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Bourke’s parakeet care & info | Neopsephotus bourkii

Thinking of adopting a Bourke’s parakeet? Good choice! These small pink parrots are a joy to have in the house with their calm personalities and soft, cheerful chirps. Despite their relatively easy care, though, it’s important to make sure you know how to help your parakeet thrive.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about Bourke’s parakeet care and keeping your bird happy!

Name(s) (common, scientific) Bourke’s parrot, Bourke’s parakeet, rosy bourke parakeet, sundown parrot, blue-vented parrot, pink-bellied parrot, Neopsephotus bourkii, formerly Neophema bourkii
Natural habitat Australia, nomadic, open woodlands
Adult size Around 20 cm (8″), up to 50 grams (1.8 oz.)
Lifespan 20+ years
Noise level Very low (for a parrot)

Bourke’s parakeet origin & natural habitat

Taking a peek at the wild habitat and lifestyle of our favorite parrot species can be pretty helpful in figuring out how to care for them in captivity, so let’s start off with that.

The Bourke’s parakeet naturally occurs in Australia.

Naming

Like many domestic parrots, including popular budgies and cockatiels, the Bourke’s parakeet originates from Australia. The species was first discovered in 1835 and later described in 1845.

Bourke’s parakeets were long classified as grass parakeets of the genus Neophema, but it was later found out that this is likely not what they are, as they can’t interbreed with other Neophema parrots. That’s why they’re now the only member of their own genus, Neopsephotus.

Nowadays, the species is commonly referred to as the Bourke’s parakeet. It’s also sometimes, sundown parrot or pink-bellied parakeet. Selectively bred pink varieties are usually called rosy Bourke’s parakeets.

Did you know? Bourke’s parakeets were named for Sir Richard Bourke, who was a governor of New South Wales at the time. According to a 1927 article, he supported the expedition that ended up formally describing the species for the first time.

MacGillivray, 1927

Habitat

Like the popular budgie, the Bourke’s parakeet is totally adapted to surviving in Australia’s really harsh inland habitats. They’re nomadic, appearing throughout a huge (semi-)arid range while following food and water sources.

In their natural habitat, the Bourke’s parakeet can be found in anything from pairs to huge flocks. It spends a lot of its time foraging on the ground.

One interesting fact about this species is that it’s crepuscular. Unlike the majority of other parrot species, which go to sleep as soon as the sun sets, these are most active during dusk and dawn.

Did you know? Bourke’s parakeets are sexually dimorphic. This means it’s possible to visually distinguish between males and females. The males have brighter colors and sport a band of blue above their eyes.

Full pink rosy bourke parakeet with open beak | Bourke's parakeet care & info
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Bourke’s parakeet diet

Wild Bourke parakeet diet

In the wild, Bourke’s parakeets feed on seeds and grasses. They forage on the ground, which is said to be the reason for their lovely color and feather pattern: it helps them blend in.

Common vegetation in the species’ natural habitat is the mulga Acacia as well as spinifex (a type of grass), so it’s likely the seeds of these are included in their diet.

Domestic Bourke parakeet diet

In captivity, most parrot enthusiasts feed their Bourke’s parakeet(s) a seed-based diet. That should be fine for these seed eaters, but it’s important to keep in mind that you can’t just give them a regular dried seed blend and be done with it.

The seeds these birds eat in the wild come from all sorts of different plant species and are eaten in different stages: fresh, dried, sprouted. They’ll also consume any other edible morsels they come across, like fruits or unlucky insects.

To make sure your Bourke’s parakeet stays healthy, you’ll have to find a way to make sure you keep its diet nice and varied. Some ways to do this are:

  • Feed a wide variety of seeds. Spice up a normal high-quality parakeet seed blend with things like chia seeds, different types of millets and whatever you can find. If you can find a non-polluted spot to pick them, wild grasses are a great option as well!
  • Feed sprouted seeds. This is such a great option to make an average seed blend more nutritious.
  • Feed pellets. It’s a good idea to mix seeds with a high-quality small parrot pellet food. Although pellets look a bit boring, they’re formulated to contain everything a parrot needs without excessive fat.

