voice and it calms them. Flashlight beams frighten them, but a candle is soothing. Over time, we've learned how best to cope with power outages for the birds.
I hope I haven't made this too complicated. Enjoy your Rosies. They are by far the best small exotic birds you can own...quiet, sweet, pretty, lovely songs. They're my favorites and I love them.
It would be interesting to see what you get. I think the Lutino's (yellow) originated from this cross. Not certain, but my red-eyed birds have more yellow than the others do. I had intended to pair two cousins, both with red eyes, who chose each other. But unfortunately I lost the hen to an accident...the only accident I've ever had with any of them. It was tragic. Offered her mate another red-eyed hen from a different clutch who grew up with them, but he chased her away. Perhaps it was too soon after losing the hen he favored.
Now, the male is a bachelor and I hope to find an unrelated Lutino Bourke hen for him. He's hand fed and a sweetheart. The second hen I offered him was not hand fed and not tame like the first hen. Perhaps that made a difference, perhaps not.
We had several red-eyed babies last year (2011) and none this year (2012). It’s strange how that works out.
However, you are right that some genetic changes are weaker than others. Breeders lose newly hatched chicks all the time and it happens in the wild too. I've lost more with red eyes than dark eyes. But, as adults they seem equally healthy. It helps to switch partners if their babies aren't surviving. Until you try this pair together, you can't know how successful they will, or won't be. There's no reason to worry, however. Cousins do fine and you said they aren't even related. Many bird breeders pair aunts and nephews, uncles and nieces, etc., with no problem. It's one more generation down that can cause problems. Bird relationships are more forgiving than in other species. Good luck. I'd love to see photos of what your pair produces.
ALSO HOW TO FIND A BIRD:
I have two cages next to a hallway and I always warn the birds I'm coming through before I walk past their cages. A sudden movement from out of nowhere would scare them, but if they know it's just me coming, they don't panic. At night if I get up in the dark, I talk to them. They know my voice and feel safe. Power outages scare them, but a soothing voice reassures and calms them.
She needs to get used to you. Keep speaking softly and sweetly to her whenever you approach her cage, or are nearby. Soon she will begin to associate the sound of your voice with safety. Keep offering her treats from your hand. Spray millet is a favorite. I've had others tell me their birds screech, but none of mine do. I suppose if they were frightened enough they would. I do see my elderly hen "shiver" (or shake). I think her problem is age rather than fear. However, wanting to hide inside your shirt sounds like a youngster...? I'm surprised she likes to be scratched. I have one Bourke that will let me stroke him a little, but most don't want their heads or bodies scratched, unlike budgies and others that usually do.
Offer her peace and quiet, a soft, friendly voice ... she needs time to get used to her new home. If they clipped her wings at the pet store and she had not been clipped before, that would make her afraid. She knows she's vulnerable and can't fly away from danger. That would scare any bird, I think. Be patient, she will come around. I find mine like soft music ... never anything loud or obnoxious though--no rock. ;-) I have a big dog whose bark is very loud if the UPS truck comes up the drive. My birds have gotten used to him and don't react. It's all part of their environment. Best of luck. I imagine in time you'll be pleased to have her.
LUTINOS AND WHAT TO FEED A MOTHER BOURKE:
Hi there. I have searched your web and couldn't find anything relating to this (I am sure there is something...I just can't find it). It looks like you have quite a handle on these birds. I just found out today that my Lutino male and Rosy Bourke female are proud parents. I know she has been sitting on 5 eggs and I have tried not to bother her. Today I peeked and found a baby under there...maybe more, but definitely one. Now what do I feed them differently...should I feed the babies a chick formula? What about mom? I already have the cuttlebone, calcium stick, and a vitamin block. What else could you recommend? I tend to feed them mostly birdseed of varying types. I have rarely seen her come out and hopefully "dad" is doing a good job of keeping her fed.
Thanks again. I am very excited about our new additions!! Brenda
I was at the pet store yesterday and picked up the expensive "egg fortified" seed and hand feeding formula for the babies. Is that necessary? Do you feed the frozen vegetables right from the bag?
Just a couple more questions. My mama isn't the neatest in her nest. Actually I don't think she even leaves to poop as there is getting to be quite a collection. The empty eggs are still under her too...should I be taking those out...or will she take care of that on her own? How do you get her off her babies? When do you usually start hand feeding or handling the babies? If we "bother" the hen too much would she abandon her babies? At what age will she start "leaving" them in the nest for a bit? In the past 3 weeks...she has been in there constantly. I NEVER see her out.
One last question and then I will "leave you alone" haha. If I put the male Lutino with my other two females individually (pair in a cage) will they mate? Or are they "mated" birds and will only be with one? I notice your pictures you have a number of birds all together.
Thanks again I really appreciate your advice and your website!!
