Monday, January 28, 2013

Turquoisine Parakeets, A Question and Answer

Hi Gail,
I know you don't breed turquoisines but I have a pair that I have had for three years but I have had no babies. Can you tell me how to get them to breed or let me know of someone that can help me. Thank you. -Marjorie

Hello Marjorie, I did a quick search and you're right, there doesn't seem to be much out there about them. They sound as though they need more flight space than Bourkes, but otherwise are very similar. They use a parakeet-sized box with wood chips or moss in the bottom. I find buying pine shavings (for hamsters, etc.) works perfectly for the Bourkes and probably would for Turks too.

You don’t say what color your birds are. I’ve read the males have a red bar on the wing, but those that are all yellow may not. Is it possible you have two males? With Bourkes, when one male is dominant he sometimes intimidates the other male to behave as a female and allow himself to be fed, and that makes it difficult to sex them if they’re Rosies. By adding two hens, it allows both males to act as nature intended. Just a possibility for yours if they aren't the wild color.

Things to consider:

1. Are you sure you have one of both sexes?

2. Birds all need plenty of daylight to be inspired to breed. So, if they are in a dimly lit room some of the time, turn the lights on. Only 8 hours of darkness per 24-hour period.

3. Do they have the right kind of nest box and is it mounted high in your cage? Do not sit it on the floor.

Male Turquoisine. Most notable difference from a male
Splendid parakeet is the red bar on the shoulder.

4. Do they have enough flight space? I keep my nest boxes mounted outside the cage to allow as much flight space as possible. I’ve read that Turks require even more flight space than Bourkes do to exercise.


5. Are they getting healthy foods besides just seed? Plenty of calcium in the form of cuttlebone, mineral block, oyster shell? I read Turks like greens. Fresh chopped Kale is a Bourke favorite. They also get cooked sweet corn, peas and carrots. Although fresh shredded carrots are good too. Egg food is a favorite when getting ready to breed or while raising babies. We take hard boiled eggs and put them in a blender with plenty of dry bread crumbs and finely mix everything together, including the egg shells. We grind the egg shell fine first and then blend it back in. Refrigerate the mix and give a little fresh each day, removing the old (don't leave it in the cage for more than a few hours) I add it in the morning and take it out at dinner time. It's in there 6 to 9 hours, but our house is cool. On a warm day it will go bad sooner and should be removed in less time.

6.  Sometimes adding another pair of birds in their area encourages breeding. Or, perhaps the next pair will do better. Sometimes competition encourages them, or maybe they will learn from others.

7. Occasionally a pair simply don't like each other. Switching to new partners usually works. I've done that several times with pairs that bickered. It stopped when they got new mates and we had successful clutches thereafter. All birds have their own individual personalities and sometimes certain birds don't get along with a particular hen or cock, but will be happy with a different one.
Good Luck. If you don't have the nest box set-up recommended above, give that a try.

Photo from Pandemonium Aviaries

Below is a little more information I learned doing research for this article:

The courtship display of all male Turquoisine parakeets involves a soft whistling. The hen lays four to five eggs and she incubates them alone (just like a Bourke or Splendid). The incubation period is 17 to 19 days (with Bourkes it is 18 to 21 days). The cock bird feeds her while she is sitting and for a further few days after the chicks have hatched (same as with Bourkes). Both parents then feed the young. When raising young you can include soaked and sprouted seeds, soaked bread, green food and spray millet.

Male Turquoisines can be aggressive toward other males of this species. It's best to provide each pair with its own cage or flight. This is important during the breeding season, as you can expect a lot of bickering and even fighting among males. It is less likely to be a problem when housed with canaries or finches, or even other species of parakeet.

Still, be sure there is enough flight room for any and all the birds you put together.
from Pandemonium Aviaries

Peace and Blessings.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Fallow Bourke Parakeets, More on Coloration

The photos below were sent by Kenneth and Karen Shelton of their new baby Bourke Parakeets. I was surprised to see a Normal Bourke with red eyes and sent these to Su Yin for her expert evaluation. Here is her comment:

A Fallow Bourke, possibly
Pale Fallow if toenails are clear.

"The red eyed chick is a fallow. From the way it looks, I would guess pale fallow, possibly male. If it has clear toe nails, it'll most likely be a pale fallow, and if it does end up getting more blue on it's brow, it'll be a boy.

There are probably at least 3 different fallow mutations. All are autosomal recessive, meaning both males and female will need 2 copies of the mutation to show the mutated appearance.

