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Last Updated March 10, 1999.

Is a budgie different from a parakeet?
Budgies are commonly referred to as parakeets but the word parakeet actually describes any small parrot-like bird with a long tail. The term budgie was derived from the word budgerigar, which is based on a similar sounding Aborigine phrase that means, "good eating" and refers specifically to the species Melopsittacus Undulatus.
What is the difference between an "English" and an "American" budgie?
When people refer to an "English" budgie they are generally talking about a budgie that is significantly bigger than the wild Australian budgerigar and with characteristics and features that were developed and enhanced specifically for show. Some of these features include a bigger head and chest, large, circular throat spots, and vibrant, clear colors and markings. "English" budgies are generally less active and more prone to "American" budgies are much closer in size and features to the wild Australian budgerigar. They have streamline bodies, are very active, and are the type usually seen and sold in pet stores in the United States and Canada.
What is average life span of a budgie?
The average lifespan of a budgie is generally 2-7 years. There are budgies that have lived to 13 and ever older, and there are budgies that die before their first birthday. There are many factors that can affect the lifespan on a budgie. American budgies generally live longer that English budgies, and breeding budgies often have shorter lives than those who never raise chicks. Many budgies die from natural causes like tumors (Budgies unfortunately are very susceptable to them), and many budgies die from dangers and accidents that could have been prevented. See Budgie Dangers & Hazards for more info.
What size cage should I get for my new budgie?
Budgies, like all pet birds, need to have a cage that is minimally big enough for them to stretch and flap their wings without hitting the walls or any hanging toys. A good rule of thumb is, the bigger the better -- generally no smaller than 12"x18"x18". The most important thing to watch for when buying a cage is that the spacing between the bars is no wider than 1/2-inch wide. Any wider than that and a budgie could squeeze through the bars and escape, or try to squeeze through the bars and get stuck.
What is cuttlebone and does my budgie need it?
Cuttlebone is the skeleton of the squid-like cuttlefish and it contains calcium and other minerals important to the health of your budgie. Other types of mineral blocks may be substituted for cuttlebone if your budgies don't use cuttlebone, or use it so much that it is literally destroyed by them.
Does my budgie need grit?
No. In the wild, budgies need some kind of grit to help them digest all the foods they eat. Pet budgies are generally fed foods that are easily digestable like seeds, pellets, fresh fruits and vegetables. This easily-digestable diet makes the need for grit obsolete. However, it usually isn't harmful for a pet budgie to be offered grit every once in awhile. But it is best not to leave grit in their cage at all times because sometimes pet budgies will overindulge on grit which can cause digestive problems which can be fatal.
How can I tell the sex of my budgie?
In general, the color of a budgie's cere is the simplest indicator of sex in adult budgies: males are blue, and females are white, light beige, reddish, or brown. While it is fairly accurate, the color of the cere cannot always be used to sex a budgie. With some color varieties, like albinos, lutinos, fallows, and some recessive pieds like harlequins, both males and females have beige or pink colored ceres. Other visual sexing methods include females having an almost invisible, whitish rings around their nostrils, and males having more rounded, bulbous ceres, both of which are often hard to recognize to the untrained eye. And many people also say that females bite harder than males and that males have rounder heads while females heads are more flat on the top.
What kind of cage does my budgie need?
The bigger the better. Budgies are active and need plenty of room for climbing around, playing with toys, and flapping their wings. A smaller cage requires more time out for budgie for exercise. Some of the more important things to look for in a budgie cage are:
  • Bars that run horizontally. (These are much easier for budgies to climb)
  • Spacing between bars no wider than 1/2" wide (12mm)
  • At least large enough for your budgie to be able to stretch out and turn around inside.
  • A flat top of the cage can serve as a perch or resting spot when your budgie is out.
  • Secure doors can be handy because many budgies learn to open the basic lift-up door and can let themselves out.
  • A special door or removable door for a nest box (If you are planning on letting your budgies breed)
What is a blood feather?
A blood feather is a feather that is filled with blood. Blood feathers are a normal part of budgie feather growth and replacement. They can be easily identified on the underside of the wing by red inside the feather shaft. Some birds have more problems with blood feathers than than others do. If a blood feather is damaged it can cause bleeding which can be very serious. It is best to wait until after a molt to trim wing feathers so that any blood feathers have a chance to grow into full feathers.
My budgie has a bracelet-like band on his leg, should I remove it?
Closed bands are placed on baby budgies while their toes are still pliable and easily pulled through the bands. Some states laws require budgies to be banded. And if you are thinking of entering your budgies in any shows they need to be banded with specially issued bands. It is best to leave the band on the budgie and have it removed by a trained avian vet if necessary. Bands can also be helpful in identifying the breeder and year in which the budgie was born.
How do I go about traveling with my budgie on an airplane?

