HAMILTON & DISTRICT BUDGERIGAR SOCIETY INC.


QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

The questions that have answers referring to our web site for information did receive an answer via e-mail originally.

This 1st Question is placed here for its importance to new Budgie breeders.
QUESTION #0. December 23rd, the first of 5 tiny little eggs hatched. (they as well as we, have never been in such a situation before). By the time number two hatched, number one was dead, and the pattern continued untill number 5 was thrown out of the "box". The hatchlings seem lively and noisy enough! Mewing like kittens. The parents were overzealous to feed them: we thought they were overzealuous but maybe they were just a bit rough which could have been the reason of the high mortality rate. What sort of survivorship can be expected from a clutch of eggs? Is our lack of success with these five hatchlings normal, or have we done something wrong by leaving the birds in charge?

ANSWER #0. It is very unlikely that the aggressive feeding harmed the chicks. It is not normal that so many did not survive. Out of our clutches of chicks we rarely have any that die. Under clean conditions and the proper food they all should normally survive. We think we know what may be wrong with your birds although we could be wrong. If you have not been giving the parent birds what is called the SOFT FOOD, than the babies probably died from lack of food or improper food. The soft food mixture is made of soaked oats or groats in water, a vitamin mixture and an egg food mixture (we use CEDE). This food is given to the parent birds when the egg laying starts. This food mixture helps the hen form the crop milk which is important for the babies. If only the normal seed and millet is given to the parents during breeding the babies will usually perish.
Since the parents did not die or get ill, than I would rule out contaminated food or some form of fungus or disease.
You can subsitute brown bread crumbs and milk for the parents if they will eat it until you get the proper soft food. Some pet shops can advise you of the ingrediants since each area may have different brands of vitamin mixtures and egg food.

QUESTION #1. Is the death rate of baby budgies high from being pecked to death? What should we look for? Do parents kill their young?

ANSWER #1. The budgie parents kill the babies once in a while but if the parents continue to do this we foster the babies out to other parents if another nest box has eggs or babies. This usually happens when the parents are ready to breed again and the babies will not leave the nest box. Normally this does not happen but has happened a few times. Usually it is specific parents that do this and not the general population. Some feel it is a diet problem that causes them to kill the babies but I do question this. Our death rate is not high from this problem. We sometimes have parents that will not feed the babies and again foster them out if the parents are known for this.

QUESTION #2. I have a Lutino female, 4 years old and a green male parakeet, 2 years old. Lately I've noticed the female's abdomen looks swollen. Is she about to lay or is she eggbound? How do I tell?

ANSWER #2. If the hen is going to lay an egg, it is the rump area under the tail which would look swollen, not the abdomen or Stomach area. A day or two prior to laying an egg, the hen's droppings would get very large & messy. An eggbound hen will probably be on the cage floor, fluffed up and looking distressed or in pain.

QUESTION #3. The area that is swollen is under the tail. How long does it swell before she's ready to lay?

ANSWER #3. The area will be swollen for up to 3 or maybe 4 days before she lays the 1st egg.

QUESTION #4. How old must the chicks be before they go to new homes?

ANSWER #4. The babies should be 5 to 6 weeks old before you remove them from the parents. Make sure you actually see them eating seed on their own before you remove them. Then put them in a seperate cage for a couple of days just to make sure they are eating and drinking water OK on their own. Their are times when the parents kick the babies out of the nest box when they are ready to lay eggs again. This may be before the time mentioned above but does not happen to often. Take a look at the babies once in a while to make sure they are OK and the parents are feeding them when they hatch. Good luck with your 1st babies.

QUESTION #5. I was wondering if I put my birds outside, could they get mites and other diseases from the birds outside?

ANSWER #5. We have several members with birds outside (mostly budgies, canaries & finches) and I have not heard of anyone getting diseases from outside birds. Most outside aviaries have a roof over them to keep droppings from wild birds from getting into the flight. A wire mesh is used to keep the birds in place and other birds and animals out.

