Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What to Feed Bourke Parakeets, A Question

Very young Rosy Bourke learning to eat. She is on a dish
 of nestling food. Spray millet and budgie seed behind her.
Dear Bourke Birds,
Our family recently purchased two Rosey Bourkes, one three months and the other seven months old.  
These two young Bourkes are hand fed, but also have easy to
eat food available for them. Nestling food, spray millet and
the typical Budgie mix. All available as they're being weaned.
We were sold two seed mixtures: Goldenfeast Australian Blend and ABBA 1600 parakeet seed; would you recommend any other brand(s) as preferable to these?
We read on another website that the Bourkes enjoy some cooked quinoa and brown rice?  I have both organic quinoa and organic basmati brown rice and could sprinkle some cooked in with the fresh vegetables.  Do you recommend it?  If so, about how much and how often?
For the boiled egg food that you mention on your website that contains the ground eggshell, should this be offered daily throughout the year, along with the vegetables?
Can organic carrot be grated raw or should it always be cooked? 
If possible, thank you so very much for your reply anytime that this may be convenient.
Gratefully, Catherine, New Jersey

Rosie's four babies on April 28, 2013.

I don't recognize the two seed brands you list. Check their ingredients and whether they are enhanced with vitamins. I have no reason to recommend the brand I use, but it seems fine. I buy Hagen budgie seed and get it online from PetSolutions. I usually order two 25 lb. bags at a time and store it in an airtight container. There are many brands and most are fine. They should be fresh and not stored on a discount store's shelves for months at a time, so I'd avoid grocery store boxes of Hartz Mountain seed. Hagen seed is vacuum sealed and drop shipped from the plant so that it will stay fresh. 

I've never given my birds quinoa or brown rice, although it should be okay occasionally. The thing to avoid is giving them too much starchy grains which will make them fat (corn, rice, etc.). Green vegetables are best. Fresh Kale (we chop ours), or pieces of fresh broccoli are both good. Avoid spinach...not good for birds. I like to give them mixed vegetables that we boil first (add no salt). That way they get peas, carrots and corn. Our birds LOVE cooked corn. But, it is high in starch, so it needs to be limited.
They would be happy to have vegies every day, but mine get them several times a week, but not daily. The most important time to make sure they have these additions is if they are breeding. Parent birds need extra energy, so that's a good time to add small amounts of corn and/or brown rice. Carrots can be cooked or shredded fresh. Although my birds aren't very fond of fresh carrots, they prefer them in the vegie mix when they're cooked and softer.
Cherry with her 3 babies on April 28, 2013.
In the winter, my birds get fewer vegies and extras. But, I'm careful to be sure they get more in the spring and summer when they are about to breed and are raising clutches of babies.
So, everything you asked is okay to give. But, give it sparingly if it's high in starch. A few years ago I was giving my birds safflower seeds because they loved them so much. I no longer do that. I lost a 3-year-old hen due to obesity. Had no idea that was a problem, as a an overweight Bourke doesn’t appear fat. However, an avian vet did an autopsy on her and told me that was the cause of her death.  
After that I quit giving safflower and reduced the amount of corn they get. Although it's okay for parents feeding babies because they need extra fat.
Seeds are fattening too, but necessary. Always have budgie/parakeet seed available for them. Don't ever let them run out. Everything else is secondary. Fresh vegies are very good, especially for pairs you intend to breed. Whether you breed or not, make sure they have cuttlebone and a mineral block. Wise to also add oyster shell and a rabbit mineral salt block (reddish brown in color. It has iodine in it). They will use as much of it as they need.
Fuchsia with her 3 babies on April 28, 2013.
You can offer fresh fruit if you wish, but mine never touch it. Bourkes seem to prefer vegetables and don't relate to fruit. At least none of mine do.
About the egg food. I offer it to breeding birds in the spring and summer. I don't bother with it in the winter. You can offer it to others, but it's not necessary to do so daily unless your hen is laying. Then it's good, but not a requirement if she's using her cuttlebone. We give it daily during breeding season only.

Splendids eat on the ground and like to scatter their seed.
Lining the cage with newspaper keeps more available to them.
They also enjoy finch seed, maybe more than Budgie mixes.

We have a lonely bachelor Bourke in a cage on my kitchen table so he'll get more attention since he is by himself. He's very tame, and at breakfast I've been giving him a corn flake, or a bit of bagel or toast, depending on what I'm eating. He has started begging whenever we sit at the kitchen table. I'm careful to only let him sample what I know won't hurt him ... like a piece of lettuce, particle of bread, or a vegetable or two. He has plenty of good food in his cage, but he likes the personal attention.

Thanks for asking.
Peace and Blessings.


Sunday, April 28, 2013


I want to make you aware of two books that are available for FREE worldwide from Amazon.com for Kindle. Both books have been ranked Number One on Amazon Kindle in the past.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Preparing EGG FOOD for Breeding Birds or "Egg Food For Young" ... Grin.

Flame and Fuchsia's 3 well-fed youngsters. Photo taken today,
April 24, 2013. Babies growing strong with added egg food.

