Introduction to Budgies
In the last fifty years, the Budgie (Melopsittacus undulatus) has been one of the most popular feathered pets around the world. The reason for such great popularity are its beauty and colorful feathers, intelligence, good-nature, and playfulness. Thanks to their daily activities and energy, they can make their owners laugh and brighten their day. The budgie is easy to domesticate, and with a little effort, you can teach them to pronounce some words and phrases. The cost of owning a budgie is affordable, the conditions of care and nutrition are simple, which adds to their popularity. The life span of budgies is about 14 years. Allow this bird to become part of your family will certainly not let you down and it will make your life happier.
BUDGIES THROUGHOUT HISTORY
The homeland of this parrot-like bird is in Australia. Today it inhabits vast expanses of the interior of the Australian continent, and in large cities has a status such as pigeons and sparrows. The wild budgies natural color is green on the chest, abdomen and vent. Its long tail is dark blue, its face, forehead, and cheeks yellow, while the back of its head and back, as well as its wings, are covered by a bluish-green sketch of green feathers delimited by black.
The budgie was first brought to England, America and Japan in the early 19th century and at first, its price was high and those who were lucky enough to posses these miniature parrots were mostly wealthy individuals, but due to its simple and rapid ability to reproduce in captivity, budgies became more available to everyone regardless of social status. Selective breeding provided a range of new colors and eventually lead to the creation of albino white, lutino yellow, yellow, blue, violet, and gray. All the base colors come in several shades. An Australian Budgie measures 7.5 inches which is equivalent to 18 cm in length (including tail).
The English budgie came in to existence by the English, through a breeding selection process. This variety was officially recognized in 1971. The difference is only in the dimensions, and feather length. English budgies are 2-3 times larger than Australian budgies, but since they are the same species, they can easily be crossbred . They are thought to be much more friendly to people and gentler to owners. Also, they are incomparably quieter than their relatives. In terms of care, given that both species come from wild Australian budgies, there is no difference in requirements regarding food and hygiene.
CHOOSING A BIRD
You should get the bird from the breeder, or at one of the pet stores. If you want a budgie for leisure and company and would like to domesticate it, it is best to get a young budgie that is approximately six weeks old. Before you buy a budgie, be sure to take a good look at it. Young and healthy budgies are cautious, tremulous, jumping from bar to bar. A healthy bird has a good appetite and clear eyes, and its lower abdomen area is clean and dry. The body has no visible skin that is without feathers, its beak closed and breathing properly. Stay away from budgies that seem puffy and lethargic, it can be an indicator of illness.
If you are away from home often or have little time to devote to the bird, it is recommended that you get a pair, or a few budgies. A bird that is alone and has no companionship often becomes frustrated and depressed. This can lead to feather plucking and illness. Budgies are each other’s best company, and in that combination, they will be much happier than being alone.
How To Tell If Your Budgie Is A Boy or Girl – Video
CHOOSING A CAGE
A large cage is one of the most important prerequisites for a long and healthy life for your new pet. The cage should by no means be smaller than 24 in×16 in×16 in. The bottom of the cage should be easily detachable from the rest of the cage, this allows for easy cleaning, and the top should be wire, preferably with horizontal bars instead of vertical. Having horizontal bars will allow your budgies to climb more easily. The cage must have a sufficient number of properly arranged perches, feeders and a water dispenser. It is good if the cage also has a bird bath such as the vision bird bath, and toys such as a mirror, swing, bell, etc. There are many toys for birds in the market, please choose the ones that are specifically advertised for budgies.
After you have purchased or adopted your budgie and brought it to your home, you should immediately find the perfect place. It is best to place a cage in the living room or room where you most often reside. This way, the budgies will quickly get used to you and accept you as a member of their flock. The cage must never be in a place exposed to drafts and direct sunlight. It is ideal to place the cage on a shelf or rack about 4 to 5 feet in height. The kitchen, hallway, and bathroom are not ideal places to hold a cage as the kitchen can harbor toxic fumes, and the hallway will be drafty.
A basic budgie diet consists of a mixture of different types of a small seed. It is ideal to buy premium bird food containing a mixture of different types of seeds (millet, oats, flax seeds, hemp, wheat), with a vitamin and mineral supplement. In addition to staple foods, budgies should occasionally be offered a treat, preferably avi-cakes. Budgies go crazy for those.
Vegetables should be raw, well washed and dry (carrots, parsley, celery, tomatoes, peppers). Fruits can also be offered, you can occasionally give a bird a slice of apple, pear, citrus or nuts. Avoid offering birds kale, cabbage, chard and cucumbers as they can cause indigestion. Due to the specific structure of the digestive system, the budgie must always have minerals in the cage to ease digestion. Minerals consist of crushed eggshells and seashells. It is best to put them in a small bowl and not mix with food, thus allowing the bird to take them as needed. In times of feathering and spring and fall, it is ideal to provide your pet with vitamins in liquid form and add them to drinking water.
