The Bourke’s parakeet (Neophema Bourkii) is a gem among the members of the popular Neophema family, a group of colorful grasskeets that originate in Australia. The Bourke’s hasn’t received much attention among novice bird fanciers because of its notoriety as having less character than other birds of its size and price. It is true that the Bourke’s spends much of the day in what seems like a prolonged coffee break, but dawn and twilight bring about a change in personality. These birds take flight early in the morning and at dusk, chirping and interacting with their environment and each other. They are not a truly nocturnal bird, but they are known to be active well past sunset, unlike most parrots.
Like the other Neophema parakeets, the Bourke’s is quite stunning. The nominate bird (the color most found in the wild) is a combination of shades of blues and shimmering pinks and violets. This species is dimorphic, meaning that there’s a visible difference between the sexes. The male has a blue band above his eyes and the female either does not have this band, or has a band that’s much duller in hue. The female’s plumage is duller in general. Juveniles look like females and come into mature coloring at about nine months. This species is the only member of the Neophema family that does not have green feathers.
There are color mutations available for the Bourke’s including the popular rosy Bourke’s, pink, cream, blue, pied, and cinnamon. The Rosy is a favorite among fanciers because of its unusual shade of bright pink. Males and females in the Rosy mutation look identical, unlike their nominate cousins, though some female Rosies can have more gray feathering than the Rosy males.
This bird makes an amiable aviary companion, able to get along with other grasskeets, budgies, cockatiels, canaries, and sociable finches. However, the Bourke’s activity past dusk can disturb other aviary birds, even going so far as knocking them off of their perches. This species has a lifespan of ten to twelve years or more with good care.
Housing for the Bourke’s should be as large as possible, preferably an aviary or large flight cage. These birds don’t thrive in small quarters. The aviary can be lushly planted because the Bourke’s isn’t generally a destructive bird. It can also be housed outside and acclimated to colder weather conditions, though the aviary should be protected from harsh weather in the deep winter, especially if other species of birds are present.
Since the Bourke’s is a grasskeet, it thrives on seed, unlike many other parrots. However, adequate nutrition for any captive grass keep requires more than just seed. A pelleted diet. Wild Bourke’s may feed on seed sprouts, other vegetation, and even insects. Many of Lafeber’s foods — like Lafeber’s Premium Daily Pellets, Nutri-Berries and Avi-Cakes — incorporate seeds with healthy pellets, fruits and vegetables, as well as Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and chelated minerals