Budgerigars, also commonly known as budgies, are among one of the most popular, well-known and most homed parrots in the world. It might come to a shock to some of you that something so small is a considered a parrot and, specifically, budgerigar are classified under the family Psittaculidae or as we more commonly know this family as parakeets. There exist many different kinds of parakeets, some of them big and some of them small—like the budgie.
What makes budgies one of the most commonly kept parrots around the world is for a variety of reasons. They are smaller and easier to manage than some of their larger cousins. They also happen to be less noisy, too, at least when we're comparing it to say a cockatoo or a macaw. They are also brightly coloured with beautiful plumage that may come in an arrange of colours, such as blues, violets, whites, yellows, and greens. They also happen to come in a variety of sizes; generally speaking, we classify the smaller budgies kept in homes as regular or American budgies and the larger budgies (that can reach two to three times the size of the average budgie) as English budgies.
More than this, it's budgies' willingness to bond and interact with humans that make them so popular. They are remarkably intelligent birds with unique personalities that seemingly captivate the minds of their owners. They are eager to learn and can pick up a variety of tricks. They can, yes, even learn to speak.
Lastly, budgerigars are relatively cheap in comparison to other species averaging anywhere between $20 to $40 and their initial cost also cheaper than their cousins. They are relatively easy to take care of, their maintenance not as heavy as others.
It's no wonder they're so popular.
But what exactly is a budgie? Where do they come from? What are they like in the wild?
Budgerigars come from Australia and, as stated above, they are known as a parakeet. A parakeet is often described as a bird with a slender body, generally smaller to medium size parrots with long tails. There are many different kinds of parakeets you may have already seen or known such as cockatiels or Indian Ringnecks.
Hailing from Australia, budgies are an incredibly sociable and nomadic bird who live in huge flocks. They fly vast distances in search of food and water and readily mate. Their motto is one among many, many among one!
Their natural colours are traditionally the yellow-green budgies that you see in pet stores. Like their household cousins, they too are sexually dimorphic, meaning you can tell the sex of the bird just by looking at them.
Males, typically, have blue ceres (the fleshy part above the beak where the nostrils are located). Females on the other hand usually have brown or tanned ceres.
Young birds are easy to identify with their dark eyes, the bands on their heads, and sometimes even the colour of their beak. Since budgies pride themselves in big numbers they breed quickly and they breed often, another reason why they've become so popular in the household—their availability certainly makes it that way!
Now, parrots are not for everyone. Regardless of how big or small a parrot is (or any animal for that matter), it's important to understand that these are living beings. Birds, in particular, are quite smart. Birds also think differently than say a cat or a dog. How we approach them and interact with them is quite vital.
However, the bird world is growing. People are getting more and more into birds. Can you really blame them? Parrots in particular are vibrant, intelligent, and even capable of human speech.
I personally don't believe in a starter bird, though it's something you'll commonly see. You'll get similar issues and problems with small parrots as you will with medium to large parrots. The difference, however, is the manageability of size.
Clearly a budgie is incapable of inflicting the same amount of harm as say a macaw or a cockatoo, who have huge beaks.
Do I believe everyone should have parrots? No. I do not.
The same could be said with any animal, really.
Of all the parrot species, however, budgies are the most accessible and easily found. So I will quickly introduce you to the pros and cons of having a budgie, and whether one might be right for you.
Before you purchase any bird you should do as much research as possible. Knowledge is power, and it's everything to bird folk like myself. It's what equips us for the obstacles that lay ahead. If you believe birds are easy pets because you can lock them away in a cage, then you are mistaken. Most likely you shouldn't have birds in the first—or perhaps look at canaries or finches (who have their own set of problems).
But for those genuinely seeking and wanting to learn let's jump straight into it!
Let's first start with...
- Budgies, even though they are small birds, can be loud birds. They often have an insistent chatter about them and not everyone finds it cute or adorable. Expect noises from your birds, it's going to happen. They will often be loud during the early hours of the morning and just before bed. Budgies, in particular, get loud when they hear water as they live naturally in an area that can have severe droughts and water can be hard to find. If noise is an issue for you, then budgies are probably not for you.
- Budgies aren't nearly as messy as other birds but they can be messy. Now, there is a difference between messy and dirty. Birds are very clean animals, they like to bathe and preen their feathers often. But that doesn't mean that they can't make a mess with their seeds and since they use the washroom every 10-20 minutes some people might find it too much for them to handle.
- Budgies have a huge personality, and like any parrot, it's going to take time to learn your bird. Bird owners must learn patience when dealing with birds in general, and though budgies do regularly and eagerly bond with their human companions this process can take awhile. Even when tamed, budgies are birds that are not afraid to give a quick nip.
- Time. Birds need time to interact. You can help alleviate this by having a friend, though the taming process will be lengthened (it is worth it though!), but they will still need about 1-2 hours each day outside of their cage. You want to make sure you're spending as much time with your birds as possible, not only does this help in the taming process it also helps to keep them happy and healthy. When not out of their cages safely playing they need ample space in their cages to stretch their wings and toys to keep them occupied. (I would avoid plastics, mirrors, and anything that is shaped like birds, we'll talk about that later)
- Their diet. Thankfully, budgies on a whole are not expensive birds to keep. It's partially why I love them so much! However, that doesn't mean you can shirk your responsibilities when it comes to their diet. Seeds are not enough, they should also have a specialized diet known as pellets as well as fresh greens, vegetables, and fruits. In addition to this, you'll want healthy treats (for rewarding your bird and treating them), vitamin blocks or supplements and cuttlebone (which helps with vitamins, calcium and the beak). A healthy diet can really help in the long run not only for a happy bird but also for your pockets as they're less likely to get sick.
