HAMILTON & DISTRICT BUDGERIGAR SOCIETY INC.

The Behavior of Parakeets

Vocal Utterances - What Their Sounds Mean:
Compared to other birds parakeets are not very inventive in their vocal utterances- they produce nothing like the melodious songs of our native songbirds. One important communication for birds living in a flock is the distance call, perhaps more correctly described as "contact" call, because it helps the birds stay in touch with each other. Birds also recognize each other individually by this call, because each parakeet has a slightly different version. The distance call also makes it possible for a bird to locate its fellows even when they are out of sight. Because of this acoustic signal each bird knows just where the others are even when the flock is somewhat dispersed. Caged birds also produce the distance call. If two parakeets that are used to each other are separated, they start calling for each other with a persistence that can be nerve-racking. I experienced this one day when one partner of a tame pair escaped. Although both birds were exceptionally trusting and affectionate, I was unable to console the one that was left. He continued his long and penetrating calls for three days until, luckily, the missing bird was returned to me. This is one of the incidents that convinced me that, no matter how tame a parakeet may be, its need for a companion of the same species can never be fully satisfied by a human being.

The alarm call is quite different from the distance or contact call. Parakeets warn the flock with this short and shrill call when they spot a bird of prey or some other danger. Usually this call is accompanied by instant flight. Caged birds, too, can produce this sound if they are alarmed by a large bird that is flying by close to the window or over the aviary or if an unusual dangerous-sounding noise frightens them. At dusk, about a quarter of an hour before dark and after the flock has gathered in the tops of trees, a call sounding something like "eeaye" can be heard, followed by a soft chirping with which the birds apparently murmur themselves to sleep. In aviaries and cages this soft chirping is also produced by parakeets as they settle down for the night.

In nature it probably provides a feeling of closeness in the flock, just as the distance call does during the day. The soft, twittering courtship song of male parakeets is a sound often heard during the courtship display. Parakeets also use vocal utterances to express moods. A soft chirping similar to that preceding sleep at night suggests relaxed contentment. At the other end of the scale are the piercing shrieks that parakeets produce when agitated. This racket is familiar to any parakeet keeper. Even singly-kept birds are very vocal in announcing their displeasure, the cause of which is often quite obscure to humans.

Other behaviour & social apsects.

E-Mail: berniehansen@sympatico.ca

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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.