Bourke's Parrot
PO  Box 126 Mitcham Vic 3132 ( Victoria, Australia )

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. Bourke's parrot
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    photo of Bourke's parrot
  • An Australian Parrot
  • Scientific Name:  Neopsephotus bourkii.  (formerly known as Neophema bourkii)
  • Sub Species in country / area of origin:  None
  • Origin / Distribution:  Inland Australia.
  • Habitat In Wild:  Nomadic through dry inland Australia.  Prefers arid and semi-arid areas of mulga and acacia scrublands.
  • Status In Wild:  Secure
  • Status In (Australian) Captivity:  Common.  Genetically pure "normal" colour birds are becoming hard to find.
  • Age To Sexual Maturity:  about 12 months
  • Adult plumage: attained at about  4 - 6 months
  • Best breeding years (estimate): 2nd year onwards
  • Lifespan (estimate):  approx. 10 or more years
  • Sexing:  Monomorphic / Dimorphic
  • Mutations:  Many
  • Availability:  Common. Pet shops and bird dealers.
  • Temperament:  Good beginners bird.  Breeds well in captivity.  Multiple clutches per year but limiting the birds to two clutches is preferred.  Has a friendly docile nature.  Compatible with finches and quail.  May fly at night.
  • Cost (Victoria) Per Pair: - Normal colour (Approx.) $40
  • Description Of Adults:
  1. Length: Approx. 190 mm (or approx. 7.5 inches)
  2. Colour ( "normal" colour ): Refer photo/s above if available.
  3. Weight: Approx. 45 gms (or approx. 1.5 ozs)

The Bourke's Parrots has recently been removed from the genus Neophema, which included the Blue winged parrot,  Elegant parrot, Rock parrot, Scarlet-chested parrot, Turquoise parrot, and the Orange bellied parrot.  These are commonly called "Grass parrots".

Aviary Notes:

Level Of Knowledge Required: Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced / Specialist Breeders Only.

Government Regulations & By-Laws:  Refer to " Government Laws " web page.

Housing Requirements:  Refer to " Housing Birds " web page for general details on the housing of Australian Parrots or read on for specific details for this parrot.

Suitable bird for those with smaller aviaries and are generally not destructive to the timber of aviary frames.  They will chew on plants within the aviary.  The Bourke's parrot is generally non-aggressive and can be housed with other non-aggressive parrot species, finches and some of the dove species.

They can be housed in a large aviary as a colony, but it is also housed and bred successfully in small aviaries as single pairs.

The Neophema parrots and the Bourke's parrot are easy to house and will accept and breed in a cage of about 1200mm long , 600mm high and 600mm wide (4 x 2 x 2 feet) through to a standard parrot aviary.
An aviary of at least 2 metres (7 feet) long is preferred.  An aviary of about 3 metres long (10 feet) is ideal.  Aviary should be about 900 mm wide (3 feet) and 2100 mm high (7 feet).
Birds housed in a cage or suspended cage during the breeding season should be allowed access to an aviary during the non-breeding season for adequate exercise and to regain a good level of fitness.

Because they will not hybridize with the Neophemas, they may be housed with any of the Neophema species.

Birds bred to produce specific colour mutations need to be housed as one pair per aviary.

Non-toxic leafy branches, such as eucalypts, can be placed in the aviary for the birds to chew up. This will entertain the birds, help minimize boredom and give the birds some beak exercise. Natural branches of various diameters, and placed at various angles, can be used for perches. These natural perches may be chewed by the birds and may need to be replaced regularly. The birds may chew any flowers and fruiting bodies on the branches.

Diet / Feeding:  Refer to " Feeding Birds " web page for general details on the feeding of Australian Parrots or read on for specific details for this parrot.

In the wild the natural foods of the Bourke's parrot are seeds from grasses and herbaceous plants. Seasonally available fruits, blossoms, fruit and flower buds, and various plant and vegetable matter balance the nutritional intake.  Insects may form part of their food intake.

Aviary birds require a balanced mix of fruits, vegetables, green leafy vegetables as well as a quality seed mix.

