The budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) is a species of bird from the order of parrots, the parrot family, the only representative of the genus of budgerigars (Melopsittacus).
The Latin name of the species is formed by 3 words: the Greek word “melos” meaning “singing”, the word “psittacos” – “parrot” and the Latin word “undulatus”, which means “wavy”. Therefore, literally translated, the name of the bird sounds like a singing wavy parrot. A number of bird watchers suggest calling the bird the wavy singer.
Budgerigar – description, appearance and characteristics.
All of the above names absolutely correspond to the truth: budgerigars are really very noisy and talkative, they perfectly remember and imitate individual words and phrases that are repeated many times, often without much meaning.
The budgerigar is a beautiful and slender bird, which, due to its long tail, looks much larger than it actually is. The body length of a wavy parrot, excluding the tail, reaches 17-19.8 cm with a body weight of about 40-45 g. Domestic birds participating in exhibitions often have a body length of 21 to 23 cm.
Budgerigar wings, 9.5 to 10.5 cm long, are used by birds exclusively for flight and are completely unsuitable for support when walking or sitting.
The flight of the parrot is beautiful and arched, similar to the flight of a swallow, and when landing, the wings of the bird bend downward, like that of a quail. Thanks to this structure, the budgerigar flies quite rapidly and is able to cover considerable distances in search of food..
Photo Credit: Jim Bendon.
The budgie has a rather long tail of a stepped shape, growing up to 8-10 cm in length, and in young individuals the tail is much shorter.
Photo by: Richard.Fisher.
The extremities of the birds are developed and tenacious, ending with 4 long fingers: 2 of them are directed backward, 2 are looking forward. This design allows the birds to grasp various objects, food with their paws, as well as deftly climb trees and walk on the ground. Strong curved claws of dark blue, black or almost white color grow at the end of the fingers..
Budgerigar paws can be colored gray-blue, reddish, bright scarlet and pale pink..
Budgerigars that live in nature have dark blue eyes, and the color of the iris is yellowish or almost white..
These birds are capable of distinguishing colors, and a sufficiently large viewing angle allows you to observe 2 perspectives at once.
The budgerigar is distinguished by a strong beak, protected by a strong horny substance, and its curved shape resembles the beak of birds of prey. At the base of the beak of the budgerigar, the wax with nostrils is clearly visible. The bird’s beak is quite mobile, the upper jaw is not spliced with the bones of the skull, but is held by the ligamentous apparatus, while the lower jaw is much shorter than the upper.
Due to its peculiar morphology, the beak of these birds serves as an excellent mechanism for breaking off and crushing shoots, foliage and plant seeds, and at the same time it is a convenient tool for carrying objects, food and climbing tree branches. In the event of an enemy attack, the budgerigar’s beak acts as a reliable object of protection.
Budgerigars have a small, short and thick tongue, and its rounded tip is protected by keratinized epithelium. In almost all individuals, the inner surface of the beak is equipped with special horny teeth, which act as a file that sharpens the beak, help clean the grains, and also pluck and break fruits.
The chicks’ beak is dark in color, but with age it becomes intense yellow, with a slight greenish tint..
Due to the natural color of grassy green, budgies are invisible to enemies against the background of a natural landscape. The cheeks of all individuals are decorated with symmetrical purple elongated markings, and below, on both sides of the goiter, there are black specks – special signs inherent in all representatives of the species.
Typically, the markings partially overlap the throat spots..
The goiter and the surface of the head of naturally-occurring budgerigars are painted in an intense yellow color, in the occipital region, a thin and light dark brown waviness passes to the back, where it becomes much wider and brighter against the general yellow background.
In young parrots, waviness is not so noticeable and starts right from the wax, and as it grows up, it is replaced by a characteristic yellow mask.
The feathers of a budgerigar on the forehead of males have a unique feature: under the influence of ultraviolet radiation, they fluoresce, due to which females in nature choose a partner for nesting.
Moreover, the human eye can catch this radiation only at night, and budgerigars see the glow even in the daylight.
How to determine the gender of a budgerigar?
Determining the sex of a bird is not difficult. To find out the sex of a budgerigar, you need to look at its wax, which is located at the base of the beak..
Young males have a violet tint; in a young female, it is intensely blue with a light border around the nostrils. In mature males, the wax is dark blue or purple (in albinos). An adult female can be distinguished by the beige-blue or brown color of the wax.
By the way, the brown color of the wax in females appears during nesting..
Male on the left, female on the right.
Types of budgies, photos and colors.
