Saturday, June 21, 2014


This is a bit long, but worth sharing. "R" sent this email recently. I've not edited anything out.
I have some sad news I wanted share so others don't make the same mistake.  I recently lost my 2 Scarlet Chested Parakeets.  One of my dogs killed both birds, even though she had been around them flying loose in my house for 3 years.  Before them, I had another dog for 17 years that never harmed any of my birds.  So while I am upset and depressed about this, I understand that my dog was just doing what came natural.  But I am disappointed and angry with myself for not being more careful.  I thought things were OK but my dog must have "snapped".  Now I don't think I'll ever trust a dog around loose birds again.

To go into detail, the first bird attacked was a new baby female Scarlet I got for my male.  She was partly hand-raised but never fully tamed.  I had her out one day (just a few days after I got her) and she would not go back on my finger.  I could not get her back in the cage.  My dogs needed to be walked so I left her out while we walked.  When I got in, she was not where I left her.  Before I knew it, one of my dogs took off into another room.  Immediately, I heard a bird scream, and my dog had killed her, all in 5 seconds.  She was apparently walking on the floor.  At the time, I had never seen my dogs go after my birds.  I assumed naively that the dog just didn't "know" this bird and maybe didn't see me with it − but I was wrong − the attack was just predatory.
A few weeks later, my dog got my other adult male Scarlet Chested.  I'd had this bird for 3 years. He was hand-raised but never really became finger tame. I never wing-clipped him but I got used to letting him fly around my house. A problem I had with him was, once he was out, he would not go back in his cage until dark. So there were evenings where I had to go out and I had to leave him out of the cage. He was a good flyer and seemed to be "street smart".  I'd come home and he'd be back in his cage.  This went on for 3 years without problems.  But, a few weeks after the first incident, he must have pushed his luck one evening by walking on the floor where my dog could get him.

Now in retrospect, I KNOW I should not have let these birds fly freely in my house if they were not 100% tame.  And I know I should not have trusted the 2nd bird, after what happened to the first.  I stupidly though they left the 2nd bird alone because they "knew" it.  But my point is, my dogs never showed predatory behavior toward them − so I pushed my luck − trying to accommodate both pets, giving my birds free flight time and not forcing my dogs outside for long periods.  But, even after 3 years of no problems, this happened.  My conclusion is, you cannot trust dogs 100% around birds − and not for 5 seconds, when your back is turned.
I still have my 2 tame Bourkes but they "cooperate".  I can let them out for a while and they will go right back in their cages.  So now, the rule is the dogs are outside the house when my Bourkes are out of their cages.  Period.

I feel so bad about the whole thing and wish I had known better.

ANSWER:  Dear R--,

You have my condolences. When I was a kid, I had very tame banty chickens and three dogs. Everyone lived happily together. Then one day the family was away all day. When we got home, the yard was a mayhem of blood & feathers. One of the hens had hidden a nest and when the eggs hatched, the dogs got into it. She tried to defend her chicks and they injured her. From then on, the dogs tried to get to the chickens and we had to give them all away. Once they'd killed a chicken, they were ready to try again and again if they could.

I think once your dog killed a bird, it was more likely to do it again.
If it helps, I'll plan to do a blog on bird safety and use your experience in it. Very bad things happen. I have always had cats, but I've never allowed them (intentionally) to stay in the house with the birds unless I was right there too. Accidentally, I've left and thought the cats were all outside, came home and found one sleeping in the window seat or elsewhere. I'm very lucky...none have gone after the birds, who were all in their cages.

I never leave my birds flying free unless I'm there with them. I've had them fall behind pieces of furniture and all sorts of things. Even so, we've lost birds to accidents too. My sweetest, favorite young hen was on the floor a lot and I'd warned my husband to always look any time he entered the room while the birds were out. Did he step on her? No ... it was me. A baby fell behind the cages, made a lot of noise and I turned suddenly to go rescue it and didn't realize she'd walked across the floor to me ... That was my most horrible experience with birds ever. I still feel awful about it and it was several years ago. She'd paired off with another young bird and he still refuses any other hen. I feel like I owe him my loyalty and affection because of what happened to the hen he chose.
We also had a Splendid get away from my husband who was transferring them to another cage for me. He flew into a window and injured a wing. He could never fly after that. Another young Bourke flew into a window because I'd forgotten to close the drapes. He broke his neck and died.

