There’s a reason why budgerigars (“budgies” for short) are one of the most popular pet birds. Not only are they colorful and cute, but a well-socialized budgie will seek out your interaction and perhaps even repeat words and phrases back to you (albeit, in a somewhat garbled voice). Budgies are quite entertaining in the way they play, which many owners describe as “rough.” Simply put, they love to knock things down or drop items from the top of the cage to the floor below.
Budgies can be flighty, so you’ll want to spend plenty of one-on-one time in a small, bird-proofed room, such as the bathroom (keep the toilet lid down to prevent accidental drowning), teaching your budgie to step up onto your finger. Go slow and don’t grab at your budgie, or you’ll risk damaging its trust in you.
Budgies are notoriously fed a seed-only diet; however these birds can have hearty appetites and should be offered plenty of fresh vegetables, budgie-size pellets and healthy table food, as well. A good trick to get your budgie to eat its veggies is to offer them in chunks pushed through its cage bars. These little birds like to gnaw on baby carrots and a whole broccoli floret. .
Budgerigar bird care :
Budgie Care :All The Basics Plus More!
So you are considering getting a budgie and are wondering about budgie care. Well this is the page for you! I believe that the place to start when considering caring for your budgie (or horse or dog or pig…) is to learn a bit about where they come from originally. Their origins will tell you what sort of food they are designed for, what type of habitat they suit and also explain a lot about their behaviour. So, where do they come from and what does that tell us about budgie care?
Budgie Basics :
Budgies are parakeets that originated in Australia. Whilst this country has the full range of habitats, from deserts to rain forest to alpine, budgies primarily live in the grassland areas. They are nomadic, moving to new areas in search food and water. This means they can be found in many parts of Australia, from the inland desert areas to some coastal regions.
Wild budgies live in flocks that can vary from a few birds to huge, noisy flocks. When there is plenty of food the wild budgies will breed prolifically, producing three clutches of up to seven or eight chicks, although four is the average. However the outback of Australia can go years without rain and reach temperatures of 49°C (120°F), burning up any food or water. In these times the budgies do not breed, and many die.
Below you will find information on diet, accomodation, toys, companionship, safety and health. If you wish to read a little more about budgerigar parakeets, like why some are called American and some English, then simply click here.
Now, how does this information help us plan our budgie care?
As you now know budgies live in grassland areas, this means that their diet is mostly made up of seeds and greens. They have access to a variety of grasses, including Mitchell grass, spinifex grasses, wild oats, canary grass and many others. These supply the budgie with seeds of varying development from newly formed and unripe, through to fully ripe dry seeds like those we see in pet shops.
They have access to a range of trees that provide them with leaves, buds, fruit and bark to chew on. Budgies are also known to eat the charcoal from burned trees on occasion, which is believed to help in times of illness.
Budgies are very agile and playful pets and you can easily keep them entertained with a few well-chosen toys. These must be safe for your bird so when selecting them take care. Anything that the budgie can catch a foot, toenail or beak in should be avoided or only used under supervision.
You should also be aware that your budgie will at least taste, and at most try to chew to pieces, anything you give it! So avoid anything coated with potentially poisonous substances. If you don’t think it would be good for a child to chew on, then do not give it to your budgie!
As far as drinking goes, budgies access water wherever they can find it from natural sources such as ponds and puddles, to man made sources such as cattle troughs. In times of extreme heat large flocks of budgies descend on water sources, sometimes piling upon each other to get to the water. This results in many drowning and the water supply being fouled.
This information can help us with our budgie care, so lets plan a healthy diet for our budgies. ( See Below )
Once you are happy with the main part of the diet you can start to experiment with a few home made treats.( See Below)
As budgies are nomadic they need to be able to fly a long way in search of food and water. This means they are very active little parrots with energy to burn and curiosity to match!
You should try to supply your budgies with as large a living area as possible. This means the largest suitable cage you can afford, or a flight or aviary.
The cage or aviary should be furnished with safe perches, feed and water bowls and a few carefully selected toys. You can line the bottom of the cage with paper to make cleaning it easier. However be aware that if the budgie has access to the base of the cage it will chew on whatever it finds there. Many cages have a grill to prevent this.