Today the budgerigar is considered the most common and favorite decorative bird for home keeping. Over the years of breeding work, more than 200 varieties of these birds have been bred with a wide variety of plumage colors, including recessive varieties that do not have characteristic waviness..
Photo from the site budgerigar.com.
Budgerigar yellow is the first mutation color and was developed in Belgium in 1872, and later all modern color variations, based on a yellow or white base, appeared. Below are some of the colors of budgies:
Natural, traditional color of plumage of a wavy parrot – light green (color Light green)
with a glossy sheen that covers the breast, belly and lower back of the birds. The traditional mask is light yellow, the points on the throat are black, and there are purple markings on the cheeks. The head, wings and back of the parrots are decorated with pronounced black waviness.
The long tail feathers are dark blue, the wing bearing surface is colored black with a minimal light yellow edge.
Photo Credit: Jim Bendon.
Dark green budgies (color Dark green)
painted especially smartly, they appeared in France in 1915. The chest, belly and lower back of these parrots are dark green, the mask is light yellow, the points on the throat are black, slightly overlapped by purple zygomatic spots, on the body there is a characteristic waviness. The feathering of the wings is identical to the classic variety, but the tail feathers are darker.
Photo by: Althepal.
Olive green budgies (color Olive green)
descended from dark green individuals and were bred in France in 1919. The predominant color of the plumage of birds is olive green, the mask is bright yellow. Black waviness is highlighted in contrast on a yellow base.
Budgerigar wings are black with a green tint, tail feathers are darker compared to dark green specimens.
Photo by: Penubag.
Sky blue budgerigar (Skyblue color)
was bred by the Belgians in 1878. The breast, belly and bottom of the back of the parrot are blue, and the bird’s mask is pure white. The characteristic waviness is clearly expressed on a white base, the tail is blue, the primary flight feathers are black with a minimal white edge.
Cobalt Budgerigars (Cobalt color)
were first shown at the London Exhibition in 1910. Their breast, abdomen, back and tail are blue, the bird’s mask is pure white, bright waviness is well pronounced against a white background. The wing color of the budgerigar ranges from black to blue.
Tail feathers are darker than sky blue parrots.
Photo Credit: Amos T Fairchild.
Lilac budgies (color Mauve)
appeared as a result of mixing 2 dark factors, giving a deep lilac color without the presence of a gray tint.
Gray-green budgerigar (color Gray Green)
the fruit of the labors of Austrian breeders, which was received in 1935. The front, lower body and lower back of these birds are distinguished by a very light mustard or gray-greenish tone. The parrot mask is bright yellow, the spots on the throat are black, and the cheeks are gray, the clear waviness contrasts well with the yellow background.
The tail is colored black, the primary primary feathers of the parrot are black with a minimal light yellow edge.
Photo Credit: thomasrdotorg.
Gray budgerigars (color Gray)
appeared in Austria and England at the same time, in 1943. In representatives of the variety, the breast, lower body, cheeks and lower back are gray in color, the mask is snow-white, the marks on the throat are black. The characteristic waviness is clearly marked on a white base, the tail is black, and the plumage of the wings is black or grayish.
Purple budgerigar (color Violet)
first appeared in Germany in 1928. The breast, abdomen and lower back of the bird are distinguished by a deep purple color. Budgerigar mask is snow-white, throat markings are black, tail is dark purple, primary flight feathers are black with a minimal white edge.
There are two types of yellow-faced budgerigars: The first type, one-factor, assumes the presence of a lemon-yellow mask in the bird, which rarely extends beyond the occipital region and onto the chest. A lemon yellow hue can cover the white tail feathers and other white areas of the bird’s plumage. The rest of the feathers do not have a yellow tint.
In two-factor birds, the yellow mask is absent. The second type of yellow-faced parrots also includes two varieties: one-factor and two-factor. Both those and others have a yellow mask.
At the same time, the yellow color extends not only to the white feathers of the budgie, but also to the main plumage of the bird, making it from light green to turquoise, from cobalt to dark green, from mauve to olive.
a very unusual variety of budgies with a bright yellow plumage of a shade of egg yolk. These parrots have red eyes with a light iris and pearlescent zygomatic markings. The tail and wing feathers of the budgerigar are light.
Males are distinguished by a pink or purple shade of wax, in females the wax is brown. Bird feet are red-brown or deep pink.
Albino on the left, lutinos on the right.
were first obtained in Germany in 1932, and at once by two amateur breeders. These budgies are distinguished by pure white feathers and red eyes with a white iris. Albino waxes and paws are the same as those of lutinos.
are presented in a wide variety of color variations, but differ in the type of crest. Some individuals are decorated with a pointed tuft of feathers growing on the forehead or on the crown of the head. In others, the crest has the shape of a semicircle formed by feathers that grow to the very beak as a kind of shield.