Young Normal Bourkes, Fallow at far end.
In this case both parents are split to fallow. I doubt the normal father is split to opaline aka rosey since none of the chicks are rosey. The rest of the 3 chicks are normal with boys split to rosey (due to the rosey mother). All of the 4 chicks can be either gender - you can't tell from the genetics. All the normal chicks may also be split to fallow, but there is no way to tell without breeding them to the same fallow mutation they may be split for. The fallow chick well be split to rosey if it out turns out to be a boy.

Young Fallow Bourke with red eyes.

Hope that helps,
Bourke parents with their young.  Rosy Bourke mother is in front.

Thank you, Su!
Peace and Blessings to All.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Birds of Paradise in New Guinea - Amazing Project Trailer

Our Creator doesn't just have a sense of wonder, but also a sense of humor. Is there anything more beautiful and unique than the Diversity of Birds?

Here is's long, but also very fascinating.

Peace and Blessings.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bourke Breeding and Personalities, Questions and Answers

Baby Rosy Bourke Parakeets
We receive many emails at and always try to respond. Sometimes we share those questions and answers like the ones below. (Note to Reader who left a comment saying their email is rosykeetbirds (etc), if that was you, the email bounces. You may want to try again by sending to our email address above. We can do a "reply" from there.  - Peace out.) 
QUESTION: Hello! Thank you for your wonderful blog!

We have male and female Bourkes and we have just had their first egg hatch and were wondering how soon we can handle the babies? There are four eggs altogether so we are still waiting to see if the others will hatch J We are so excited and love our birds. Thanks in advance for your help.
ANSWER:  Congratulations. Handling depends a lot on your pair. How tame are they? However, I band mine at about nine days of age, so they have to be handled then. I don't handle them in the first week, but would if their crops looked like the mother wasn't feeding them. At 9 days of age, I watch until I see the hen out of the box and then take the oldest out to band, wait a day or two and get the 2nd oldest, etc. I put them right back once the band is on. Not sure where you are, or if banding is necessary. My bands identify the breeder (me), the state in the USA they hatched in, the year of hatch and a band number exclusive to that bird. I order them online from L&M Bird Bands in California.

Rosie with newly hatched chick.

Every hen is different. Some will be very upset with you for removing their young; others will be mellow and not worry. Three of mine are hand fed and very tame, so I can push them aside. Couldn't do that when they were new mothers, or they'd scold, but they no longer do. The others are not as tame, but are used to me after many clutches. 
Do you want to tame them by handling them? If so, you might consider hand feeding. Lots of information about that on my blog. Bourkes can be tamed by hand, but they require parent feeding longer than a budgerigar, so they can't be taken away from their parents as early. Good luck.
ANOTHER QUESTION:  Thanks Gail. I will just try to gage the timing depending on how our mother is.

Both parents will sit on our fingers or shoulder but not stay for long. Although they have a fairly big cage, we let them out to fly each day around the house and they get on our fingers to go back in the cage. So they are fairly tame. Would love to be able to spend more time with them so they were a bit better.

We also have some budgies in a different cage and they all seem to get on well. We are in Australia. Still have to read more on your site so will probably learn a lot more as I go. Thanks very much. Have a wonderful day.

Hi Gail, I hope you don’t mind me asking you another question?

We have noticed the mother Bourke has left a large dropping in the breeding box and was wondering if it is ok to wipe it out? We have had two eggs out of the four hatch but it has been six days since the last one hatched. Should we remove the unhatched eggs from the box? Thanks again.  Fiona

ANSWER:  I leave unhatched eggs in the nest box. For one thing, they help keep the other babies warm. Even if there is a dead chick in one, it's not a problem to leave it there unless the egg is cracked or broken. I'd leave the extra eggs alone otherwise. In nature they stay in the nest and are valuable. However, if a chick is partially out of the egg and dies because it was unable to get out, then I remove it. Also, I remove any chicks that die, although eventually a mother will either toss out dead babies herself or bury them in the pine shavings if we don't remove them.   