Tip: You can find more information about figuring out what your parrot should be eating in the article on parrot diet. Malnutrition is a bit of an epidemic among pet parrots, so make sure to inform yourself!

Rosy bourke parakeet perched on glass container surrounded by millet sprays | Bourke's parakeet care & info

Bourke’s parakeet temperament

Their temperament is what most Bourke’s parakeet owners appreciate their birds so much for. These guys are a lovely calm species. They’re peaceful and maybe even a bit timid, perfect for apartments because they don’t tend to vocalize much.

You’ll see your Bourke’s parakeet just lounging around for much of the day, but that changes once the sun starts to set. Because they’re crepuscular, they’ll get a sudden burst of energy, which is pretty fun to watch.

If you keep your Bourke’s parakeet inside your home instead of in an aviary, you should be in for some pretty good company. This species is social and tame Bourke’s parakeets will usually love to hang out.

Did you know? Like many other parrots, the Bourke’s parakeet has been selectively bred for color mutations. The wild form has a pink belly and dark back, but there are also ones with almost full pink coloration (rosy Bourkes), yellows, lutinos, blues and more.

Bourke parakeet housing

It seems the Bourke’s parakeet is seen mostly as an aviary bird, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have yours in a normal parrot cage in your house. If you want to do so, make sure to get a nice big flight cage, preferably a long one. They do love to fly around during their periods of activity.

In large aviaries, there are plenty of other bird species that you can house a Bourke’s parakeet with. They’re peaceful enough to leave pretty much everyone alone: society finches, grass parakeets, cockatiels, doves and more.

If you keep your Bourke’s parakeet inside in a cage rather than a full aviary, it’s best not to take risks. The best company is another Bourke, especially if you don’t always have hours to spend with your bird every day.

Rosy Bourke's parakeet, a popular pet parrot, perched on a branch.
Rosy Bourke’s parakeet (with more pink coloration than the wild type)

Bourke’s parakeet enrichment

The fact that Bourke’s parakeets love napping and lounging doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be providing yours with plenty of enrichment. Just like with other parrots, it’s important to keep their smart brains busy!

Here are some things you can do:

  • Provide plenty of out of cage time. At least a few hours a day: these parakeets are great fliers and love to spread their wings.
  • Provide lots of parrot toys. It doesn’t have to be fancy and a lot of toys can easily be DIY’d.
  • Provide attention. Take your Bourke’s parakeet out of its cage for training or just to hang out together.
  • Foraging. That’s what they naturally spend most of their time doing, so stimulate it! Offer foraging boxes, foraging toys and other options that encourage your Bourke’s parakeet to work for its food.
  • Bath time. These parakeets love to bathe, so be sure to regularly provide a dish of water for yours to take a splash in.
Bourke's parakeet fluffed up perched on branch on a snowy day.
Wild type Bourke’s parakeet

Bourke’s parakeet sounds

As mentioned earlier, Bourke’s parakeets are among the quieter parrots out there. No parrot will be silent, but the calls of a Bourke are unlikely to disturb neighbors.

The species becomes more vocal during their active hours of the day: dawn and dusk. Nothing to be too concerned about, though. Their chattering really is quite pleasant!

Do Bourke’s parakeets talk?

I have seen one or two videos of Bourke’s parakeets vaguely imitating human noises like speech and whistles.

That being said, this is not exactly the go-to species when it comes to talking.

Bourke’s parakeet medical issues

The Bourke’s parakeet is not a particularly vulnerable species. Like other parrots they tend to have an impressive lifespan and can live for over 20 years!

Keep an eye out for the usual suspects like psittacosis (which can spread to humans), respiratory infections and parasites (especially in outdoor aviaries).

You should always take new parrots to the vet for a check-up. It’s also important to know your bird’s normal appearance and behavior so you can recognize if something is wrong. Symptoms of disease include puffed feathers, loss of appetite, wheezing and more.


If you have any more questions about Bourke’s parakeet care or if you want to share your own experiences with these delightful Australian parrots, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. ?