The third variety of budgerigars is decorated with a double or round tuft growing from 2 points, while the feathers are symmetrically arranged and can form tuft of different shapes and lengths.
Where do budgerigars live in nature??
Budgerigars live in most of Australia, Tasmania and other nearby islands and are the most common and numerous species of Australian parrots..
Under natural conditions, budgerigars live in flocks of from 2 dozen to several hundred individuals and wander around the mainland all their lives in search of food. Usually birds keep semi-desert and steppe landscapes with sparse forests, therefore they inhabit the entire eastern and western coasts, as well as the central part of the mainland, with the exception of the northern regions with dense forests..
The composition of a flock of budgerigars is constantly changing: some individuals fly away, others join, small groups can gather in giant flocks of up to a million individuals, which is an unforgettable sight.
Photo Credit: Jim Bendon.
Birds usually wait out the hot time of the day in the shade, hiding on the branches in the dense foliage of trees. At night, budgerigars sleep, and with the first rays of the sun they gather in small flocks and go to the watering hole and feeding areas, located a few kilometers from the place of overnight.
Some birds drink at the water’s edge, others sink to the very surface and quench their thirst on the fly. Often they are accompanied by cockatoos and zebra finches at the watering hole..
Photo Credit: Jim Bendon.
What do budgies eat?
According to the observation of scientists, the basis of the diet of budgerigars in nature is the seeds of terrestrial plants, to a greater extent these are the seeds of kangaroo grass. Due to human intervention in natural biotopes, birds are forced to rebuild their diet depending on changes in environmental conditions. Today, the main crop grown in Australia is wheat, but the grain is too large for small birds.
In addition to grains, budgerigars eat young shoots and leaves of plants, various berries, vegetables and fruits, and occasionally feed on insects and other invertebrates..
Reproduction of budgies.
Budgerigars nest in their natural habitat all year round: the northern part of the population begins to reproduce immediately after the end of the rainy season, in the south, nesting begins in November and December. Nesting pairs occupy hollows, stumps with crevices and any other hollow niches.
Photo by: Melopsittacus_undulatus.
Photo by: Melopsittacus_undulatus.
Mating games of budgies consist in various courtship, an important part of which is “kissing” and regurgitation of food by the male. Thus, he demonstrates to the female his ability to feed future offspring. In the chosen place, practically without any litter, the female budgerigar lays from 4 to 12 white eggs, their incubation lasts about 3 weeks.
During the entire incubation period, the male budgerigar feeds the female, being nearby in a tireless search for food.
Photo by: PartOfNature.
Budgerigar chicks hatch from eggs naked and blind, weighing about 2 g, the mother warms up the offspring, and both parents are engaged in feeding. 10 days after birth, the chicks open their eyes, at the age of 1 month they fully fledge and can leave their native nest, although some juveniles stay near the nest for some time.
At the age of 3 months, grown individuals are already able to reproduce..
Photo by: Milan Kořínek.
Breeding budgies at home is a rather laborious process..
Male and female, unlike most birds, should grow together and feel great sympathy for each other, and artificially created pairs, as a rule, do not give offspring for several years..
How long do budgerigars live?
In nature, budgerigars live for about 7 years, and at home, with decent care, birds can live up to 10-15 years. The lifespan of some individuals in captivity can reach 22 years..
Budgerigars at home: maintenance, care, feeding.
It is better to stop the choice of a feathered pet for home keeping at 3-4 month old individuals: at this age budgerigars easily get used to the owners and a new home. But before you bring the bird home, you need to stock up on everything you need for decent care and keeping the budgerigar at home..
Photo Credit: Guillaume PILLET.
A rectangular cage is considered the best option. The size of the cage for the budgerigar should be such that the bird can flip from one perch to another without touching the walls with its wings. A cage of 25x40x40 cm is sufficient for keeping one budgerigar.
A cage with frequent vertical and sparse horizontal rods will ensure unhindered movement of the bird and prevent slipping. The best material for a cage is unpainted stainless steel. If the rods are painted, the bird will gnaw them and may eat paint particles.
What should be in a budgerigar cage?
Setting up a parrot cage is not that difficult. It is desirable that the bottom of the wavy parrot’s cage be solid, without rods: this makes it more convenient for the bird to run.
The bottom of the cage is necessarily equipped with a pallet, which makes cleaning easier.