More information about budgies cages see below :
As budgies live in flocks they have a need for social activities. This means that unless you are home most of the time and are able to give your budgie regular time out of its cage with you, you would be better to get another budgie for companionship (or two or three…it can be hard to stop with just one).
Tame budgies are absolutely delightful to have out of their cage with you. They will climb all over you, chew the page you are writing on, attack the tip of your pen or pencil and generally make it difficult to ignore them! So if you can only have one budgie, make it a tame one so it can avoid a life locked up in a cage without friends. Better still have two or more tame budgies that can come out of their cage and have races around the room, but still keep each other company when they have to go ‘home’.
It pays to be aware of potential hazards to your curious, agile and intelligent little pets. They will find a toilet to fall into, pot of hot mashed potato to land in (yes, I have had budgie foot prints in my dinner), a previously unnoticed window to fly into and the solitary stray piece of thread in the house to get tangled in!
There are simple ways to avoid some of these events, however at one time or another something is bound to go wrong. So please supervise your budgie whenever it is out of it cage, and double-check anything you put in their cage.
As far as your budgie care goes, safety should come first.
The life of a wild budgie is not an easy one. As mentioned above, the inland areas of Australia can become incredibly hot and dry, with many birds and animals dying as a result. What this means for us, when considering budgie care, is that pet budgies are very hardy. They can kept in many different environments, from the very hot to outside aviaries where it snows.
However, this is not an excuse for poor budgie care! Making sure your budgie has a good varied diet, access to clean water and plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, is the best way to ensure it stays healthy.
Get used to observing your budgie so that you can tell if it is looking different than usual. This could be a sign that all is not well. In the wild predators would single out the sick budgies, so they will try to look normal for as long as possible. This means that if you budgie looks sick you should act immediately. It pays to find out before hand if there is a vet nearby who is used to dealing with birds in case of an emergency.
The basic signs of a sick budgie can be any of the following:
Looking hunched, with feathers puffed up (not to be confused with a sleeping budgie which will usually have its beak under its wing)
Diarrhoea, a messy backside, or funny coloured droppings (this can be caused by a new food),
A discharge from its nostrils, eyes or beak (not to be confused with regurgitating food, which is part of the breeding process),
Sitting on the bottom of the cage looking unhappy
The basic first aid for a sick budgie is put it somewhere warm and dark so it can rest quietly until you can get it to a vet.
I have been given a guide to a basic first aid kit for budgerigars, written by a very knowledgeable budgie breeder. It was written with budgie breeders in mind so some of it may not be applicable for the pet budgie owner (or should that be pet budgie owned person!). A large part of good budgie care is being ready for any eventuality, so have a read and be prepared.
10% Oats – I prefer whole oats to groats or hulled oats, which have had the outer hull removed, I see no reason they shouldn't have to do a little bit of work to eat this high energy grain. Groats (hulled oats) are useful for chicks or unwell birds needing an easy energy boost though. A high fat grain such as oats or sunflower seeds is important for such active birds, but if yours is one that doesn't get much exercise or has weight issues then you should manage how much of this sort of feed they get.
There are many other seeds out there that you can research and include (such as amaranth), but the canary and various millets form a very good, cost effective base of your budgie diet. Millets in particular are considered a valuable health food even for humans so I always advise having a mixture of those as the highest percentage of the mix.
I prefer the seed to be offered mixed together so it is more likely your budgie will try various ones and not just eat its favourite and ignore the rest. This could mean your budgie lived on oats only… until it died of some obesity related disease!
If your budgie is caged for a lot of the time, or is inactive then reduce the oats so they do not become over weight! I also sometimes feed small sunflower seeds, but again these are fatty so they are a treat rather than the norm. Fatty seeds provide important oils and fat based nutrients that are vital for brain and nerve health, so should be carefully included but not over done. Millet sprays are frequently available and budgies love them, making them a great addition to your budgie diet and they often have to be a bit gymnastic to get to the seeds making them a source of physical and mental stimulation also.
They can be cleverly hung up to provide hours of entertainment and exercise, make it an acrobatic feat to get to them!
Take care that your seed has no dust, moulds or foreign matter in the mixture. I would advise buying from a pet store or seed merchant rather than the supermarket, as the seed is likely to be fresher due to higher turnover. Seed should not smell musty or rancid.
