Zen and the art of budgerigar maintenance

Zen And The Art Of Budgerigar Maintenance

budg·er·i·gar
ˈbəjərēˌɡär
noun

a small gregarious Australian parakeet that in the wild is green with a yellow head. It is popular as a pet bird and has been bred into a variety of colors.

This article about budgies was originally written on April 14, 2010. Fast-forward to the fall of 2016 when we acquired Bacon our first budgie.

Today our family includes 4 budgies, Bacon, Eggs, Toast, Jam which we appropriately named the Breakfast Club. (and Peaches our Rescue Senegal too!)

If you going to talk the talk then you must walk the walk” has been said an infinite number of times over the years.

Cleaning and feeding 4 millet-loving budgies and a Senegal on a daily basis provides lots of insight which allows me to understand what all of you go through daily to one degree or another.

Before resetting this journey:

Every morning the light over the Breakfast Clubs cage turns on, and they instantly begin to chat, plan and plot their day.

It’s not loud, more like bursts of little chortles. You can hear the four different voices. Those 4 voices are easy to focus on and bring a smile to my face.

It somehow allows me to ignore the UPS truck’s emission noise in the sound of its downshifting transmission in the front as it slows for the speed bump and the occasional garbage truck making its rounds in the alley.

I stand in front of the cage with a grin. They all usually freeze when I approach and huddle in a corner as my arm goes in to switch out the water and seed dishes from the night before.

But I can sit at my desk for my 10 feet away and watch them. They’re always in motion and I like my flowers with wings.

Currently, all 4 budgies are flighted. It’s unlikely that three of them have ever really been out of any cage. Bacon who was extracted from a tree across from the Birdie Boutique did fly out of the cage once and flew directly into the screen of an open window clearly having plotted her escape in advance.

Toast got out once and landed on the crown molding 9 feet up in the air, which is why we keep a butterfly net next to the cage.

Our plan is this fall to clip all 4 bird’s wings at one time. This will allow them to be outside of the cage with far less likelihood of injuring themselves.

It will also give us an opportunity to begin to socialize with the birds which I believe can be done at any age. We suspect all four budgies are fairly young.

Because they are all rescues we have no idea of their precise age. We think it would be fun once acclimated to allow them free flight in our high ceiling apartment. As you know we preach free flight but always with the birds safety in mind first hand.

Birds have been flying with no restraint for the past 99 million years. Then around 327 BC Alexander the Great was gifted an Alexandrian parakeet.

Think about it, have you ever approached a bird out-of-doors?

Pigeons in the city will walk away from you not fly but probably won’t engage you. You can have the fullest of backyard bird feeders with wild birds happily stuffing their crops but will fly off the moment you approach the feeders.

Whether you’re in the North American woods or the rain forests of South America, approach a bird and it will fly away.

So some guy who wanted to suck up to Al the Great said “that’s no fun, let’s put the little brother in a cage so we can watch it is much as we want because it can’t fly away, in a cage.”

Thus the caged bird keeping timeline is now officially been set to start at 327 BC and stops at – now.

That’s 2389 years of humans keeping pet birds, yet in the past 15 years bird ownership in America has slipped from 5.4% of American households to 3.1% of American households.

It appears that 2% of American households simply turned all those birds over to rescues. Because all the avian rescues in America are now overflowing with unwanted pet birds and parrots.

So we can conclude that we haven’t learned a lot about keeping birds as pets in 24 centuries.

The Internet is awash with information related to the captive bird. Some are very good. Some of the information about pet birds is very bad.

What’s even more frustrating is, it’s hard to find a single repository of everything you need to know for keeping your particular species of bird.

For those of you who don’t know we have more than 1000 pages of information right here on our blog.

We see our bird care blog (and eCommerce website) not as a two-dimensional screen be it desktop, tablet or smart phone. It’s an organic source of information always changing always updated.

