Budgie Behaviour Problems

The only problematical behaviour you are likely to encounter from your budgie have been mentioned in the sections above – aggression due to hormones or jealousy, and sexual behaviour triggered by the mating season madness. Wherever one bird is causing grief to another on a regular basis, it is good policy to separate them. Don’t leap to conclusions and isolate birds as soon as they quibble, though – low level nagging is the budgie norm.


Budgie millet stick
A millet stick is a handy distraction

Unwanted sexual behaviour, including the budgie rubbing its rear end on your hand or shoulder, can be discouraged by distracting him with a toy or tasty treat. Diverting his enthusiasm in this direction can help to prevent a recurrence of unwanted physical affection.

Budgie Behaviour: Biting

A budgie gently nibbling a finger is one thing; an aggressive attack is something else. The birds bite for a number of reasons. In the early days it’s most likely to be due to fear. You’re probably moving too fast with the relationship, and the budgie still sees your hand as a potential threat.

Some birds become territorial and will defend their cage space. Ironically, this often happens after you have finger-trained them. The problem usually stems from allowing the bird to go to and from the cage without your assistance. When you bring him out for free-flight sessions, always remove him by letting him perch on your finger first, and always return him in similar style if possible.

A bird that has bonded with you may react out of jealousy. If you have a strong one-to-one relationship, he may come to view you as his mate. Should you give anyone else your attention, your budgie may express his displeasure by biting. The only way round this is to break the monogamy, and have other people socialise more with the bird too.

Tired birds occasionally resort to biting. A budgie who is being played with when he’d rather be in bed is liable to become irritable. The answer here is to establish a regular bedtime (no later than nine o’clock), and not to play with him after that hour.


yellow budgie on hand
Your budgie should be perching on your hand, but not biting it

There is also the possibility that a bird is biting because he thinks you like it. Odd as this may sound, a budgie craves action and attention, and if you respond to his bite with some stern but affectionate words, they may reinforce the behaviour. You are unlikely to yell at the bird, so he is unlikely to be afraid, and the vicious circle will continue. If your pet bird has been finger-trained you can respond to his aggression by ignoring it or, ideally, removing yourself from his vicinity. With no positive feedback, the bird will eventually get the message that biting brings no reward.

Some birds bite because they know you’re about to put them back in their cage, and they don’t want to go. The best thing in this situation is to break the routine – take him out at different times, return him before the play session has finished, and give him a treat once he’s back behind bars. If the biting is a nuisance, hold the budgie gently but firmly in your hands when you return him to the cage. (See Holding a budgie, below).

Budgie Regurgitating

If your bird regurgitates seed, don’t assume he’s sick. It’s a natural response in a male budgie, usually directed at his female mate. Hens will throw up their seed too if their breeding urge is strong but unfulfilled. Sometimes the instinct misfires, and the budgie happily offers the contents of his stomach to a mirror, a toy, or even you. Before the seed reappears, the bird will bob his head and stretch his neck – further clues that he is feeling amorous rather than ill.

A bird who is sick will vomit without head-bobbing. He will also display other giveaway symptoms, such as loose or discoloured droppings (compared to the colour of the budgie’s normal droppings), a humped posture with feathers fluffed up, a messy tail and vent, or general lethargy. If the regurgitating is ever accompanied by these signs or other out-of-character behaviour, consult a vet.


Budgie feeding mate
Cock budgies feed their mates regurgitated seed

Budgie Regurgitating on Toys or People

If your budgie is parking his undigested seed on people, on furniture, or on any object that would be better off without his messy attentions, you might want to discourage the behaviour. He’s only being affectionate, but most owners are unappreciative.

If the budgie is outside the cage when the incident happens, put him back inside. If the problem is centred on a toy in the cage, remove it. The budgie should, with time, come to realise that regurgitating on things results in those things being taken away from him, and will mend his behaviour. Don’t raise your voice or speak angrily as you return him to the cage, or the bird will become anxious and confused.

Budgie Regurgitating a Lot

As noted above, a budgie who regurgitates regularly needs the stimulation removing. However, a bird who throws up anything more liquid than a seed-puree, or who allows the vomited food to make a mess on his feathers, is not being affectionate – he is ill, and needs treatment. There are a number of possible causes – see the Budgie health section below.

