Barnards Parakeet breeding mutations

Barnards Parakeet breeding and its mutations.
Barnardius barnardi

Description

Apart from the nominate B.b. bernardius, there is only one recognized sub-species, B.b. whitei. The nominate species has a much clearer coloring than whitei. The green and yellow areas are darker and more intense than in the whitei, while the blue on the wings is a deep cobalt blue. The back is black and the yellow on the belly is also combined with orange/red.

These parakeets are named after Edward Barnard, an important bird expert of the nineteenth century. Barnards occurs in an extensive range in the southeast of Australia. Their numbers have dropped drastically in recent times, mainly as a result of the clearance of vegetation for development.

Behavior in nature

Barnards occurs in a region in Australia that lies on the same latitude as South Africa. For this reason, it is essential to take note of their behavior in nature.

Their natural diet is predominantly comprised of seeds of indigenous Australian grasses as well as imported grasses, supplemented with fruit and berries from indigenous trees and shrubs. They also eat fresh sprouts, flowers, nectar, insects, and larvae. They will rarely if ever do damage to cultivated crops.

In the wild, they will breed from the early spring in August until November. The nests are usually built in hollow stumps or branches of Bluegum trees near perennial rivers or other water sources. There are even documented occurrences of nest tunnels being excavated in river banks. The height of the nests above the ground varies from 2m to 10m, and the depths of the nests vary between 600mm to 1200mm.

Barnard Parakeets in our aviaries

The differences between the sexes are not as marked as in Rosellas, and it is, therefore, necessary to have your birds surgically sexed.

As with most Australian parakeets, the sub-species have been crossbred so widely around the world that they can no longer be distinguished. These birds achieve full coloration at around 18 months old when they moult completely for the first time. As with Rosellas, most Barnards begin breeding from two years old.

The average length of the Barnard is 35cm. They weigh between 110g and 145g, and their ring size is 5.5mm (PVSA Code D). (South African ring code)

Feeding

Like most Australian parakeets, Barnards are relatively easy to feed, since they are primarily seed eaters. The micronized seed mixes that are now commercially available work extremely well as a base. To this, I add chopped vegetables such as carrots, beetroot, pumpkin, and/or sweet potatoes. I would discourage breeders from adding another protein/vitamin/mineral concentrate to this mixture.

Most micronized seed mixtures that I know of already have a complete nutritional supplement added. All that you will achieve by adding more supplements will be to make your food mix toxic to your birds. I feed this mix early every morning, and after this breakfast, I provide a small amount (20g) of fine seed for each cage compromising millet, canary seed, and manna.

In the afternoons each cage each given about 30g of sprouted seeds (sunflower and oats). I never feed my Australian parakeets any chopped fruit, because fruit is 90% water and sugar, which attracts bees and causes the food to ferment, while the nutritional value of the fruit is minimal.

Breeding

As mentioned earlier, these birds breed in holes in trees. It would benefit breeders to take this into consideration when breeding Barnards. The shallowest holes are 600mm deep, so do not offer your Barnards a cockatiel nest box and expect them to accept the nest immediately. Bear in mind that any nest box must be at least 600mm deep, and the floor area should not be too large. 200mm x 200mm with an entrance hole of 65mm diameter would be ideal.

If the bottom of the nest is too large, the female will feel insecure while breeding and will constantly roll the eggs from one corner to another to try and find a safe spot, often breaking or otherwise damaging the eggs in the process. I can well remember when I bought my first pair of Barnards from an importer about 40 years ago.

At that time I knew very little about keeping and breeding these parakeets. The only book available on the subject was “Foreign Bird Keeping” by Edward J. Boosey. Although this was by far the best book of its time, Boosey had also not had much experience with these birds. We had to teach ourselves by trial and error, and the biggest mistakes that we made, in the beginning, were making the nest boxes too big and too shallow.

The Barnard, like many of the larger Australian parakeets, has a tendency to break its eggs. To prevent this, firstly make the nest deeper and smaller. If this does not work, foster parents will have to be used.

The idea is to use another pair of Barnards for fostering, but this is not always possible and one would have to look at another species to do the job. Golden Mantles are always a good second choice since they are a similar size. Redrumps should also never be ruled out. I have had hundreds of Barnards reared by Redrumps.

Always ensure that the foster parents that you choose raise their own chicks well before placing other birds’ eggs with them.

Also take into account the relative sizes between the foster hen and the biological parents, so that the foster hen is not given more eggs than she can take care of.

Barnards Parakeet breeding mutations

The only two Barnard’s mutations that I know of are the Blue and the Fallow.

Barnards blue mutation
Barnards blue mutation
Fallow Barnards Parkeet
Fallow Barnards Parakeet

The first time I saw a Blue Barnard, I lost my breath. It is still one of the most beautiful of all mutations to my mind.

The Cloncurry can quite easily be mistaken for a Fallow Barnard’s, so we have included a photo of the Cloncurry. One clear difference is that there is no red on the Cloncurry’s forehead.

Cloncurry Parakeet
Cloncurry Parakeet

As both above-mentioned mutations are autosomal recessive genetically, the outcome will be the same for the other color.

Article and photos by Louis Bothma.

You might also be interested in Conures:

https://www.worldwidepets.online/blog/top-10-conures-as-pets/


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