There must be at least 2 perches in the cage, one above the other. The thickness of the perch for a parrot should be such that, when grasping it with its paws, the bird cannot completely close its claws, that is, there should be a distance between the claws. Otherwise, the bird may rub its paws. The optimum thickness for a budgerigar perch is 1.5 cm. The perches themselves should be made of wood only.
If necessary, you can make your own perches from any fruit trees..
In the cage, you can hang a variety of toys for the budgerigar: a mirror, swing, rattles. There is no need to overuse jewelry, as fluff, dust and parasites will accumulate in excess decor.
To grind the beak in the cage of a budgerigar, you need to place branches of rowan, cherry or special chalk.
It is good if the drinking bowl and the bath are made of porcelain or glass: these materials better keep the water clean. Also, there should be 2 feeders in the cage: for grain and soft feed. It is advisable to wash both the feeders and the drinker daily, each time adding new food and pouring new water.
Be careful not to place perches above feeders and drinkers, otherwise droppings may end up in feed or water.
How to care for a budgerigar?
After purchase, the cage and all accessories must be disinfected with boiling water. You need to remove dirt from the pallet daily, and once a week they carry out a general cleaning: they wash the cage, perches, toys.
You need to release the budgerigar from the cage every day. It is very important for the bird to fly, otherwise the parrot may get sick. If for some reason you cannot let the parrot out of the cage, you should choose a more spacious cage in which the bird can fly..
A cage with a budgerigar is placed in a bright room at eye level – this way the parrot will get used to the owners faster. One side of the cage should be adjacent to the wall so that the bird can retire. Budgerigars are very sensitive to light conditions: in winter, the length of daylight hours should be at least 12 hours, in summer about 14 hours. Therefore, it is important to choose high-quality artificial lighting close
At night, it is better to cover the cage with a dark cloth: this will teach the bird to fall asleep at nightfall..
The optimum air temperature for a budgerigar is + 22-25 degrees, in case the temperature drops, you need to provide a heating lamp. To avoid overheating, a bath with clean water is installed in the cage. Air humidity in the range of 55-70% will provide the pet with proper breathing and health of the skin, feathers and mucous membranes, therefore, in a room with excessively dry air, it is advisable to install a humidifier.
How to feed a budgerigar at home?
The budgerigar needs a varied and balanced diet to feel good. The basis of the diet is cereal mixtures: you can buy ready-made feed or separately sesame, flax, oats, sunflower seeds, canary seed, and then mix them. In winter, it is very useful to feed the budgerigar with sprouted oats or wheat..
In addition to grains, the food of budgerigars should include various vegetables and fruits: carrots, cabbage, beets, cucumbers, zucchini, apples, pears, peaches. You can give the budgerigar berries – raspberries or strawberries, and in the summer offer fresh dandelion leaves, clover, plantain. Sometimes the budgerigar can be given foods that contain calcium – cottage cheese or a boiled egg.
Overfeeding the birds is not recommended: feed is poured 2 times a day, at the rate of 20 g for a young bird and about 50 g for an adult.
The water in the drinker should always be fresh, filtered, at room temperature. Periodically add multivitamins in the form of drops to the drinker.
Wavy parrots molt.
Molting in budgies is a completely normal and natural phenomenon that occurs twice a year. The first time a parrot changes feathers at about the age of 3-3.5 months. This moult lasts about two months, with subsequent moults lasting about one month.
It is worth considering that during molting, metabolism is accelerated, so the bird should receive a varied diet, and the diet must include special fortified and mineral supplements for budgies. Make sure that your pet has the opportunity to swim – during the molting period, he does it with pleasure.
When a budgerigars molt, the fluff changes first, and only later the feathers change. This feature of the process leads to the fact that for some time the parrot looks disheveled and unkempt, but you should not worry about this. Interestingly, the change of flight and tail feathers in a wavy parrot occurs in pairs, simultaneously on each wing.
When moulting, the budgerigar’s behavior often changes, it becomes nervous, uncommunicative, sometimes even aggressive. Give your pet maximum attention: ventilate the room and slightly increase the humidity in the room, promptly remove the fluff and feathers that have fallen out of the cage, which can be quite a lot – the cleanliness of the home at this time is very important for the parrot.
Please note that if the budgerigar sheds more than twice a year, additional and sudden molting can cause stress or illness. If this happens, take the bird to a veterinarian immediately..
How to teach a budgerigar to speak?
The budgerigar speaks very well, it learns quite easily to imitate human speech and other sounds. True, to teach a budgerigar to speak, you have to be patient, and classes should be carried out regularly. You should start learning to talk only when your pet gets comfortable with the situation and stops being intimidated by your approach to the cage.
