Ethel the Pirate’s Pink Parakeet*

*Appologies to Shakespeare in Love for the title

Rosey Bourke Parakeets are amazing birds. If you ever have a tame pet Bourke, you will so enjoy his or her soft noises in the morning and the evening. They are among the best little birds to come out of Australia.

My Rosey is named Ethel. She came to me with her mate, Fred. Yeah. I know. Fred seemed normal, but Ethel has one deformed foot. We didn’t know at the time if that was something that happened after she hatched, or was a genetic issue. The previous owner had not bred the Bourkes, and didn’t know, either.

This cage is the last one on my Spring Cleaning schedule.

I set the pair up with a nest box, and waited to see what happened. Well, as always, what happened was unexpected. Ethel would not go in the box, and Fred passed on. I removed the box, and thought I would get another male for her as soon as possible.

A friend who breeds Bourkes helped me out, and because the little guy was not easy to snag in the aviary, I named him Slick. He was beautiful, pink and grey with black trim, and full of life. He had no trouble being paired with an older woman, and Ethel took to him immediately. The box returned to the cage.

Bourkes have recently been moved from one genus and placed in their very own. As always with a change of this nature, there has been lots of controversy. That doesn’t change the fact that these sweeties are wonderful additions to the family.


I read at the time, and can’t seem to find anything that says the same thing, that the Bourke hen will need to be in the nest box, in the dark, for a few days before she starts laying eggs. That happened with Ethel. Slick fed her through the nest box opening, and she never left the eggs. She hatched out only one chick, and fed it with Slick’s help. When the chick fledged, she let the box and perched on the closest spot. She pooped for a solid minute! I looked on in amazement. The whole time, apparently, she did not poop in the nest and cleaned up after the chick.

030616 rosey pair
A Happy Pair

While Slick took care of the baby, Ethel headed back into the box and laid a few more eggs. Again, only one hatched. This time, for some reason, Ethel left the nest at night. The chick did not survive. About that time I noticed the surviving chick had odd feathers, not sleek but looking like an abused feather duster. Sad to say, that chick lived only a few months, and then Slick also got sick and died.

That happened so many years ago, and Ethel is still with us. She spent some time out in the aviary but I saw her going into cockatiel nests, so I brought her back in. She lives now with the inside cockatiels and the two Indian Ringneck parakeets.

030616 flight and fancy
So Beautiful

Ethel is amazingly smart. Her community of birds gets daily out time. They don’t always take advantage of it, but she almost always does. And when she sees me rounding up the other birds, she will jump back inside. She often flies directly toward me, as if saying hello. And she doesn’t get frantic or upset when I approach her, as long as I don’t have a net in my hands.

Bourke parakeets can live up to 15 years. I don’t know how old Ethel was when she came to us, but we’ve had her for 10 years. I’d love to get her an older gentleman companion. I’ve tried keeping her on her own, but she mopes on the bottom of the cage, and when given out time, flies back to the community cage. So there she stays.

030616 bird in hand
A Special Gift to Yourself

If you are looking for a small, colorful, quiet, intelligent parrot to share your life with, you could do worse than this little pink parakeet. Here is an excellent place to learn more:

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.


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