When they are born, budgerigars are altricial, which means that they are completely helpless and blind. For the first few days of a young budgie’s life, his mother must feed him and keep him warm. Around the tenth day, baby budgies’ eyes open for the first time. This is also when they begin to develop feather down and don’t need to rely on their mother as much for warmth.
As the fifth week approaches, baby budgies begin stretching their wings in order to strengthen them. They become a lot more self-sufficient, so their parents are able to leave the nest for longer and longer periods of time. They also learn how to scare away predators by screeching and being noisy. When their wings become strong enough, they fledge or learn to fly for the first time.
A mature male's cere is usually light to dark blue, but can be purplish to pink in some particular colour mutations, such as Dark-eyed Clears, Danish Pieds (Recessive Pieds) and Inos, which usually display much rounder heads. Males are typically cheerful, extroverted, highly flirtatious, peacefully social, and very vocal.
They develop feathers around three weeks of age. (One can often easily note the colour mutation of the individual birds at this point.) At this stage of the chicks' development, the male usually has begun to enter the nest to help his female in caring and feeding the chicks. Some budgerigar females, however, totally forbid the male from entering the nest and thus take the full responsibility of rearing the chicks until they fledge.
Budgerigars seldom bath like other birds. They like to roll in soaking wet long clean grass.
If you’re thinking about adopting a budgie, you need to be completely aware of how a healthy one looks and behaves. A healthy budgie preens and grooms regularly. He has a good appetite and is as active as can be. His beak is firm and intact, and his cere is waxy. Droppings should be firm, and they should harden up quickly. A healthy budgie has plenty of feathers, strong claws and unblemished feet.
Breeding problems are rate in the budgie world, but they do happen. Females often fight over nest boxes (Allen 14). Due to insecurity, female budgies sometimes eat their own eggs. From time to time, male budgies have no interest in female budgies; this problem usually happens when birds are unable to live in a flock setting.
The budgerigar was first described by George Shaw in 1805, and given its current binomial name by John Gould in 1840. The genus name Melopsittacus comes from Greek and means "melodious parrot". The species name undulatus is Latin for "undulated" or "wave-patterned".
The natural breeding season is October to December. The average clutch is five to six eggs. The hen starts to brood from the first egg. The eggs are laid on alternate days. The incubation period is from 17 to 18 days. It will be seen from this that the chicks will differ in age when all the eggs have hatched. The hen alone broods and is fed by the cock at regular intervals. The young leave the nest about 30 days after hatching. A week later they are able to fend for themselves.
Depending on the size of the clutch and most particularly in the case of single mothers, it may then be wise to transfer a portion of the hatchlings (or best of the fertile eggs) to another pair. The foster pair must already be in breeding mode and thus either at the laying or incubating stages, or already rearing hatchlings.
It is usually easy to tell the sex of a budgerigar over six months old, mainly by the cere colours, but behaviours and head shape also help indicate sex.
Pet budgies have continued to make headlines all over the world for their mimicry, talking ability, and charm. One budgie, named Disco, has become an internet superstar. As of 2013, Disco has been viewed over 6,067,744 times on his YouTube channel. Some of Disco's most popular key phrases include, "I am not a crook" and "Nobody puts baby bird in a corner!"
There’s a lot of debate out there about the origins of the term “budgerigar.” Many believe that it is derived from the aboriginal word “betchegara,” which means “good to eat.” Others think that it comes from various Australian slang terms. For example, “budgery” means “good,” and “gar” means “cockatoo.” It is possible that the two terms were put together to create the name of the lovable pet parrot that is so popular today.
Most people can recognize a budgerigar when they see one, but it’s still interesting to take a closer look at the unique physical appearance of this popular pet bird. There are many variations in terms of colors and patterns, but the following information applies strictly to natural budgies that haven’t been bred to achieve different color variations.
Eggs take about 18–20 days before they start hatching. The hatchlings are altricial – blind, naked, unable to lift their head, and totally helpless, and their mother feeds them and keeps them warm constantly. Around 10 days of age, the chicks' eyes will open, and they will start to develop feather down. The appearance of down occurs at the age for closed banding of the chicks. Budgerigar's closed band rings must be neither larger nor smaller than 4.0 to 4.2 mm.
The Budgerigar is the most widely known of all parrots as a caged bird. They are mainly found in the interior of Australia often congregating in very large flocks.
It’s important to be on the lookout for the common signs of ill health in a budgerigar. An excessive loss of feathers can be a big red flag. Other warning signs include encrusted feet, mites in the feathers around the beak and the cere, a crusty cere, an overgrown or under-grown beak, spiky head feathers and runny droppings. If a budgie keeps his beak wide open while breathing, it could be a sign of a serious health problem.
Even though budgerigars are typically called parakeets, especially in the United States, they are just one of over 100 species commonly referred to as parakeets, a widely diverse class of tiny, slender parrots spread out over more than a dozen genera in the subfamily Psittacinae of the family Psittacidae.
Upon bringing your new budgerigar home, you’re going to want to make him as comfortable and happy as possible. The first order of business is selecting the appropriate cage. Budgies like to be active, so you should try to get a cage that is at least 40 inches long, 20 inches deep and 32 inches high. Choose a cage that comes with built-in horizontal perches, and make sure the perches are made out of natural wood (Birmelin and Niemann 23).