Sources

MacGillivray, W. (1927). The charming Bourke parrot. Emu-Austral Ornithology27(2), 65-67.

8 thoughts on “Bourke’s parakeet care & info | Neopsephotus bourkii”

  1. Just an observation – you keep referring to “rosy bourke” parakeets, which is kind of misleading in that people might not understand that the rosys are actually just a color mutation of bourke’s parakeets generally. I have a pair of the OG bourke’s and they are delightful birds and just as beautiful in their own way as those that have the newer color mutations.

    Reply
    • I was thinking about this as well while I was writing the post, but a lot of people refer to them as rosies now, even the wild types, so I ended up publishing it like this. But you’re right. I changed it for clarity.

      I agree that the wild types are lovely. So many colors!

      Reply
  2. Did Sir Bourke really “discovered” this species ?
    I believe the Aborigines new long before him of this species.
    Beste groete

    Reply
  3. Hi, I’m so glad I found your site. I just bought two reset bourkes. Both females as that was all they had. One has a lot of black tips on a quite grey face. She is very squawky! The other is quite pink and was just starting to stand on my finger for 15sec but has started squawking imitating the others personality. I tempted them out of the cage once with a sprig of millet, but that was a disaster. They startled and flew into white walls of my apartment and one somehow fell behind couch. They haven’t been out since and are extremely hand shy. I live in apartment so can’t give them outdoor time. About to go from “flight cage” but not big, to biggest one on wheels I can find. These are the most nervous parakeets I’ve ever had! Ok so I wanted to know what stress lines look like and why Lady Greys head feathers almost look black tipped. They refuse to groom each other and only now started grooming their own tail feathers. But I cannot find images of unhealthy birds. I really feel the pinkest one would be tame by now if she wasn’t picking up the fear and get outta here response from lady grey. It’s kinda sad because I had such hopes to bond with these pretty and expensive lil girls. They won’t bathe so I mist them which just ticks them off. Can anyone tell me where to find images of unhealthy birds feathers? And how do I Safely give them out of cage time? Will they learn to go back in cage on their own? And how do I make them love me? (Yeah, I know how pitiful that sounds. I just know it was so much easier to bond with my normal parakeets decades ago.) can I add a quiet third bird of some sort that I might have better chance of bonding with so I can just be hands off with these girls?) thanks for listening. Btw I keep these on a table at window height in bedroom as I spend most of the time in here due to disability. So they have activity to watch all day. Ok thank you very much. Sus

    Reply
    • Hey! Sounds like two gorgeous little ladies, sory you’re having trouble with them. The flying into the wall thing sticks out to me, I’ve had that happen and it really sucks. Based on what you’ve described, here’s what I would do:
      – Let them practice flying for a few weeks in the larger cage you describe. It may help a bit.
      – Start practicing letting them out. They will come back when they get hungry or thirsty, but it can be a while, so do this on a day you’re not planning on leaving. I’ve actually let mine stay out overnight when they were still practicing going back in, but this can be a little scary. Try making a fuss with their food container to lure them. Offer a little playground on top of the cage for them to hang out.
      – Once they can go out without issues, start working on the tips described in the article on taming a parrot. I promise it works. My partner just did a little experiment the other day where he had our feral budgies flying to him within a DAY by training them with food!

      As for Lady Grey’s appearance and the grooming issues, I would give them a bit more time. If she looks like the article cover photo, that’s ok, wild type Bourkes have more grey and it’s normal for a new bird to look a little scruffy at first. It can take a good while for birds to fully relax, they’re prey animals after all. You can add a third one, but I’d try working with these gals for a couple months before considering that personally.

      Good luck! I know it’s frustrating when you were expecting something different, but with lots of attention, love and patience(!!!) I’m sure you can build a great bond with them. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Btw Lady Grey looks like the bird pictured above on your site. Rough looking. That caught me eye and fingers crossed maybe you can help me. She was a lot blacker at first so might be getting better, or maybe she was just young ? But looked looks like picture above. Is that normal? Healthy appetite of millet and sprouts but won’t touch carrot or broccoli ok thanks again

    Reply

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