Care of the Budgerigar (Budgie)

Few pets became popular as quickly as parakeets, also called budgies. These are small parrots native to tropical regions. The beautifully colored little bird is a fine pet for shut-ins and people who live in apartments. With patience, you can teach almost any parakeet to talk. Its friendliness and playfulness make it a lively companion. Usually a young parakeet is easier to train than a mature bird. Some people prefer to get one from six to eight weeks old. Others take a bird up to three months or older. When you bring your budgie home, let it stay in its cage from one to two weeks--until you see that it is used to its new surroundings and to you. The cage that best shelters a budgie is oblong--about 2 feet long, 18 inches high, and one foot wide. The cage wires should be strong and rustproof.

At first your pet may not be able to find the food cup. Spread seed liberally among the gravel on the floor of the cage. Feed your budgie once a day. When it learns to eat from the cup, empty the waste hulls daily. Be sure it has grit. It also likes little extras in its treat cup, such as millet seed, a bit of green or apple, or finely chopped egg.

Wild budgies bathe in dew-wet grass. For the cage budgie, put less than an inch of water in a bird bath dish. You may have to lure the bird by floating a piece of green on the water or you may have to sprinkle it with lukewarm water.

When a budgie becomes tame in its cage you can finger train it. You may start by talking quietly to it as you slowly and repeatedly put your hand in its cage, near the bottom. It will come to sit on your finger. Then you can train it to stay on a play pen, a wood tray with sides raised to keep gravel from spilling. You can fit it with a variety of toys, such as bells, ladders, seesaw, and trapeze.

Do not let very small children handle your bird. Children of 6 years and more can learn to give it good care and can even help in training the budgie.

To teach your bird to talk, begin training it as soon as it is cage-tame. A budgie learns faster when it is the only bird. Some people cover the cage while they speak to the bird so it will concentrate on the voice. A budgie seems to find words starting with p and b the easiest to learn. Stand at the cage and, in your normal tone, say clearly a simple phrase such as "pretty Bill." Repeat several times a day, if possible, or at least five minutes each morning and night. Only when your pet has learned that one phrase should you teach it another.

Some budgies talk after two months of training. Others may take six months. Many people use parakeet recordings for teaching. Others prefer to train by their own voices, for the bird imitates the tone of its trainer. Some of them learn hundreds of words.

The budgie, or shell parakeet, is a native of Australia. It is also called budgerigar and budgereegah, from the Australian bush word budgeree, meaning "good" or "pretty." Sometimes budgies are called love birds, but that name really applies only to tiny African parrots. Budgies are related to parrots and belong to the order Psittaciformes.


E-Mail: berniehansen@sympatico.ca



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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.