Friday, 18 July 2014

The Pied Bourke - Years in the making

bourke's parrot normal jadewelchbirds jade welch
Normal Cock Bourke's Parrot

The Bourke’s Parrot would have to be one of the best beginner birds available. They are inoffensive, quiet and pretty. They make ideal aviary subjects and are well suited to a life shared with finches and other inoffensive species in planted aviaries.  Although always popular the Bourke has had a boost in popularity of late with the release in Australia of the Pied mutation of the Bourke’s Parrot.

pied bourke athol shelton jade welch
Pied Bourke with colouration through the front, wings and tail
The Pied Bourke has had a long history having been around for 20 years now. What started as a bird with a white toenail has turned into a number of birds of outstanding colour. This is thanks to the perseverance and hard work of Victorian (Vic, Australia) aviculturalist Athol Shelton.

So why does it take 20 years to establish a mutation? Athol’s experience with mutations meant that when he got that first bird with a white nail he realized a need to outcross from the start was incredibly important. This was of course to ensure the future success of the pied mutation. Added to this there was a slow incremental spread of the pied colouring in each generation and what may have started as just a white toe nail in the first generation might have been a bird with a white toe nail and partly white toe in the next.
pied bourkes parrots athol shelton jade welch
Pied Bourke's - 20 years in the making
From outcrossing Athol eventually crossed back in to develop the pied in the birds. This has led to the stunning quality examples of pieds within Australia although it has taken a little longer then may be expected. 

The view Athol took on the need to outcross from the start is a view he continues to hold today and he urges those with pieds to continue to outcross. It should be mentioned that Athol took a break of 7-8 years from intensively working on the pied bourkes due to other commitments. As such 7-8 years went by where development slowed.

Bourkes showing pied in varying degrees are available and Athol holds the view from his breedings that the Pied mutation he has worked on is recessive in inheritance. As such he says what may appear to be an extremely light pied may in fact be a visual split. The same appears to be the case for the Black-eyed Yellow Red-rump in which splits will often have a white toe nail, splashes of yellow, colour in the flights etc.
rosa pied bourke athol shelton jade welch
The STUNNING Pied Rosa Bourke
With the release of the pied and the renewal of interest in the Bourke the future for these birds in Australia is set to keep them at the top as one of the best all round birds. The Pied mutation is currently being bred with other mutations to create combination mutations and as is required continues to be outcrossed. Unfortunately the exporting of the pieds out of Australia is not permitted. 

Keep following the Blog for more updates on the Pied Bourkes.

Happy Birdkeeping,

Copyright © Jade Welch - All Rights Reserved. All photographs and text are protected
by copyright and may not be reproduced by any method without written permission from Mr Jade Welch.


  1. I wonder how much one would cost? If at all any are available?

    1. Hi they are still quite rare and have a long waiting list. It will be some years before they become common. Unfortunately for those outside of Australia we are not permitted to export our native birds and this includes the Pied Bourke.