Sprouted Seed in your Budgie Diet
Dry seed is mature seed and has fewer nutrients than the growing seed budgies would normally feed on. You can improve the nutritional value of your budgie diet by sprouting them, as the seeds begin to grow they produce more vitamins and minerals.
This is how I sprout seed:
Place some of your seed mix in a container and cover with water, leave over night in warm weather or for 24 hours if the weather is cold. Tip the seed into a sieve and rinse thoroughly under a running water. Leave the seed in the sieve and leave for another 24-48 hours. By then you should see the seeds have swelled and some will have a white tip just emerging. I found my budgies preferred the spouted seeds at this stage rather than when the seed had actually began to grow a shoot. I usually mixed this 50/50 with the dry mix to feed; I would recommend this at least twice a week if not every day.
It is important that the sprouted seed doesn’t ferment or become mouldy as this may make your budgie ill. To prevent this make sure it is not in a very warm area, and feed as soon as it is ready. You can feed it over 2 or 3 days to allow your budgies to have it at different levels of sprouting, but make sure to rinse it twice a day and keep it in a cool place. It may be necessary to keep it in the fridge in hot weather. I also usually spray the seed with a little apple cider vinegar (ACV) after rinsing. ACV is a wonderful natural antibiotic and immune enhancer. The sprouted seed will have a 'live' smell, but if it begins to smell fermented, alcoholic or mouldy then please throw it out.
If the seed does not begin to sprout at all then it is dead! Find a better source.
Don’t forget your greens!
Budgies can survive for a while on a basic dry seed diet, however they won’t thrive and will probably have a shortened life… I am sure this is not what you want for your pets! So, just as we must eat our fruit and veggies for good health so must our budgies.
The best way to add greens to your budgie diet is to provide fresh greens that you have collected for them. In spring you can gather small bunches of seeding grasses at various stages of development from still very green through to mature dry seeds still on the stalk. You can also feed various ‘weeds’ such as chickweed (Stellaria media) seen below, dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and shepherds purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris). Of course in Australia budgie also chew on eucalyptus trees so if you can find a branch or two of that they will appreciate it.
How To Care For Budgie Birds
Basic Budgie Set-up & Care
what to feed and why
The budgie diet you choose should be based on what they would naturally eat. The closer to natural that you can get their diet, the better off they will be. They will have less trouble absorbing nutrients and will be able to deal with the wastes more efficiently than if they were trying to deal with something completely alien to their digestive system. The diet will also stimulate them and work their beak and bodies as they were meant to be.
As you know budgies in the wild feast on various seeding grasses, leaves, buds, fruit and bark. So how do we replicate that budgie diet without sending them back to the Australian grasslands?
A Strong Base That Mimics Nature
The basis of your budgie diet should be good quality seed. Many peple veer away from seed as it can be used to create an unhealthy bird, but if seed was not appropriate for your budgie then it would not be their natural diet. The alternative of an all processed pelleted diet can also be unhealthy, its variety that counts! Wild budgies flourish and breed on seed and greens based diets so yours can too! You just have to take the time to make sure all the needed nutrients are provided. For the seed portion of the diet you can buy budgie seed mixes or get the seeds and make up your own. The mixture I used was as follows:
Cook For Your Budgie!
Once you are comfortable that your budgie is getting a healthy diet you can begin having fun trying out some recipes. You can share your favourite home-made treats with us. Or take a look at what other budgie keepers have suggested at the bottom of this page. Please remember that these have been added by various people and they may not be suitable for every budgie. Take care to void fatty foods if your budgie is overweight, for instance.
There are a few foods it is best to avoid when making treats for your bird:
-all foods considered junk food, including chocolate
-avocado, good for us but bad for our birds
-anything with added salt
-foods high in sugar, some unprocessed sugar in natural forms is okay occasionally
-dairy products are okay in small amounts but only occasionally as they can't process lactose well.
Remember that highly processed foods are basically dead and provide very little goodness for your bird. They often have extras added such as preservatives, flavour enhancers, colours etc that are likely to be harmful to your budgie.