Budgies are friendly birds and with a little more patience and attention, are easy to tame. By nature, they are curious, which helps them to overcome the fear of the unknown. Patience is key, and having a younger budgie will be easier to train.
In the first days, you need to leave the bird alone to adapt to the new environment. After that, approach the cage quietly so that the bird becomes accustomed to your proximity. Be sure to avoid sudden movements. The first sign that your bird has adapted is that it sits on the bottom of the cage or floor and watches you as you change their food or clean cage.
Gently open the door to the cage and place your finger in front of the bird to sit on it. You can use a treat such as millet spray to encourage it to come to you. The process is repeated for several days, even weeks, until the budgie is completely accustomed to you.
After completing the first stage of finger training, you can open the door to the cage and let it explore the space. Be sure to close the windows and draw the curtains to prevent the budgie from escaping or crashing into the window. Remove all poisonous indoor plants and objects that you think are harmful to your budgie from the room.
As you are taming the budgie make sure that you are talking to it with a soothing and quiet voice. The repetition of the same words causes the bird to mimic the human voice after a while. Some budgies will never be able to mimic the human voice, be patient. Usually, male budgies have had more success repeating human words and phrases than female budgies.
HYGIENE AND HEALTH
Hygiene of the cage is a major prerequisite for the longevity and health of the bird, it is necessary to clean the cage as often as possible with lukewarm water and change pad, bedding, or paper towels from the bottom of the cage. For bedding, it is best to use corn cob bedding or pellets as it best absorbs fluid and odors. Also, it allows the bird’s feet to always be clean and dry. Do not use newsprint or other paper with ink as bedding, as the ink might be toxic.
It is recommended to thoroughly wash the whole cage once every two weeks at minimum with pet safe detergent and warm water and spray a mite or pest spray that is bird safe. Only when the cage is completely dry can you return the bird to it. It is advisable to replace the water bowls, feeders and treat containers with new ones every year.
As for budgie hygiene, the budgie does most of the work on its own. Budgies clean themselves daily and spend a lot of time preening his wings, belly and chest feathers (in summer you can place a tub on the inside of the cage door or occasionally spray the bird with lukewarm water, but don’t overdo it). For beak hygiene, you should put a canary stone or mineral stone in the cage, the budgie will grind its beak and keep it trim as it grows throughout its life.
Changes in bird behavior (calmness, indolence, frequent sleep with head bent forward or tucked between wings, loss of feathers, diarrhea) are the most common signs of illness. You must visit a veterinarian as soon as possible, otherwise, the animal will often die. It is recommended that you take your budgie to an avian vet for routine checkups at least once a year.
From infectious diseases that can spread to humans (zoonoses), budgies can contract psittacosis. It is viral pneumonia and difficult to treat, most often a budgie that has contracted the disease will not survive. Today, this disease is rare, and all kennels and stores must have a veterinary inspection certificate that their birds do not suffer from this disease.
Some people that are able to acquire the English variety of budgies will more often breed their budgies for exhibition or show. There are clubs and associations that guide and hold these events every year. If you are interested in breeding and exhibiting your English budgies we recommend that you join a budgie club as a novice and speak to as many breeders as possible.
Preparing exhibition budgies for presentation — “training” or getting used to the exhibition cage is a must if you want to present the budgie for exhibition. These training techniques should be practiced while the bird is still young. Teach your budgie not to stand at the bottom of the cage with the help of a perch. Judges will watch carefully for posture, shape, and plumage.
Before the exhibition, it is necessary to intensify hygiene, make sure your budgie is free from mites or pests and their feathers are free from debris and are looking colorful and shiny. Care should be taken to ensure that the conditions in the cage are kept clean so that the bird remains clean immediately before the exhibition.
Arranging feathers before exhibition — if the bird has damaged feathers on its tail and there are 8-10 weeks left until the exhibition, you can correct it and remove the feather, as it takes 8 weeks to regenerate. Breeders will often “trim” or pluck feathers that are deemed subpar. The feathers on the wings grow in 6 weeks, and you can correct this too.
Feather masks grow in 4 weeks. The preparation of the mask or point on the mask is permissible and mandatory. Exhibition budgies must have 6 dots. On one side 3 and the other 3. You can do this with tweezers.
This correction is the only permitted aesthetic correction before the exhibition. Other corrections are severely punished. If the tail is bumpy or bad looking before the presentation, you can soak it in warm water for a few moments and smooth the bumps yourself. Good luck.