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Budgerigars – Everything You Need to Know

Budgerigars

Are you a newbie in the avian world? If you’re looking for a starter pet bird, look no further than Budgerigars! These talented nomadic birds are full of surprises.

And they can brighten up your home in ways more than you can imagine!

But how do Budgies as pets interact with owners, and is it worth the cost?

In this guide, we’ll dive into Budgerigar’s origin and history and everything you need to know about them, such as:

  • personality and behavior towards their fellow Budgies and their owners
  • talking abilities and their needs that you must provide
  • and raising tips and tricks on how to keep them healthy and happy

Budgerigars – Everything You Need to Know

This guide can help you determine if Budgerigars are the right birds for you and make wise purchasing decisions.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right into it!

Budgerigars Species Overview
Scientific name:  Melopsittacus undulatus
Size:  7 to 8 inches
Weight: 30 to 40 grams
Wingspan:  12 inches
Lifespan: 5 to 8 years in captivity
Diet: Omnivore
Talking Abilities: Can talk and mimic human speech
Habitat:   Open woodland and grassland near water

budgies parrot

Budgerigar: What Is It?

Budgerigar is one of the 115 species under the parakeet parrot’s umbrella. 

These seed-eating birds possess a slender body and long, tapering tails. They also boast light green bodies with hints of yellow on the head and striking black and white plumage patterns.

Budgerigars are also called “budgies” and “shell parakeets” because of their wavy, shell-like formation on their wings. 

But the name “Budgerigar” came from the Australian Aboriginal word ‘Betcherrygah’ which means “good food.” 

They’ve been bred in captivity since the 1850s and rose to be one of the world’s most popular pet birds today. 

Budgies are one of the smallest true parrots next to parrotlet, with an average size of 7 to 8 inches. 

Budgie vs. Parakeet: What’s the Difference?

Budgies or Budgerigars have been used interchangeably with Parakeets, but to settle your confusion, Budgies are one of the many types of Parakeets. 

Therefore all Budgies are Parakeets, but not all Parakeets are Budgerigars. 

Other types of Parakeets include Indian Ringneck parakeets. This species measures around 16 inches so they’re significantly larger than Budgies.

How fast do Budgrigars fly?

Budgerigars have two different speeds. They can fly at a top speed of 22 miles per hour when migrating, or they’re in an open sky. 

But sometimes, they slow down to 11 miles per hour to increase maneuverability.

Do Budgerigars migrate?

Wild Budgerigars remain in Australia. But they do migrate from the northern to the southern part of the continent and back again. 

They nestle in the north during warmer months from December through March and travel to the south as the temperature drops from March to August. 

How many eggs do they lay?

Female Budgerigars can lay around 6 to 8 eggs twice a year. Their breeding season in the wild in northern territories is usually between June and September. But if they migrate south, it falls from August to September.

budgerigar birds in a nest

Budgerigar’s Origin and Natural Habitat

Budgerigars have a wide geographic range. They nestle in the interior west of Australia’s Great Dividing Range. 

Average flock sizes range from 3 to 100 birds, but after rainfall, they can reach tens of thousands!

These birds thrive in savannas, grasslands, open forests, and grassy woodlands. Since they need to drink every day, they’re often spotted close to water.

Types of Budgerigars:

1. Traditional Budgerigar

These birds hail from Australia and are smaller than the English versions.

2. English Budgie

These Budgies are 1 to 2 inches longer than the traditional Australian counterparts and possess larger heads. Additionally, they have puffier feathers around their faces and crowns. 

BUDGERIGAR TRIVIA

Did you know that green is the one natural color of Budgies?

You may find blue and white budgies in pet shops, but they’re just color mutations bred specifically for pet trades. 

Therefore, you can’t see blue budgies in the wild. The only natural Budgie color you’ll ever witness is the yellow/green variety.

Budgerigar Personality

Budgerigar Personality and Behavior

Budgies are naturally hardy, friendly, and social creatures. They love to pair up in the wild or live in small colonies when not migrating. 

