|Common Name:||Bourke’s Parrot|
|Scientific Name:||Neopsephotus bourkii|
|Life Span:||About 10 or more in captivity|
|Size:||Seven to eight inches|
|Habitat:||Acacia scrubs, cypress, eucalypt woodlands|
|Country of Origin:||Spread all over Australia|
The Bourke’s parrots are from the Neophema family. They are colorful grasskeets from Australia. To owners new to hookbill species, these birds are excellent. They are calm and know how to entertain themselves. For owners who dwell in an apartment, Bourke’s parrot is ideal. A small cage or aviary is what these birds need. With their passive personality, they should be put with larger and aggressive birds.
These birds have less character than the others. They have seen active past the sunset, although they are not really nocturnal in nature. At dusk or in the morning, they have their flight and interacts with each other. These species have been bred successfully, making them popular as pets. There are no threats seen. In fact, their population in the wild is growing.
These birds were named after the governor, Sir Richard Bourke. He was given the name by Sir Thomas L. Mitchell, who also had the first discovery of this bird. Bourke’s parrots were first shown in an exhibition at the London Zoo and first bred in Germany and Belgium.
These birds may not as vivid as the other species, but it is undeniable that they are eye-catching for the tint on their plumage, which is dusty brown, while the feathers are pink that cover the chest and the abdomen. Feathers in the tail are blue. At the back of their wings is hue or dark brownish-gray, which is highlighted by an outline of a light color. Their bills are yellowish-brown. Their toes are in pairs. The 2nd and 3rd toes point forward while the other 2 toes point backward.
Female and male can be distinguished. On the male’s forehead and wing’s bend is a blue band. Flanks, rump side, and under the tail have a duller blue shade. Throat and foreneck are salmon pinks. Abdomen and breast center is rosy pink. The females look similar except for the duller color and a little or almost no blue on their forehead. The males are a little larger than the females as well, and the frontal band is more pronounced.
Size and Weight
These birds are averagely 18 centimeters to 23 centimeters long. Their tails are as long as 9 centimeters. The weight is about 42 to 49 grams.
Range and Habitat
Bourke’s parrots are native to Australia. These birds are widely spread in new south wales, Queensland, and even in the western, southern, and central Australia. They live mainly in shrubs, eucalyptus woodland, dry plains, and urban areas, as well.
Bourke’s parrots live up to 10 years or more in captivity when given good care; their life is shorter in the wild.
BehaviorBourke’s parrots are gentle, sweet, and have a good nature. They become good pets, especially when they are hand-fed at an early age. For that reason, they bond with their owners. They are intellectual, quiet and mellow. They are most active after the sunrise and sunset. This time they become a little noisy. They are quieter than other species. In addition, they don’t do tricks or talk.
Their flight pattern is swift. They fly just low off from the ground. They are arboreal, too, but they are mostly seen on the ground. When on the ground, their color becomes their camouflage because their plumage matches the sandy and brownish soil.
In groups, they come in 4 to 6 members and come in a flock having 100 birds. These large groups visit the watering holes at dusk or dawn. They tend to stay in the same area for lots of years and go to another area after. They are nomadic and sedentary.
They feed and drink at dusk and dawn. Attending or mating before or at sunrise or sunset. They love rain baths. Both sexes don’t do mutual preening.
Bourke’s parrots have just one pair for their whole life. the males do the territorial guarding during the nesting. During the incubation, they give regurgitated foods to the females. Courting starts by the male walking around the female curtsying and drawing himself, making an upward and tall posture. At times, he raises his wings to show the blue coloration found underneath his wings.
Their breeding starts from August-October, then continues in December. They build their nest in holes or limbs or trees like acacia. It is 1 to 3 meters high from the ground. Holes have no nest lining. There would be 3 to 6 eggs in each clutch. Eggs are rounded and white. Eggs are incubated for 17 to 20 days. Only the mother bird incubates the eggs. She just leaves to defecate or drink water. Chicks will then fledge after a month and get independent in 8-10 days.
Diet and Feeding
Bourke’s parrots are fed in the plains and fields in the wild. That means they eat seeds, grasses, and plants. They mainly eat the ground and on the trees too. Small groups eat grasses and herbs. They go to the water sources at dusk and dawn.
In captivity, they should be fed with seeds intended for small parrots. Their diet should be added with veggies and fruits to give a balanced diet. they should not bed during the hottest time.
Their calls are said to be a soft twit like chu-wee or chirrup chirrup. When disturbed, sounds change to kik-kik kik-kik. Generally, they are docile and quiet.
Despite being less active, a 2 to 3-hour time outside is recommended. Their play area must be supervised. They love horizontal flights. Toys having bright colors and bells would surely be enjoyed by them.
Bourke’s parrots have endearing personalities, quiet and gentle. They are not aggressive like the others. in planted aviaries, they live well. They don’t destroy their cages and breeds easily. They accept the nest boxes, but there should be more than one nest as they tend to bick over their favorite box.
