When I was little my parents bought two of my sisters and me each a pet parakeet as a surprise! It was a wonderful idea and we loved watching them that day deciding which we would each adopt. Hannah and Caroline chose the sky blue and the steel blue, which left the olive green for me, who I named Layla.
Layla was a shy bird. At first this resulted in aggression, because she was afraid and would bite (rather hard) to protect herself. Thankfully we learned how to help her trust us and I would spend many hours with her in an enclosed room talking to her whilst feeding her, and it worked. She was still a shy bird, and wary around other people and cameras, but she trusted me. There were times when she would be flying around the room, become scared, and would fly over to me and land on my head because she knew I would protect her. It was incredible and is a rather special memory to me.
It’s now been about four or five years since I lost Layla to old age, but I’m ever so thankful that I had her for nine years of my life. She was a comfort and encouragement to me. I’m currently unable to get a new parakeet, or budgie as they are properly known, but I have plans to find a new little feathered friend as soon as possible.
While Layla lived to an old age, and the other two birds, Arwen and Rosie, lived a long time as well, there are still some things we should have known about owning budgies. Oftentimes people will buy pets without knowing a lot about them, which can work out alright in cases like ours where we continued to learn about them, but sometimes it ends up not so well. Here is a list of some things you should learn about and consider before buying your own budgie.
Cages: Oftentimes people will unknowingly buy a cage that is much too small for their budgies, I know, we did the same thing. Your cage should be 1.5 feet wide x 1.3 feet deep x 1.3 feet tall per budgie, minimum. The bars need to be no more than 1/2 inch apart each, or the budgie may slip through.
You can find both horizontally and vertically placed bars for cages, I prefer horizontal as the birds enjoy being able to climb the bars.
You need to make sure the cage is made for birds. Once we found a rabbit cage for free, so we cleaned it up and used it for the birds as it was really large and they could fly around. Since it wasn’t made for birds the type of metal used made the birds sick when they chewed on it, and we had to replace the cage.
Make sure the cage is stable. We once owned a cage that was not very wide but was tall, and could easily have been knocked over and injured a bird. It’s better to get a cubed or rectangular shaped cage as it’s more stable and gives the bird more room to play and exercise.
Birds are smart, and some will learn to open the cage doors. In our case Arwen would hold the door open while the other two birds flew out and then fly out herself. Using a safety-pin to hold the door closed fixed this problem.
Placement of the cage is important as well. You want it in a central location, so that the bird can come to know you better and not become lonely, but you don’t want it in the kitchen. Some fumes, such as from non-stick skillets and some cleaners are deadly to birds.
How Many Birds? We had three birds, one for each of us, which worked well for us. However, the more you have the larger the cage will need to be. If you don’t think you have a lot of time to devote to your bird you should get at least two so that your bird does not become lonely and depressed. If you want to spend a lot of time with your budgie and become tightly bonded together you would only want one, because if there are multiple budgies they will bond more with each other than with a human. If you choose to get one budgie for this reason avoid giving him a mirror toy, as he’ll bond with his reflection instead of you.
Care: Your budgie will need fresh food and water daily. Most believe you just have to feed your budgie a mix of seeds and be done with it, however this is not the healthiest for your little guy. Budgies should be fed a combination of seed, pellets, fruits, and vegetables starting from the time you bring them home. They might not eat it all right away, but if you continue to leave it in the cage they’ll warm up to it if they’re young.
The cage should be cleaned daily, which will take only a couple of minutes.
You should spend 45+ minutes with your budgie most days, though this can be as simple as it resting on your shoulder while you do the computer or on a small parrot stand/play area, if you have a single budgie. If you have multiple budgies they will be able to keep each other company most of the time.
Your budgie will need a cuttlebone to help keep the beak from growing too much, preventing them from eating.
Every few months you will need to file your budgie’s nails so that they do not grow out too far as well, making it painful to stand. Do not use clippers, this can cause you to cut the quick and your budgie will begin to bleed. This is very dangerous with a budgie as a small amount of blood loss can mean their death. This almost happened to Layla once and I’ll never make that mistake again.
Clipping Wings? Clipping the wings on your budgie is a personal choice, know the pros and cons and then decide. I never clipped Layla’s wings, I wanted her to be able to fly. For my next budgie I’m planning on clipping the wings, as I’ll be able to take him out of the cage more easily and often, among a variety of other reasons. It just depends on your situation and the bird.
Toys and Accessories: Budgie cages typically come with a standard sized wooden dowel perch. Throw those away. These perches will give you bird many foot problems, they can be extremely damaging. The same goes for the sand paper covers. You can either make your own with wood that you know is from a tree which is non-toxic to budgies and has not been treated with chemicals, or you can buy them.
Give your bird plenty of toys to keep them entertained. It’s best to have a stockpile which you can switch in and out between the cage every couple of weeks so they don’t get bored. Large toys can scare some budgies. They love noisy toys. Make sure there aren’t any choking hazards.
Budgies love music, especially happy/boppy music. After Arwen and Rosie passed away I would play Owl City during the day for Layla when she was in her cage, so she wouldn’t get lonely. She loved it and would dance around her cage whilst picking up and dropping her mirror so that it made a loud clang, which was always a sign of her glee.
Budgies are a wonderful pet and if well cared for can live up to twelve to fourteen years, when on a healthy diet. Just like any pet they need proper care, interaction with other budgies or humans, exercise, and entertainment. They truly are magnificent, intelligent, and friendly birds. I hope this will help you learn if budgies are the right pet for you and help you make a wise decision when it comes to their care.
Did you like this post? Have any questions? Comment bellow and I’ll get back to you!
[Originally posted on my other blog, Lavender & Honey on September 3rd, 2014]