Budgies take great care of each other when resting by preening and communicating using a distinctive ‘chirruping’ sound. 

In captivity, Budgerigar is playful and outgoing. They enjoy spending time and talking with their favorite humans. 

budgerigar bird hatching eggs

 

Budgerigars’ Mating and Reproduction

Budgies are monogamous, and they mate for life. Their breeding season occurs at any time, but it’s often after rain. 

Their nests are created from existing cavities of tree trunks, logs, branches, and old fence posts.  

The female Budgies reach maturity when they’re eight months old. They lay around 4 to 8 eggs in a single clutch and incubate them for 18 to 20 days. 

Sometimes, it may take another week to 10 days before all of the egg hatches.  Since the chicks are born blind and with minimal feathers, their mothers need to keep them warm during their first ten days or more until their eyes open. 

On the other hand, their fathers are responsible for foraging and feeding the chicks. 

Fledglings start to learn to fly and attempt to escape the nest between the ages of six and eight weeks. The number of chicks in their brood affects the age at which a bird can fly. 

For instance, young birds from smaller clutches frequently learn to fly more quickly than those from bigger clutches. 

Budgerigars communicating

Talking Abilities of Budgerigars 

Now let’s talk about Budgies’ talking abilities since it’s a crucial question to ask when considering this species as a pet. 

So, can budgerigars talk?

The direct answer is YES! They can talk. Many Budgies can speak with greater clarity and more extensive vocabulary than larger parrots like macaws and cockatoos. 

In fact, a Budgie named Puck is the Guinness world record holder for the most extensive vocabulary for birds!  He can speak 1728 words but unfortunately, he died in 1994.

Budgies’ voice is small and raspy. So, understanding their words is challenging. And they need proper and constant training to develop their talking abilities. 

Budgerigars' Predators and Threats

Budgerigars’ Predators and Threats

Wild Budgerigars are prone to habit destruction and hawk and falcon attacks. Since they’re minuscule, they’re easy prey for feral cats and rats. 

Sometimes, rodents raid budgie nests for eggs and hunt the birds too!

On top of that, many pasture types of grass, including Buffel Grass and African Love Grass, are replacing their referred native grasses en masse in their range. 

And due to wildfires, they may lose their nesting hollows in old trees. These birds are considered a pest since they tend to eat cereal crops in large flocks. 

Where to Find Budgerigars

Budgies are abundant in Australia. But how about here in the US? Well, you may find many Budgies in a pet store. But sadly, they’re primarily products of bird mills.

You may also find rescued Budgies that are up for adoption in various parrot rescue organizations. Birds from these organizations undergo medical tests such as:

  • microscopic fecal analysis (to ensure the bird’s parasite-free)
  • testing for Chlamydophila psittaci (parrot fever) 
  • general blood testing
  • testing for other diseases

How much does a budgie cost?

A budgerigar costs around $10 to $35. It may vary depending on whether you purchase it from a breeder or pet store and whether it’s a show bird or not. 

Why are budgies so cheap?

These birds are easy and inexpensive to breed, unlike larger parrots. That’s why breeders can sell this starter breed at a low price. 

Furthermore, some bird mills produce numerous Budgies without concern for the health or temperament of the adults or the chicks. That’s the sad reality and one of the reasons why budgerigar price is more affordable than other birds. 

Budgerigar Conservation Status

This bird species quickly reproduce both in the wild and in captivity. The estimated budgie population worldwide is 5,000,000, and it’s still increasing. 

That’s why Budgies’ conservation status is labeled as least concerned with the risk of becoming endangered. 

budgie care

Budgerigars Care Tips — How to Raise These Birds

Here are some Budgie care tips on how to raise Budgerigars successfully, from their diet to cage requirements and hygiene.

Budgerigar Diet and Nutrition

As said earlier, Budgies drink a lot, especially in the morning. Their water consumption can range up to 5.5% of their body weight daily. 