During early mornings and late afternoons they are most active. Visiting waterholes to drink, scurrying through the grass in search of seeds and flying from tree to tree. They shelter in trees and bushes in the heat of the day moving little, probably to conserve moisture.
Are you still on the fence about adopting a budgerigar? If so, the following reasons might just convince you to take the plunge.
Budgerigars or parakeets have been bred in captivity since the 1850s. Certain budgies are bred for show, and they are often referred to as English or show budgies. Show budgerigars can be up to twice as large as their counterparts in the wild, and their heads are exceptionally puffy and fluffy. As a result, their beaks and eyes are almost totally covered.
Alternative common names for the budgerigar include the shell parrot, the warbling grass parakeet, the canary parrot, the zebra parrot, the flight bird, the scallop parrot. Although more applicable to members of the genus Agapornis, the name lovebird has been applied to them from their habit of mutual preening.
Their natural diet consists of grass seeds, including spinifex, weed seeds and sometimes ripening wheat.
Budgerigars in their natural habitat in Australia are noticeably smaller than those in captivity. This particular parrot species has been bred in many other colours and shades in captivity (e.g. blue, grey, grey-green, pieds, violet, white, yellow-blue), although they are mostly found in pet stores in blue, green, and yellow. Like most parrot species, budgerigar plumage fluoresces under ultraviolet light. This phenomenon is possibly related to courtship and mate selection.
Puck, a male budgerigar owned by American Camille Jordan, holds the world record for the largest vocabulary of any bird, at 1,728 words. Puck died in 1994, with the record first appearing in the 1995 edition of Guinness World Records.
In some places, budgerigars are commonly referred to as “parakeets.” That’s misleading, however, because the term “parakeet” can refer to one of several dozen kinds of small parrots that have long feather trails. Other common names for thebudgerigar include budgie, common pet parakeet, shell parakeet, canary parrot, flight bird, love bird, scallop parrot, zebra parrot and warbling grass parakeet. Variations on the word “budgerigar” include betcherrygah and budgerygah.
Budgerigars are primarily vegetarians, although they often eat insects in the wild. In captivity, there are many ways to provide a budgerigar with a balanced diet. To be extra safe, however, you should always keep a mineral block in your budgie’s cage. It will make up for anything that his regular diet may be lacking.
In general, budgerigars are opportunistic breeders, which means that they breed when they have reliable access to grass seeds and other foods. Therefore, parakeets often breed in the wild following long periods of rain. In northern Australia, they commonly breed between June and September; in southern Australia, they commonly breed between August and June. These periods of time coincide with wet times of the year when food sources are ample and reliable.
Budgies have fascinating personalities that make them excellent pets. They are extremely playful and curious, and they love to explore. They have a strong flock mentality, which means that they are happiest when they are among other budgerigars. Common budgie behaviors include:
By the sixth week, most baby budgies are completely weaned and able to leave home for good.
The budgerigar has been bred in captivity since the 1850s. Breeders have worked to produce a variety of colour, pattern, and feather mutations, including albino, blue, cinnamon-ino (lacewinged), clearwinged, crested, dark, greywinged, opaline, pieds, spangled, dilute (suffused), and violet.
Male specimens of budgerigars are considered to be one of the top five talking champions amongst parrot species, alongside the African grey, the amazon, and the eclectus parrots, and the ring-necked parakeet.
Budgerigars are social animals and require stimulation in the shape of toys and interaction with humans or with other budgerigars. Budgerigars, and especially females, will chew material such as wood. When a budgerigar feels threatened, it will try to perch as high as possible and to bring its feathers close against its body in order to appear thinner.
As far as “decorating” your budgie’s cage, you need to keep comfort, safety, health and entertainment in mind. If the cage that you buy doesn’t come with perches, you’ll need to buy some. The right perch will be at least half an inch wide and should be made out of wood. Natural branches work perfectly fine, and rope is a nice option too.
Naturalised feral budgerigars have been recorded since the 1940s in the St. Petersburg, Florida, area of the United States, but are much less common now than they were in the early 1980s. Increased competition from European starlings and house sparrows is thought to be the primary cause of the population decline.
Several possible origins for the name "budgerigar" have been proposed:
Budgerigars are nomadic birds found in open habitats, primarily in scrublands, open woodlands, and grasslands of Australia. The birds are normally found in small flocks, but can form very large flocks under favourable conditions. The nomadic movement of the flocks is tied to the availability of food and water. Drought can drive flocks into more wooded habitat or coastal areas. They feed on the seeds of spinifex, grass seeds, and sometimes ripening wheat.
Tame budgerigars can be taught to speak, whistle, and play with humans. Both males and females sing and can learn to mimic sounds and words and do simple tricks, but singing and mimicry are more pronounced and better perfected in males. Females rarely learn to mimic more than a dozen words. Males can easily acquire vocabularies ranging from a few dozen to a hundred words. Pet males, especially those kept alone, are generally the best speakers.
The budgerigar’s scientific or binomial name is Melopsittacus undulatus. The term was coined by John Gould, the same English ornithologist that originally brought the first budgies to Europe. The first part, Melopsittacus, is Greek and means “melodious parrot,” which is quite fitting. The second part, undulatus, is Latin and means “wave-patterned” or “undulated.” That term clearly refers to the scalloped or undulated patterns that give the budgie such a distinct appearance.