Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Reader Contribution. Rosie Loves Wild Birds Too!

From Scotland, Margaret Cook writes:

"Am sending you a picture of a coal tit feeding on my hand... I've been in Speyside many times and never seen this before. Taken by Dave Slater. Sometimes the blue tits get brave, and even a crested tit, but mostly it's coal tits. Magic!" 

Coal Tit in Speyside, Scotland. Photo by Dave Slater.
Very sweet photo, thanks! We have similar birds come to our outdoor feeders in Southern Oregon, USA. Ours are Chickadees, and related to Coal Tits. Your photo urged me to check for others on the internet. Hence the one below.

Black-Capped Chickadee by Nadine Cox.
This photo is from Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.
Like Coal Tits, our local Chickadees are easier to invite onto our hands than most other wild birds. I've not fed one on my hand yet, but can stand next to our feeder and talk to them as they eat. They're not easily frightened.

I read that Willow Tits are the most closely related to Black-Capped Chickadees. Although called Chickadees in America and Tits in Europe, all varieties of Chickadee and Tits have a relationship to one another, as do those in other parts of the world.
You Tube has videos of Chickadee, Coal Tit and Willow Tit songs. Interesting that there are similarities in how they sound, as well as looking much alike, even though often continents apart. 

Aren't all birds amazingly unique and beautiful?
Peace & Blessings!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Bird Cages and a Recommendation for Bourkes

Naturally the bigger the bird, the larger the cage. However, take into consideration how your bird lives. Some fly, some climb. Some chew, some do not. Finches can live in lovely wooden cages, but hook bills can't. They'll chew through the posts, both damaging them and escaping.

Toys like these are necessary for a happy bird.
Tall cages are excellent for climbing birds like Lineolated Parakeets or Splendid (Scarlet-chested) Parakeets. Wide cages are better for birds like Bourke Parakeets that need to fly and do little climbing.

Too often I've seen Bourkes housed in pretty cages that were too narrow for them to fly in circles. The result is that the strength of their wings weakens and they don't remain adequate fliers. While out of their cage they may lose control in flight and crash exhausted to the floor, or only take short flights from here to there because they know they cannot do more. A once-a-day flight out of their cage is healthy for them, but not enough. They need to be able to fly when caged.

The minimum-sized cage for a pair of Bourke Parakeets is 18 inches wide, 30 inches long and 18 inches wide. We recently decided to take advantage of a discount on several of these cages so that they can be offered to buyers of our birds.  It saddens me to say that the local pet shops and marts we've visited do not carry bird cages that are sufficient in size ... only "pretty." Very sad. Fortunately, they are available on the internet.

This cage has a large door and a smaller one in the middle of it.

We also purchased duplicates of the toys and swings our birds have, along with everything else that is necessary. We don't plan to profit from the cages. We simply want the birds we sell to go to healthy homes, so the complete set-up is $65. This same cage is available online in different colors, and usually for a higher cost. All of ours are black.
This is one of our set-ups, ready to go. Different sized perches, toys, swings, cuttlebone and mineral block are essentials. In addition to water cups, it's wise to add a water bottle on the side of the cage. The one in the photo is plastic because recently we've not found them in glass. However, glass water bottles are preferable to plastic ... the water stays fresher longer.
Although not shown here, we like to line the bottom
of the cage with newspaper, not in the tray, but on the floor.

The new cages came with an additional side door. Very low to
use for a nest box, but might work, depending on the pair.

Birds love spray millet. However, much of what is pre-packaged in grocery stores and even pet shops, is often old. Small isn't a problem, but graying millet indicates it's not fresh. California Golden spray millet is shown below next to some that was given to us with a rescue Bourke. She was being fed this. I put it outdoors at our bird feeder and the wild birds ignored it. What does that tell you?
The package had two left of four sprigs that were gray and dry ... actually looked worse than they do in this photo.

Make sure the millet you buy is golden in color.
Old millet will appear grayish.
Peace & Blessings!

Sunday, November 20, 2016


Most of my posts these days are of the videos Rosie Bird puts up on You Tube. Only so much time in a day, and I apologize for not posting more specific topics recently. Search the Label List for anything you might want to know about Bourkes, or if you don't find what you want, write to with a question.

We hand fed 15 baby Bourke Parakeets this year and parent raised 15 others. It was thrilling to get several Lutinos and two Rubinos as well as very sweet, friendly Normals, Rosies and Pinks.

Normally, I allow the parents to raise one or two clutches and then remove that year's last clutch,  sometimes their second, but most often their third clutch. We can then remove the nestboxes and discourage any further clutches. Bourkes would go right on raising offspring if allowed to do so.

In the house, where interior lighting simulates day length, they don't recognize that it's fall or winter and time to stop breeding. Our one-year-old hens are asking to mate now too, but won't be given a nest box until 18 months to two years of age. Until their mate checks out a suitable box for nesting, a male won't mate (at least typically they won't -- have yet to see an exception, but never say never). 

About hand feeding Bourke Parakeets, the more you hand feed at once, the more difficult it is. I fed nine the first time, then let the parents raise some before taking out third clutches to hand feed seven more. It becomes difficult to keep the food warm and so I fed half, then made a second batch for the rest of them.

Got smarter with the second set of seven. We bought a small cup warmer by Mr. Coffee. It gets too hot, so I kept one small bowl of formula on it and one that wasn't. When one got cold, I could dip into the hot formula and mix some in with the other to warm it. Always test the formula so you don't feed hot formula to the babies. Better too cold than too hot. In fact, once the birds feather, it's less important that it stay warm.  The younger the chick, the more important that the temperature is right...very warm, but not hot.

We also learned this year that our Bourkes love rice chex cereal. It's such a treat for them that I was able to hand tame some babies simply by offering it to them by hand. Of course, it helped that some of the hand fed babies were already eating it from the hand. We typically use spray millet in this way, but our birds are even crazier about rice chex cereal. Who knew!


May your Thanksgiving be blessed
and that you will give if your able, or receive if you're in need.

God bless you and your feathered companions with good health and happiness.