HAMILTON & DISTRICT BUDGERIGAR SOCIETY INC.

One-Two or More Birds:
Most pet parakeets are kept singly, and many of their owners assure me that their charges are content because they are given a lot of attention and are fed and cared for properly. Still, I am convinced that a parakeet that lives alone in captivity is not the creature it is meant to be. It will never have a chance to fulfill its inborn need for society by flying in a large flock, and it will never be able to perform that ritual programmed in its genes that precedes the formation of a lifelong bond with the chosen partner. To be sure, as a pet it will accept a human being as a surrogate partner and develop a tender attachment to this person, but in most cases the bird still has to spend many hours of the day alone, unable to engage in its natural activities, such as searching for food, flying for miles with the rest of the flock, looking for suitable sleeping places, warning others of potential enemies, and whatever else fills the day in the normal life of birds in the wild. Anyone deciding in favour of a single bird should have plenty of leisure and patience to make sure the pet will get all the attention it needs. If you live alone this is usually not so simple. A parakeet's instinctive need for sociability is perhaps met more easily by a family, assuming that all members enjoy spending time with the bird and are considerate of it. Even if all the family members play with the bird, the parakeet will probably pick a favourite and develop a special, close friendship with that particular person. If you want your parakeet to be not only tame and responsive but also truly happy, you have to provide it with a partner.

You may have been reluctant to start out with two birds, but you can still change your mind later (See A Partner for Your Bird.) This will afford you a double pleasure, namely, the pleasure of your personal friendship with them as well as the pleasure of observing the two birds. If you have not shared your home with a pair of birds, you cannot imagine how many charming facets of behaviour two parakeets living together in captivity will display in their relationship. The birds exhibit amazing intelligence in overcoming inborn behaviour patterns (e.g., in inhibiting aggression), in trying to change the other one's mind about something, etc. One thing is clear: If you have two parakeets you can leave them alone for a day in good conscience, as long as their basic needs are taken care of. The birds may miss you because without you the "flock" is incomplete, but they won't suffer from loneliness and boredom. It is possible to combine two male or two female birds, after a while they will learn to live quite happily together. Of course, if you have a male and a female you will have the side benefit of a close-up look at parakeet family life. You should keep more than one pair only if you intend to breed birds on a regular basis. Because of their instinctive behaviour patterns it is practically impossible to keep the birds from breeding. If your flock grows in size, it obviously needs more space. Work and demands on your time increase, and takers for the young birds will need to be found. A fancier of parakeets ordinarily decides to keep a flock of birds only if living quarters offer enough space for a generous indoor aviary or if there is a garden where the birds can be housed in a large outdoor aviary.

See the article Male or Female for more info.

E-Mail: berniehansen@sympatico.ca

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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc. 1996