18-20cm (7-7.8 in)
22-32g (0.8-1.1 oz)
Widespread in captivity.
Not less than 76cm (30 in) long.
Seed mixture for budgerigars, herbs, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Bathing, toys, destructible (non-toxic) toys, non-destructible (non-toxic plastic) toys, foraging toys, preening toys, different texture and size hanging perch toys, cork branches, push-and-pull toys (sliding up and down), leather toys.
Nest Box Size:
8" x 6" x 6" (20.3cm x 15cm x 15cm) or 6" x 6' x 6" (15cm x 15cm x 15cm) vertical box.
4 to 8
Widely distributed throughout the interior of Australia, and in some eastern coastal districts and the extreme south west.
Found in a wide range of areas in arid interior of Australia, also semi arid and subhumid parts. Some seasonal movements; northward during winter.
Ground feeders, taking grass seeds and seeds of crop plants, tiny insects and berries.
Ecology and Behaviour:
Gather in large numbers, nest communally, and are frequently found near water in large groups.
Photo credit: Paul Williams
Budgerigars, also known as budgies, are a popular and beloved species of parrot. These small, colorful birds are native to Australia and are known for their friendly and sociable personalities, as well as their ability to mimic human speech. Budgies have been kept as pets for over 150 years, and they continue to be a popular choice for bird enthusiasts of all ages. Naturalist John Gould and his brother-in-law, Charles Coxen, brought budgies to Europe around 1838. Europeans became charmed with the birds, which bred readily, making them a staple pet in wealthy homes. The Budgie was displayed at the Antwerp Zoo in Belgium around 1850, and began to gain in popularity, not only with the wealthy. Australia banned exportation of Budgies in 1894, and the Europeans had to breed their existing stock in order to continue the hobby. The budgie found its way to America in the late 1920s, but didn’t experience real popularity until the 1950s. Today, it’s the most popular bird in the world. They can provide years of companionship for their owners. We will explore the characteristics, behavior, and care requirements of these fascinating and entertaining birds.
Budgies are highly social birds and are found in flocks in the wild. They are known for their ability to mimic sounds, including human speech, and have been studied extensively for their remarkable vocal learning abilities. Budgies also display a range of complex social behaviors, including pair bonding, courtship displays, and cooperative breeding.
In the wild, budgies feed on a variety of grass seeds and plant materials, and they have adapted to survive in harsh, arid environments with limited water and food resources. As pets, budgies require a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of seeds, herbs, minerals, fruits, and vegetables to maintain optimal health.
Budgies are also popular research animals in fields such as behavioral neuroscience and developmental biology due to their small size, rapid reproductive cycle, and ease of care. They have been used as a model organism to study neural plasticity, vocal learning, and the development of social behaviors.
They're one of the smallest true parrot species, however the smallest parrot is the parrotlet. Most budgies in captivity average between 7 or 8 inches from the beak to the tip of the tail. Their wild counterparts in their native habitat of Australia are even smaller. A common misconseption is that size equals the amount fo care a bird needs. I find this to be untrue, the smaller the animal, the more fragile it is.
The English budgie and the American budgie
There are actually two distinct types of budgies: the traditional budgerigar, from Australia, and the larger English budgie, bred in England specifically for the show and the pet trade.
Budgies can mimic human speech
Budgies have the ability to learn and mimic human speech. However, not all budgies will talk, and some may only learn a few words or phrases while others may learn to speak quite well. It is important to note that talking is a learned behavior for budgies, and it requires consistent training and patience from their owners. It is also worth mentioning that not all budgies have an interest in talking, and some may prefer to communicate in other ways such as chirping or body language. None of my budgies have mimiced me, because I have always kept them in pairs. When there's more than one bird, they are unlikely to learn to "talk". Disco the budgie was a famous bird who gained popularity on social media for his impressive vocabulary.
Green is the only natural color
Green is the only natural color of budgies. Domesticated budgies come in a wide range of colors, including shades of green, blue, yellow, purple, white, and gray. The exact shade of green can vary depending on the budgie's genetics, age, and health. Green budgies are a popular choice for pet owners due to their striking appearance and lively personality. Green budgies are more resistant to illness than other color variations. I have kept budgies for more than a decade and have rarely had any problems with the green ones. Through selective breeding in the pet trade, a huge variety of colors and patterns are available, including violet, blue, yellow, pied, albino, and the classic neon green.
Young budgies, also known as fledglings, have a distinct appearance and behavior compared to adult birds. Here are some characteristics of young budgies:
Fledgling budgies have a more uniform coloration compared to adults, with less distinct patterns or markings. Their feathers may also have a softer, fluffier texture.
Young budgies have a shorter tail and shorter wings compared to adults, which can affect their ability to fly and maneuver in their environment.
Fledgling budgies may have a more timid or fearful personality compared to adults, as they are still learning about their surroundings and may be easily spooked by new experiences or people.
- Young budgies also have bar markings on their foreheads that fade with age, and their eyes typically have dark irises that gradually become gray as they mature.
As fledgling budgies grow and mature, their feathers will become more defined and colorful, and they will develop their own unique personalities and behaviors.
Hatchin at 6 weeks vs 1 year difference
Contrary to popular belief, a diet consisting only of seeds is not good for a small bird like a budgie, and will lead to health problems. Instead, veterinarians recommend a budgie diet that includes various seeds, pellets, fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs and leafy greens. I feed my birds more vegetables than fruits as fruits are high in fructose (sugar) and excess sugar can lead to yeast infection and other diseases. Feeding budgies only seeds is harmful to them on the long term. The following will happen: fatty liver disease, tumors, gout, obesity, vitamin deficiency, thyroid disease, diabetes, bone deformities etc. Never feed budgies any type of chocolate, chips, candies, snacks, tap water, garlic, house plants, dog/cat food, bread, alcohol, GMO foods, sugar etc. Always wash fruits/vegetables before feeding them. Only organic food should be served. Budgies should only drink mineral-rich spring water! I will dedicate a whole blog to this topic.
How old is my budgie bird?
There are a number of ways to figure out the age of a budgie. Look at the stripes on its head, if they reach down to its beak, it's three to four months old. View the colors of its beak: dark,like black, beaks are a sign that your budgie is under 12 weeks old. Next, take a look at the eyes: black eyes, with no visible irises, show the bird is less than five months old. If the budgie has a white iris ring, it's at least eight months old.
Budgies as "presents"
Birds and pets in general aren't toys which can be given as presents to children. I am personally against parents purchasing pets, but especially birds, for their children. A bird is not a toy that can be gifted to an immature human. Children can’t take good care of themselves let alone take care of another living being. They aren’t ready to take on the adequate responsibility of caring for an animal. I do understand however that pets can provide children with a lot of joy, companionship, and valuable life lessons. Children can’t recognize signs of illness in birds, they must be taught how to properly care for a bird, including feeding, grooming, and exercising them, as well as cleaning up after them. Parents should also be prepared to take on the majority of the responsibility for caring for the pet and to provide adequate supervision to ensure the safety and well-being of both the child and the bird. Budgies are okay with children if the children are respectful of them. This small bird can easily become victim to a raucous child. Adult supervision with any pet is advisable. This bird’s beak isn’t as powerful as some of the other birds of its size, but it can certainly hurt little sensitive fingers.
The budgie is often underestimated as a hands-on pet. It is certainly good as a “watching only” pet, especially if kept in pairs or in a flock, but it’s easily hand tamed and can become a loyal, loving little friend to a patient owner. Budgies are social birds and won’t do well in a life of isolation. Budgies housed together do remain friendly if given enough contact.
Ideal budgie cage and accessories
See more here.
What's the difference between a budgie and a parakeet?
All budgies are parakeets, but not all parakeets are budgies. The most popular kind of parakeet is the budgerigar, nicknamed the budgie. Budgies are the most common parakeet, and they're native to Australia. In North America, budgies are often referred to as parakeets. See more here.
Male budgies and female budgies
Male and female budgies can have slightly different physical characteristics and personality traits, although there can be variations among individual birds. In terms of physical differences, male budgies typically have a bluish or purplish cere (the area above the beak that contains the nostrils) while females have a tan or brown cere. However, this can vary depending on the color and age of the bird. As for personality differences, male budgies are often more vocal and outgoing than females. They may be more likely to engage in playful behavior and enjoy interacting with their owners. Females, on the other hand, may be more independent and reserved. However, these traits can vary depending on the individual bird's experiences and socialization.
Budgies are gentle and docile birds. They are also easy to tame, especially if acquired at a young age. Pairs of birds make good company for each other, but when in living pairs and entertaining one another, they may not bond as well with their owners or mimic speech as fluently. Budgies are also very playful, active, and quieter than some other types of parrots.
Sounds and vocalizations
Budgies are well known for their ability to learn and mimic sounds, including human speech. While not all budgies will learn to talk, many can be trained to say simple words and phrases with patience and consistency. The key is to start by repeating the same words or phrases to the bird regularly, and to reward them with treats or praise when they make an effort to imitate the sounds. It's important to note that not all budgies will be interested in talking, and some may prefer to communicate in other ways, such as chirping, singing, or mimicking other sounds in their environment.
Budgies have a wide range of vocalizations, including chirps, trills, clicks, and whistles. They use these sounds to communicate with other birds and with humans. For example, budgies may chirp or sing when they are happy or content, while loud squawking or screeching can indicate distress or fear. Budgies may also make sounds to express excitement or to get attention from their owners.
Budgies need regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental health. In the wild, budgies fly long distances each day in search of food and water, so it's important to provide them with ample space to move around and fly in captivity. You can encourage exercise in your budgie by providing a large enough cage for them to move around comfortably and offering them opportunities to fly and stretch their wings outside of the cage. You can also provide perches of varying sizes and textures to encourage movement and provide a variety of toys and interactive activities to keep them mentally stimulated. I set up a gym for them to encourage exercise.
In addition, you can also provide your budgie with opportunities for free flight outside of their cage in a safe and supervised environment. This can be a great way for them to get exercise and stretch their wings. Regular exercise can help prevent obesity, promote good circulation, and reduce stress and anxiety in budgies.
Bird toys can also make great exercise equipment for your bird. Buying things like ropes, playgrounds and ladders for your pet to climb on can encourage movement and working of major muscle groups in your bird.
Where to buy/adopt budgies?
- Pet stores: Many pet stores carry birds, including larger chains like Petco and PetSmart.
- Bird breeders: You can find bird breeders online or through bird clubs or organizations. Be sure to do your research and find a reputable breeder who treats their birds well.
- Bird rescues: Consider adopting a bird from a rescue organization. There are many birds in need of homes and adopting can be a great way to give a bird a second chance at a happy life.
- Online marketplaces: There are also several online marketplaces where you can buy birds, such as BirdBreeders.com, BirdFarm.com, Ebay, Birdtrader.co.uk, etc. However, be cautious when buying birds online, and make sure you are purchasing from a reputable seller. See more.
There are several reasons why adopting birds can be a better choice than purchasing them from a pet store or breeder:
Save a life: By adopting a bird, you are giving a second chance to a bird that may have been surrendered or abandoned by its previous owner. Adopting a bird can help reduce the number of birds that end up in shelters or rescue centers.
Cost-effective: Adopting a bird can be much more cost-effective than buying one from a pet store or breeder. Adoption fees are typically much lower than the cost of buying a bird, and many organizations include a health check-up and sometimes even a cage or supplies with the adoption.
Support ethical organizations: By adopting from a reputable rescue organization, you are supporting ethical animal welfare practices and helping to ensure that birds are being properly cared for and rehabilitated.
Access to knowledgeable support: Adopting a bird from a rescue organization often comes with access to knowledgeable staff or volunteers who can provide advice and support on caring for your bird.
Potential for a great companion: Adopting a bird can be a wonderful way to add a feathered friend to your family. Many birds are highly intelligent, social, and affectionate, and can make great companions for the right owner.
Cost of keeping budgies
The cost of keeping birds as pets can vary widely depending on several factors such as the species of bird, their size, the type of housing and accessories you provide for them, and the type and quality of food you feed them. Some birds, such as parrots, can be quite expensive to keep due to their long lifespan, specialized diet requirements, and the need for regular veterinary care. These birds also require a significant amount of socialization and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy, which can require additional time and financial resources. Smaller birds like canaries or finches, on the other hand, tend to have lower maintenance costs. However, they still require regular access to fresh food and water, clean housing, and occasional veterinary check-ups. Overall, the cost of keeping birds as pets can range from relatively low to quite expensive, depending on the specific bird species and the level of care they need. I spent ~ 1.055 USD on medical bills for my two birds in 2022. One visit to the avian vet cost 26 USD (visiting with a dog/cat costs somewhat less surprisingly) here in Germany.
Best brands for budgies