For many nonbird people "small bird” typically conjures up the image of a budgie, lovebird or cockatiel, no matter if the bird is a good bit smaller with a short, blunted tail such as a parrotlet, a stockier, contoured body with thick-barred feathering for the lineolated parakeet or a splendid pink bird such as the Bourke’s parakeet. Make no mistake, these colorful birds are redefining "small bird.”
Most often mistaken for: A cockatiel
What sets them apart: "They have a very curious personality,” said Andrea Andersen of Andersen Aviary in Colorado. "I have a pet Bourke’s, Lyle, that has no fear; just wants to know what I am doing all the time ... he has to be in the middle of everything I do.”
Andersen believes it is the Bourke’s beautiful colors of pink and blue that initially attracts people to these birds. "To look at the brilliant blue color in some of the birds will amaze you.” Along with their gentle personality, Bourke’s are also fairly quiet. "Their little chirps are relaxing to listen to,” said Andersen.
Some people have the impression that Bourke’s are mostly aviary birds that keep to themselves. According to Andersen, this is not true at all. "They are not boring at all. If you just spend time with them and watch them, it’s like looking at a kid in a toy store; very excited and curious when aloud to be a Bourke’s.”
Bourke’s are similar to budgies and cockatiels in that they tend to favor seed. Andersen offers her Bourke’s parakeet seed mixed with small pellets and a small amount of cockatiel mix. "They will eat mixed fruit and veggies, cooked egg and some green or red lettuce. They love spray millet, but don’t over do it.”
Most likely to get along: "I have found that they are not a real snuggle type of bird. They are more wanting to come out and see what’s going on. They love to fly around a lot, but a hand-fed, tame Bourke’s will also want to be you and be part of your life; just be careful they don’t fly away.”
Jessica Pineda, senior associate editor of BirdChannel.com, said that Bourke’s are good aviary birds because they are very calm and nonaggressive. She doesn’t recommend housing two males with one female because they males might fight over the female. "A well-socialized Bourke’s makes a good pet, especially as a ‘first bird’ because of their gentleness.”
What makes them happy: "They need a larger cage, they really enjoy flying. If they are in a smaller cage, I have seen them come straight up off the perch and hover like a helicopter, trying to use their wings.” said ”They like a swing and light plastic toys, some with a bell.”
"Plenty of room to run around, literally,” Pineda said. "I knew a woman who had bought a small animal x-pen for her Bourke’s to run around in (his wing feathers were trimmed). She sprinkled toys around it for the Bourke’s to play with and he loved it.”
Bourke's parakeets needs at least a 30-inch wide cage with 1/2-inch bar spacing. "Some of the mistakes a new owner might make is offering too small a cage,” said Andersen. "Make sure your cage is big enough for your bird to allow him to be curious and to play.”
Want to learn more about Bourke's parakeets?
Bourke’s Parakeet – That Aussie Sparkle
7 Things You Must Know About Grass