You are reading this content from August 25, 2017 which is refreshing [the] original blog post from seven years.

Further we encourage you to reach out on the top left side of our website “Ask Us Anything” asking any bird related question you have. You will get a personal response quickly. 

We know whatever bird care problem you are having is not an isolated issue. Someone else is also seeking a solution. They may not be a regular reader of our bird care blog but hopefully at some point their query will be answered (or started) with a Google search related link.

It looks like I’ve been off road, so let’s get back to the main highway.

We learned this firsthand when we rescued Popcorn from some bushes not far from the Birdie Boutique.

She had clearly flown’s out of somebody’s door or window, because when we got her home she could fly but she panicked and flew into a wall and lost herself behind an entertainment unit (which is why we talk about stick training)

We also learned cockatiel’s wings grow back very fast, about 90 days in that they can fly very fast, up to 30 mph

We clipped her wings and after about four weeks I would start flipping her a foot away from the cage on to the cage, increasing my distance daily and weekly.

She caught on quickly and became a precise flyer. When you have a flighted bird in your home you learn to walk backwards through the doors so you don’t crush a bird or slam a door in a bird’s beak.

One day I was walking backward, her cage immediately to my left. She was on the birdcage top Booda rope perch which meant we had about a 2 foot separation.

I got into the hallway and started to close the door slowly yet with only 6 inches of separation between door and jam she came perfectly perpendicular to the ground without a feather touching a piece of wood, indicating to me we needed to move through the house with more vigilance.

It’s taking Peaches a bit longer (months) to learn landings. Fortunately, she’s very slow and deliberate although clearly isn’t making the same snap decisions on where to land that Popcorn did.

It’s as though she knows that when she misses that top Booda rope perch she has a fallback of her nearby foraging box or the cage cover left on top which gives her plenty to grip and cease flight.

We have a pretty clear idea of how you deal with the Breakfast Club budgie’s wing clipping and flight training process.

Feathered factoid: We rarely clip our bird’s wings but when we do it’s in the bathroom which leaves little room for escape.

Some tips on holding and toweling your birds.

We will allow them to sit on the top of their cage endeared to by our clipping on a big fat millet spray.

And then one by one begin some human-to-bird social interaction until they understand my name is not Freddy Krueger. I’m the guy who supplies them with millet a.k.a. birdie crack.

Take them off the top of the cage, and let them fly back to the cage and do that repeatedly.

And like I’m now encouraging Peaches to fly to various play stands where she knows she is safe all while attempting to teach her to fly back to me, I will be doing something similar with the four budgies.

We feed Peaches our Senegal parrot frozen-thawed vegetables daily and she digs right in. Although our budgies enjoy fresh romaine lettuce daily it has been hard to gain their acceptance of vegetables.

They haven’t touched the thawed frozen (too firm?) so we bought some canned vegetables, mushed them up and coated them with millet seed which went over as well as a child with fresh Brussels sprouts.

The biggest lesson we have learned in dealing with our loyal readers and customers is that the best tool you can have with any bird is patience.

In the wild birds spend 60% of the time trying to find food and 40% of their time trying not to be food.

They instinctively suspect anything but another bird of their own species to possibly bring harm.

A constant feedback touchpoint we get is “my bird won’t play with his new toy”, “my bird is freaked out because I changed a couple of things in its cage”, “my won’t touch any new food I offer her”.

Remember the bird’s life, change can take time. The flip side of that is the more change you offer your bird the more easily your bird will except change.

Peaches eats anything we offer. Often from a broken open bag in deliveries. Even something like Goldenfeast Colossal parrot food, which we mixed with Higgins Safflower Gold and Hagen Tropimix.

I simply pull out the large nuts that she cannot crack and crack them so little goes to waste other than what she throws out.

Even though she does not like them, I leave in the dried chili peppers and cinnamon sticks from the Safflower Gold mix just to give her something more to do, ie “pick them out” which is a subtle form of foraging and enrichment.