Looking back, we have many more successes than failures, but it's the failures that are sadly memorable.

Our big dog, Chinook, lived with birds for 14 years and never threatened them either, but he did step on a baby chicken and break its neck. I don't think he intended to hurt it, but he was so big and it was so little. The smaller dog we have now is not to be trusted. I've been working with him, but he is a definite risk. More so than any of the cats we've had.

We only have one cat now and I've had baby Bourkes get away from me when I was hand feeding them and land on the couch in front of her. She freezes ... she knows she'd better not hurt them since I'm screaming at her to leave the bird alone. I think the little dog would obey if I was screaming at him too, but I try not to give either of them an opportunity to prove me wrong. However, if I wasn't there at the time ... it's very likely that either the dog or cat would take that opportunity to grab the bird and "play" with it, killing it.
At night all the birds are in their cages, and the cat is locked in the bedroom with us. I've never intentionally left any cat or dog alone with the birds. But, it has happened and I've been very lucky that nothing bad transpired.

I'm sorry for your loss. Try not to blame yourself too much ... we all make mistakes. It's part of being human and not divine. As you can see, I've made my share of them too. We do the best we can.

Dear Gail, Thanks for the kind note and sharing your experiences.  I still feel awful about it − sort of in shock − but I have no illusions any more − I simply cannot trust my dogs − and they are very loving to me and good dogs, otherwise − both were rescues.  I think the point you should make in your new blog is you can never completely trust dogs and cats with birds − and they can "change" after 15 years and suddenly kill − and it can take only 5 seconds.

My brother's children had aquatic frogs in a fish tank for many years.  Their cats seemed amused by them but never showed real aggression or even interest.  And then one time, after the cats had lived "peacefully" with these frogs for over 10 years, my brother's family came home one time and the frogs were out of the tank and ripped to pieces.  These were the aquatic type of frogs that never leave the water.  So apparently, one of the cats finally decided to go for them and fished them out of the tank and killed them.  It was a total shock to my brother's family. 
And another incident I know:  I am friends with an elderly Chinese American couple who had 2 pet chickens for many years.  I think these chickens were like 10 years old.  They were total pets − they came when you called them and even liked to be petted − during the day, when they were home, they let the chickens have the run of the back yard.  They also had an older ChowChow dog that was completely OK with these chickens and never attacked them. 

Well, finally, the old dog died and they got a new puppy of the same breed.  He seemed OK with the chickens − but they still didn't trust him.  However, one day there was an accident − somebody let the dog out without checking to see if the chickens were in their pen.  The new puppy killed both chickens all in about 30 seconds.  The couple were both devastated.  I worked with the woman and she always talked about her pet chickens − after this happened, she could barely talk about them.  They have chickens again but they stay in their pen now and the new dog is kept away from them.
Oh well − more sad stories − but maybe your future blog can help stop future accidents.

Thanks again for the kind words.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Past Questions For Rosie Bird

Questions to Rosie Bird And The Emailed Answers. Some From Last Year, But Topics Are Relevant.
Fuchsia inspecting new nest box as Flame looks on.

QUESTION: What to Feed
Hi. My name is Luis and I just bought my first pair of Bourke parakeets. Can you tell me more about them? What you feed yours.  What type of fruit you feed yours. I read an article and it said no fruit because it not good for them. Is that true?  Honestly I never knew they existed until I found an article on the splendid parakeet. I plan on getting a pair of those eventually but I liked the pink. If you could help me out. Thanks.
Male Splendid Parakeet outside nest box.

ANSWER: I've never read that fruit in general is harmful and have offered apples and oranges to mine, but they ignore them. Avocados are a fruit that is poisonous to them. Avoid avocado!
In addition to parakeet seed and spray millet, they love many vegetables: kale, peas, green beans, corn, lettuce, shredded carrots. They will also chew on breads. Egg food can be made with boiled chicken eggs, blend shell and all, and add some dry bread crumbs, everything blended together. Always have calcium available, usually with cuddle bone, mineral block, oyster shell grit, and as I've mentioned in past posts on my blog, rabbit salt blocks contain iodine which the birds will chew too. It's good for them.

