Written on: 03/09/2006 by Helen of Troy (188 reviews written)
Can be trained to talk and do little tricks.
Very friendly and attentive when you talk to them.
Cheap to keep.
Pretty little birds!
Very rewarding if you succeed to finger tame and/or train your bird to talk.
Seed husk gets everywhere, even with an apron on the cage.
As noisy as their surroundings at times, sometimes noisier which can be a little frustrating if watching TV!
A lot of time and patience needed if you want to try to train him to talk, etc.
The Budgerigar is native to Australia, though all green and a little larger than the ones we see as pets in this country, and are related to parakeets. Over the years they have been bred in captivity to produce several different colours such as green, blue, turquoise, olive, grey, purple, flecked, yellow and white, the ones we see in our pet shops are most often green or blue.
Best to purchase a bird when young, and the best talkers are usually the males. It is a little difficult to determine the sex at first, but the females have pinkish brown ceres (the nostril area above the beak) and the males have blue. When choosing your bird make certain the one you choose looks happy and chirps loudly, jumping or flying around the cage, not still and quiet as this can indicate poor health. Young birds have black striped markings all over the front and top of the head, whereas mature birds lose these stripes, receding back into yellow or white feathers. The adult plumage is usually in place at about 4 months.
If you want to train your Budgie to talk, do not purchase more than one bird or they will just chirp away and talk to each other in bird talk! And believe me they can chatter very loudly, especially when you want to watch or listen to something like the TV! The only way you can stop the "noise" is by turning off the TV or radio, or at best cover the cage!
Budgies are fairly cheap to keep once you have spent out on a cage and stand, ensuring you have the correct perches in correct positions, feeders and water dispenser. Best buy a fairly large cage, so they can jump happily around from perch to perch. It should also be equipped with various toys including a mirror, bells etc. especially if the bird is kept on his own in the cage, they are intelligent little creatures and need entertainment. Leave the radio on low when you go out as they enjoy background noise, as birds would chirping in the wild.
Apart from Budgie seed, these birds must be provided with grit to aid digestion. Cuttle fish is also good for them as are clean wooden lolly sticks (they love to chew!). They love fresh fruit and veg, though NOT plums, lemons, limes, cabbage or avocado. Good fruits are apples, oranges and bananas, strawberries, washed lettuce, spinach in small quantities, parsley and peach. They also love fresh grass, groundsell and dandelions, but make sure they are washed clean and not been near any sprays, or dog/cat urine.
When you first get your bird home, start to finger tame as soon as possible. Patience is very important as this can take a little time. Let him settle in his surroundings for the first day or two, then start by opening the cage door and slowly putting in your hand. Chances are he will flap and get scared, keep your hand in the cage ensuring he cannot get out around it! Do this till the bird gets used to it then when he is standing still on his perch, hold out your index finger and very gently push it into his belly. Eventually he will step on to your finger. Let him get used to this. Talk to him all the time you are training him. Short repetitive phrases are best, but remember he may repeat anything you say eventually so if you don't want to feel embarrassed when the mother-in-law calls, NO SWEAR WORDS! Eventually, when your bird is happy to readily step onto your finger you may like to try bringing him out of the cage for a fly around. Once used to the position of their cage they will fly back in eventually after exercise, again be patient! You may have to try catching your bird a few times! When letting your bird out of the cage at any time, make sure all windows and doors are closed, and that you have net curtains over windows as they can fly into windows not realising they are there, and be injured or at worst, killed. And NEVER have a cat in the room. Even the oldest most docile cat in the room can turn into a jet propelled bird killer, given the chance. Even if they don't injure the bird, they can literally scare it to death. Remember also, birds can chew wallpaper! They can be burned by hot electric lights. They can't see to fly when too dark so make sure there is enough light in room. Always prepare your room before ever taking your bird out of his cage.
Cleaning is relatively easy, remove the sand paper each week and replace with new, scrub off any muck on toys and perches with warm soapy water, rinse well, dry and replace. Empty, clean and refill seed hoppers.
Taking good care of your bird is essential for a long healthy life. Change the water very regularly, every other day if possible, putting in a very tiny drop of raspberry cordial will ward off harmful bacteria from growing in the water. Check the seed hoppers daily, blowing off any husks and topping up with seed. Hang a fresh spray of millet when it needs replacing.
Buy your bird a bath, one that clips on to the cage door is best. He will have great fun splashing around in that.
In the summer you can put the cage out in the fresh air for a while, but NEVER in direct sunlight and partially cover cage.
At night a cover can be put over the cage. This will enable the bird to sleep and enable you to watch TV in peace! Again though, not in a hot place by a fire or radiator or he will become overheated. Likewise do not place him in a draft or he will be too cold.
You will have hours of fun watching and playing with your budgie, and it is so funny and very rewarding when they begin to repeat what you say or whistle so as I said before, choose your words wisely!! What you put in, you will get back from these little creatures, so time and patience will bring rewards! You can even try teaching them little tricks! They are surprisingly clever! When cared for correctly Budgies can live for anything up to about 15 years, though my mother had an exceptional lutino (yellow) budgie (Pippy) who lived till he was the grand old age of 18!