Don't remove your male Lutino from his mate while they have young. She needs his help to feed them. You have a successful pair, so moving them isn't advisable. That said, I have changed mates in the past and you could offer him another female later in the year if you like. It is more work for the hens to raise babies, but the dads work hard too, and you don't want to wear him out.
If you decide to hand feed the babies (it's not necessary unless the parents quit feeding, which would be unusual), the best age to do it is at three weeks. You will need to keep them warm and offer them food that stays warm. I have posts on my blog about hand feeding. Hand fed birds are very tame birds. You can handle the babies to tame them, but Bourkes require parent feeding longer than budgies do, so it's not as easy to tame them. That said, they are friendly as caged birds, even when not hand fed. My first pair, bought at 9 months of age, don't get on my hand, but they aren't afraid of me either and come up to the side of the cage to talk to me and I can clean their cage without frightening them.
Do you have pine shavings or something in the bottom of the nest box? If she isn't going outside to poop, you can reach in and remove some of it what's stuck to pine shavings. Most hens will evacuate outside the box, but occasionally some are afraid to leave their babies alone. They let the box get smelly. Not great, but the babies will be okay. Once they start growing, they dirty the box themselves. I would NOT remove the extra eggs. Some hatch late, and even if they don't, they help provide warmth to the babies that remain in the nest. I'd leave the extra eggs alone until all the babies are fully feathered, or all are at least three weeks old. Bourke eggs typically hatch every other day. So, if a hen had five eggs, they would hatch day one, three, five, seven and nine. That means that if only two eggs were intended to hatch, they could be as far apart as eight days between them. Best to wait and see...sometimes there are surprises with late hatches. Besides, it could upset the mother if you removed them.
My tame birds eat the hand feeding formula only because they were hand fed and are used to it. They can then give it to their babies and enjoy it. However, I don't think parent-fed parents will recognize it as food, but I could be wrong. You can give it if you want to go to the trouble. You can use it to hand feed at three weeks if you want to. The fortified seed is fine. As for the vegetables, I always prepare mine as if I'm going to eat them (no salt in water) and let them cool down (not salted). My husband, however, believes they can be defrosted and fed. You can if you want to. They are softer if boiled first...so, I like to do that. The birds eat more of them that way.
Back to whether you can put the male with the other females. Are they in the same cage now? I hope not. That might be why the hen won't leave her box. I had one male who refused to change mates and was mean to any other hen I put with him. Eventually, I sold Bonnie and Clyde together. He was gorgeous and I wanted some different genetics from him, but he refused. However, my oldest bird has had three hens and been a good mate to all three, but at different times. He's a sweetheart. The first Rosy hen died, the second was a Normal, so when we got another Rosy hen, I replaced the Normal with her. He accepted each one immediately without a problem. Others took longer and then there was Clyde who refused any other hen. (Bonnie was out of Rhett and Scarlett).
The birds you see all together in my photos are youngsters. I have individual cages for all my adult pairs. However, if you have a large flight or aviary, they can be housed together. In smaller cages though, they will bicker ... if it is breeding season and they are too close together, females pick on other females and males on other males.
I do have one last question for you, the nest box is getting smelly. It almost looks like there is a white substance (nesting material?? but none was provided) on top of the shavings (mold??). Should/can I do a complete change of their nest? I do have another nesting box that I could "prepare" and then just switch the babies to that one when mom is off. What is your opinion and what would you do? I don't want to disrupt them too much, but I also want a clean and healthy environment for them. Thanks again for all your help.
My hand fed, very tame hen, Fuchsia, raised five babies last year and I took them out, completely cleaned the box, replacing the shavings and returned the babies. She sat on my shoulder most of the time I was doing this. However, with my older hens that were not hand fed, I'd not go to that extreme...besides Fuchsia was in a small box and five babies were too many for that box. I did NOT, however, change boxes! That would be too disruptive. This year, I made sure she had one of the larger boxes since she tends to raise more young then my other Bourkes.
Rosie raised two babies this year and I decided to move her back into the kitchen nook where she's happier. After her first clutch was fledged, I put her and her mate in another cage with a new nest box. They did not go right back to raise another clutch. It has been several weeks and Rosie is finally going into the new box. Switching boxes in the same year can be done, but I would NOT do it when there are babies in the nest.
If the smell bothers you, scoop out what you can of the poop. If it's all white, it may also be extra regurgitated food. I've had that stick to the sides of a box and begin to mold (the mold was black). A strong metal spoon scraped it off.
I'd wait until the babies are at least showing the beginning of feathers before I'd do anything though. Be sure they are off to a good start.
Without knowing your hen, I can't really recommend anything. Mine allow me to clean boxes when they are outside, but I do so hurriedly and as unobtrusively as possible. Better to endure a little odor for a while then lose the babies. It's going to be your call. Good luck.
