The Budgerigar Parrot, often referred to as the Budgie, is a small bird native to Australia that is thought to have inhabited the area for as many as five million years. The existence of the Budgie, Melopsittacus undulates, was first recorded by George Shaw in 1805 and the bird has been bred in captivity since the mid 1800s. While many wild Budgerigars still inhabit Australia, they are perhaps better known around the world as a family pet. It is beloved for its vibrant colouring and its ability to sing and mimic the voices of its owners. The Budgie is also a very playful and interactive breed.
The natural habitats of the wild Budgie are open, arid woodlands and grasslands. This bird does not stay in one place, but rather roams in small flocks in search of food and water. Their main source of nutrition comes in the form of grass seeds, plant seeds, eucalyptus and insects.
Wild Budgies tend to be 17-20 cm long with an average weight of 30-40 g and are smaller than those kept in captivity. Though they are bred in a wide variety of colours, green is the most common colour for the Budgerigar’s body. Its head is generally yellow with black markings on the nape and throughout the feathers. More colours can be seen today due to selective breeding, including blue, gray, white, olive and purple. The Budgie is known for its long tail feathers.
The gender of many birds cannot be determined by appearance alone, but that is not the case with the Budgerigar. The cere, which is the area above the beak containing the bird’s nostrils, takes on a different colour in males and females. Males have a reddish pink cere in their youth, changing to a shade of blue upon maturity. Female budgies, on the other hand, begin life with a bluish white cere that turns brown as they age. In addition to their appearance, males and females are thought to exhibit different personality traits as well. Male Budgies are highly vocal, friendly and sociable, whereas females are more reserved and may be more domineering.
In the wild, Budgies make their nest in a hole found in a tree. During breeding, the female Budgie lays 4-7 white eggs that are incubated for two and a half weeks before hatching. The hatchlings survive on food that their parents regurgitate into their mouths and they remain in the nest for one month before fledging. They develop their initial plumage at a few months of age. Wild Budgies are found mainly in Australia, though they are present in smaller numbers throughout Europe and the southeastern United States.
When kept in captivity, the Budgie thrives in an environment in which it has room to play and toys to keep it occupied. With a proper cage and toys, it can keep itself entertained most of the time, but human interaction is crucial to the Budgie’s well-being. This breed is highly intelligent and can be trained to speak words and mimic voices and sounds. It can be happy in a cage by itself if given enough attention, but also does well with a mate.
Though generally healthy, genetic problems and unsafe conditions in the cage and household are the biggest threats to the Budgie’s well-being. This breed enjoys birdseed, though adding fruits and vegetables will ensure that it has a balanced diet. Fresh water should be available at all times. A healthy Budgerigar can live ten years or more in captivity, provided it is sufficiently exercised and cared for.