- Talking about money, let's talk about the vet. Yes, you should see a vet as soon as you're able. It doesn't matter if your bird is small or big, it's a living creature and they should have everything they can to have the best life they can. This includes regular veterinary visits, and these can be expensive.
- Birds chew, and budgies are no exception. They will get into things you don't want them too, and you will need to give them appropriate toys that are safe for them to interact with. These include safe woods they can chew on. Mirrors, plastics, and toys shaped like creatures should be avoided. Mirrors and toys shaped like birds or other creatures can cause psychological issues with birds as they might associate and regard that particular toy as a living being. Plastics can be dangerous because if they break and get swallowed your bird could die.
- Birds are fragile. Budgies are no exception. Not only do they have hollowed bones (that can be easily broken), they have complicated respiratory systems to consider. They breathe differently as well, with their rib cage expanding as they breathe. Gentle care is needed when dealing with these tiny ones.
- Lastly, because of the way birds think, you cannot treat them like dogs or cats or even children. The last thing you want to do is accidentally reinforce behaviors you do not want in your bird, like screaming or biting. Yes, birds make noises; yes, they scream; and yes, they bite from time to time. Most if not all of these can be avoided unnecessarily, however. If you're not willing to learn how to interact with your bird, then a bird is probably not good for you.
- Others. This is a determinate factor because not everyone will like that you have a bird or birds. You need to consider the people in your household, in particular. A bird that isn't properly socialized with the rest of the flock (you and the others) can have serious issues later, such as when you leave and maybe one of the others is trying to take care of the bird. Budgies are usually not loud enough to be kicked out of homes or apartments, but perhaps yours turns out to be louder than others. Consider the people around you, they are a factor.
Have I scared you off a budgie yet?
I hope not. These are important things to consider and think about before you purchase a budgie, however. They are things you should consider for not only your life but the life you will be providing for your new friends and companions. Budgies can live up 20 years if you're lucky, though on average many see their budgie between the ages of 7-15. That's a long time. You need to be sure you can give a forever home to these animals.
Now, let's talk about the good things...
- Budgies are incredibly sociable birds. They interact very well in large families, including those with children. They bond readily, and with a bit of patience and hard work you'll have a forever friend who will entertain you for hours and love you unconditionally. Well, except if you stop providing treats... of course...
- Budgies come in a variety of colours. They can come in blues, violets, yellows, greens, and whites. Some mutations are more expensive and harder to find than others, but you can certainly find colours you enjoy.
- Budgies are smart little creatures. They can learn to talk and learn various tricks. You should never buy a bird, or parrot specifically, for their ability to talk because they may never but for such a small bird they sure pick up words quick!
- Budgies are sexually dimorphic, meaning you can look at them and know exactly what their sex is! No blood tests needed in order to figure it out.
- Budgies have BIG personalities. For something so small they sure think of themselves as something very big. These personalities are entertaining and loveable. It can also make them a bit mischievous and sassy.
- Maintenance, cleanliness, and noise. Maintenance they are much easier than some other birds. They don't require huge cages to be kept in (18 x 18 is sufficient for a bird or two), though the bigger the cage certainly the better. You just want to make sure the bar spacing is good on bigger cages so the bird can't easily squeeze through the bars. They are easy to clean up after and noise wise? Some people find their chatter adorable and cute. Others mind find it annoying. Yes, they can scream and screech but it will never be as loud as some other parrots, that's for sure!
- Parrots are accessible, easy to find and cheap. Which is a downside too, since they're so cheap and accessible people will often buy them without any real consideration as to whether not the pet is right for them or their families.
- They breed easily. For those of you who might be getting into breeding birds, budgies are a good place to start. Before you start, breeding, however, you should consider why you're doing it. You won't make much from breeding and you want to be sure the babies will have good homes to go to. There are enough budgies without homes as it is, try not to contribute to this. Breeding can also be dangerous to some, and talking with your vet can certainly help in deciding if breeding is something you should even attempt.
- Budgies are smaller birds, and therefore, they are easier to manage. Bigger parrots can cause all sorts of problems with unsuspecting owners who don't know better. That beak can do serious damage if you're not careful. Budgies, though can inflict a painful bite, can be easily negotiated and worked with if need be. With good training, these situations will be rare.
- They'll steal your heart.
There you have it, ten pros and ten cons of owning a budgie. A brief introduction on what budgies are and where they come from. If you're still interested in a parrot, or bird and specifically a budgerigar as a pet please do as much research as you can before you purchase.
Purchase from a reputable source, such as a reputable breeder, and lastly make a well informed choice before you buy. Be sure you can provide all that you can for your bird and that you can give it a good home.
We have enough animals, birds included, on the street. Many struggle to find homes to be adopted into, and birds in particular struggle the most.
Be considerate of other life and be considerate of yourself.
If you feel a budgie is right for you, do the research and you'll find a whole new world open to you. One, maybe, you didn't even know existed in the first place.