Budgies - An Introduction

Budgies are beautiful birds that make nice pets. They require relatively less maintenance and therefore are ideal for beginners. These lovely birds are intelligent, extremely social and bond well with humans. With training they can be taught a variety of tricks.
The budgie or budgerigar is a native of Australia. They belong to the parrot family.. The scientific name of the budgie is Melopsittacus undulatus. The natural habitat of the budgie is arid, semi-desert. Budgies, like other members of the parrot family tend to live in large colonies. Their diet consists chiefly of seeds.

Buying your Budgies

Budgies can be bought from almost all pet shops. It is important to check that the shops maintain the birds in good and hygienic conditions. See that the birds are active and healthy. It is good to buy the birds in pairs as they will bond. Most pet shops will put your budgies in a box for the journey home. Ensure that the box has adequate means of ventilation.

Setting up the Bird Cage

A good cage for your budgies should be at least 18 x 18 x 20 inches. Wire cages would be ideal as the birds will be able to climb the sides. Alternatively, if you are using cages with metal bars, ensure that the bars are horizontal to enable climbing. Provide adequate perches for the budgies. Ensure that the cage provides enough space for the budgies to fly from one perch to another so that they can exercise their wings.

Budgies are very inquisitive and active creatures that require a lot of stimulation. Hence, it is good to provide toys such as plastic rings, small balls, etc for the birds to play with. The cages need to be kept  away from direct sunlight. The cage must also have a removable litter tray to enable cleaning the cage without opening the cage.

Feeding and Diet

Budgies have a diet that consists mainly of seeds. You can occasionally treat your budgie to a meal of fresh fruits. However, certain foods such as avocado, lemon, and potato, chocolate can be harmful to your budgie. Besides their base diet of seeds and occasional fruits, budgies may require supplements of substances such as calcium to augment their dietary intake. This is particularly true of female budgies who need more calcium to form the egg shells. Cuttlebone, which is available at almost all pet stores is a good source of calcium.

Besides food, a permanent supply of clean drinking water should always be made available. It is recommended to replace the water every day as budgies sometimes tend to dirty the water.

Breeding

Budgies can be bred as soon as they attain sexual maturity at around 8 months. In budgies, it is possible to visually tell apart the sexes by the color of the ceres, located below the nostrils. The males have blue ceres while the females tend to have pink or brown ceres.

For the birds to mate, they must bond with each other. Bonding occurs when the birds start feeding and preening each other. The female budgie lays a clutch of about 4-5 eggs with an interval of a day between each egg. The female then sits on the eggs during the incubation period of around 18 days.

The chicks are born naked and blind. Both male and female birds share the responsibility of raising the chicks. The chicks grow fast and are completely covered by feathers by the end of one month after which they leave the nest.

Budgies are beautiful birds that are easy to care for. They are also highly social and are ideal for beginners. They bond well with people and are easily handled.

image courtesy: http://www.petsworld.co.uk/budgies.htm


Tips for Purchasing Budgies

 When budgies are purchased, it is necessary that they are healthy.  A sick budgie can cause problems once you bring it home.  It can spread disease to other healthy budgies in your cage.  Hence, it is important that you buy only healthy birds from your petshop.

Following are some of the things you need to keep in mind when you are going to buy budgies.
  1. Always go to a shop which is clean and the cages are well maintained.  
  2. Check carefully for any deformity or disease. 
  3. Select the Budgie which is active and alert.
  4. Check that the budgie's vent is clean.
  5. There should be no nasal discharges.
  6. The beaks and toes should be clean and well-formed.
  7. The feet should be perfectly aligned.
  8. Do not buy budgies which have their eyes closed.  While they may be sleeping.  It is also possible that they are sick.  You can ask the shopkeeper for a closer inspection.
  9. After you select a budgie, always ask the shopkeeper to be allowed to inspect the bird closely.
  10. It is better to buy younger birds as they adjust easily and can be trained.
  11. If possible arrange for a vet to inspect the bird.
After you buy a budgie and bring it home, it is better to quarantine it in a separate cage for a week and then introduce it to the main cage.  This ensures that the bird is healthy and diseases if any are not transmitted to the other birds.

While these checks may appear excessive, the consequences of introducing a sick bird into a population of healthy birds can be catastrophic.  Diseases can spread fast amongst birds leading to deaths.