The Budgie - Budgerigar

Quick Facts

- Good for novice bird owners
- Best solo or in pairs
- Small size
- High activity level
- High Trainability
- High sociability with people

Budgies or Budgerigars are small parrots. These beautiful little birds are native to Australia and have inhabited its interior for over five million years. They have been domesticated for several centuries. The name Budgerigar comes from the Australian Aboriginal word "Betcherrygah", which means "good to eat". Originally, they were only available in yellow and green with black markings, but careful breeding has been able to produce Budgies in a myriad of vibrant colours and patterns. Budgies are closely related to Fig Parrots and Lories, both popular pet birds.

There are two types of Budgies that are commonly sold in pet stores- the American Budgie and the English Budgie. The English Budgie is the larger of the types, but the American is the more popular.

Budgies are excellent birds for novice bird owners. They are very sociable and friendly, and are easy to train and maintain. They are a good choice for a child’s first pet. They are usually gentle docile birds, not given to biting or aggressiveness. They are generally easy to care for pets; they are less expensive, cleaner and quieter than many of the other pet birds.

Budgies are intelligent birds, capable of learning tricks and how to talk. With work and patience, it is possible to teach a Budgie up to two hundred human words and a multitude of different tricks. Those serious about teaching their budgie to talk are best to acquire one that is very young; between 8 -12 weeks old is best. Not all budgies can learn to mimic human speech, but most can.

Budgies make charming delightful pets. They are playful and active, and if an owner takes the time to tame them, can be quite interactive and affectionate. They enjoy company, be it human or another budgie, and are best in pairs if their owner cannot offer them daily attention. Single budgies will get lonely if left alone too much. However, budgies kept alone tend to bond much closer to their owner than budgies kept in pairs, and solo budgies are much easier to teach to talk. Although budgies like company, not all budgies get along. Two males tend to get along better than two females. A male and female usually live together wonderfully, but will probably try to mate eventually.

They are active birds that like a cage that has lots of toys, a swing and perches. Their cage should be big enough for them to fly around and play in; it should be a minimum of 18 inches long, 18 inches wide and 20 inches tall for one bird. Cages with horizontal bars are best as they offer the bird the opportunity to climb up and down the cage and get exercise. Budgies are happiest when they can get out of their cage regularly and fly around. When allowing the bird out of his cage, owners should ensure all windows and doors are shut tight, ceiling fans are off and all container of liquid are shut, including the toilet bowl. Care should also be taken to ensure the budgie is safe from other pets; cats and some breeds of dogs pose a serious threat to a small bird. Care should also be taken around rambunctious toddlers who could hurt them accidentally.

Perspective owners are best to buy a budgie from a breeder, not a pet store, as there is a far higher chance that the bird will be healthier and tamer coming directly from a breeder. Look for a breeder who hand raises their birds, as these will be far tamer and usually make better pets. Perspective owners should look for a budgie that is alert and bright. Their feathers should be smooth and healthy looking, not puffed out. The bird should be active and vibrant, and clean.

Appearance and Care:
Budgies are lovely little birds that come in three basic colours- blue, green and yellow. Each of the three basic colors comes in a large variety of different shades. The English Budgie is stockier and larger than the American Budgie; both are available in the same variety of colours. The sex of a budgie is easily identified by looking at their cere; the cere is the hard area above their beaks and around their nostrils. Male Budgies have a purple or aqua-blue cere, while females have a white or tan cere.

For those budgies that enjoy a bath, they should be offered one weekly to help them stay clean. Those who do not enjoy bathing, owner should mist them lightly once a week to help keep their feathers clean.

Health and Diet:
Budgies are generally hardy breeds that when properly cared for enjoy a healthy happy life. The American Budgie has a longer life span than the English does; the American Budgie usually lives around 15 years, while the English Budgie usually lives around 7 years.

Budgies are prone to a few health issues that owners should watch for; they are susceptible to overgrown beaks and claws, enteritia, colds caused by catching a chill, diarrhoea caused by eating too much greens or bad food, mites and fleas. In additions, budgies are prone to having fits caused by overheating; their cage should never be put directly in the sun.

A proper diet is essentially for a healthy budgie. They should be given a good quality budgie seed mixture and fresh water daily. In addition, they can be treated with millet sprays, fresh greens like lettuce, dandelion or chickweed, honey bell and seed bars. They should also be provided with grit and a mineral block and cuttlefish. Budgies should never be given alcohol, chocolate, anything with caffeine in it, avocados or any type of junk food.


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