The 4 budgies split a millet spray four ways every other day. When introducing canned vegetables, we smother them in millet seed which looked as though the mixture remained untouched over the day.

No millet sprays were served although we did leave their basic seed which is currently Higgins Vita Parakeet, which we top with Kaylor of Colorado dried mixed vegetables (those always get eaten totally) switching off with Higgins egg food. The little buggers will not starve.

The one downside here is we are often vacuuming. Anyone who serves millet sprays to their birds know what I mean.

With that introduction, let’s check into the way back machine Video and see what I had to say seven years ago.

Begin original article

When we refer to parakeets we’re actually talking about the “Budgerigar.” The word comes from the aborigines of Australia, the Parakeet homeland. They’re closely related to lorikeets.

Budgies are small, seed-eating birds, and wild Budgies are found throughout parts of Australia.

They’ve been around an estimated 5,000,000 years and although they’re naturally green and yellow with black markings, you’ll now find them in blues, yellows, greys and some even have small crests.  

They’re popular pets as they are inexpensive to buy and maintain. And although many young people start with a pet parakeet early in life, we don’t hear about longevity much.

I’m reminded of a local bird club meeting I attended several years ago. Dr. Karen Becker was one of the guest speakers. She told the story of doing intake on a new patient, a Budgie. The woman who brought in the Budgie was older, the late seventies, early eighties I recall.

When asked how old the Parakeet was, the woman responded 26 years old. Not seeing a lot of double-decade Budgies, the first question Dr. Becker had, “how are you so sure of the age”?

The woman promptly took out a receipt from the (manila folder she carried in) from F.W. Woolworths. She had paid $5.00 for the bird, twenty-six years earlier. 

Vintage fw wolworts parakeet and pet supplies ad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When asked what the woman attributed the long life of the bird, her answer was “we’ve shared a cup of decaffeinated green tea every morning since I brought him home”. (We’ll reserve a discussion about tea and pet bird care in another article) 

Budgies can be finger-tamed with a lot of patience and could possibly have a vocabulary of 100 words or more. Growing up, my next-door neighbor, Mrs. Massey had a budgie that spoke phrases in Greek (she was Greek), Italian, Spanish, and English.

Budgies don’t need a big cage, although bigger is better. Like many birds, it’s easier to bond with your Keet if it’s a solo bird – that said Budgies tend to be happier with another Budgie or 2 (or more) in the birdcage.

We really like this Prevue birdcage for multiple budgies as the 26 inches birdcage width allows a certain amount of flight. 

Fluval eco bright led lamp full spectrum 7500k18in 24in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Budgies are primarily seed-eaters but love all sorts of foods. A good seed blend should include millet, canary seed and oat groats. A seed only diet can lead to malnutrition and may cut their lives short. Fresh foods should be introduced on a regular basis. 

Bird toys and Parakeet accessories should be size appropriate. For a complete selection of Budgie toy, accessories and bird cages.

Find Budgie Supplies here>>

written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing

your zygodactyl footnote

 

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for all the information you provide. I so appreciate it. Love the budgie article this week. Have had many birds over the years mostly rescues but this time I purchased an English Budgie from a great breeder. Try organic baby kale and organic dandelion greens. Sky loves them both as did a previous parakeet! He has a huge vocabulary and even repeats short sentences! Again thank you!

    1. Will do thanks , I breed cockatiel, Gouldians, next owl finch and my canaries. First time English Budgie Breeder. Enjoy you Birdie brunch very much! Always learn more!

  2. I have parakeets, too. During warmer months, they sit on the porch during the day in their large cage. During winter, they fly around the bird room a few days a week; they share the flying space with a canary and a finch, who also have their own large cage, go outside during summer/ free flight during colder days. I love listening to all of them. I also have 2 parrots, who are a hoot and also sometimes a pain in the arse. I love them all.

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