Mother hens do have really big, gloppy, droppings. Most defecate outside the nest, but occasionally they can't wait or don't want to leave their young if it's really cold. The nice thing about having an inch or more of pine shavings in the bottom of the box is that they usually absorb it and make it easy to lift out. You can remove it, but I'd try to do it when she's out of the box, unless she's very tame and you know she won’t be frightened. No sense upsetting her. ;-)


Hello, We recently got a young, hand-fed (two months old) Rosey Bourke and I understand they are difficult to sex. Is there any way besides a DNA test at this young age? Thanks, Ling

Yes. Behavior. If you enter "sexing" into the search window on my website, you will get lots of posts about this.
Male Bourkes display differently than females. However, if it is a "lone" bird then it might have no reason to display. I've never had only one. My first Bourkes were a pair. Although they were nine months old when I bought them, the breeder recognized which of her youngsters were males and which were females by their behavior. I soon learned to identify them too.
Male Bourkes throw their shoulders back and flair their wings slightly at the shoulder, standing tall. I call this strutting. You won't see a hen do this and males do it at a very young age.

Hens take longer to behave like hens. If there is a male bird present they squat down and raise their tail, cheeping, (preferably for another Bourke, but I've seen them display for other parakeet varieties when no male Bourke is around). On rare occasions I've seen a male do this in front of a hen who doesn't want to mate...I think he's showing her how. :-) Birds have preferences for their mates too.

Normal male with Rosy female mating in lower corner.
He is on her back, but has yet to wrap his tail under her.

FYI: Bourke parakeets have never reproduced with any other variety of bird (grasskeets or Neophema). They are a genus all their own and don't produce mixtures (mules or otherwise) as some varieties can. For instance, like Splendids with Turks or Canaries with Green Singing Finches.
You might go on the internet and find some videos of Bourkes singing and see how your bird reacts. If it hears a hen and is a male, it might strut for you. ;-)
Normal Bourkes can be identified by feather color on males (blue above the cere), but Rosies cannot. Good luck, Gail

A young male Normal Bourke Parakeet.


I just love your blog and enjoy reading all the updates. I have a question, silly that it sounds but I am worried. I have to go overseas on a business trip (2 Months) and will be leaving my birds with a friend that I call the bird lady, she has finches, What I am worried about is, my rosies talk and are very attached to me, will they be different and stop talking when I am away, basically will they change very much.

Looking for some comfort!! Sue

Hello Sue, Not silly at all. We love our birds.
If moving from one house to another, be sure to cover the cage to avoid cold drafts when going outdoors from one house to another, or from house to car and car to house.

Two months might be a long time in a bird's life, but I don't think they'll forget you. Once returned to their former environment, their memories will be rekindled. Even if they are a bit stand-offish at first (and they may not be), they should come around once you've been home with them for a few days.
Your friendly voice will be reassuring. Now, if your "bird lady" friend is extra special nice to them, they may take to her right away and temporarily forget their former home in preference for the new one, but if you've made them happy before, they'll soon be again. ;-) Offer them their favorite treats when you get home and talk to them a lot. Spray millet is, of course, a favorite. Mine love cooked sweet petite corn, or sweet petite peas (I buy the frozen and cook it).
For the first few days with her they may be quiet and fearful, but will readjust to both moves fairly quickly. Good thing she has finches. Parakeets are subject to illnesses that are sometimes carried by love birds, cockatiels, doves and pigeons that don't make those birds sick, but can be bad for parakeets and finches. Of course, those birds aren't always carriers, just sometimes, and it usually won't show up in them. The Bourkes will probably enjoy hearing the other birds at her place. Maybe you'll decide to add more birds when you get home. Smile.
Two sweet baby Rosy Bourke Parakeets.
Peace and Blessings,


Friday, January 18, 2013

PUNNETT SQUARES FOR BOURKE COLORATION: Bird Genetics 101 ... Explaining it to Me.

I received a nice email from Diana challenging what I'd written in my January 4 post, "Bourke Coloration, A Question and Answer."

She gave a long and detailed explanation why I was mistaken in my calculations regarding transmission of coloration in Bourkes. To make a long story short, I’ve learned that humans and birds do not share the same genetics. Humans, other mammals, some insects and plants all follow what is known as the XY sex determination system. In this system, the male is heterozygous (XY) and the female is homozygous (XX). Thus the male determines the sex of the offspring.

Birds, it turns out, operate on a ZW system with the male being homozygous (ZZ) and the female heterozygous (ZW). So, unlike humans whose sex is determined by the father, in birds it is the mama bird that determines the sex of the offspring. However, papa determines the color since color is sex-linked to the male chromosome. Let’s hope the following clears the water.

Here is a Punnett Square for coloration of Bourke parakeets generously provided to us by Su Yin (neversink7). If you replace the rosey with lutino, it also works the same way.

My husband put the following together for me before I received Su Yin's Punnett Square. It says the same thing, but is visually different. Please consider it copyrighted as I will include it in a book on small exotic birds in the future, so don't steal or repost his illustrations. Thank you.

