Caring for Your Budgie (Budgerigar)
October 24, 2012
The budgie originated in Australia, and could be found "down under" in varied terrain consisting of open fields and woodlands. Budgies are the most popular pet birds in the world. Friendly and curious, gentle and active, they need to be kept busy. They love their toys – and your attention. Though not talkers like their larger parrot cousins, they have a need to express themselves vocally and with training, some can mimic simple words. Select young birds for purchase and spend time every day to gently tame and socialize them.
Many pet birds found at shops and breeder facilities are hand reared to ensure adequate socialization at an early age. Look for an active bird with healthy plumage and a bright expression, and have the new bird checked by your local veterinarian at the time of purchase. Some veterinarians treat birds and/or exotic pet species exclusively. Many small animal clinics will perform routine bird appointments, but will refer you to a certified avian specialist for more involved cases. Your parrot should see a veterinarian once a year for a professional evaluation and preventive health care. The veterinary health care team is an important source of good advice regarding proper health care for your bird. Dr. Robin Roscoe, certified avian specialist of Linwood Animal Hospital in Ontario also suggests that clients take time to review the Association of Avian Veterinarian's bird health pamphlets, which may be available from your veterinarian or viewed online at the AAV association website (www.aav.org).
A budgie’s lifespan ranges from eight to 14 years. On average, budgies live about 6 to 10 years. They weigh about 50 g full grown, and as a result, require a lot less food and space than the larger bird species. A guideline for a minimum cage dimension is about 30 x 40 x 60 cm for a pair.
Sex can usually be determined after four months of age by observing the color of the cere, the fleshy area at the base of the beak. The cere of young males is usually pinkish-purplish blue while that of adults is bright blue. Young females have bluish-white ceres, changing to brown in the adult. Some females retain a light blue tinge, and during breeding season the cere may become crusted. Cere sexing is not considered foolproof. Immature birds are distinguished by a less intense coat color, barring on the forehead, and the iris (coloured portion of the eye) is darker gray rather than white.
Feeding mixed seeds with supplemental vitamins, calcium and green foods and small amounts of fruit can be done. Feeding a pelleted diet is ideal.
Chocolate, avocado and coffee beans are toxic
Budgies enjoy having a spray of water on the cage or greenery so they can drink their water as droplets and offer regular baths
Avoid placing anything in the cage containing lead or galvanized metal (zinc); these elements are toxic
Birds often hide signs of illness so take note of any subtle changes in your budgie’s health or behaviour
Avoid sandpaper perches - use natural wood if possible and vary the diameter of the perch
Elevate food and water dishes to help keep them clean and do not position them below perches
Provide toys to your budgies and change them periodically to keep the birds entertained.