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,


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