If there’s no available water nearby, they’ll drink early morning dew and take a bath in wet grasses. But in captivity, you should provide them accessible and clean water daily to meet their needs. 

Budgies usually devour seeds, grains, and nuts from herbs and grasses in the wild. They often climb tussocks while foraging on the ground to strip vegetation.

The seeds are then removed from their husks and consumed whole or broken. And then, they look for shade after drinking and eating in the middle of the day.

But how about budgie food in captivity?

budgie food

What Do Budgerigars Eat?

We hate to break it to you, but seeds are not enough for these birds. A diet consisting only of seeds may cause health problems for a small Budgie. 

So you may wonder what’s the recommended diet for Budgerigars. Well, according to avian vets, their diet must include:

  • pellets
  • fresh fruits
  • vegetables like leafy greens
  • a small amount of seeds 

Budgerigars’ Hygiene

Since birds both eat and defecate, it’s crucial to keep their shelter or the bird cage clean to prevent diseases from spreading.

Do Budgies poop a lot?

Budgies poop around three or four times per hour and at least 40 to 50 times a day. They also poop when they’re asleep, but not as much as in the daytime. 

Can I wash my Budgie?

Most Budgies love taking a bath, so they’d be happy if you’d wash them several times a week if your home is dry.  

These birds even make it easier for your because they’ll fluff up their feathers to let the water run down near their skin. 

Cage Requirements

The minimum cage size recommended for each Budgerigar is 12x18x18 inches. It should be fine if your bird spends most of its time outside. But if you’ll confine them into their cage, you should get a larger one that’ll enable them to fly and play and stay happy. 

What a budgie needs in its cage?

These are Budgies’ basic needs in a cage that you should provide as an avian parent:

  • perches
  • feeding and drinking bowls
  • something to chew
  • a swing
  • some toys
  • bird bath
  • sand sheets or loose sand that will serve as a substrate for the bottom of their cage

How often should you clean the budgie cage?

Budgie cages need thorough cleaning at least once a week. So, scrub it down with a non-toxic disinfectant soap and hot water, including the plastic toys, bowls, and bottom trays. 

The bars need washing too! You can brush it and rinse it with fresh water after any soap or disinfectant application. 

TRIVIA:

Did you know that Budgies can stand on one leg?

Budgerigars stand on one foot either because they find this position comfortable or because they’re cold and trying to preserve heat. They can even sleep while standing on one leg. 

budgerigars in a cage

Common Health Issues of Budgerigars

If you decide to raise a Budgie, make sure to visit your avian vet at least once a year since this species is susceptible to the following diseases:

  • Tumors: It includes fatty tumors, testicular, kidney, and adrenal tumors.
  • Goiter: Due to Iodine deficiency, the thyroid gland may expand and change your bird’s voice.
  • Psittacosis or parrot fever: This disease is caused by Chlamydia psittaci bacteria, and it can spread to humans.
  • Cnemodocoptes mites: These parasites are the main culprits of mange or scaly leg that also causes beak deformities.
  • Liver disease: High-fat seed diet leads to fatty liver disease. It’s one of the most common diseases in Budgerigars.
  • Polyomavirus: It’s known as budgie fledgling disease” caused by viruses that can kill chicks as they emerge from their nest.
  • Psittacine beak and feather disease: This deadly disease caused by psittacine circovirus causes poor flight and tail feather formation. So, birds suffering from this disorder which are often referred to as ‘creepers,’ can’t fly.
  • Brown hypertrophy of the cere: Simply put, it means a hormonal imbalance of older female Budgerigars.
  • Megabacteria: This yeast infection that causes chronic weight loss is treatable with antifungal drugs.

budgies as pets

Frequently Asked Questions About Budgerigars

We compiled some of the commonly asked questions about Budgerigars here to give you more insight into their personality and how they are as pets.

What does it mean when your Budgie keeps chirping?

Budgies chirp when they’re happy or enjoy the music you are playing. It’s a reassurance that everything is okay. They also chirp when they bond and communicate with their flock. 

