Have a glance through this beginners’ checklist. Everything mentioned here is covered in more detail elsewhere in this guide.
- Buy from a reputable breeder if possible.
- Don’t buy a bird younger than eight weeks old.
- If buying from a pet store, ask how old the budgie is. If the store isn’t sure, it’s best not to buy from them. Shop birds might have been in the cage for a long time without a buyer, and you want to avoid bringing home a bird more than six months old, as it will be ‘set in its ways’ and harder to settle in and hand-tame.
Always buy budgies from a reputable supplier
- Have a fully-equipped cage set up and waiting for the new bird; and make sure it’s in a suitable location.
Install the following in-cage essentials:
- Food bowls
- Drinking water
- Cuttlefish bone
- Mineral block
- A bell
- A mirror
- A swing
- A supply of budgie toys, to be swapped regularly
- A bath
- Something to chew – balsa wood is good
- If you want your bird to talk, bear in mind that male (cock) budgies learn more readily than females (hens). If you have more than one bird, it will be harder to cut through their constant chatter and teach them human words. You can never guarantee that a budgie will learn to talk.
- Don’t be nervous! You will need to put your hand in the bird’s cage to finger-train it. Only by taming your budgie in this way will you be able to let him fly outside the cage and get him back inside easily. Budgies sometimes peck fingers, and although this is unlikely to cause too much pain or draw any blood, it is still worth considering, as a nervous hand isn’t going to get very far with the training process. It’s worth mentioning this to your children, if they are the ones who will be interacting with the budgie.
- If choosing two birds to live together, any combination will work, as budgies crave the company of their own kind. Bear in mind that males sometimes fall out when their hormones tell them it’s mating season; that females can get very defensive if the nesting mood takes over; and that cocks and hens will do what males and females of all species do, given half a chance!
- Feed your budgie every day, with a mixture of seeds and fresh food. Go easy on the treats, including millet sprays.
- Accept that there will be a certain amount of mess from scattered seed husks and moulted feathers.
- Expect a good deal of noise. All parrots are noisy, and budgies are no exception. The majority of their repertoire, however, is a gentle, musical twittering. There are still a few squawking sessions, however; and hens have a more shrill tone than cocks, and tend to squawk a bit more.
- Like a dog, a budgie isn’t just for Christmas! This little feathered bundle of energy and personality is likely to be with you for at least seven years, hopefully many more.