Quote from E.G. Lewis: "Many people use what is known as the Punnett square to predict an outcome of a particular cross or breeding experiment. Named after Reginald C. Punnett who devised the approach, it is used to determine the probability of an offspring's having a particular genotype. The Punnett square provides a visual representation of the possible combinations of one maternal allele with one paternal allele for the gene being studied in the cross. The following chart illustrates this method by simply looking at a typical mating, which we know should result in a 50-50 mix of male and female offspring.

Sex Determination

Keep three things in mind as we go forward:

First, we are discussing only the genetic relationship between the normal Bourke and the pink, or rosey, Bourke. There are other color mutations in the Bourke family and some of these appear to behave in a similar manner.
Secondly, the coloration is sex-linked — carried on the male chromosome. Therefore, while the female determines the sex of the offspring, the male chromosome determines its color. 
And, thirdly, the color genes are recessive to the normal color. However, since they’re carried on the male sex chromosome and a female only has one male chromosome; she will express the pink color if she inherits a pink male chromosome from her father. For our purposes, the male chromosome for pink color will be written as (Zp) and the male chromosome for normal color will be written as (Zn)

Remember also that a bird can appear normal, but actually be a split. A split results from mixed parentage and the offspring can carry one unexpressed gene for coloration. Depending upon what bird they are mated with, this color gene can be passed to their offspring resulting in what appears to be a normal parent producing pink babies. Of course, two full normal parents will only produce normal offspring and two full pink parents will only produce pink offspring. Now let’s examine possible combinations between normals, splits, and rosies. Keep in mind, all splits are normal males.

Pink Male - Normal Female
Our first sample mating is between a Pink Male and a Normal Female. In this case all of the males will be splits and all of the females will be pink.

 Normal Male - Pink Female

Next we look at a Normal Male and a Pink Female. In this case all of males will be splits and all the females will be normal.

 Split Normal Male - Pink Female

Now we’ll pair a Split Normal Male with a Pink Female. Half of both males and females will be pink. The rest of the males will be split normal whereas the other females will be normal.
 Split Normal Male - N Female

Lastly, we’ll pair a Split Normal Male with a Normal Female. Here half of the males will be normal and half will be splits. Likewise, half of the females will be pink and half will be normal."
My (Gail's) personal experience has been when combining a rosy male with a normal female, the females are always rosy and the males always normal. Further, when I combined one of their normal males with a normal female, the same pattern prevailed that all their rosies were hens and all males were normals, so he was split to rosy. I've been telling people on this blog to expect their young Bourkes to be the color of the opposite-sexed parent, unless one is split, which creates another possibility. This has proven true for me and for a friend with a lutino and a normal too. However, our small sampling is not enough to be completely correct.

Please refer to the Punnett squares above for a more accurate percentage of how your clutches may end up.

For more on genetics:  Su Yin on Bourke Genetics

Peace and Blessings,

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hearing Baby Finch Cheeps! Lady Gouldians are Parents Again.

Our Lady Gouldian finch youngsters who were hatched
in an incubator and hand fed. Don't have their color yet.

I'm sitting at the computer, lamenting that I can't get my new videos uploaded until I upgrade from Vista. My new Christmas camera and Vista don't communicate. Computer tech says that an upgrade to Windows 7 will be a better choice than Windows 8, which he says is a disappointment. videos for a while longer. Have to find Windows 7 as he doesn't have a copy...think I've found one, but will take days to get here.

Meanwhile, as I sit at my desk, I hear little cheeps in the Lady Gouldian nest box. If you've been following this blog, you'll know that the finches raised two healthy clutches and then went sort of crazy. She kept laying multiple eggs, but not sitting on any. I put some in an incubator designed and built by my husband and actually hatched and hand raised two baby Lady Gouldian finches from eggs onward. They are now healthy youngsters, eating on their own and being sassy. They're pictured in the photo above.

First photo of baby Gouldian. Later switched to a
dental pick to feed him when this small.

I removed the nest box for many weeks, but when the hen again laid an egg on the floor I decided to give them the nest box back. It took a while, and she had ten eggs, more than she should have, but apparently she has some hatching. I'll check later, but don't want to disturb her right now. I suspect that they are in the process of hatching as I sit here.

Her two clutches last year were of five and six babies. All eggs in a clutch hatched on the same day, so I expect that these will too. I don't expect to see all ten hatch, however!