40% Canary - (Phalaris Canariensis) as pictured here, not to be confused with the seed mix sold to feed canaries.
50% Millet – (Setaria Italica) made up of a mixture of White, Panicum, Yellow and Japanese millets. Millets are high in important nutrients, including silica, important for healthy bones, ligaments and many other body systems. Millet is considered a healthy addition to human diets also and some cultures have it as the basis of their diet.
From your garden you can feed them silverbeet, broccoli, whole carrots including the green tops, apple, orange etc. The main thing is to make sure that the food is not sprayed with anything toxic, and not picked from a roadside where it can accumulate car fumes, and check what it is so you can be sure it is not poisonous! Also, feed the whole, unwashed plant if possible, budgies often love to pick at the soil on the roots.
Offer your bird something interesting each day and vary it so they learn to try out new foods. Sometimes they will ignore a new food, keep offering it until they give up and try some. You can also try sprinkling a few seeds onto it so they have a nibble. My budgies needed this to try out a piece of orange, but once they had they would clean up the orange every time. In fact, they liked it so much I could get them to try a new food by squeezing some orange juice onto it.
Remember that the seed, dry and sprouted, is the mainstay of your budgie diet and these are healthy extras. You do not want your budgie living solely on silverbeet or apple that would be as unhealthy as just dry seed.
Reluctant Vegetable Eaters :
If your budgie is totally opposed to any vegetables you can chop them finely in a food processor to the size of seeds and then mix a small amount into their seed. It will stick to them and be tricky to completely avoid! I would offer this in the morning when they are hungriest (take the feed dish out at the previous bedtime so they don't get up and have breakfast before you're ready). Take it out after 2 or 3 hours if it is warm so no mould starts to grow in the damp feed, and put the normal seed mix back. Budgies need to try something quite a few times until it becomes normal, just like children, so process a bit of vege mix and freeze it in ice cubes. Take one out each evening to mix with the seed in the morning and keep doing this for a few weeks. Eventually your budgie will get used to the different food and you can offer chunks of veges which they will enjoy chewing more than the little pieces.
If you have organised a well-rounded budgie diet, as described above, then you do not need a million supplements! However I would recommend a few to give your bird an extra boost.
Apple cider vinegar is a wonderful antibiotic and immune boost and I usually spray a little onto the soaked seed, or a piece of fruit.
Cuttlefish is usually available from a pet store. It provides calcium and helps keep the beak in order. Hang one in the cage and let your budgie help itself when needed. I would consider this a necessity so your budgie can always get the calcium it needs. Even if it does not touch it for months, you will find that one day it needs it. Birds are good at balancing their calcium needs if they are allowed. So, I would only offer calcium in water if you know what you are doing and are sure it is needed (such as during breeding). If you have it in the water they are unable to avoid it if there is more than they need. Too much calcium is not healthy, just like too little. For a pet budgie a cuttlefish is all they should need.
Mineral mixes specifically for birds are also an option. These should be offered in a separate dish and the budgie can help themselves as needed. I believe they will have a better idea of how much and how often they need it than we do!
Vitamin supplements these are usually made to be added to the water. I prefer not to do this as then your budgie has no choice but to drink them whether needed or not. If you are offering (and your bird is eating) a mixed diet with daily intake of fresh greens or veges and regular sprouted seed, then you shouldn’t need to use a vitamin supplement. However if you are worried you can use one very occasionally. Perhaps one day in a fortnight or a month you could put some in the water and then remove the next day.
Grit - this topic, it seems, is a real can of worms! So, I am going to do a separate page on this topic -see below ..
These things will help provide a budgie diet that will help keep your pet healthy and happy. And if you are a bit adventurous, (and truly owned by your budgies!) you can try giving them your own homemade treats...
Budgies and Grit -
to feed or not to feed?
Whether or not to feed grit to your budgie seems to be a volatile topic of conversation. People seem to have strong views in either direction so I thought I woud share my thoughts on feeding it and then you can make up your own mind. Whatever you decide, remember your budgie is in your care and you should do what you feel is best for them, not what you think someone else feels is best.
Types of Grit :
Grit is usually grouped into two types: insoluble and soluble.