Last year we successfully reared 11 chicks with a normal male and female, and a very pretty cinnamon female. He did a great job looking after both his families, but this year we decided to get a pink, and a cream female, and a cream male to add to our bourke household. We have all the females sitting, and we are looking forward to some very pretty babies.
We came across your web site and found it very interesting and informative. We handled our chicks last season right from the start and both our Mums accepted our intervention. However this season we want to go one step further by trying to supplement feed, or perhaps hand rear some babies.
Today we went to a local pet store, where they do a lot of hand rearing, but we were advised not to try supplementing or hand rearing because it is too difficult. They told us to just try to tame the babies just after they leave the nest box. They said we could just feed them millet sprays. Is this good advice, and would the millet be sufficient, without a supplemental feeding formula? They mentioned that the hand rearing formula temperature and consistency is very crucial to the babies survival, is this so?
What would we require, to do hand rearing from the start, or would supplementing be the best way to go? We are beginners, but we have to start somewhere to reach our goal of lovely tame wee friends who would enjoy our company as much as we will enjoy theirs. Who will feed from our hands and sit on our shoulder.
We would love to hear from you to advise us, because the last thing we want to do is harm our babies. Our Mum's, Rosie, Polly, and Missy are not hand tame, so by trying to supplement feed, could we cause them to stop feeding their chicks? We have so many questions, we hope you can help and look forward to your reply.
|Lady Gouldians incubator hatched.|
Are you gentle with them and "sweet" talk to them? If someone in their hearing gets upset and yells, that will frighten them and make them unwilling to trust. An angry or impatient spouse or child can scare them. If you are alone and talk kindly to them, they should settle. I'm surprised they don't. It sounds like something in their environment is scaring them. Animals react to our feelings...if you are upset with them, they will sense it. Sweetness, kindness, affection should be returned for your patience.
I'm guessing you may have waited too long to begin hand feeding them? I once had a mother bird get sick before her baby was weaned. It was already feathered and would have left the nest in a few days. I gave her to a friend who had hand fed before (this was before I'd done it). She tried to feed the baby, but it refused food from an eye dropper; however, there was seed in the bottom of her cage and she began to eat it. She survived by feeding herself earlier than most birds do. Her will to eat won out. Yet, she wouldn't take the formula she was offered. I think it was too different from what her parents had fed her.
I begin hand feeding at about three weeks of age before they are feathered. This is when pin feathers are just beginning to show. It may take more than one try...they have to be hungry and I make them take it the first few times. An eye dropper can open the side of their beaks and a squirt inside usually convinces them that it's good and then they want it. I always do this from their left side. This comes natural to me, but someone told me that to enter the mouth from the right risks having them inhale it into their lungs. Not sure if that's so or not, but feed from their left to be safe.
Be sure they have other options to eat if they won't take the formula you offer. Mine love cooked mixed vegetables, especially corn. It's an easy thing to eat. Also spray millet is a good food to start babies eating on their own. I'd be sure they have other options if they suddenly refuse what you try to feed them.
If they are indoors and kept away from other birds and cold drafts, there should never be a problem.
My Rosy hens have darker faces than the males, but this can vary widely from bird to bird based on their parentage. I've read that hens have flatter heads, but that seems like nonsense to me, and too nebulous to use as a sex identifier. Males do sing more than hens and "strut" when they're old enough and want to attract a hen. They throw their shoulders back and flair their wings slightly.
The blue on their tails is also subject to genetics through their parents. Now, if you had Normal (brown) Bourkes, you could use color to identify sex, but it doesn't work with Rosies. Male Normal Bourkes get a tiny blue line of feathers above the cere (nostril) as they mature. Females do not have this.
Search "sexing Bourkes" and I've commented on identifying sex in more than one post.
Hope you have a pair...the odds are in your favor if the breeder thinks he could tell. I'm usually pretty spot-on in identifying mine, just because of experience and familiarity with what my pairs produce. He's probably familiar with what his pairs do too.
|Salt block on floor.|
I had some friends from church in for lunch yesterday and one of the ladies is afraid of birds when they fly. Very sad. I had planned to show off my tame birds, but didn't let them out rather than scare her. For one of the women who is quite elderly, I held a bird for her to pet. He was frustrated at not being allowed to fly, but she got to enjoy him up close as I held him.