QUESTION #6. I got my 2 birds in december, to breed them, my female bird has a lump by her anal. I was wondering it she is growing eggs inside her. I also wanted to know how long I have to wait for her to lay them. thank you, please email me back.

ANSWER #6. This refers mostly to budgies. You do not mention what kind of birds you have. The hen will lay her 1st egg seven to ten days after successful mating. One egg will be laid every other day. There can be from 5 to 10 eggs in total. The hen will incubate the eggs after laying the 1st or 2nd egg while the male feeds her. The eggs will hatch after 18 days of incubation. A special calendar can be made so you know exactly what day they will hatch when 18 days has passed after an egg is laid. A sample of this calendar can be found on our web site. Both parents feed the babies after hatching. The male continues to feed the hen even after the eggs have hatched. The babies eyes open after seven days. They can leave the nest after 4 weeks if you see them eating on their own. The parents will continue to feed them for up to 6 weeks or until they are ready to lay more eggs. At this time they may get agressive and force the babies out of the nest box if they are not already out.

QUESTION #7. Hello,I have a budgie bird about 8 months old. Her beak has a curve at the end and it, seems to be getting worse. Do budgie's have to have their beaks trimmed and if so how do I get that done.I've been watching the seed pile on the bottom of her cage and she does seem to be eating as much as normal. Help.Or is her beak normal.

ANSWER #7. Periodically thin splinters will chip off the tip of a parakeet's beak. This is a normal part of the beaks tissue. But in some birds, but mostly older birds the beak sometimes grows too fast or the upper and lower halves cross each other. If this is left too long the bird will eventually become unable to eat at all. The best thing to do is take the bird to a veterinarian, breeder or pet dealer and see if someone their can help you trim the beak with proper nail clippers. If you try this yourself and bleeding occurs by cutting too far, apply styptic cotton until the bleeding stops. If the beak seems brittle, dab it with warmed glycerine or olive oil before attempting to trim it. Do not attempt to do this yourself if you are unsure as to how far to trim or where to trim.

QUESTION #8. Last Year Santa brought my youngest son (Simon) a Budgie. It is a male (by the name of Peter). This year, Simon wants Santa to bring Peter a friend. Will 2 males fight with one another? I assume that unless we want more than 2 a female is out of the question. We just don't want 2 birds trying to kill each other over Christmas...

ANSWER #8. It is my experience that 2 males will get along better than 2 females or a male & a female. If your budgie is very tame now and you add another budgie in the cage it probably will lose some of its tameness in time as the birds will prefer to bond together instead of interacting with people. This just means it may be harder to hand train them or teach them to talk when a bird is not alone. The 2 males may fight a bit at first but it is only to sort out who is the dominant one. Watch them closely for the 1st few hours they are together. They should not really harm each other compared to females or an opposite sex pair where one might want to mate while the other one does not, leading to severe fighting or possible death. A too small a cage may be a problem as the birds might try to create their own space in the cage. The larger the cage the better. A parrot size cage with smaller wire would be quite suitable if you can find one that has bars small enough to keep budgies in. A larger cage is not necessary but just something to consider if the cost is reasonable.

QUESTION #9. I recently got a budgie and need answers to a question. What's the coldest temperature a budgie can survive.

ANSWER #9. Budgies can stand freezing temperatures as long as their are no drafts. We keep our bird room at 40 to 45 degrees or around 5 degrees celcious in the winter. We have friends with outdoor flights where the birds actually go outside in the winter and play in the snow. As long as their water does not freeze up you can keep them in a cool climate. Remember that budgies live in a climate that is very hot in the daytime but can drop to freezing temperatures at night such as Australian grasslands which come close to desert climate. Sparrows survive the winter here in Ontario as long as they can find food and water. They are very small birds just like the budgie. Like I mentioned above that even a cool draft is harmful to budgies but they can stand very cold tempertures as long as they have time to get climatized to it. A rapid drop from room temperature to freezing will harm the budgie, but a slow drop in temperature over a few days will get the bird climatized to it so it will not harm him. Budgies exposed to drafts and damp air will actually get colds just like people. If your bird has been exposed to this and is not showing signs of distress or lost his eating habits, it should be OK. The temperature is not important, but the time allowed for the temperature change is what's important.