Insoluble - describes small stones that are used in the crop of some bird species to grind up whole seeds so that they can be digested. They are not dissolved by fluid in the gizzard, but are broken down over time so they are passed through the digestive tract eventually.
Soluble - describes something that is dissolved slowly by digestive juices. These are usually something like oyster shell, which releases minerals like calcium as it dissoves. Not used to grind food but an important source of calcium for many bird species such as poultry.
Most of the difference of opinion is centred around the feeding of insoluble grit as it seems to have no obvious nutritional value.
So what is the controversy?
Differences of opinion
It seems that there is a difference of opinion on the safety of feeding it that is centred around which country you live in, or learn from.
In America vets usually discourage the feeding of grit as they have often seen impaction caused by over eating the insoluble form in dead budgies. It is generally considered that no parrot species should be given grit, and this is an opinion you find on many bird care sites.
In the UK and Australia pet budgies have been fed insoluble grit for many decades and it is considered a healthy part of their diet. Impaction seems to be less common in these countries. You will find it being recommended in many sites from these countries.
Why the difference I wonder! Is it due to a difference in general diet? Are the budgies that get impaction searching for something that they feel is lacking? I do not know, but it is worth occasionally taking a look at your budgies diet to look for gaps in nutrition.
Budgie cages - how to choose the right one!
When I am faced with a decision such as this, with strong opinions in each side, I fall back on looking at what happens in the wild. Living without our intervention what do these animals do instinctively?
In the wild parrots of many types regularly fly to the ground and pick at tiny stones and soil. Give your budgie a plant with soil on the roots and they will often go straight for the soil first. Many investigations of wild parrots have found grit present in the crop and the gizzard, so it seems to be a prefectly natural thing to do in the wild, and they would not spend time and energy doing things that have no benefit to them, especially as being on the ground increases the risk from predators.
Why do they need insoluble grit if they can process their feed without it? I am wondering if the grit provides minute amounts of minerals as it is eventually ground down and passes through the digestive tract. Maybe it provides a mild sandpaper effect on the digestive tract, like fibre does to us? Lorikeets are parrots that live on nectar and fruits. There is no need for grinding their food yet insoluble grit is found in their digestive tracts also.
It seems to me that it is providing more than mechanical grinding of seeds, something else that we do not fully understand yet. A quick search online brings up articles written by experts with the World Parrot Trust who are hugely experienced with many species of parrots and advocate the use of grit.
So, what should you do?
Heres where you make a decision for yourself and what you think is best for your pet. If you choose not to feed grit, then you should ensure there are good mineral sources available, cuttlefish for calcium and a mineral mix of some sort for all the other necessary minerals. If you are happy feeding a plant with some soil attached at times then you can see what your budgie thinks of this also.
If you choose to feed grit then I would take some precautions. Firstly, make sure your budgies is never left hungry with just grit available, that is just asking for touble! Personally, I would offer soil on plants regularly and occasionally I would offer an insoluble form in a dish for a day. I use cuttlefish and mineral mixes, but I sometimes put oyster shell (you can get this from feed stores as it is used with poultry) in a dish also for a day or two at a time especially during breeding. I know of many budgies that live in aviaries with soil or sand floors. They have constant access to small stones and sand and it doesn't cause problems. Just use common sense when feeding it to a caged budgie that may run out of seed or struggle with boredom as they may pick at it just for something to do.
A note of caution - I do not feed it to young budgies when they are new out of the nest. They are still trying new things and working out what is food and what isn't and I wouldn't want one getting it wrong and eating a bowl of small stones by accident. Give them a few weeks to get used to what is food first before offering it.
Safety First :
So, you enter the shop, start looking at budgie cages and realise there are so many choices you don’t know where to start! The single most important feature of your new cage will be its ability to keep your pet safe. Lets face it, the whole point of having a cage rather than letting your budgie live free is to make sure it doesn’t fly away, get eaten by a cat, eat something poisonous or drown in the toilet…..
Firstly, establish which cages are designed for budgies. There are some good looking cages for larger birds or for rodents which may or may not be safe for your bird, so start with the ones that are specifically for budgies and go from there. You may find a different type of cage that fits all the following guidelines and will work perfectly, but make sure you double-check everything is suitable.