In the aviary these birds need a quality "small parrot mix" or "budgie seed mix" supplemented with plain canary seed and small amount of sunflower seed.  Seeding grasses along with some leafy green vegetables such as silverbeet, spinach or endive.  A variety of fruits e.g. apple, pear, orange and a variety of seasonally available vegetables should be offered as part of their daily food intake.  Sprouted or soaked seed can be offered.

Some birds will consume insects such as mealworms, especially if they have young in the nest.  The mealworm larvae, pupa and beetle can be offered.  The insects provide a good source of easily digested protein.  Neophemas and Bourke's parrots housed with finches, softbills or other insect eating birds will often copy the other tenants and eat insects.

Commercial parrot pellets may form part of a balanced food intake.

A basic overview only.
All Australian parrots will breed in hollow logs.
Dimensions are typical / average and can vary widely, influenced by the owner's preferences and the birds preferences.  Parent bird's preferences can also be influenced by the size and type of nest-box / log in which the bird was hatched and reared.  If space allows, offering a choice of sizes and types of logs or nest-boxes, and placed in various locations within the aviary, can allow the parent birds to make their own choice.  Once a pair has chosen a specific nest-box/log and been successful in it, offer that one to them each breeding season.  Try and keep that one for their exclusive use.  Once a pair has chosen its log or nest-box, the other ones can generally be removed.  If the "spare" boxes are to be removed and moved to another flight, ensure the log / nest-box is carefully cleaned to ensure it has minimal contamination of mites, parasites and pathogens.
If a valued pair of birds is successful in a specific size/style nest-box and that nest-box has to be replaced for some reason, make or purchase one as close as possible to the same style, materials and size as their original one.

  • Nesting months:  July to February (may breed year round if conditions are suitable)
  • Log / Nest-box:
    • Length / depth  300 - 500 mm (or approx. 12 - 18 inches)
    • Log internal diameter approx. 150 - 180 mm. (or approx. 6 - 7 inches)
    • Nest-box internal dimensions approx. 150- 180  x  150 - 180 mm square (or approx. 6 - 7 x 6 - 7 inches square)
    • Diameter of entrance hole approx 55 - 65 mm (or approx  2.2 - 2.5 inches)
    • Inspection hole (square or round) 100mm (or approx.  4 inches)
    • A removable top / lid can be a useful access point for inspections and for cleaning.
    • Location & height of log / nest-box = in a sheltered part of the aviary and at about 1.5 - 1.8 metres height, but not too close to the roof to cause heat problems in the hotter months.
    • Angle of log or nest box = 45 degrees through to vertical.
    • Nesting log / nest-box material: Decomposed non-toxic saw dust, wood shavings or other suitable material/s.
  • Who incubates the egg/s: Hen / cock / both share.

Bourke's parrots often have messy nests so it may be necessary to replace the nesting material during the raising of each clutch.  Take care if doing this to birds that do not adapt to regular nest inspections.

Timber nest-boxes generally require a climbing structure attached inside the box below the entrance hole.  Both logs and nests need an entrance hole/opening about 100 mm (about 4 inches) from the top. Many species of parrots like the entrance hole to be just big enough to squeeze through.

More details on parrot nestboxes/logs and a selection of parrot nestbox/log photos can be found on the "nests", "parrot nests" and "parrot nestbox photos" web pages.  Click on "Up" then "Nests" then "parrot nests" and "parrot nestbox photos" in the navigation bars.

Breeding: Egg Colour White.  Clutch/s per year  2 or 3 (or more if conditions are suitable).  Eggs per nest  4 - 6.  Incubation approx. 18 - 20 days.  Fledge approx. 4 weeks.  Independent approx. about another 3 - 4 weeks.

They are probably the easiest of the small parrots to breed.  Bourke's generally breed earlier than the Neophemas and often starting about July.  They do not hybridize with the Neophema parrots.

In an aviary, the young birds just after they leave the nest are often "clumsy" fliers and may crash into the front wire wall. The placement of hessian on the outer side of the wire wall or leafy branches close to the wire inside the cage should minimize the risk of injury of a young bird. The young bird should see the hessian or leafy branches and not fly into the end of the aviary.