What should you not do with a Budgie?

Scented candles, perfumes, aerosol sprays, and air fresheners are toxic to these birds, so avoid using them when they’re around. Human saliva is detrimental to their health, too, so refrain from kissing their beak at all costs. 

Do Budgerigars like to be held?

Budgie birds love to spend time with their owners, and the best way to interact with them is by holding them gently in your hands. 

They don’t mind if you’d touch or kiss them because they enjoy receiving lots of love and attention. 

Are Budgies hard to take care of?

Budgerigars are easy to care for and inexpensive because they’re low-maintenance. That’s why they’re excellent “starter birds,” according to many aviculturists. 

How do you know a Budgie is happy?

Your Budgies’ beak and head movements like beak grinding may indicate their happiness, so watch out for it. Wing flapping and tail wagging are signs that your bird is happy when you’re around. 

Is a Budgie a good pet?

Budgies can make excellent pets because they are innately friendly, low-maintenance, gentle, and affectionate. In fact, they’re the most common household pet next to dogs and cats. 

They’re also easy to tame, especially if acquired at a tender age. 

What’s the difference between Budgie and Budgerigar?

Budgie is the common nickname for Budgerigar, so they’re practically the same. 

Do Budgies recognize their owners?

Budgies recognize their owner’s voice and the look on their faces even after a long period apart. They also show affection by flying towards and resting on their owner’s shoulder. 

These birds can also recognize their flock members and own mate amongst similar birds. 

Is it better to have 1 or 2 Budgies?

If you’re at work all day or you’re away a lot and don’t have enough time to socialize with your bird, getting two budgies is a wise decision. 

Male budgies get along with each other but keeping two females together can result in territorial fights over their space.

Are Budgies loud at night?

Budgies are not loud at night because most sleep throughout the night. They’ll stop making noise when it gets dark, for example, when there’s no daylight or the lights are off. You may hear an occasional sleepy peep, but they’re generally quiet at night. 

How long does a Budgie live?

Budgerigar lifespan can range from 7 to 15 years, but their average in captivity is 5 to 8 years. 

It could be due to mistreatment, accidents, lack of knowledge about bird care, or fatal bird diseases. 

Are Budgies smelly?

These birds don’t produce odor themselves which means their bodies are unscented. So you don’t have to worry that they’d smell stinky when they’re on your shoulder. 

On top of that, they have a lackluster sense of smell. 

Is Budgerigar the Right Bird For You?

Budgerigars are brilliant, friendly, affectionate, and entertaining. They can also be playful and active but quiet compared to other parrots.

These birds are also low-maintenance and have the capability to talk and mimic human speech. Not to mention, their striking appearance.

The younger you get the Budgie, the easier it would be for you to train and bond with them. But to make sure you make the right decision, check out the pros and cons of Budgie birds.

Pros & Cons

Pros of Budgerigars
  • Ideal for tiny homes or apartments
  • Less messy compared to larger species
  • Affordable and low-maintenance
  • Social and affectionate to their owners
  • They don’t bite often, and they don’t bite hard
Cons of Budgerigars
  • Sometimes skittish and challenging to tame
  • Require medical attention
  • It can be slightly destructive
  • Poops almost every 15 minutes

 

Budgerigar playing

Final Thoughts About Budgerigars

Do Budgerigars tick all the lists of your ideal pet bird?

Many novice pet bird owners opt to raise this starter bird species in their journey in the avian world. And there’s a good reason for that.

These birds are endearing, intelligent, and can talk and exhibit gorgeous plumage in adulthood. On top of that, they’re easy to raise and train. So, Budgies are indeed worth the price.

But before you purchase your Budgerigar bird, you must ensure that you’re buying from a reputable breeder.

If you’re not 100% sure about Budgies, check out this next breed that exhibits unique characteristics and see if it’s the one for you.

READ NEXT: Cockatoo: Everything You Need To Know

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