Egg Food is inexpensive, nutritious and easy to make. My birds love it and I feed it to them throughout the breeding season. The American Egg Board tells us that eggs contain many essential vitamins and minerals along with high quality protein. They are one of the few foods naturally rich in vitamin D, which plays a role in calcium absorption and formation of strong bones. So it’s good for Mama and her babies. In case you’ve never made Egg Food before, we’ve created a detailed step-by-step pictorial for you to follow. Remember, this is a supplemental food and should not be fed exclusively! If given in the morning, remove it in the evening, or sooner if the weather is very hot. Keep it fresh, and always have parakeet seed available, as well.
Before We Begin…
The first problem you’ll encounter when feeding hard-boiled eggs to small birds is getting it into a form that they can eat. Most of them don't pick up chunks of food. So your first task, after you’ve boiled your eggs is to convert them into a fine enough form that your birds will eat them.
We’ll accomplish this by mashing the cooked eggs and combining them with dry bread crumbs. When mashed, the yolks tend to become gummy and the dry bread provides texture. The laying and rearing process takes a lot out of the mother bird. Don’t be surprised if they begin to appear noticeably thinner. Bread flours are typically enriched, so the crumbs you mix in provide nutritional benefit as well as calories for energy. Be sure to save the shells when peeling your eggs; they are an important source of calcium.
You may be tempted to use a blender or food processor to make your Egg Food. I try to make mine in small batches so that it remains fresh and I’ve found the quantities involved to be too small for the blender to process efficiently. I also use a small coffee grinder to reduce the egg shells to a floury consistency. It’s probably not necessary, but it disperses in the mix easily that way. Be sure to dry the shells in the microwave or oven before grinding them.

With that out of the way, let’s make some Egg Food

1. Gather Everything You'll Need

Egg Food is definitely a Lo-Tech project. All you need is a bowl; some fine, dry bread crumbs; your eggs, a fork, a potato masher, and a way to grind the shell. Instead of using a grinder, you could also put the dry shells in a plastic bag and go over them with a rolling pin.

2. Peel Your Eggs and Save the Shells
3. Coarsely Mash the Eggs

4. Use a Fork for Finer Texture

Keep working the tines of the fork through the mixture to break up the larger pieces of egg white and combine it with the yolk.

5. Oven-Dried Shells Ready for Grinding

6. Add the Shell and Blend

Spoon the powdered egg shells over the top of your pulverized eggs and use the fork to disperse it throughout. It is much easier to do this while the egg mixture is still a little gummy. The addition of dry shells will help give the mix a better texture.

7. Add Dry Bread Crumbs to the Mix 

You'll find recipes for Egg Food that give specific quantities of crumbs to eggs. I prefer to add a little at a time and test always following the cook's motto that it's easy to put it in, but hard to take it out. As a rule of thumb, I add about as much bread crumbs as eggs. You'll notice that I use a commercial product. You can, of course, make them yourself from bread crusts and loaves going stale. However, it's more work and saves very little money.
Store your Egg Food in an air-tight bowl in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. As I said earlier, I try not to make too much at a time so my birds always have a fresh supply. 

Close-Up of the Final Texture

The Result -  Happy and Healthy Birds. This is Rhett.

Rosie and Pretty Boy's four offspring. Also benefiting
from added egg food. Photo taken today, 4/24/2013.

Rhett and Cherry's three babies. Photo taken today, 4/24/2013.
Baby on top has pink eyes. Others have dark eyes.
 Peace and Blessings.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Raising Bourke Parakeets, a Question on Eggs

I have been looking through your blog but can't find info about when a bird lays too many eggs and I don't want to breed her. It's too soon after the first clutch when she went right back to laying. I removed some of them but now that she keeps going I just keep them in the cage. I wanted her to take a break, I don't believe in over-breeding. So I left the eggs on the bottom of the cage thinking she'd realize no nest, no eggs. Well she sits on them a lot now. I don't even know if they are fertile but I doubt anything would hatch because they've been rolling around on the floor of the cage. My question is, what should I do? There are four eggs (three previous ones had been removed). Should I just put up a nest box and put the eggs inside? Thank for your help! I have been feeding her cuttle bone, eggs with shells and marine sand for calcium. -- Melissa

p.s. the two babies from the first clutch are doing great! They are 4 months old and have their own cage now.
Both are Rosy Bourkes, but notice the color difference.
Some would call the lighter one a "pink" Bourke.
Hello Melissa,
Yes, I'd give her the nest box back.
Bourkes typically go right back and have a second clutch and often a third. There is no rest period in between like with some birds. They have all their clutches one right after the other.
It's normal for Bourke hens to lay more eggs when you take the others away. That is more physical stress to a hen than being able to sit on the clutch.
Young birds may even want a fourth clutch, but that's too many (although Fuchsia did get away with a 4th clutch one year and it didn't hurt her any). However, two clutches is the minimum, not one. Your poor little hen is doing such a good job. I feel sorry for her trying to sit on eggs on the floor.
With my oldest hen, I only allowed her two clutches last year and she was willing to quit when the nest box came down. However, with a young healthy hen, three clutches is fine.
People who raise canaries will sometimes replace eggs with plastic ones to let them brood so they won't lay more eggs. I suppose that could be done with any bird. However, Rosy Bourkes seem to be in demand just about everywhere, so you shouldn't have a problem finding homes for any youngsters you don't want to keep.
If you are adamant you don't want your hen to breed again, you'd need to remove the male in the spring and summer. However, single hens will sometimes lay anyway. The eggs simply aren't fertile.
Restricting light helps too. Long days promote the urge to breed, so artificial lights in the house after dark stimulates breeding desires too. When days are short, you can move her to a dark room. Or, in the early evening of summer days try light darkening drapes over all windows in their room to shut out light (but not all day long!).
Good luck. She sounds like a sweet bird who is a very good mama. I'd let her have three clutches a year, one right after the other. If she's getting plenty of calcium she should be okay.
Update on my own Rosy Bourkes
 as of today...
Cherry, my oldest bird, was the last to lay her four eggs.

Fuchsia is my most prolific. She laid five eggs.
Her first egg hatched yesterday, so second will probably
hatch tomorrow as Bourkes usually hatch every other day.

Rosie's first egg hatched today. Notice the piece of shell?
Peace and Blessings.