QUESTION #10. I found someone who was getting rid of a budgie: took that budgie in and now I have new problem. I now have two females in one cage, the fully trained male lives in a cage by himself. Of the two females the first budgie does not like the new budgie. Every now and then the budgies will sit queitly together: this is when I begin to think they will do alright. Then begins the fighting and they do get nasty. What should I do? Will they work it out?

ANSWER #10. It is possible but not likely that the 2 females will work it out. The oldest budgie will treat the cage as her territory and try to chase the other female away constantly. I would suggest that you try the oldest female budgie with the male budgie. Watch them closely for a few days and see if they like each other. The female may still fight a little with the male at first if placed in her cage because it was her territory, but there is a better chance that they will get along. A budgie that is a pet will lose some of its friendship with humans when placed with another budgie. Two males will get along better than two females. If the male and female do not get along you will have to keep them all seperate although sometimes a large cage will allow them to sort out their own territories and get along. A normal budgie cage is not big enough for 2 female budgies. A cage of 3 feet square and 2 feet high might allow them to live together but it would still be a gamble.

QUESTION #11. I am currently seeking advice on building a new building/shed to house birds. I would like to get into breeding for a hobby. Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER #11. A description of our bird room size and location is at the top of the Budgerigar page.

QUESTION #12. I have two parakeets--one male and one female. They have both lost the stripping on their foreheads and have developed light blue and clear ceres respectfully. I have noticed that when excited or agitated, they "bob" in place. What does this mean? Please respond.

ANSWER #12. The stripping is only there for young birds and usually moults out in 12 to 15 weeks to their adult plumage. Bobbing in place, or running along a perch while bobbing their heads is just a sign of courtship for the budgie. You may also see them feeding or pretending to feed each other or just tapping beaks which is another sign of courtship. Usually the male just does this to show his affection to the female. It is not usually a sign of any problem with the birds, it is sort of like a mating ritual. Sometimes a male and female may not get along as one might want to mate while the other does not and can sometimes lead to fighting. If the birds grew up together they may get along perfect as they mature.

QUESTION # 13. I have a male and female zebra finch in a bird cage. They already laid 5 eggs. One of the eggs hatched. Unfortunately, I had to go on a trip and had to take the birds with me before the other eggs hatched. During the trip in the car, the male finch destroyed the nest, killing the one baby. The other eggs were still good, but the birds seem to have abandoned them. Was this behavior of the male normal or was it caused by the trip in the car?

ANSWER #13. This could possibly be caused by the upheaval and stress of the trip. Birds are creatures of routine. Any changes in their day to day routine causes stress and/or panic. I would not suggest travelling with the birds at nesting time ever. If you are planning a trip, and their are no eggs presently in the nest than remove the nest basket or nesting material so they cannot make another one. Do this at least 3 weeks before you plan to go away. Is there someone who could come to your home and check on the birds once a day while you are away.? Or can you leave them with someone until you return.? If you have no choice, the next time, than remove the male to a seperate cage for the trip. During the next time they go to nest, keep an eye on the male and the chicks, as he may do a repeat performance. If he does happen to kill, injure or toss a baby from the nest, remove him to a small cage and place it near the females cage. The female should still feed the young when they hatch.

QUESTION #14. Still, after six years, I never know when to expect him to moult. I have read up some in budgie books and in BIRD TALK but haven't ever noticed any info on moulting.

ANSWER #14. Their is no set time for the budgie to have his moult unless it is kept outdoors where it will have a moult before the colder temperatures. Most birds kept indoors usually start their moult in the fall when the heating system starts up and the house in generally cooler. The budgie probably went through a small stress period while you were away. This happens to all pets.