Below is a link to one of my posts about what they can eat. You can also use the search feature and type in "nutrition." Bourkes are wonderful birds.

QUESTION: When to Toss Out Old Eggs    
My hen’s been sitting on eggs for three weeks already. Will she toss them out of the nest box?? I believe I have a pair. One is all pink and the other one gray with blue and a little pink. I named him pinky.

Fuchsia with five offspring. Never throw out eggs.
Let the mother bird decide when to abandon them.

ANSWER:  Typically, I leave the eggs until the hen abandons them herself. I think that is best for her. Also, there is the possibility that a last laid egg might still be fertile. This year, one of my hens laid five eggs and the last three were fertile, but not the first two. I left those in the nest for quite a while before removing them. And, when I did, I candled them (held a bright light next to them to be sure they were clear).
If you remove the eggs before she abandons them, the hen may not trust you with her next clutch and be more afraid when you look into her box. Also, if the eggs don't hatch and she knows they weren't "stolen" maybe she will realize herself why they didn't hatch and make sure the next clutch is fertile.  You have a better chance of having good eggs the second time if you don’t remove the first “bad” clutch.
Are you sure she has a male for a mate? Two hens will lay eggs without a male. Sometimes both lay eggs so there are too many in the nest and that's an indication.  However, with Normal Bourkes you can identify males easily. They have a tiny line of blue feathers about the cere (nose). The one you described sounds like a Normal.
Did your male display? Throw his shoulders back, stand tall and flare his wings out for the hen? If not, you might have two hens. Or, perhaps one or both birds are too young and that's why the eggs aren't fertile. If that's the case, future clutches should turn out better. 

Best of luck next time around. Bourke hens go right back and lay a 2nd clutch...another reason to let her decide when to abandon this one.

A pair of Normal (wild colored) Bourke Parakeets.
QUESTION: Male Bourke Aggression & About Harvesting Weeds
My male Bourke got really upset when the hen got out of the box one time and started picking her feathers until she went back in. And he stands guard.  I’m pretty sure her eggs aren’t any good.

Also, do you know what weeds we can give them???

ANSWER:  Some bird breeders talk about harvesting weeds for the birds...newly sprouted are best. But, I've never done that. No one has ever pointed out to me what is safe and what isn't, so I don't do it. I give Kale and broccoli, cooked corn, carrots, peas ... I know there are wild things available, but I don't harvest them. For one thing, my indoor birds are protected from any illnesses that might be carried by wild birds.

Bourke hens don't usually toss their old or infertile eggs. They just quit going in the box. If he's harassing her, that doesn't sound good. Usually the hens are dominant. Does he have a tiny strip of blue over his nostrils (cere)? Normals have this, but Rosies do not. As I said, it sounds odd that he "makes" her stay in the box. That's not typical male Bourke behavior. They are usually hen-pecked by their mates.

If removing the eggs will make him quit it, then I'd remove them. But, check for that blue line of feathers ... it's tiny. If it's not there, maybe the reason the bird is aggressive is that it's actually another hen. If you have two hens, they can pair up when a male isn't available. Although, I'd expect both to go in and lay eggs in the same box.  Better luck next time.

Two Opaline Fallow Rosy Bourkes with red eyes.


QUESTION: How to Follow Blog
Hi, I’m becoming interested in the Bourkes!  I have 4 pair (3 rosies and 1 rainbow?).  I have one lone normal female, for whom I am seeking a male.  I like them because they are so quiet and gentle (seemingly?).  Don't know how to "join" your blog or if you are continuing with it, etc.

Thanks for the information that I read earlier.

 ANSWER:  Hello Jimmy, My blog has three columns; hopefully you can see all three. I moved the sign-ups toward the top of the first column. Enter your email address and push "Submit." Then you should get an email notice every time I post. The blog is still active. I don't post as often as I used to (or want to) because I've written a novel and am trying to get through the edits so that it can reach publication.

