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Ask anyone who keep birds as pets, and they will either tell you they have budgerigar or once owned one. The fact that they are very easy to care for is the main reasons why most aviculturist call them “starter or beginner” bird. Roughly, its name in Latin means “song bird with wavy lines”. But there are so much more to this little, colorful bird.
Since mid-1800s they have been kept as pets. In 1770, British sailors with Captain James Cook reported first seeing a flock of green-color birds when they were returning from their voyage along the east coast of Australia. It was in 1805, when the history department’s assistant keeper in British Museum, George Shaw, added it to the tick-list of known species for the scientific community. Other names of this bird are budgie; however, it is more commonly known as parakeet.
It was Naturalist, artist and bird enthusiast John Gould along with his brother-in-law Charles Coxen who introduced the bird to Europe (England) sometime between 1838 to 1840. Budgerigar made an entry in Gould’s world-renowned book “Birds of Australia” which had a description of 681 birds. After that, because of the fact it breeds voluntarily and frequently, its manged to become a staple pet in many wealthy homes in Europe. In fact, Queen Victoria was gifted a pair of Budgerigar in the year 1845.
The popularity of Budgerigar grew after that, and according to Gloud, almost every cargo ship travelling from South Australia to England had this bird on board. In 1894, Australia banned the export of this birds. But by that time, European tie breeders were able to come up with thousands of new birds of this species. They even found their way to America in the late 1920s. America, however, jumped on the Budgerigar bandwagon around 1950s. And today they happen to be the most popular bird to keep as pet.
Besides the names mentioned, it also goes by the name shell parakeet, and there are mainly two varieties of Budgerigar. The English variety has fluffier plumage and larger body than the other variety, American. The unique thing about this type of bird is that it has a band on the forehead which happen to fade away by the time it becomes 3 to 4 months. Female species of this bird will have pink cere. Cere is the skin surrounding the nostrils. The male birds, on the other hand, will have blue cere.
In wild, Budherigar are small and flaunt yellow and green colors along with black barring above. A small patch of blue also appears on their cheek. The cere is dark blue for male birds in wild. For females it is light blue. But it can be brownish when they are breeding. On the other hand, in captivity they are breed in many different colors which includes:
Young species of Budgerigar are somewhat same as adult birds. The only difference is that the young ones have dark brown eyes. Adult sports yellow or white colored eyes.
The price of this bird is usually quite less as they are very easy to care for. In fact, they are also very inexpensive to feed as well. Depending on whether you are buying it from a pet store or a professional breeder, the average cost can be anywhere from $10 to $65. However, here it is necessary to mention that these birds are even used as show bird. So, if you want to buy a show bird Budgerigar, then the price will be lot more than the mentioned price.
The Average life span of Budgerigar is 6 years. It can live between 7 to 15 years. In fact, the maximum recorded life span of this bird was 18+ years. The average is less than 7 years because of accidents and mistreatment. However, the main reason for such a short life span is because of lack of knowledge owners have about appropriate bird care. Most Budgerigar in homes are prone to:
- fatty liver
- scaly face
- intestinal parasite and
- foot disorder.
Some other common medical disorder seen in this bird are:
- Egg binding
- Chronic egg-laying
- Overgrown nails and beak
- External and Internal parasites
All these problems will need to be addressed by a qualified vet. It is highly recommended to consult your veterinarian as they have experience in avian medicine. If you have any concerns or question about your Budgerigar’s health, do consult them. A complete physical examination half-yearly or annually is highly advisable. Annual blood work and annual fecal examination to detect bacteria, yeast and parasite are also recommended. Beside these, preventive caring of Budgerigar is also associated with nail and wing trimmings as and when needed.
Environment plays a huge role for these birds as well. Beside having a large cage, it is important to keep the cage secure, safe, clean. It should be made with non-toxic, durable materials along with varied perches (including concrete perches) in order to keep their nails worn. The perches should not be placed directly over water or food to avoid any kind of contamination. The spacing of the cage bars (preferably, horizontal) should be around half an inch or less to allow the Budgerigar to climb. The cage should have access to natural light as well.
Yes, they are very inexpensive to feed, but they should not be on an “only seed” diet. A Budgerigar accustomed to eat seed can have a series of different health problems as seeds are high in fat content and nutritionally imbalanced. They should be introduced to fresh food early on. Fresh food should make up around 25-30% of their diet. Fresh food options are:
- Sprouted seeds
- Leafy green and other nutritional vegetables
However, the best option is a pelleted diet meant for small parrots. If you are going for this option, make sure it consists of 75-80% of their total diet plan. Treats should only occupy 5% of the total diet plan.
Budgerigar loves to play with toys, and a cage without one will make them unfit, sad both mentally and physically. They like to flap, climb, swing and jump. They also like to probe their environment with the help of their feet and beak. Thus, mirror, balls, swings, bells and even non-toxic homemade toy will do for them.