QUESTION #15. HI. I have been away on a trip. When I came back a week later, my budgie had lost a LOT of feathers. Large tail feathers as well as the little fluff. I'm still not sure if he was moulting or if he became very upset at me leaving and began feather plucking. He seems fine now and his feathers are growing back well. What is your opinion? I have never taken him to a vet before--the small town I am from had no avian veterinarians. I'm now living in a larger metropolitan area and I don't know how to go about finding a good avian vet or if I even really need to.

ANSWER #15. The budgie may have been in some stress being left alone for the week you were away. If the bird has bald spots, it probably has been pulling them out. If it has lost at lot of wing and tail feathers, this is normal as long as you can see new growth where they are missing. This will take 4 to 8 weeks to grow its new feathers back in. Some people give their bird cod liver oil during its moult to give it bright and colorful feathers when the new ones grow back in. (You could add 2 or 3 drops and stir it up in the seed dish..) If the bird has bald spots make sure it is kept warm until the feathers return. A change of environment such as living quarters, temperature and lighting can all cause some stress and cause it to moult. The budgie should never be kept in an area that is drafty. It is possible the bird was so attached to you that your disappearance for a week caused him to go into stress during that time and go into a moult.

QUESTION #16. I had two budgies, male and female. She laid 5 eggs then hatched 3 then died. Later 1 died and we were left with two. The Male has taken care of these two for over two months. Then, today, the eldest died, lack of food in the crop. And now we are all scared that the last baby will die, because the male is not feeding it? He brought them so far, i wonder why he would just all of a sudden stop feeding them. However, one is left, and does anyone know of any way that I can save the last young bird because it does not look like he is getting much food at all! Please help me. This makes me feel so sad. Please, I am in a mid-life crisis and have no clue as to what to do!

ANSWER #16. If you do not have another adult budgie to raise the baby you will have to hand feed the baby with a syringe. You must be very careful not to place the food in the windpipe by mistake as the baby will die within a minute. Do not attempt this unless you are sure how to place the food so it will end up in its stomach. You can make a soaked mixture of Pablum, glucose and some crushed (hulled) millet and place this into the chick with the syringe. We have tried this before but it must be fed many times a day and kept warm. Some have survived while others have not. If the baby is old enough you may get away with just placing it in his mouth instead of trying to put it down his throat. Two months old should be old enough to sense the food in its mouth and just swallow it on its own if it is soft food.

QUESTION #17. I have been raising budgies for 6 years and I have just become overrun with scaly mites. I have tried several remedies, but they keep returning. I have 30 birds in an avairy. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER #17. Please see the articles in the Budgerigar section under Diseases/Disorders.

QUESTION #18. Just got a parakeet 7 days ago. Pet store said about 6 weeks old. I had his/her wings snipped after he had been her about 5 days. Since then he seems depressed. Is this possible? Before wings snipped he would attempt to escape cage whenever the door was opened - now I leave the cage open all day and he doesnt come out. He'll come out on my finger (hesitantly) or if I physically take him out... but then he is desparately searching for his cage. Also.. he seems nervous. He shakes a bit when we are near him - but mostly lifts "one" wing and shakes that wing. I'm wondering if he was injured during the clipping of wings. Not cut, but maybe bruised.

ANSWER #18. The budgie is probably going through a shock period after having his/her wings clipped. This should only last a few days. Realizing he cannot fly, the bird will attempt to stay where it is safe because it knows it cannot fly to escape from danger. Most people trim their budgies wings just to get it hand trained. Patience is what is required to let the bird know you mean it no harm. Try and give it bits of fruit and/or vegetables until you find a food that it likes. It will soon attempt to jump on your hand or finger once it realizes you are a source of food and not danger. Once he will get on your hand you can let him walk around to get familiar with the surroundings until his wings grow back. He will then usually jump on your hand knowing it is a quick way to get back to his cage where it knows its food and water is until it can fly there on its own.

