Some birds are known to bond for life while others can accept a new partner almost immediately. Cockatiels and some of the larger parrots are known to bond for life and can show grief or mope around at the loss of a mate. They have been known to attack any new mate placed in with it while some have accepted a new mate right away. Budgies on the other hand have been known to appear to grieve, although some accept a mate immediately since breeders change their mates constantly trying to breed that special type. Birds will bond by themselves, as when large amounts of birds are placed in a larger cage or aviary you will see birds pairing themselves off. In this sense I would think they would miss their mate since they have chosen it personally. Birds may also grieve at the loss of a partner depending on how long they have been with it, whether chosen by themselves or given a mate by their owner.
What can you do to help a grieving bird?
The things you can do to help a grieving bird (if you believe your bird is grieving) is to provide it with extra attention. If is an only bird that has lost a buddy or mate, you can try and find another one for it and hope they get along. If you have an aviary with many other birds you might place it back with the others so it can get attention from them and hopefully lesson its grieving.
Budgies and Chinese Button Quail are known to bully ones that are sick and/or injured although this does not happen in the wild as sick birds usually have places to hide. The other bird(s) may want to play with these birds but become frustrated when they do not move or just ignore them, and may become aggressive towards them. It may be wise to isolate a bird that is ill to prevent injury from other birds or passing on anything it may carry if contagious.
One e-mail from a lady with a male Budgie that had plenty of parrot companions in a nearby cage decided to buy her Budgie a mate. The following is her story.
"The 1st bird I bought from a pet store was rejected by my male bird so much that I had to remove the new bird for fear of it being killed. I then got another mate for him from a friend and the birds took to one another like a duck to water. She was about 2 or 3. Actually I have never seen such love and dedication. They lived together for about a year. Soon after the new female became ill. I took her out of the cage to see if I could help her in anyway as she was now lying on the nest box top. She died in my hands. I put her back for a while so he could understand, but I think he thinks I killed her. (That was about two months ago.) It turns out that she had a malignant tumor on her liver. Well, my male bird has grieved so badly it hurts me. I don't know what to do. He seems a little better lately but then he is not eating well and he is plucking feathers at times. I will try and find a new friend for him soon and hope this experience can pass with no long term depression."
The above e-mail is an example of a person's experience with a pet bird appearing to grieve at the loss of a mate or friend. Giving the bird plenty of extra attention or finding it a new mate may lessen its grieving.
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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.