When feeding, give a mix of millets and canary seeds plus safflower and sunflower seeds. Other foods like broccoli, apple, boiled egg, kale, and more are a good source of nutrition. Seed lovers accept the germinated or sprouted seeds. Sprouted seeds are healthy to have low-fat content. In addition, it will balance your pet’s diet with a supply of veggies having minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and more.
These birds should be not exposed to a damp condition. They can be kept with peaceful birds like Splendids and other quiet finches. Hand-fed birds should be kept in a medium-sized cage. The parents love a mixed aviary with their own species. The cage for a pair should be 30 x 18. The temperature should be between 65 to 85 degrees. They have no true songs but make melodious chirps. They cannot learn how to talk.
For breeding, use a 12 x 10 inches for a pair. When the female is ready, she chirps and leans forward. She lays 4 to 6 eggs. She incubates the eggs for 18 to 20 days. The father bird doesn’t accompany the hen in their nest box, but frequent visits happen. The mother sits on the eggs tightly and moves very few times.
How to Care
Video URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roT3k29JJKI
Bourke’s parrots are known for being enthusiastic flyers. Thus, they need big aviaries. 6 feet is the best having a few branches for their climbing. Choose the largest cage if there isn’t any aviary. Dimensions should have a wider width than their height. A bare cage could be 3 feet long, 1 ½ side, 1 ½ foot tall. They can be put in pairs with the same species, but they can live alone, though. You can put some swings in the cage too.
Bathing pools with clean and clean water suits them as they are enthusiastic bathers. A weekly shower having a spray bottle containing lukewarm is an enjoyable bath for them. More than an hour of interaction and training is needed.
Availability: Where to Get One?
These birds are sold commonly at pet shops. You can ask from a breeder or call rescue organizations as well as animal shelters to adopt this bird.
The commonly identified predators to these birds are the foxes and the feral cats.
Bourke’s parrots are contributors to the dispersal of seeds, and they prevent the growth of unwanted grasses or some seeds.
Economic Importance for Humans
It is positive. They have quiet demeanor and gravinores, and they don’t bring problems to humans.
Common Health Issues
- Sinus Congestion. It is brought out by Aspergillus fungus. Hygiene and good nutrition would help to prevent this.
- Internal parasites. This would lead to loss of weight and depression.
- External parasites. This causes losing of feathers and scratching.
- Psittaci disease. This bird can be prone to diseases like Psittaci disease. It is transmitted between birds and even humans. It causes problems in the respiratory but can be treated with antibiotics. Transmission is through infected birds, or contaminated food, feces, and so on. A room with poor ventilation can make the transmission easier. Symptoms are not seen easily, but the bird can go stress, have swollen eyes and puffiness, enlarged liver, and more.
- To diagnose, tests should be done. The bacterium could be in the kidney, lungs, feces, and more. disinfectants could kill this bacterium. Thorough hand washing before handling your pet is one way to prevent it. Cleaning the food bowls and dishes, as well as toys and the cage must be cleaned. Quarantining new birds is a way to prevent the spread of this disease. Isolate the infected birds.
- Avian Eye Disorders. Birds can suffer from infection in the eye. There could be another reason for it. Conjunctivitis is common. It is due to bacteria causing swollen eyelids. A cataract is another disease for them. This is because of a lack of Vitamin E. To treat these, take your pet to the vet or buy some antibiotic drops.
Symptoms of a Sick Bird
Usually, aviary birds show no symptoms of their sickness. Frequent monitoring of pets is very vital. Here are some signs grouped accordingly.
- General Appearance: Sitting low on perches, huddled, sitting on the cage’s bottom, weakness, loss of balance, trembling, harassed by other birds, head is tucked under his wings, hanging on the cage’s side, swells or lumps in the parts of the body, falling off the perch, teetering, ruffled feathers, unusual smell of droppings and more.
- Behavioral Changes: Seizures, inactivity, collapse, wing drooping, poor reaction to stimuli, changes in vocalization, more sleeping,
- Personality Changes: More aggressive and submissive, juveniles beg for food,
- More changes: There are changes in the color and consistency of urates, urine, and feces, as well. There are bloody droppings, lesser dropping size, and undigested food in their feces.
- Appearance in the Head of the following: Overgrown or flaky beak, discharge from the nares or eyes, squinting eyes, loss or redness in around the eyes, beak discoloration, loss of symmetry, twitching and flicking of the head,
- Changes in the feathers: fluffed feathers, broken, lost and misshaped feathers, lesser preening, dull feathers, stained feathers, bald spots, abnormal colors, picking, or pulling of feathers.
- Changes in legs or feet: Shifting feet, lameness, difficulty in breathing, swollen joints or feet, abnormal growth of the nail, feet discoloration.
- Changes in breathing: Wheezing sound, difficulty in breathing, sneezing, discharge around the nares, tail bobbing, breathing with open beak, change in the voice’s sound.
- Changes in eating/drinking/digestion: Diarrhea, more or less drinking, more or less appetite, straining to pass an egg or defecate, swelling in the crop, can pick up food, vomiting.
