The most popular pet bird, by far, is a type of parakeet called the Budgerigar (budgie). Budgies are native to Australia and have been domestically bred since the 1800s. In the wild, the only colour to occur naturally is green, but through selective breeding, a variety of beautiful colours are available.
No matter what colour or sex you choose, your budgie will be an excellent student. Both males and females have the ability to be tamed and taught how to speak. With adult budgies, you can usually recognize the male because his cere, a soft wax-like covering where the nostrils are located, is most often blue. Most females have beige or brownish ceres. Baby budgies are sometimes difficult to sex, the cere is often a light purple and not the blue or beige colour of the adult.
One Budgie or Two?
If you are away for the better part of the day, or have limited time to spend with your parakeet, consider getting a pair. Budgies are gregarious birds, dependant on their flock and the company of their mate. If you are unable to fill that role of his companion, your budgie will be much happier if you get him a friend.
Our pet counsellors are bird lovers and because they are, they hold and play with the baby budgies in our store. Our guests also play a big part in our budgie’s social skills.* This is why a Petland budgie is quick to bond with his new owner.
To provide a happy, healthy atmosphere for your budgie, Petland recommends the following necessary, and fun accessories. We have listed them as your new pet’s four basic needs: Environmental, Nutritional, Maintenance and Behavioural. When these needs are met, along with a loving environment provided by you, your budgie can live a long and happy life. Typically a healthy budgie may live between 10 and 18 years.
Your Budgie’s New Home - When purchasing a cage for your budgie, keep the following in mind. Get the largest cage that you can. Even if your budgie will be out of his cage a lot, give him a roomy, secure home that he will not feel claustrophobic in. A budgie cage has bars that are horizontal and spaced close together, so that the budgie can climb comfortably. You may want to hang his cage or place it on a cage stand, but either way, make sure the room in which he is placed is draft free, away from heat or air-conditioning vents and is not in direct sunlight. A cage cover helps your budgie to get the rest he needs (approximately 11 hours). Remember, that birds wake at sunrise and sleep at sunset. Your pet counsellor can show you the homes available made specifically for your budgie.
Lighting - Your budgie requires exposure to ultraviolet light on a daily basis. Since it is not possible in our climate to have him outside on a daily basis, and placing him in front of a window only allows filtered light inside, which is ineffective; the use of a full-spectrum light is vital. UVA and UVB is necessary to prevent calcium and vitamin D3 deficiencies, which can cause a tremendous amount of health problems. As well, depriving your budgie of UV light will make him colour blind. It has also been suggested that UVA light is beneficial in reducing or eliminating abnormal behaviour, such as feather damaging disorders, phobias and aggression among just a few. An avian floor lamp and UVA/UVB bulb will be a necessary part of your budgie’s basic environmental need.
Playpen/Portable Perch - Your budgie will be much happier and develop a closer relationship with you, if he spends some of his day out of his cage. When he is out, wood playpens and portable perches are an ideal safe place for him.
Perches - Birds were not meant to stand on the same diameter of a tree branch or perch. Your budgies must have a variety of perch sizes to allow their feet proper exercise. Make sure that the perches aren’t too smooth, too hard or too rough. Perches constructed of rope or natural wood with bark provide the best surfaces for your budgie’s feet. Inside the cage, situate two of the perches at the same height as the seed and water dishes, and not directly over them, where fecal matter could spoil the food.
Food - It is unreasonable to expect any living thing to remain healthy when fed only one or two types of food. You must give your budgie a balanced diet if he is to live a long and happy life.
Fresh budgie seed mix should always be available. Check his seed regularly, and don’t be fooled by the empty husks he will leave in the dish. Refill it daily. Offer a healthy mix of fruits and vegetables, pastas, rice, beans and even whole wheat toast daily as part of their morning meal. Once or twice a week, you can offer a cooked egg finely chopped. This is a rich source of protein. Every bird is different in their tastes. While your budgie may love certain fruits and vegetables, he may reject others. Keep trying and offer him a variety. Feed these perishable foods in a separate dish, and remove it after one hour.