Believe me, blogging is a lot more fun and I feel guilty not spending more time editing the novel. The publisher, Cape Arago Press, is after me to hurry it up.

Good luck finding a mate for your normal Bourke hen. Too bad you don't live in Oregon. Smile.

One more thought. If you push the HOME button on the upper left, it will return you to the last post that went up. It sounds like your search took you somewhere else. Or, click here:


QUESTION: Unexplained Sudden Death of a Parent Bird
Hi I have two Bourke parakeets that have four young hatchlings. Yesterday I got home to find my male, only 1.5 years old, dead on the bottom of the cage. He was very healthy, eating good, singing, flying around. I have no idea what could have caused this and am now concerned about the babies. Do you think my female will be able to feed them enough by herself? Or do you have any suggestions as to what could have caused this and what I should do?  Thanks, Laura

Hand feeding Rosy Bourkes at approx. 3 weeks of age.

ANSWER:  Hello Laura, First, get some hand feeding formula immediately and watch the babies closely to see if their crops are full. You may have to hand feed to keep them alive. I had one hen whose mate didn't help her feed (he was younger than she). She refused to feed two of the four babies. One died before I realized it and I had to hand feed the fourth, youngest baby.
That was Spicy, the first bird I ever hand fed. She accepted him back into the nest and he stayed warm with his remaining two siblings, but she would not feed him.

I use Exact Hand Feeding formula, but get some immediately and have it ready. The directions are on the package. You can put the babies back in the nest and hopefully she will keep them warm and feed them. They will also help keep one another warm. If she appears to have abandoned them, you may need to provide warmth and food.
Sorry about your male.

I actually have some on hand [hand feeding formula] just in case, although I have never hand fed a baby. Right now the babies are 1-1.5 weeks. How often do you think I should supplement feed?

ANSWER: How Often to Hand Feed and Loss of a Parent
I hope you got the earlier email about being ready to hand feed. In fact, if it were me, I might pull the babies anyway...yet, they might be a comfort to your hen. Or, she may be so depressed she will abandon them. In any case, it's very sad.

If they’re only a week old, I’d recommend five feedings during the day and one in the middle of the night. At two weeks, continue with five feedings and stop the one at night. By three weeks, you can go to four feedings, and then three, etc. When they have feathers, offer nestling food and parakeet (budgie) seed. Chopped fresh broccoli is good for them too, as well as spray millet. You want to have foods ready for them to “try” to eat. Even once they’ve begun to eat a bit on their own, you still need to supplementally hand feed until they quit asking to be fed.  However, they may continue “begging” longer than necessary. The birds all like hand feeding formula. 

Hand feeding Rosy Bourkes at about 2 weeks of age.
Tame parents are keeping a close watch on the event.
Feeding babies is physically stressful for parent birds. If your male wasn't strong for whatever reason, then the added stress of feeding his mate and starving himself may have had something to do with it. I hope you are giving them egg food. It's easy to make and extremely good for feeding parents (see recent post). I also give nestling food that is higher in energy than just seed (they also always have budgie seed). They get cut up fresh kale and/or broccoli. They get cooked mixed veggies too...corn, peas, carrots, green beans. They can survive on just seed, but not as well. Especially if there is anything else going on.
I keep an excess of food in their cages all the time. If they run out, the male is likely to be the first to feel the loss as he feeds as much as he can to his mate. They also consume a lot of water when feeding babies. I give them fresh, cold water at least twice a day when they're raising young. They need water present all the time, so I have two cups and a bottle of water on the side of the cage as well.
About your male...It's impossible to know what he died of if there are no outward signs of injury. An avian vet can do an autopsy if you want them to. I took a 3-year-old hen to a vet who shipped her body to an avian vet about a four-hour drive away. She only took birds from other vets...wouldn't do it any other way.
The result was that this 3-year-old hen was obese. She'd never mated or laid an egg. I'd fed her and the other birds lots of corn, which they love, and safflower seeds, which they also loved. After that diagnosis that the fat on her organs had killed her, I quit giving safflower to my birds and cut way down on the corn...they are both high in fat. A parenting bird uses more fat, but she'd never been a parent or even laid an egg.

