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Our third guest is also a lady breeder. Robbie Harris lives in Southern California and wrote already two books on hookbills and many articles.
Robbie Harris raises a wide variety of exotic birds at her home in Southern California.
She has written two books, "Breeding Conures" and "Grey-Cheeked Parakeets and Other Brotogeris", and owns and raises a large variety of African parrots, including greys, Jardine's, Capes, Senegals, red bellies, brown heads and Meyer's.
Robbie Harris has received seven U.S. First Breeding Awards for various types of psittacines.
As Robbie is working about 20 hours a day, 7/7, she doesn't wish us to reveal her e-mail address.
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Not a lot of people are breeding these birds. Some years back they were more readily available but, for some reason, bird breeders did not stock up on these birds for breeding — very much like the now disappearing grey-cheeked parakeets (Brotogeris pyrrhopterus) and others in that family. These Brotogeris were so readily available that most breeders did not bother to work with them in breeding programs and, now, youngsters are next to impossible to find. Lineolated parakeets (Bolborhynchus lineola) are only somewhat hard to find compared to some other species of birds like the Brotogeris. There are some people working with this wonderful little bird, including myself.
I absolutely adore the lineolated parakeet. They are very quiet little birds compared to all the other parrot-type species. They can be bred individually or in a group, in cages or flight aviaries. I cage-breed them, usually individual pairs per cage. However, I do have some set up in colonies. Both do fine but, once in awhile, pairs can break into fights, especially over nesting sites. They may be small, but they are tough little creatures. Once a mouse got into one of my cages that housed a single breeding pair of lineolated parakeets. The male tore the full-grown mouse to pieces, because the hen was on eggs. These birds can really hold their own when they want. Our pairs use simple wooden budgie nest boxes with shavings inside.
Their diet is like any other small parrot's — sunflower seed, safflower seed and a good budgie mix. They also love sprouts, fruits, vegetables and greens. I dust these with avian vitamins and calcium. I also feed fresh-picked green seed and grasses most of the year, which they also love to chew on and pick through.
They breed well, and they are usually good parents as long as they are provided with lots of fresh foods. Hand-fed chicks make great pets. Babies can be removed from the nest box as they are feathering and hand-fed. Babies that are being hand-fed are very chattery and noisy, but as soon as they are weaned, they quiet down.
It is best to sex these birds by DNA. It can be hard for someone who has not worked with them for a long time to determine a true pair. I do not take any chances and have all babies that are being held back for breeding DNA sexed. This way, I know for sure that they are true pairs. These birds can also go to nest before they are a full year old, so babies that are kept for breeding are set up with nest boxes within six months.
Lineolated parakeets are now being bred in the United States in other color variations like olives (dark green), blues and lutinos (yellows). I work with all these colors and find each one beautiful. Other colors will be a bit harder to find and will also cost more than the original emerald green coloring with black tiger striping. Sometimes, color-split birds can also be found for a pretty good price, and this will help you to generate new colors in your breeding pairs.
These birds make a great apartment pet, because their voice is not harsh like many other types of small parrots. Some can even learn to speak a few words, but keep in mind that they are not known for their talking ability. As pets, they are known for their love for their owner and sweet temperament. The tail is one of the most interesting aspects of this species of bird. They express their emotions with their tail by fanning it outward and spreading it open.
They also do a lot of climbing and creeping like a cat about their cages — climbing up sideways and upside-down. Sometimes, they hang motionless, looking around. I have seen many of these tiny jewels riding on their owner's shoulder during bird club meetings. They seem to enjoy all the attention and closeness, while staying right with their owners.
As for finding these birds for sale, you will have to look in places like Bird Talk magazine's ads, because very few people work with these birds.
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