Vitamin/Mineral/Amino Acid Supplement - If a budgie’s diet is made up primarily (90%) of pellets and he enjoys a variety of vegetables, fruits, seeds and other nutritious table foods, then a vitamin supplement is not necessary and could in some instances be harmful. If however, a budgie’s diet is not ideal (strictly on seed), then we recommend the addition of a high-quality powdered vitamin. This is best administered on top of his daily salad or sprinkled on his millet.
Treats - Packaged seed treats, honey sticks, egg biscuits and spray millet are essential. They provide your budgie with the variety he craves and the behavioural requirements he needs. Treats will keep him busy picking and gnawing, while giving him a tasty alternative to staple food and salads. Spray millet is the only food that is available for birds that they would eat in the wild. All budgies should be fed spray millet as part of a daily diet. Most budgies love it, and it will soon become a favourite. A millet holder is handy to use and will keep the millet from becoming soiled at the bottom of the cage.
Cuttlebone - Cuttlebone will supply your budgie with calcium, phosphorus and other minerals. Hang it in his cage, out of the way from droppings, which could soil it. Change it every two months.
Iodine Block - Provides iodine, copper and many other minerals in small quantities. The iodine block is fun to chew, tasty too.
Bird Bath/Showering - Treat your birds on a daily basis to a misting shower, or if they prefer, a large shallow bird bath of warm water that attaches right into the door of their cage. Fill a clean water spray bottle (intended only for that use) with hot tap water for a warm morning shower. Spray from over your bird’s head if they do not enjoy direct misting. If your budgies are leery to step inside their bath, try replacing the bath outside of the cage with the hood off, this may encourage their natural curiosity. A damp lettuce leaf placed in the bath helps too.
Additional Food Cups - Food and water should always be available for your budgie. Hooded cups may seem threatening to a bird accustomed to open cups. If your bird does not readily eat and drink, remove the hood from the cup and replace it for a few hours a day until he is used to it. Your bird will need one additional cup for salad and another for seed treats.
Cage paper is easy to remove and will not become a soppy mess like paper towels or newspaper may when water is inevitably splashed onto it.
Nail Clipper, File and Coagulant - Your budgie’s nails will grow continuously. Nail clippers made especially for birds must be used. Take care not to over trim or cut into blood vessels running through each nail. Should this happen, have a blood coagulant waiting and ready to use. Many bird owners feel more comfortable bringing their budgies into Petland to be groomed; just call and make an appointment.
Toys - Behavioural needs vary from people to animals. Everyone has behavioural needs; a dog’s may be to fetch and chew a bone, a person’s may be to lounge in front of the television. Your budgie has specific behavioural needs as well. Along with the regular day-to-day relationship he will enjoy with you and your family, you must provide other activities. This will help give him the extra mental stimulation and entertainment he needs. Toys play a significant role in your budgie’s life. As with a child, he will be less interested in a certain toy if it is left in the cage all the time. Petland recommends that you purchase several toys and rotate them every two weeks. Purchase new ones frequently. Note: Mirrors can cause stress or anxiety. Many birds that have access to mirrors will not interact with their owners.
A Book About Parakeets - Petland has many excellent bird books available. If your goal is breeding or just maintaining a single pet, your pet counsellor can help you select a book that will best suit your needs.
Please ask your pet counsellor what other items pertain to your particular pet’s needs.
*Ask about the volunteer programs at your nearest Petland location.
Attention: Certain cookware, aerosols, incense, aromatic candles and household cleaners may be harmful or worse to your bird’s health. Ask a pet counsellor for a copy of the “Safety Tips & Household Hazards” tip sheet.
Cleanliness and Safety
All pets must be kept in a clean environment to avoid the spread of dirt and contaminants to yourself and others. Always keep your pet’s home clean, and wash your hands before and after handling your pet or cleaning his home.
Please remember that all pets may bite or scratch, and may transmit diseases to humans. Young children, infants, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems and the elderly are at greater risk of infections and should use caution when in contact with pets or their homes.