The Neophemas and Bourke's parrot may breed before the age of 12 months, but it is preferable to let the birds fully mature prior to commencing breeding.  Hens that start at or after 12 months of age are usually better mothers and more reliable.  The hens usually have a longer breeding life if they are 12 or more months of age prior to starting to breed.  Cock birds are often prevented from mating till they are about 18 months of age.  This usually allows cock birds to fully sexually and physically mature and usually prevents the first clutches of eggs being "clear".  The slightly older cock birds are usually more reliable and better parents..
As with many other species of birds, the productivity of colour mutation birds, is much less than the "normal" colour birds.  The productivity is typically about half that of normal colour birds.
The young can have a numbered closed metal leg ring placed on their leg to identify them throughout their life.  This will be essential to identify birds that have colour mutations or "split" for a colour mutation.  A closed ring should allow the purchaser to obtain the breeding pedigree of that specific bird.  Closed metal leg rings can help improve the fertility of a specific line of birds by breeding from the most prolific or most reliable birds.

The parent birds are generally not aggressive to the young birds even if the parent hen has commenced to lay another clutch of eggs.

Artificial incubation and hand rearing or fostering will not be covered on this web site.  It is too complex and diverse in nature to be attempted here.

Health Issues:  Refer to "Avian Health Issues" web page for information and references.

  • Worming and parasite control and Quarantine requirements of new bird/s or sick bird/s are considered to require veterinary advice and therefore not covered on this web site.  Refer "Avian Health Issues" web page.
  • Avian medicine is advancing at a rapid pace.  Keep updating your knowledge and skills.

General References:  Refer to references listed on "Book References" web page.

Specific References:

  • Australian Aviculture
  • A/A Vol 57 No. 3 Mar 2003 Page 53-56 (Inc photo).
  • A/A Vol 55 No. 1 Jan 2001 Page 2-3
  • A/A Vol 53 No. 7 July 1999 Page 143-144
  • A/A Vol 52 No. 10 Oct 1998 Page 220-224
  • A/A Vol 50 No. 8 Aug 1996 Page 177-182
  • A/A Vol 46 No. 6 Jun 1992 Page 149-150
  • A/A Vol 45 No. 10 Oct 1991 Page 235-237
  • A/A Vol 42 No. 12 Apr 1988 Page 297-298
  • A/A Vol 42 No. 11 Nov 1988 Page 283-285
  • A/A Vol 35 No. 8 Aug 1981 Page 171-173
  • A/A Vol 35 No. 5 May 1981 Page 107-111
  • A/A Vol 32 No. 10 Oct 1978 Page 153-159
  • A/A Vol 28 No. 7 Jul 1974 Page 111
  • A/A Vol 22 No 12 Dec 1968 Page 182-187 (Inc photo).
  • A/A Vol 18 No 1 Jan 1964 Page 8-9.
  • A/A Vol 17 No 7 Jul 1963 Page 93-94, 103.
  • A/A Vol 14 No. 12 Dec 1960 Page 166-167.
  • A/A Vol 12 No 12 Dec 1958 Page 153-161.
  • A/A Vol  9 No 10 Oct 1955 Page 113-114.
  • A/A Vol  7 No 7 Jul 1953 Page 77.
  • A/A Vol  6 No 7 Jul 1952 Page 86.
  • A/A Vol  6 No 6 Jun 1952 Page 70.
  • A/A Vol  6 No 1 Jan 1952 Page 11-12.
  • A/A Vol  3 No 10 Oct 1949 Page 112.
  • A/A Vol  3 No 4 Apr 1949 Page 32-34.
  • A/A Vol  2 No 2 Feb 1948 Page 15.
  • A/A Vol  2 No 9 Sept 1948 Page 74.
  • A/A Vol  2 No 9 Sept 1948 Page 76.
  • A/A Vol  2 No 4 Apr 1948 Page 35.
  • The Bulletin No 3, Sept 1942 Page 2 (The Bourke Parrakeet).
  • Australian Birdkeeper
  • ABK Vol 15 Issue 1. Feb-Mar 2002 Page 30 (Yellow backed).
  • ABK Vol 13 Issue 3. Jun-July 2000 Page 126-129
  • ABK Vol 11 Issue 5. Oct-Nov 1998 Page 243-244
  • ABK Vol  8 Issue 12. Dec-Jan 1996 Page 579-583
  • ABK Vol  5 Issue 5. Oct-Nov 1992 Page 216-220
  • ABK Vol  3 Issue 3. Jun-July 1990 Page 113-115

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