This shaking sounds like he is very nervous and should be left alone (not touched) for a few days. After a while you can then trie to hand train him. If the budgie fluffs up his feathers and shakes them this is usually a sign of relaxation after a disturbing sound or event for the bird. I would not be concerned unless you see the bird is not eating properly. The more people that handle the bird the less chance he will become calm and tame, as it will usually try to bond to one person only. Several people handling him will just prolong his adjustment time.

QUESTION #19. There is no vet in our area and our budgie is sick and has been throwing up. Do you have any info that will help us?

ANSWER #19. This could be a number of things. Crop infection, bad seed, or it could just be in breeding condition and regurgitating food. It would be hard to tell without seeing the bird. The best thing to do if he is inactive and not eating, is to give the bird heat by placing a heating pad under its cage for warmth and put him in a warmer room or place a heat lamp near him, not letting the temperature get over 90 degrees F. Give it plenty of fresh water because the warmer area will dehydrate it faster. If the bird is not eating seed, you can try oatmeal or cream of wheat mixed in water to see if he is hungry but maybe too weak to crack seeds. A sick bird is easy to spot. It sits on the perch or on the floor in a fluffed up manner, usually with its eyes closed. If on the perch, you'll see it sleeping on both feet. (Healthy adults almost always sleep with heads tucked under the wing and standing on one leg.) Check the droppings, too. A healthy bird should have small black and white droppings, not messy. A sick bird, depending on what's wrong with it may have very loose, wet droppings which could be green, or greyish in color.

QUESTION #20. My hen has just hatched 6 babies and is now chasing after the male. It looks like she is trying to hurt him and chase him away.

Answer #20. It could be that the male is not feeding the female enough to help feed the babies. She is probably chasing him trying to get him to feed her more. I would seperate the male for a while and place him in a cage close by. The female should continue feeding the babies. After a week you can place the male back in and see if they get along, and hopefully he will help to feed the babies.

QUESTION #21. Hi, We have a female parakeet that died sometime in the night. She was fine till late yesterday afternoon when we noticed she was puffy. She had a clean vent, clean nostrils, was able to stay on the perch and fly a little. We moved her to a separate cage to keep her warm but she went downhill fast, do you think she was eggbound, she was in her first breeding time but had not laid any eggs yet, she also was not making any noticable sounds like that she was in pain. Hope you can help us figure it out.

Answer #21. Most birds are usually very quiet when ill or in pain. It is a defensive mechanism built in so not to attract predators. (yes even pet birds have this bred into the genes.) The only time a bird would tell you it is in trouble is if it was being attacked or had a wing, tail, foot or toe caught in something and then you would here loud squawking. You do not mention the birds age but if she was ready to lay an egg, her droppings would have been very large and wet for the previous 2 or 3 days. If the droppings have been normal (small black & white in color) than I would guess that egg binding was not the cause of death. It may have had some kind of internal problem.

QUESTION #22. I hope you don't mind my emailing you but we have been unable to find out anything about a problem suffered by one of our two budgies. He is around a year old & his cere recently turned blue, so we assume he is a male.
The problem that he has developed two 'pouches' on his cheeks, that look like water blisters. The blister area has no feathers - they can be very swollen or just slightly. Our vet is stumped & we can find no trace of anything like this on any website. The blisters respond to eyedrops for a day or so then swell back up again. He is eating and flying well, his feathers are glossy & well groomed and he is bright & alert.

Answer #22. Sometimes when males are in breeding condition, as part of the courtship process, the males tend to gulp air and fill up the air sacs near the crop which do look like huge blisters with no feathers. These will eventually go down when the bird releases the air. He may do this several times a day or it could last for several days. This is normal behavior for Budgies and you should not be alarmed. Our information is based on your description but not all Budgies do this. You may also notice that while this is visible, you may hear what sounds like light barking or croaking sounds from the male. The vet is probably not too familiar with birds.

E-Mail: berniehansen@sympatico.ca

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