I'm very sorry for your loss. It couldn't have come at a worse time with babies in the nest. However, do everything you can to supplement the food for your hen. She's going to be more physically stressed then ever if she attempts to continue to keep her babies going. Also, in the past she's had food that he already ate, so it was thinner than what she's going to have to process herself.

I highly recommend helping her with lots of extra good food. Is she tame? If so, that's a plus because it will make it easier. If she's not, then I'd be tempted to pull the babies and begin hand feeding. Of course their age is a factor too. If they are small they will accept the hand feeding easier than if they are already feathering. And, if they are bigger, she has to feed them more food, so that's harder on her. I tend to hope they are still small... If so, consider pulling them to hand feed. They will be very tame and sweet afterwards, and their survival is more likely.
Best of luck. Don't hesitate to write with any further questions.

ADDITIONAL ANSWER:  So your babies are tiny. That's probably a good thing. Have you checked their crops? The widowed mother bird might gradually begin to feed them less and less (or not). I'd keep a close watch on them. If she's doing great right now and for the next few days, it doesn't necessarily mean she always will.

So, I'd let her feed them for another few days (if she does, keep checking). Then at 2 weeks, I'd pull them out and begin feeding with an eyedropper. Follow your directions and make sure the food isn't too hot. I test it like a baby's bottle on my wrist to be sure it's not too hot.

Parent fed baby Bourke.
 Look how they stuff them soooo full!
Manufacturers recommend a thermometer, but I'm lazy and my wrist is easier. Keeping the food warm is an issue. You need a tiny bowl, it cools fast, so when it does I sit it in another larger bowl with boiling water to help keep it warm...first you let it cool to very warm, then you try to warm it up...a problem, but do-able.
As the babies mature, they can take cooler formula...say when their feathers are almost full.  I always have extra left over...don't reuse it. Mix it fresh every time.

I think I'd allow them to remain in the nest box and see if she goes in with them. She may continue to feed them, but your helping will be a great boost. Or, if you prefer, you can remove them to a box, but you have to keep them warm. If she totally abandons them (I doubt she will, Bourkes are sweet, good birds)...but, if she does, move them to a box or something where you can add extra heat to keep them warm. I put them near a small space heater; they're in a cardboard box with pine shavings in the bottom...the top closes tightly.
At their age, I think you can avoid feeding in the middle of the night. But for the first few times I'd look at their crops. If they are empty, feed them! If they are almost empty, feed them. The books say let them get totally empty...I don't do that. I think it's more risky. If you watch the parents they gorge their babies until they look like they'll pop. So, I feed them all that I can.

When I was new to hand feeding I let myself get stressed over any air in a baby bird’s crop. Be sure you have no air bubbles in your feeding tube or eye dropper. But, if you see a little air in the crop, I've never lost one because of it and have seen it with parent fed babies too.  Some books say this is deadly, but it doesn't appear to least not for Bourkes. 


Splendid hen above, male below.
QUESTION: On Sexing Splendid Parakeets
I just read one of your posts on sexing Splendid parakeets and it mentioned a white bar on the underside of the wing for females. Is that something that comes in later or should it be there on a 4-month old female? The one I just purchased does not have a white band under either wing. Just curious.

ANSWER:  They usually get this banding very early. I had one baby that had broken white bars. I thought it would be female, but the white bars eventually faded into black and it was male. Solid bars indicate a female... Broken bars can be either one. All black under the wing is male.

Or, sometimes Turquoisines are mistaken for Splendids. You either have a male Splendid parakeet or a female Turquoisine parakeet.

QUESTION:  Best Age to Hand Feed

Hello I’m trying this time around to hand raise my baby rosa Bourke parrot. When is the right time to start doing this?

ANSWER:  I'd start feeding at two to three weeks, but no later. Two and a half weeks might be optimum. You can start even earlier if you’re comfortable doing so. Once they've started to feather they are harder to get to accept hand feeding instead of their parents’ food. Be sure to keep the baby warm and away from drafts.