You will really need a wire cage; the last thing you want is your little darling chewing itself to freedom/danger! The wires can run vertically or horizontally. I don’t really have a preference but a cage with some of each is probably a good choice (then your bird can climb the horizontal ones and slide down the vertical ones if it likes). The most important thing about the wires is that they are close enough that the budgie cannot squeeze its head through. This will mean about 12mm or a half an inch spacing is ideal, anything larger and you run the risk of a small budgie getting stuck - which is usually fatal..
I would avoid any cages with bars that are not parallel, i.e. they get closer together at some points. Your budgie could slip its foot into a tight gap, panic and hurt itself badly.
Have a good look to ensure there are no sharp edges or pointy bits that your budgie can get caught on or cut by (believe me they will find them if they are there!).
Check how the door opens and closes, budgies learn how to open the doors that just slide up and down without a catch to hold them. If you do end up with a cage like that then stick something like a clothes peg on the door so the inhabitants can’t open it. This also applies to the little doors some cages have to put the feed containers in through.
And, of course, your budgie cage will get chewed on so make sure there are no toxic materials on it anywhere.
Choosing a cage for your budgie can be a daunting task. When you are confronted with budgie cages of every shape, size and colour how do you know which one is best? Well there are some basic steps to help you with your decision.
1-firstly you need to make sure the cage is an appropriate size for your budgie
2-secondly, it must be safe
3-ease of cleaning is important, as you need to be able to keep your budgie's home reasonably clean if you want it to be healthy.
4-then you can think about necessary features such as perches and feed containers.
5-last but not least is how will it accommodate a few special toys.
So read on to prepare for your cage buying expedition.
The first feature of a budgie cage that you should consider is the size. Budgies are very active and get most of their exercise from flying. If your budgie will spend most of its time in a cage then you should be saving up for a flight cage. If it will be out of the cage for a few hours each day then you can go for a smaller size. As they need to be able to fly to be physically and mentally healthy you really want a cage that is longer horizontally rather than a pretty upright, narrow one. Some very cute cages are nice to look at but won't provide a decent home for your budgie.
Below are some minimum sizes, listing the height x width x length. If you mulitply these together you get the volume of the cage.
The minimum size for a single budgie would be:
18x18x18 inches, which gives a volume of 5,832" cubic inches
(46x46x46 cm = 97336 cubic cm)
Minimum size for 2 budgies: 30x18x18inches, which gives a volume of 9,720" cubic inches
(77x46x46 cm = 162932 cubic cm)
Minimum size for 3 budgies: 32x18x20 inches, which gives a volume of 11,520" cubic inches
(82x46x51 cm = 201756 cubic cm)
From there you can work out the minimum size by having a volume of 3800 cubic inches (62271 cubic cm) per budgie.
Please consider carefully the size you get as it will determine how active your budgie can be and this will effect the health and happiness of your bird.
Necessary features :
Well, firstly, it needs perches for your bird to sit and sleep and play on. These should be of varying thickness so that the pressure is not always on the same points of the foot. Make sure there is one at least that the budgies toenails will make contact with so they are worn a bit and need less trimming. I like to use branches from non-poisonous trees. These allow plenty or variation in size and texture to exercise the feet, and budgies love to chew them too, which is why they must not be poisonous, and also not sprayed with anything toxic (avoid trees on roadsides which can absorb traffic fumes). If you can get eucalyptus branches then all the better, remember they are what the budgie would search out in the wild.
The next necessary items are the feeders. You need at least three, one for seed mix and one for water, and also one for veggies etc. The most common ones are the simple bowl shaped ones or the font type, where the seed comes out of the tube into a catcher at the bottom. I don’t mind either one but you must always check to see that the budgies have actual seed available and not just the empty seed husks! The easiest way to do this is to blow the seed; the empty husks are light and will blow away.
Check where the feeders sit in relation to the perches. The budgie must be able to get to the feed, but you really do not want it sitting above the feeder pooping into it!
Ease of cleaning :
Now you have narrowed the choice down to a few budgie cages that are safe and practical it is time to think about yourself! You are going to be cleaning this cage out regularly, and hopefully for many years. So how easy is it to remove the base and replace any lining your use? How easy is it to remove the perches for an occasional scrub or disinfect? What about wiping the bars, are there many difficult to get to corners? These are real concerns as if it is fiddly to clean you may end up doing it less than you really need to, so make sure your budgie cage suits you too!
