Budgerigars are among the most popular pet birds for good reason. These charismatic little parakeets are loveable and affectionate. They are easy to tame if they are acquired at a young age, and are able to mimic speech like larger parrots. Budgies are easy to care for and are considered excellent “starter birds” by most aviculturists.
- Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) – commonly called “budgie”, “shell parakeet”, or just “parakeet”.
- Budgies are only one of a large number parakeet species.
- Two varieties
- American: smaller body, sleeker plumage
- English: larger body, fluffier plumage
- Weight: 30-34 gm
- Young birds have bands on the forehead that fade by 3-4 months
- Adult males have a blue cere (skin surrounding the nostrils); females have pink cere. This rule applies to the natural color varieties, but not to all of the various color mutations
- Sexual maturity: 6 months
- Avg. life span: 6 years
- Maximum recorded life span: 18+years
- Origins: Australia
- Very playful and active; can be vocal, but quieter than most parrots
- Budgies can be kept singly if the owner is able to spend a lot of time interacting and bonding with the bird.
- A pair of budgies will keep each other company, but these birds will usually be less tame and not mimic speech as well.
- Hand-fed babies and those that have been handled often will be the easiest to hand tame as they mature.
- Expose early to daily activities in the household. Place cage in area of the home where the family spends the most time.
- Provide environmental enrichment to reduce boredom. Budgerigars are intelligent and curious. They are easily amused with simple toys and love to explore their surroundings
- Budgies should not be allowed unrestricted access in the home where they can encounter numerous dangers. They should be confined to the cage when not directly supervised, and should be housed in a “bird friendly” safe room.
- Parakeets should not be fed a diet of seed alone. Seeds are nutritionally imbalanced and high in fat, and parakeets that become accustomed to seeds are very hard to switch to a better diet later on.
- Offer your parakeet a wide variety of fresh foods early on: vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, pasta, rice, beans, sprouted seeds. These items should make up about 20-25% of the diet.
- The best option is a pelleted diet specifically formulated for small parrots. Pelleted diets are nutritionally complete and will prevent your bird from picking out only those things he or she likes. Pellets should make up about 75% of the diet.
- Treats, including seeds, should make up only about 5% of the diet
- Clean, fresh water should be provided daily
- Cage should be as large as possible, with the bird able to fully extend the wings and flap without touching the sides of the enclosure.
- Cage should be clean, secure, safe, and constructed of durable, non-toxic materials, with varied perches, including concrete perches to keep nails worn.
- Spacing of cage bars should be ½ in (1.27 cm) or less; horizontal bars provide the best opportunity for climbing.
- Avoid placing perches directly over food or water to prevent contamination
- Access to natural light is preferred, but avoid drafty areas.
- Birds outside of cages need constant supervision to avoid access to other pets, small children, hot stoves, sinks/tubs full of water, and household toxins.
- Complete physical examination every 6-12 months
- Consult a veterinarian with experience in avian medicine if you have any questions or concerns about your bird’s health
- Annual fecal examination for parasites, yeast, and bacteria
- Blood work annually, or as recommended
- Wing or nail trimming as needed
Common Medical Disorders
- Chronic egg-laying
- Internal and external parasites
- Overgrowth of beak and nails