Lady Gouldians...a clutch from Spring, 2012.
Peace and Blessings.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

WITNESS Going Strong!

Update:  Hubby's novel, WITNESS, by E.G. Lewis is #1 in the Christian Historical category on among all free books. It's #4 in all Historical titles and out of over 55,000 books overall, it is currently #45 and still advancing. Only an exceptional book can do this.

Download your free copy before midnight Thursday!

Read it, love it, and get the rest in the Series for $3.99 an eBook. Print versions also available. Each book stands alone, however, following Rivkah's family chronologically through events in the First Century is highly entertaining.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Free Opportunity: WITNESS, by E.G. Lewis

My husband's wonderful novel, WITNESS, Book One of the "Seeds of Christianity" Series, can be downloaded for FREE during the next five days (until midnight PST, Thursday, 1/10/12). Go get it at the Link Below, and tell your Friends! Smile.

Includes romance, suspense, and amazing details, with characters you will grow to love. Read how the Christian church began, and what both Jewish and Roman life was like in the First Century. An accurate, historical novel, excellently written.

Try it, you'll like it!
Peace and Blessings.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Bourke Coloration, A Question and Answer

White faced, pink-eyed Rosy Bourkes; opaline fallow.

I have baby Bourkes this year and really enjoy them so much. I have had Bourkes for about 3 years and not had any babies til I got another pair, which have been wonderful parents. The first clutch gave me 2 beautiful normals and this present clutch gave me 4 babies that are now 2 wks old. One of them has pink eyes and looks like a pink belly and some yellow on its wings and lots of blue. They are still very young to tell, but I am wondering what it may look like. The father is a normal and the mother is a Rosy Bourke. It will be fun to find out as it grows. If you have any insight please let me know what I might be seeing.
Just love your website and have sent you emails previously about my Splendid parakeet. He is still alone, but maybe someday he will have a friend. He is such a sweetheart
Thank you for your time.

I'd call this mixed coloration a "pied" Bourke.
Congratulations! And thank you for the compliment on my website.
Since color in Bourkes is sex-linked, a baby Bourke's color will come from the parent of the opposite sex. So, your Normal babies should be hens since their father is the Normal. Any Rosies will be males since their color comes through the mother.
An exception to this is the heterozygous or homozygous characteristic. I had a pair of Normal Bourkes who always produced male Normals and Rosy hens. Why, you ask? Because the male was heterozygous (his father was a Rosy and his mother a Normal). He was split to Rosy.
A Bourke that's heterozygous carries a gene for the other color, not just one color. Make sense? I still struggle with this concept.

A mated pair of Normal Bourkes. Male in back has same
colors, but brighter. Also a tiny blue ridge above cere.
So, unless a Normal male is heterozygous—and yours is not going to be since you've been getting Normal offspring from him—all your Rosies will be male because their mother is a Rosy and their father is a Normal. Your pink-eyed baby will be male.

I wish you luck with all four of them. I seem to lose more of my pink-eyed offspring as that genetic trait tends to be less strong than the dark-eyed birds. Yellow lutino's are also less strong. Healthiest of all are usually the normal, wild color. The breeding toward rosy or pink is beautiful, but less robust than their wild-colored, brown/rose/blue, ancestors.
As for the color of your one baby with pink eyes and yellow and blue feathers, there are lots of possibilities. People have been producing what they call “rainbow” Bourkes with lots of mixtures. It would be interesting to see a photo of yours when it’s fully feathered out.

This photo was sent to me. Breeder says it is a "rainbow" Bourke.

A mixed clutch of Normals and Rosies. Both parents are
Normals, but father is heterozygous and throws Rosy hens.

I’m no geneticist and asked my husband if he could explain this any better than I did. He added this:
“As with all living things, the pink color is due to genetics. We — birds and humans — have pairs of genes. We received one from our mother and one from our father. A geneticist would call an individual possessing two of the same genes for a particular trait homozygous. Homo comes from the Greek homos, meaning same. Similarly, they would refer to an individual possessing different genes for a particular trait as heterozygous…coming from the Greek h├ęteros, meaning different.”

2011 siblings. Younger baby has red eyes.

Photo by Jill Warnick of her mixed clutch.
Lutino's are all hens since their father is a Lutino.
Mother is a Normal Bourke, so Normal baby is male.

January 18, 2013:
My small sampling doesn't give an accurate picture of all that is genetically possible. If you've come across this post, please also read a more accurate and easy to understand update on Bourke Coloration in the following link:

Peace and Blessings.