QUESTION: On Splayed Legs

Baby Splendid with splayed legs.
They're splinted together here.
Thanks so much for the information. I have another problem. One of the babies in the nest has legs that stick out the front near its beak. Is there any way I can fix its legs or will it need to go to heaven, or is that normal?
I have only had the birds a short time and when they came to me they were very skinny and I didn’t expect them to lay.  I wormed them and kept them on a vitamin liquid. Could the cause of it be that they were very skinny?

ANSWER: Birds with splay legs usually develop it from sitting in the nest incorrectly. Do you have pine shavings or something similar in the bottom of the nest box? If you notice a baby while young enough you can attempt to move the legs to their proper location. I'd like to see a photo of the defect if that's possible.
 I have some posts about splay legs. Here is one:

The baby in that post only had one leg extended incorrectly and my attempts to fix it were probably started too late, or I didn't leave the splints on long enough. At any rate, I gave her away to a teenage girl who has had her for a year. I recently got an email from her saying how much she loves the bird. It flies just fine and can roost on one leg. Birds are amazingly adaptive.

Another reader had a young Splendid whose legs splayed out from side to side. She tied the baby's legs together early on and hand fed the bird. Its legs went back to normal by the time it was weaned. In that case, both legs were splayed. My Bourke only had one leg splayed and when I tied it to the other leg, it pulled the good leg off to the side and I was afraid I might cause an injury to it. Better one bad leg, then two. That's when I added a match stick between them, but the bad leg still pulled the other out of alignment. Wasn't sure what I should do and removed the splint. The bird still has its splayed leg. But, the Splendid with two legs held slightly apart, but prevented from splaying, recovered normally.

My attempt to correct a splayed leg. They're splinted.

Before you decide to put your bird down, or as you said, send it to heaven, wait and see how well it survives. It could be that it will move around in spite of the deformity. It might make someone a nice single pet even if it requires more consideration than most birds.


QUESTION: Making a Nest Box For Mealy Amazons
I was browsing and looking for how to make a nesting box for my mealy amazon pair and ended up on your blog site. I was wondering if you could help me how to make nesting box for them?  Emil from Iceland

Mealy Amazon Parrot from Google
Images. Attributed to

ANSWER:  Hello Emil, I didn't answer right away because I wasn't sure about mealy amazons, and have since done some research. Since mealy amazons lay in hollow trees, a wooden nest box should work well, just as it does for my parakeets. However, it has to be larger, of course. Because they like to chew and will probably knaw on the nest box opening, a thicker wood is probably called for.
I found a recommended nest box size at the following website:

Here is their recommendation: Mealy Amazons require a nest box "that is 31"-39" (80-100 cm) high with an inside diameter of 12"-14" (30-35 cm) and an opening of 4"-5" (10-12 cm). Provide some soft bedding material inside on the bottom of the box."

Have you looked at the tab at the top of my blog that gives directions for making a parakeet nest box? You could use the same instructions, but make the dimensions bigger as indicated above. I put pine shavings in the bottom of our boxes. They're available for hamster cages and other small rodent cages, but work perfectly for lining Bourke parakeet boxes. I put in about an inch, but with the amazons it would need to be deeper...possibly three inches or more.
Best of Luck Everyone … With All Your Breeding Endeavors!

Young Rosy Bourkes, recently fledged and weaned.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Bourke Parakeets For Sale: Babies, Hand fed, Very Tame; Rosies, Opalines and Opaline Fallows

Life is so busy lately that I've not posted recently. I want to, and have lots of questions sent to that were answered and I hope to share with Readers.

I've been hand feeding five baby Rosy Bourke parakeets. Prices range from $150 to $225, depending on color. All are very, very tame and sweet. Sorry, but I don't ship. Can meet buyers from Coquille to Reedsport. We are in North Bend, near Coos Bay, on the southern Oregon Coast. (Not Bend, which is in Eastern Oregon).  Three are $150 each and the Opaline Fallows with red eyes are $225. Contact us at

These darlings are $150 each. Hand fed and very sweet.

Pale pink, Opaline Fallow Rosy Bourke with red eyes.
This one is $225.

Hiding in a tissue box. These sweethearts are $150 each.

Just had a bath. Feathers are wet.

Contact us via email at: