They are also called Budgies or parakeets but I will refer to them as Budgies. These diminutive birds measuring no more than six inches from the tip of the head to the end of their long tail are America’s favorite birds with over 7.2 million homes owning a Budgie. The most common color is green but they now can be found in color mutations of yellow, violet, cobalt, and white.
Why the popularity?
First of all, they are very inexpensive, usually less than $30 unless they are hand raised. Even though hand raised birds are more expensive and already hand trained, a young Budgie can easily be finger trained within twenty minutes. The older the bird the longer the training.
Second, the males usually talk which is pretty amazing when you look at these little birds. You can identify a male Budgie by his blue Ceres while females have lilac/brown Ceres. The Ceres is the area just above the beak with two openings, which is the closest thing to a nose on a bird. Unfortunately, it takes five months or more for this test to be accurate. That being said, both male and female Budgies can make excellent companions.
Third, they are relatively quiet pets. Your neighbors will not complain about your Budgie chirping which is quite a contrast from a Cockatoo. They also have an oil-based preening gland which has two main benefits. First, they will not cast off the powered dander that may cause allergic reactions and second, they will not cause dust to accumulate on all items in the bird room.
Fourth, and not last but I will stop the benefits here, they are great with kids, adults and the elderly alike. The Budgie is the closest thing to a domesticated parrot since they have been bred and raised as pets for over 450 years. Hartz Mountain, founded by Leonard Stern, grew into one of the pet industry’s largest companies by focusing on these little birds.
What you need to get started
The first thing you need is a reputable breeder or pet/bird store that guarantees the health of the birds and shows a sample of a bird that tested negative to the three diseases carried by Budgies: Psittacosis, Beak and Feather Disease and Polyoma. Next, you will need a cage no smaller than 11” x 14” preferably larger, seeds, millet spray, cuttlebone which provides calcium and beak conditioning, and a book to get you acquainted with your new friend.
What Your Budgies Need
Like most birds, your Budgie needs 10-12 hours of sleep a night. To keep them tame, they also need one to two hours per day of your time. Feel free to offer your little friend fresh veggies and fruit but be patient since they may not go right for the treats at once. Keep trying.
It is important to change the water and clean the cage every day. It does not take long for the water to get filled with bacteria, especially if your bird dunks its food.
Richard Horvitz is a certified avian specialist and has owned Golden Cockatoo, an exotic bird retail/wholesale store in Deerfield Beach, FL since 1994.