You will want somewhere to hang a toy or two and maybe a swing. With this in mind, do you think the cage is big enough? The biggest budgie cage you can afford, with the features we are discussing, will usually be best for your pet. The more active they can be the happier and healthier they will be; budgies are very active and intelligent little darlings... So I also find that cages that are longer horizontally than they are vertically are best; as the budgie can get a bit more flying space.
I would recommend buying some little clips to hang greens, millet sprays and cuttlefish. These can be moved around so your budgie has to perform some acrobatic feats (and think a little bit) to eat the yummies. Some types of clothesline pegs can be suitable, and cheap too. So once you have found the budgie cages that fit these requirements you can happily pick which ever one suits you and your house… have fun!
Design an Aviary
Your Budgie Will Love!
Give me the choice of a cage or an aviary and I will choose the latter nine times out of ten! I know that sometimes a cage is what is needed, but I do not think you can provide a better home for your budgie than a well-designed flight.
Simply giving your bird more space to fly around is going to give it an improved quality of life.
More exercise means better health and more mental stimulation, which leads to a happier budgie.
You can set up interesting play areas, provide a place to enjoy the sun or the rain, and keep more birds together in a flock. And the extra space can be enjoyed whether you are there to monitor them or not, whereas letting your bird out of its cage to exercise can only be safely done under supervision.
The main reason for containing your budgies is to keep them safe. So aviaries must be made of materials that can keep predators and pests out (including cats, dogs, birds of prey, rodents, mustelids (stoats, ferrets etc) and sometimes children!)
Cost of materials will play a part in your decision; most of mine have been made of timber frames, plywood and wire mesh. Other materials such as brick can make very nice and better insulated aviaries. Outdoor aviaries need an area where the birds can enjoy the fresh air and weather, and an area they can shelter from wind, rain, direct sunlight etc if they choose to.
Then you also need a sheltered place to put food and water, and some perches. Perches should be placed so that they allow the budgies to fly for the longest possible distance. They need to be placed in the sheltered area and out in the open area.
Once you have the basics planned you can add the fun bits!
They can be accessorised with toys and places to hang millet sprays, fresh branches with leaves and greens. A swing is always popular too.
If you live in a dry climate you can lay an irrigation hose over the top of the aviary to let it ‘rain’ occasionally. This means one end of the flight should have a netting roof rather than a solid one. My budgies used to love hanging upside down from the roof with their wings open when it rained!
My first aviary
I got my first one when I was fourteen years old. It was second hand and came with two pairs of budgies! Although it was a very basic aviary it did a good job and I used it for a few years until I was able to get a new bigger one with a small area for storing feed and using as a breeding area. The main problem with the small original one was how quickly I filled it up! It is tricky to stick to a couple of birds when there is space for a few more…….
Budgerigars / Budgies - Common Diseases :
Budgies, like all birds, are very adept at concealing their illness. This is a self-preservation mechanism, as the sick and the weak are the ones predators will focus on. By the time your pet looks ill, you can assume that your pet is seriously sick and is likely to deterioriate quickly unless appropriate treatment is provided.
By observing your pet daily you will learn its normal behavior and you will be able to notice anything out of the ordinary. Below is a list of things to look out for as possible indicators of disease / illness; and a vet may need to be consulted.
Signs of illness to watch out for:
Could Be Serious - Consult With Vet:
Loss Of Appetite
Fluffed Up And/Or Untidy Appearance
Excessive Feather Picking Or Plucking
Abnormal Sleep Pattern (Continuous, Both Feet On The Perch When Normally One Foot Is Tucked Up, Head Tucked Under The Wing, Head Turned Towards The Wing With Eyes Only Partly Closed)
Any Change In Normal Activities (Talking Or Whistling, Playing With Toys, Preening, Interaction With Other Birds Or Humans, Energy Levels, Different Perching Area)
Drinking A Lot More Water Than Usual (Diabetes?)