When I had cockatiels I didn't give them sunflower seeds very often...they got cockatiel seed and greens. They liked fruit too, but my Rosies don't. If I offer it, they ignore it. They do like sprouted seeds, however. I think sometimes it’s what they've learned to eat from their parents or other birds. I always have a bowl or two of seed in every cage because I worry something might happen to keep me away from home, and I want seed to be there for them. I also have two cups of water and a water bottle on each cage. It's more than necessary, but it reassures me. I've learned from experience that the unexpected can occur when you least expect it. I don't have relatives nearby who could run in and take care of the birds. If something happened to both my husband and me, we'd have to ask a friend or neighbor to go take care of the birds, and since we're in the country, none live close by. It might be a few days before help arrived. Hence, adding all the extra backstops seems wise. Smile.
|Baby Lutino Bourke Parakeet.|
Photo by Jill Warnick.
Since the color is sex-linked, hens take after their father and cocks take after their mother as you probably know. With a split to Lutino, you can hope you'll get Lutino hens from him...but, no assurances until you’ve seen the hens he produces.
Best of luck. It's a pair I'd personally grab and see what they produced. Hope to hear back from you about what you get.
Typically, male Bourkes check out the nest box before a hen goes into it. They are supposed to make sure it's safe. If she's afraid of the box, she's not going to go into it. A different box, or a different location might help. However, every bird is an individual. I had one hen who hatched her eggs, but killed her first baby and injured others before I removed them. That's when I learned to hand feed. That hen came from another household, so I don't know how she was treated before I got her...she seemed to be a bit deranged. I always watched closely and removed her babies as soon as they hatched. We formed a good team that way until one morning she acted strangely and suddenly died. However, one of her daughters is the sweetest bird I own and an excellent mother. I've often wondered what made her behave as she did.
After a few days in the incubator, you can candle eggs to see if they're fertile...there should be red vessels in them. Birds sometimes attempt to mate, but don't actually make contact, hence eggs might not be fertile. Give them several days, however, before tossing them out. If they aren't fertile, that could be another reason why she's not interested in them. Perhaps she knows they aren't any good...however, my hens sit on infertile eggs anyway.
It's fun to see a heart beat begin in eggs from an incubator, and later baby birds moving around in them. In an incubator, turn the eggs in the same direction approximately every two or three hours and don't let the bowl of water go dry. Humidity is essential, especially close to hatching. When they are mature, at about 18 days, you may want to slightly moisten the eggs (put a warm, damp cloth over them momentarily) . There is more out there on incubating eggs if you google it. Eggs can be incubated even several days after they were laid. Hens often wait a few days before sitting on them. Expect hatching 18 to 21 days after they are put in a warm incubator. Good luck!
Are your birds in a quiet place? Mine are used to our dog suddenly barking if someone arrives unexpectedly, but they notice right away when there are new people in the house and unfamiliar voices, especially loud laughing, etc. Cigarette smoke is another possible deterent to wanting to reproduce...they need a healthy atmosphere.
Birds breed best in 70-75 degree temps. Although, they probably wouldn't lay eggs if it was too cold and/or too dark. Are the nest boxes exposed to bright sun that could make them too hot inside? They should be out of the sun. No rodents around are there? Boxes mounted up high, not set on the ground or in the bottom of the cage?
Those are the first possibilities that come to mind. If your hens and their mates are very young, maybe they will get better in another year or so.
Hand feeding Bourkes is much easier than the pet shop has told you. Perhaps they don't want the competition...?
The Exact Hand Feeding formula package gives appropriate temperatures, but I've never used a thermometer with mine. I heat water to boiling and stir in the appropriate amount of Exact. This varies with the age of the bird and it's given on the package. However, if you wait until birds are 3 weeks of age, you will always use two parts water to one part Exact.
It is important to keep the babies warm when they are removed. I keep a small heater nearby and have posts with photos of what we use. Having several babies together helps them keep each other warm. And since they are starting to grow feathers, they will be warmer than completely bald chicks that require their mothers to sit on them.
Bourkes, like all birds, are affected by the length of daylight. If the artificial light in your home is on in the evenings and/or early in the morning, as far as they know the days are longer and it's a good time to breed. If you don't want them to, then reduce the hours of light.
However, in the Pacific Northwest where we live (Oregon), it's rather chilly yet I have a hen raising three babies at present. The house is kept warm and the babies are doing fine. This is her 3rd clutch this year and she just happens to be later than the other hens were.
If you want to let them raise a clutch, provide a nest box and be sure that the house is warm...at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit, although 70 or 71 is better. They will probably raise a second and third clutch, if allowed. More than that a year isn't healthy for the hen.
When she raises them is less important than that they are in a warm location with adequate daylight and plenty of healthy food. Be sure to use the search engine on my site to find other posts on breeding and raising Bourkes. You'll find appropriate nest box size and so on.
Good luck! - Gail
|Lineolated Parakeet. Photo from expired|
eBay classified ad. If this is yours, please
contact me. Would love to buy or trade.
|Our lightest bird ever, but |
wings are not fallow.
|Dark rose colored bird has red eyes, |
pale pink and white has dark eyes.