Budgie Sleeping in the Day

A couple of brief rest periods during the day – anything from ten minutes to an hour – is normal budgie behaviour. Birds in a flock will tend to nap at the same time. Some just fluff themselves up and drop to sleep; others perch on one leg; some rest their heads on their backs and tuck their heads under their wings.

If your bird seems unusually sleepy, however, it may mean that his night’s sleep was disturbed. This could be down to a number of factors, but artificial light, a prowling pet (such as a cat) or nocturnal noises are the usual culprits. A tired budgie could also be showing symptoms of an illness, so watch him closely for other tell-tale signs (see the Budgie Health section, below).

Budgie Bored

If your budgie is perched quietly (sometimes on one leg), but showing no inclination to sleep, he is probably bored. This is something you will only encounter if you keep a single bird. You should help him out at once, by socialising with him, and/or changing his toys around or maybe rearranging the cage furniture. Budgies require mental stimulation, and a dull cage with no companions is as bad as it gets.

Check for other symptoms if your bird is unusually quiet, as there is always the chance that he is ill.

Budgie Behaviour Change

Any change in your budgie’s normal behaviour is likely to be the result of hormones in the mating season (as described above). It could, however, indicate a health problem, so study your bird carefully. Changes to watch out for include:

  • Poor appetite. Cause: illness, moulting or stress.
  • Reduced vocalising. Cause: illness, a disturbed night, or moulting.
  • Fluffed-up feathers for a large part of the day. Cause: illness, a disturbed night or low cage temperature.
  • Excessively aggressive. Cause: hormones (mating), moulting, or jealousy (if a new bird has been introduced into the cage).
  • Loose droppings. Cause: illness, poor diet (possibly too much fruit), or hormones (hens often have loose droppings in the mating season).
  • Regurgitated seed. Cause: hormones – the budgie is feeding his mate/mirror/you to show his affection.
  • Squatting on perch with wings out. Hens do this as a mating invitation to cocks.
  • Rubbing rear end on perches or other surfaces. This is a simulated sexual act.

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Comments

Ella, 26 November 2019

My new bird will only eat from my hand, and he won’t even eat more than a bite of fruit and veggies, my female will sometimes eat from my hand, and they will both eat millet on their own and from my hand.


Karen, 12 October 2019

My budgie sits with one leg on perch, the other leg on cage and the top of her head on the perch, as if she is looking through her legs at nothing in particular, why is this?


Lauren, 1 October 2019

I Got My Parakeet (Female ) December 24 2018 She is 10 weeks now and my male is six weeks, He likes to nibble my Finger, I Got Him May Of 2019. They Do Get Along With Each Other. She Wont Go In Her Nest Box ! They Are In The Same Cage. They Also Hate Me Trying To Get Them Out Of There Cage.


Patricia, 27 September 2019

I’ve had my budgie for about a month. He seems quite adjusted to his environment. He will eat out of my hand but will not perch on my finger. Also he bites. I’ve tried “no” and sometimes hell back off, but not always. Aliso, I’ve tried walking away and covering his cage. I’m getting discouraged and fell I have a bird that will never stop biting. He doesn’t attack me when I put my hand in his cage. Doesn’t even back away. It’s just when I try to get him to perch on my finger he bites.


Sandy, 20 September 2019

I have a female budgie. She follows me from one side of her cage to the other side as I walk in front of it. I give her attention everyday and talk to her. I also give her all of her treats. She will land on my shoulder, my hair above my ear and she is constantly constantly landing on my glasses. She will nibble at first then she will bite hard. I’m just wondering if she likes me or if she wants me to stay away. She will especially land on my glasses every few minutes I’m trying to watch tv on the sofa a few feet from her cage. She lets me handle her on my glasses and move her off of my face and she will sit and sit as I move my glasses in front of me. She won’t bite at my fingers when I’m holding my glasses in front of my face where she can see me but when I move my hand with her on my glasses completely to my side where she can’t see me good then she will fly off and back to her cage until I sit back down and it all repeats again. Just want her happy. What advice can you give me because we’ve had her for years and this is out of the ordinary compared to how she has been.

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