There are two ways to take a budgie on an airplane: in the cargo and in the cabin. Most people recommend taking them in the cabin where you are able to be with them at all times and can be sure of their in-flight care. When taking your budgie on an airplane, there are some things that you must do beforehand to make it a safe, easy, and hasslefree flight.

Things to Do Before the Flight:

  • Make your reservations early. In order to take a budgie with you in the cabin of the plane you will need to have a special pass for them which usually costs around $50 or so each way. Your reservations need be made far enough in advance because airlines only allow one animal in the cabin per flight.
  • Get a certificate of health from a veterinarian. It is also a good idea, if not a requirement for some airlines and states, to have a certificate of health dated within a few days of the scheduled trip. They do not always ask to see it, but if they do and you do not have it, your budgie could end up in their quaranteen which is not something you want to happen. It is definitely better to be safe than sorry and get a veterinarian to sign a dated certificate of health.
  • Buy a special pet carrier. You will need a special pet carrier. This should be small enough to fit underneath the seat in the airplane. Many pet stores have these; just makes sure that the bars are close enough together so that your budgie cannot escape.

Things to Bring on the Day of the Flight:

  • Food and Water. On the day of the flight you will need to provide food and water for your budgie inside the pet carrier. It is usually a good idea to include some treats or favorite foods for them to eat, although many budgies will not eat until the flight it over. Instead of a dish of water, you might want to put fresh, wet greens or a water bottle inside the carrier to avoid spills and possible chills. If you do decide on a water bottle, make sure your budgie has learned how to use it before the flight.
  • Towel or Cloth. It is also a good idea to bring a towel or cloth to cover the carrier to protect your budgie from drafts and overstimulation. This also serves as something to wipe up spills or messes if the need arises.
  • Styptic Powder & Cotton Balls. In case of an emergency like a broken bloodfeather, it is a good idea to have stypic powder (like Kwik Stop) and cotton balls handy.
  • The Certificate of Health. Make sure to remember this!
How do I go about traveling with my budgie in a car?
Most budgies make pretty good car travelers but some budgies will find it quite stressful. To help alleviate some of this stress and to get an idea of how your budgies handle car rides, it is a good idea to take a test drive or two to get your budgie used to riding in the car.
  • Replace hard perches with softer rope perches which are easier and more comfortable for budgies to hold onto in a moving car.
  • Take out most of the toys so they don't swing or fly off and hit the budgie.
  • Bring a light colored cloth to cover part of the cage with. A light colored cloth will reflect light and keep drafts away from your budgie.
  • It is best to put the cage on a seat instead of on the floor because some cars, especially older cars, can leak toxic fumes which often seep through small holes in the bottom of the car.
  • If possible, buckle their cage into a seat belt which helps to keep it from rocking around too much.
  • Avoid direct drafts of air conditioning and open windows toward your budgie.
  • Secure all the cage doors with clasps, or even twist ties.
  • Provide fresh food and water for them. Water bottles or wet greens could be replaced for water dishes to avoid spills. Treat foods can sometimes coax even a stressed budgie to eat something.
NOTE: If your car has a passenger side airbag, make sure the budgies are in the back seat. The impact of an airbag can crush the cage/carrier and kill your budgie.
What is a nesting box and should I buy one for my budgies?
Unlike some other bird species, budgies do not collect materials and build a nest. In the wild, budgies nest inside hole in trees. Domestic budgies use nestboxes provided by their owners. Nesting boxes are basically a small box with a entrance hole that domestic budgies use as their nest to lay eggs in and raise families. The presence of a nestbox will often produce mating and nesting behaviors in previously unpaired budgies and even in singles hens so if you are not wanting to urge your budgies into parenthood, do not supply a nest box. Some cages are specially equipped with trap doors or removeable sections where nesting boxes can be added to the outside of the cage.
I think my budgie might be sick - what should I do?
If you suspect that your budgie is sick, it is best to consult a vet as soon as possible. Budgies are masters at disguising illness and often by the time sickness is noticeable, it is very serious. Common signs of illness include less activity than usual and/or less chirpiness than usual, sitting fluffed up and sleeping alot, lack of appetite or not eating at all, weight loss, discharge from eyes and/or nostils, less interest in preening and playing, sneezing, wheezing, and inability to perch. See Dealing with a Sick or Injured Budgie for more information.
Can I repaint my budgie's cage?
Yes you can, but you need to be careful of the type of paint you use. What you need to look for is non-toxic, child-safe paint (sometimes referred to as "crib safe"). It is usually available in either brush-on or spray-on varieties. When you do repaint, you must make sure you are in a very ventilated area - it is best if it can be done outside. You should plan on applying at least two coats of paint for good coverage allowing time for the paint to thoroughly dry between coats.
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