The Budgerigar

(A.K.A. The Budgie or Parakeet)

General Info: This cute little parrot is one of the most popular of all captive birds here in the United States because of it’s small size and easy upkeep. It’s a great bird for first time parrot owners. Although it is well known as a parakeet or budgie, the bird is actually called a budgerigar (budgie is just for short, and the name parakeet is really a name that includes a wide variety of small parrot species). This bird is native to central Australia, living in terrains that include wooded areas, dessert, and scrub. The wild variety are a lovely green and yellow color with a light tan beak. Captivity and a whole lot of selective breeding has produced a whole rainbow of colors in these birds, including light-blue, white, and yellow. There are also two distinct types of budgies: The American budgie and the English budgie. The English budgie differs from the American budgie in overall size. The English budgie is a few inches larger. In addition, the English variety has a very distinct “puffy” appearance to the feathers that surround the beak (almost as if the English budgie is sporting a beard!).

Size: They are small birds under 10 inches in length. The average length is about 8 inches.

Lifespan: These birds typically live about 8 years, but have been know to live up to 15-20 years. Of course, a happy bird on an nutritious diet will have a greater chance at a long life.

Dietary Needs: All too often, budgies suffer from malnutrition. This is in large part because first time owners will be told that a simple seed diet is adequate for their budgie and they will not deviate from this seed-only advice. Seeds, high in fat and low (or even lacking) in many essential nutrients cause many health problems. A budgie will thrive on a diet of a MIXTURE of seeds, pellet, fresh fruits and veggies, and sprouts. Although fresh fruits are great as a snack every once in a while, veggies, especially those that are dark green in color, are fantastic additions to your birds diet. An example would be fresh spinach leaves (be sure to take out any uneaten fresh veggies or fruit after a few hours as they can spoil quickly. Spoiled food may cause illness in your bird). Have fun with variety. Who knows? Perhaps you will start to experiment with different types of fresh fruits and vegetables right along with your bird. Be adventurous!

Cage Size: For a single parakeet: no smaller than 18 x 18 inch cage. However the larger the better. They need 1/2 inch bar spacing.

For two or more birds we suggest a 30 inch wide cage or larger. They need lots of branches to perch on and a wide variety of toys for mental stimulation

Train-ability: These intelligent parrots are among the top 3 “talking” species of birds (the other 2 are the African Grey and the Yellow-headed Amazon). Usually, it is the male budgie that learns to mimic human words (you can tell which bird is a male by the blue cere. The cere is the area on the birds beak that contains the nostrils. The cere in females is brown). Their tiny little voices sometimes make it hard to decipher what is being said, but they are capable of repeating words that are taught to them. Budgies are very friendly and make great pets. Sometimes you must tame your bird to make them friendly toward you. This can be done by simply spending a lot of time with your bird for the first two weeks of his or her life with you (for example: 4 or so hours a day of holding, talking to, or interacting with your bird in any way). If you want to minimize the need to tame your bird, you can get a bird that is very young and hand-raised. In my personal opinion, the hand-raised birds are the very best for use as pets.

Health concerns: Watch your bird closely for health problems. Illness in birds is very serious by the time a problem is noticeable to you. This is because birds developed in instinct, in the wild, to hide their illnesses because predators tend to target birds that show illness as they are the easiest to capture. Common diseases/illnesses that budgies suffer from are tumors, diabetes, malnutrition, gout, mite infestations, polyoma and liver disease. “Scaly face”, caused by mites, seems to be the most common.

Written by: Arianna Pleitez