Soiled Vent (Diarrhea)
Drooping Head, Tail Or Wings
Cere Changes Color To Purple Brown (In Male Budgies) - Could Be A Clue That A Budgie Is Suffering From Testicular Cancer.
Respiratory Problems / Abnormal Breathing :
(Tail Constantly Moving Up And Down)
Discharge From The Beak, Eyes Or Nostrils
Face And Head Feathers Coated With Mucus And Semi-Digested Seed
Abnormal Feathers, Feather Growth, Bleeding Feathers, Or Abnormal Molt
Drooping Head, Tail Or Wings
Dull Or Swollen Eyes
Falling Off The Perch
Hunched Over Posture
Lumps Or Swellings On The Body
Sitting On The Bottom Of The Cage
Diseases / conditions budgies are usually diagnosed with:
Vitamin A and calcium / vitamin D deficiency are the most common deficiencies seen in seed junkies. Since seeds are higher in fat than many other foods, many seed eaters are often obese as well.
Vitamin A promotes appetite, digestion, and also increases resistance to infection and to some parasites.
Please refer to "Bird Nutrition" for food items rich in Vitamin A.
Learn more about calcium deficiency
Overweight birds are more susceptible to arthritis and fatty liver disease.
What you can do:
Introducing healthy foods - such as green leafy vegetables; red or orange fruits and veggies (which contain beta-carotene) - is a natural way to provide this nutrient safely. Calcium blocks should be provided also, to prevent calcium deficiency.
For seed addicted birds offer sprouted seeds instead. Sprouted or germinated seeds are usually more easily accepted by "seed addicts" than fresh fruits and vegetables.
Sprouted seeds are healthier as the sprouting changes and enhances the nutritional quality and value of seeds and grains. Sprouted seeds are lower in fat, as the process of sprouting utilizes the fat in the seed to start the growing process - thus reducing the fat stored in the seeds.
Sprouted seeds will help balance your bird’s diet by adding a nutritious supply of high in vegetable proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and chlorophyll.
Soaked and germinated "oil" seeds, like niger and rape seeds, are rich in protein and carbohydrates; while "starch" seeds, such as canary and millets, are rich in carbohydrates, but lower in protein.
It is an invaluable food at all times; however, it is especially important for breeding or molting birds. Sprouted seeds also serve as a great rearing and weaning food as the softened shell is easier to break by chicks and gets them used to the texture of seeds.
Malignant Tumors, Lymphomas and Fatty Tumors (may be caused by seed-only diet): Tumors can be benign or malignant (cancerous) and can involve any organ or system. Some species of birds tend to develop benign fatty tumors called "Lipomas."
Once cancer has been diagnosed, luprin is usually prescribed to reduce the tumor and, hopefully, prolong life.
- Lipomas are commonly seen in overweight Amazon Parrot, Rose-breasted Cockatoos andBudgies. It seems that older budgies are more prone to tumors of the ovary, testicle or kidney, which may eventually put pressure on the sciatic nerve on the affected side, resulting in lameness of the foot or leg.
-Fibromas are tumors found on the wing and they may need to be surgically removed. In some instances, amputation of the wing may be necessary.
-Testicular cancer in budgies: The cere turns purple-brown in male budgies.
-Gout - due to kidney disease or an underlying metabolic problem. Show up as lameness or acute illness.
-Diabetes - Treatable with insulin
-Viral Infections such as Beak and Feather (PBFD) and Polyoma
-Reproductive Problems, such as egg-binding, egg peritonitis, excessive egg production and abdominal wall herniation.
-Giardia Infections, causing gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and diarrhea
-Highly susceptible to: Polyoma ... Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease, PBFD, Beak and Feather... Feather Plucking / Mutilation ... Neoplasia (cancer): Budgies are reputed to have more tumors than any domestic species. Tumors of the kidney, ovary, teste and liver are common ... Mites: Scaly-face mites are common and are treated with Ivermectin Feather Cysts ... Feather Lice ... French Moult in Budgerigars - A Review - Inte Onsman; Mutavi ... Scaly Face / Scaly Legs ... Aspergillosis
How to Care for Your New Budgie Part 2: Spray Millets
How to Care for Your New Budgie Part 1: Basic Tips
How To Care For Your New Budgie Part 3: Gaining Trust