Therefore, in the first 7-10 days, you should not be too persistent a teacher..
It is believed that the male budgerigar speaks better, however, among the females there are also those who like to talk. If you manage to train the female, then she will pronounce the words much more clearly. As students, it is better to choose birds whose age does not exceed 5 months: it is more difficult to teach an adult budgerigar to talk. So, as soon as the emotional contact with the parrot is established, and you see that he has a desire to listen to you and communicate, choose the first word to memorize. Usually it becomes the pet’s nickname.
Pronounce it clearly and not too loudly, being careful not to change intonation. At the same time, look at the parrot so that the bird understands that this appeal is addressed to his person. Look at the pet’s reaction: first he will try to make some sounds, a little later he will determine the “outlines” of the word, and after two or three months you will be able to hear this word in full.
Classes should be held at the same time, giving them 10-20 minutes. Be sure to praise the budgerigar, pamper him with delicacies and, most importantly, do not be lazy, because regularity is important in this process.
How to tame a budgerigar?
Like any pet, the budgerigar is not immediately ready to make contact with its owner, so the owner of the feathered one will have to be patient and gain confidence in the bird. It is believed that the younger the parrot, the easier it is to tame: budgerigar breeders recommend purchasing a bird up to 4-5 months old. It will take only 3-4 weeks to tame it, if the owner does not rush and force this process.
If you wish and perseverance, you can also make an adult parrot tame, however, it will take more time.
In the first days after the pet is in your house, do not annoy him with your attention. Allow the bird to calm down, because she endured, albeit slight, but stress when moving to a new place of residence. Budgerigars need to look around, adapt to their surroundings. After a couple of days, you can give the bird the opportunity to leave the cage by opening its door.
At the same time, be sure to limit access to the room for cats and dogs, close the vents, cover the mirrors with a cloth, about which the parrot from habit can be severely injured.
Do not under any circumstances take the budgerigar out of the cage and do not forcefully put it there! Your hands should necessarily be associated with pleasant actions in the parrot: stretch out his favorite treat in your open palm, without making any sudden movements, gently and quietly repeating the name of the parrot. The palms should not smell strong odors: this can repel and even frighten the budgerigar.
Let him feel completely safe next to you and, after a fairly short period of time, the bird “will take you into its flock”, will see you as a faithful friend and become tame.
A healthy budgerigar is always cheerful and cheerful, plays, sings, he has bright plumage and an expressive look with shiny eyes. If the parrot sits ruffled, does not react to others, sleeps a lot and refuses to eat and bathe, these are alarm bells signaling to the owners that the pet is not feeling well. The most common diseases of budgies are:
Knemidocoptosis (scabies mite)
budgerigar disease, leading to skin lesions of the wax, beak, paws and cloaca. The parasites can get to the pet along with poor quality food, untreated accessories for the cage or infected plant branches. The emerging growths of gray-yellow color cause itching and terrible discomfort to the bird, and in especially advanced cases, the disease leads to the death of the pet. For the treatment of the budgerigar, various veterinary drugs are used, which the ornithologist must select, and also the cells are treated with Neostomosan, Butox or Ecocid C;
downy eaters (malofagosis)
these are parasites that are transmitted to parrots from free birds, if the pet is taken out in a cage in a garden or on a loggia. The sick budgerigar is constantly itching, nervous, sleeps poorly and refuses to eat. If you carefully examine the feathers of a pet, you can find small black lines – parasites up to 2 mm long, which scurry about in plumage, feeding on feathers and epithelium. Ectoparasites are rather difficult to remove, and when choosing an insecticidal drug, you should consult an ornithologist.
To prevent infection by downy eaters, it is necessary to clean the cage every day, wash the feeders and drinkers, carry out a general cleaning every week, and offer the budgerigar only high-quality food. To detect a feather eater at night, a pharmacy chamomile is poured onto a clean tray of cells and a white sheet of paper is placed on top. Some of the parasites from the body of the parrot will fall on the paper, and you can spot them in the morning..
Photo Credit: Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series.
a rapid and dangerous disease that can be caused by a bacterial or fungal infection, as well as parasites. A sick parrot regurgitates food or refuses to eat at all, its goiter noticeably increases and can be shifted to the side. An unpleasant odor from the beak may appear, as well as diarrhea.
Self-treatment is undesirable, you need to show the bird to a veterinarian. As a preventive measure, it is important to monitor the cleanliness of the feeders, drinkers and the cage itself, as well as the quality of the feed..