Budgerigars, or Budgies as they often called, are an extremely popular pet bird. They have delightful little characters and will keep their owners entertained and amused with their antics both in and out of their bird cage. These lovely little birds are members of the parakeet family and they can make delightful pets as they are usually quite docile, very friendly and quite easy to tame if you have one from a young age. They are also capable of mimicking speech, but may sometimes be difficult to understand and males tend to be better at this than females
Budgies are active and playful and can live to be 10-15 years old if cared for correctly. You should try to purchase a large bird cage or parrot cage to allow room for his toys and room for him to exercise. The minimum budgerigar cage size that you should look for should be approx. 18 ins wide x 18 ins deep x 20 ins high but as with all pet housing, the larger the better. The spacing between the bars of the cage should be 0.5ins or less and a mixture of horizontal and vertical cage bars will offer your bird the best opportunity for climbing and exercise. Look for a bird cage that has at least 2 perches at different levels with enough space to comfortably move between them. If you can offer your bird a variety of perch sizes this will help to keep his feet in good shape .
Lastly, but an important factor is that birds need to sleep just as we do and so it is important to provide him with some sort of cover for his cage so that he can have some rest time. It is also important not to place your bird cage in a draught, in the full sun or in a room that is smokey as none of these places will be a healthy place for your bird to live.
The bird cage will need to be kept clean and hygienic and your budgerigar's food and drinking bowls should be kept clean at all times. Your bird will need easy and constant access to clean fresh water and you should feed him with a quality bird food to suit his breed – your vet or breeder will be able to advise you on this. A cuttlefish bone placed in his bird cage will help him to keep his beak in trim and will also supply him with calcium. Toys, mirrors and bells are also a good source of amusement for your budgerigar.
However, even with a super large bird cage, budgies need play and so socialization time outside his cage is still very important. You may want to consider purchasing a bird play stand which again will give him an opportunity to play and exercise and also keep you, his owner, well entertained!!
Before purchasing your budgerigar, we suggest that you read up on them first. For instance, did you know that there are two types of budgies – the American budgie or parakeet and the English budgie. English budgies are larger than the American variety and have a different appearance to the American budgies, but all budgies belong to the same species, Melopsittacus undulatus.
They originate from Australia and their normal wild coloration is green with black bars on the wings, back and head. Mature females have a tan or beige cere which is the fleshy part around the nostrils and the males have a bluish cere. Having said this, it is unreliable in some of the colour variations and young birds of both sexes have pink ceres. Young budgies have bar markings on the forehead that recede with age and their eyes have dark irises that gradually become grey with age. However, this isn’t necessarily true for all colours and through selective breeding a huge variety of colours and patterns are available. There are wonderful colours such as violet, blue, yellow, pied, albino, and others.
Some budgie owners like to have pairs of birds as they make good company for each other, but it is worth knowing that if you do this, they may then not bond as well with their owners or mimic speech as well. A single bird is fine, but you must spend a significant amount of time interacting with a single budgie on a daily basis as they are very playful and active and love the company. Although the budgie is quieter than some other parrots they can still be noisy !!
When choosing a bird, it’s best to choose a hand fed baby or at least a young bird that has been handled regularly. You may have to pay more for a hand reared or very young bird, but it’s worth the extra cost and ideally you should purchase your baby bird from a good breeder as they will be able to advise you of their age and history. If you purchase one from a pet shop, the bird may have an unknown history and if it is older will be more challenging to bond with and tame.
Always look for a bird that is bright, alert and active because a bird that is sitting quietly with puffed feathers could be ill. His body feathers should be smooth and shiny and lay down flat against his body. The feathers around his back end should be clean, dry, and free of faecal matter. The scales on his feet should be smooth and his nails should be seen to be in good condition, his beak should be smooth and well-shaped with his nostrils looking clear and clean.