Training your Bourke’s Parrot
When your pet has settled and adjusted itself to its new home, you can start taming it by talking with it gently many times a day. Don’t startle your pet, move quietly. You should get its confidence. Read the body language. Coming near to you is a good start. A horizontal posture means it is ready to fly. Step back when it flutters in the cage. This is because it could have been raised in a big aviary and not adapted to a smaller cage.
Know your bird’s favorite food. They love seeds and millets. Get some millets in your hand. Open the cage, then insert your hand gently. Open your hand with the treat. Don’t touch or move your hand. Give time until it gets used to your hand. Put your hands calmly. The bird will get used to it later.
After gaining trust, approaching gently is the next step. Use your index finger horizontally. Then, approach it slowly. If it escapes from your hand, don’t touch it. Keep your hand in the cage and talk to it. Try again after it settles down. Giving a treat is good too. Say step up. When it does, praise it. If it jumps off, just repeat the process.
Once it has learned to step on the finger, try taking it out of the cage. Start in a room having small or no windows. Going to a bathroom is okay. Say step up, then take your bird from its cage. After it lands, follow it. Speak to it gently as you take it back.
Speak to your pet gently and move slowly. These birds are sensitive, and they flee as soon as a threat is perceived. Clipping their wings could save their life too. This is to keep them from crashing on the doors and windows they fly. You can ask your vet to teach you how to clip the wings. Don’t worry. It will not hurt your pet. Don’t let your pet go exhausted. Yes, they love being with others but give them 30 minutes of break. They will take a nap in the afternoon but can be perky too.
These birds are small, and making them walk on the floor could lead them to an accident as they can be stepped on. When you take them outdoors, always put them in their cage. They could be the target of your dogs or cats. Don’t leave them also with birds of other species. As you know, each bird is territorial and doesn’t want seeing other birds in their aviary.
Good-to-Know Facts About Grass Parakeets
1. Bourke’s parrots are called the green parakeets because most of them have grass-green backs. They also eat grass seeds.
2. There is 7 genus of Neophema including the Blue-winged parakeet or Neophema chrysostoma, Elegant parakeet or the Neophema elegans, Rock parakeet or the Neophema petrophila, Orange-bellied parakeet or the Neophema chrysogaster, Turquoise parakeet or the Neophema pulchella, Scarlet-chested parakeet or the Neophema splendida and Bourke’s parakeet with its own genus Neopsephotus.
3. Grass parakeets are unobtrusive and quiet. They are so calm and even let people get near them while eating. They can live well in apartments. They don’t do damage in their cage.
4. Unlike other parrots, these parrots cannot learn to talk. They just have a melodic and gentle voice.
5. They eat a lot of seeds and pellets. That is a requirement for their diet. They can eat 11 types of various seeds.
6. They love perches, swings, and branches.
7. They are ground loving birds, but keeping them in full flight is preferable.
8. They are not active, unlike other parrots. They are not affectionate pets, in fact. They are not meant for someone who wants a chatty and extrovert pet.
9. Among the grass parakeets, Bourke’s parrot is commonly kept for their sweetness and gentleness to children.
Are Bourke parrots good pets?
Yes, they are. For someone who loves a good-natured species, these birds suit them well. In addition, they are sweet and gentle. They are not noisy too. They can be kept in apartments and will not cause any problems to your neighbors.
What do Bourke parakeets eat?
They are mostly fed on seeds, grass seeds. In captivity, seeds are pellets that are the best for them.
How long do Bourke parrots live?
They can live for ten more or more.
Do female parakeets sing?
Females do chirp more than singing, while the males sing and interact more as they bob their heads.
Do parakeets get lonely?
Yes, they do. They are social ones. Keeping them alone makes them affectionate to their owner, but in nature, they come in a flock, so keeping them in pairs would be better.
Do parakeets need a nest?
In captivity, they nest on the provided box. In the wild, they nest on the hollow trees.
Do parakeets need a house?
Surely, all birds need a house for safety and happiness. Aviary and cage must be wide and big enough having perches and toys.
Should parakeets be covered at night?
Yes, but don’t put them in the garage. Put , back to their cage at night. Take the cover in the morning then.
Is it OK to touch parakeet eggs?
It is advisable not to touch their eggs except when it is needed.
Can I keep a bird in my room?
Keeping it in your bedroom might not be a good idea. Keep your bird in a room free from fumes or toxins or in your family room to keep it interacting with you and your family.
Why do parakeets die?
They die for many reasons like disease, not getting nutrition, and other environmental reasons.
How can you tell if a bird egg is fertile?
It is smooth, unmarked, and shiny. There will be veins inside too.
Can parakeet lay eggs without a mate?
They can lay eggs, but the eggs are not fertilized and not hatch.
How can you tell if a parakeet egg is fertilized?
Hold it high towards light or candle. You should see blood vessels or an embryo shape and movement.
Can birds die from cold?
Birds have their own way of surviving the winter. They are equipped with feathers to absorb heat. Their metabolism is slow to conserve their energy.
Why do parakeets kiss?
Birds have no hands like humans. There are some things they cannot do; thus, they use their stomach as food storage. they regurgitate the food and pass it into their partner’s mouth. This is not actually kissing as what most people think.