Buying & equipment

As birds that live in flocks in the wild, budgerigars feel a strong need for company of their own kind. The current recommendation is therefore to keep budgerigars at least in pairs. There are, however, some things that you need to do before buying a budgerigar.

Checklist for initial equipment:

  • A large birdcage with vertical bars for climbing
  • Perches of different sizes for foot exercises
  • Untreated branches for climbing
  • Water bath for daily bathing
  • Bird sand, such as Premium SANDY with calcium carbonate and essential minerals
  • Toys to keep your budgerigar occupied, such as a swing or ladder
  • Food bowl or automatic feeder filled with main food, such as Menu budgies
  • Water bottle with fresh drinking water or Vita Fit® Aqua drink
  • Mineral stone, e.g. Vita Fit® Mineral or Vita Fit® Sepia cuttlebones to provide added minerals and help care for your bird's beak
  • Kräcker® sticks to care for your bird's beak and provide variety 

By the way:  Bird sand not only keeps your cage hygienic, but is also important for your bird's digestion. Budgerigars pick "stomach grit" out of the sand, which helps to break down grain-based foods in their gizzard. This is necessary because birds do not have teeth and swallow most foods almost whole. The grit also includes calcium carbonate, which is likewise beneficial for your bird.

Tips for buying budgerigars

Budgerigars can be bought from almost any pet shop or directly from a breeder. It is also worth enquiring at your local animal rescue centre: although younger budgerigars tend to become tame more quickly, older birds from a rescue centre will also be glad of a new home.

Signs of a healthy budgerigar:

  • Lively behaviour
  • Smooth plumage
  • Clear eyes
  • Dry cere (area around the nose) 
  • A clean behind

The right spot for your birdcage 

Budgerigars love to have company and it is fine to place their cage in your living room or another room where your family spends most of its time. The birdcage should be sufficiently large and placed in a light, sheltered corner that provides a good view of the room.

  • Budgerigars cannot tolerate heat or draughts. 
  • Kitchens, in particular, can be hazardous places (hot hobs, washing up water etc.) and are not recommended.
  • You should place the cage at least three metres away from electrical devices, such as televisions, microwaves or PCs, as birds can hear frequencies that we humans cannot.

Caring for your pet

The more flying, the better!

Letting your budgerigar out of its cage to fly around the room not only makes it happier, it also promotes healthy circulation and strengthens its muscles. It is therefore essential for your pet's health. Budgerigars often seek out a favourite spot when flying around the room. For example, they enjoy perching on a self-made "bird tree" that enables them to survey the room from on high: the ideal location to rest, climb and play. Remember: You must always close all doors and windows before letting your bird out of its cage. 

Goodnight!

Come evening, budgerigars retire to their sleeping perches. Before going to sleep, they will puff themselves up a little, rest their head on their back and sometimes stand on one foot. They place their beaks deep within the plumage on their backs.

Preening 

Budgerigars preen themselves several times each day to keep their plumage intact. This is important as their feathers enable them to fly and protect them against heat and cold. They do not usually require any human assistance with this.

Moulting

Budgerigars need particularly high levels of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients when moulting. Moulting aid for budgerigars and exotic birds and tasty Kräcker® sticks – designed specially for moulting – provide your bird with the additional nutrients it needs at this time.

Cleaning the birdcage

You should replace the bird sand between once and twice a week, depending on the number of birds and the size of the cage. The bottom of the cage will also need rinsing out with hot water once each week. While doing this, you should also wipe down the perches and toys using a brush or damp cloth and thoroughly clean the food and water bowls using hot water.

The cage also needs a thorough clean once every month: This involves rinsing the cage itself in the bath or shower. However, you must never use strong household detergents! 

Going on holiday 

Before going on holiday, you should ask someone you trust to look after your budgerigars' day-to-day needs. If nobody is available to do this, you could arrange for your birds to be looked after by a breeder or animal boarding house.

Diet

The perfect diet

In their natural habitat in Australia, budgerigars often have to cope with harsh conditions, heat, drought and a lack of food. Flocks of budgerigars fly large distances to find suitable places to feed and breed. 
Their staple diet comprises the seeds of a wide range of plants (grass seed in particular), fruit and fresh greenery in the form of grass and herbs. Scientific studies have shown these birds to have a highly varied diet.

At Vitakraft, we believe that the wide variety of different foods eaten in the wild should also form the basis for the your pet's diet. We therefore offer a varied and balanced range of products that meet the nutritional requirements of budgerigars.

Food types

Main food:
A main food such as Menu budgies covers your budgerigar's basic nutritional requirements.

Kräcker®: 
Tasty Kräcker® sticks have a number of functions in one: Birds have to work for their food like in the wild. This helps prevent boredom and is a natural way to occupy your bird. Picking at the nibble stick also helps keep your budgerigar's beak healthy

Natural Snacks: 
VITA NATURE®. Tasty treats that cater to the birds' natural instincts, e.g. picking seeds from natural millet spikes

Treats:
Snacks, such as Bisquiti provide variety, serve as a reward and help to tame your pet and create a bond

Nutritional supplements:
Pet food supplements, such as Vita Fit® Mineral or  Vita Fit® Multivitamine strengthen your bird and promote well-being. They help meet the specific nutritional needs that can arise during certain stages of life, e.g. during periods of growth, after illness or when laying eggs. They may also be beneficial for particularly active animals.

Feeding tips

  • Remove the empty grain casings from the food bowl or dispenser on a daily basis and top up with new food 
  • Kräcker® sticks or fresh branches from untreated fruit trees should be placed in your budgerigar's cage for it to nibble and peck on. This is a natural way to keep your bird occupied and exercises its beak
  • Provide a varied diet 
  • Provide fresh drinking water every day
  • Provide fresh fruit 

By the way: Bird sand not only keeps your cage hygienic, but is also important for your bird's digestion. Budgerigars pick "stomach grit" out of the sand, which helps to break down grain-based foods in their gizzard. This is necessary because birds do not have teeth and swallow most foods almost whole. The grit also includes calcium carbonate, which is likewise beneficial for your bird.

Behaviour & familiarisation

Behaviour

Budgerigars are naturally very lively, sociable and inquisitive animals. Since they live together in flocks in the wild, they have highly developed social skills and are very outgoing. And they don't just display this behaviour toward other budgerigars. Humans who treat these birds with patience and empathy will also be accepted as friends. All of which makes budgerigars true "family birds".

A new member of your family

During the first few days, budgerigars need a little bit of peace while they settle into their new surroundings. If is therefore important to set up the birdcage before your new pets arrive home. If you need to introduce two unfamiliar birds to each other, proceed carefully and keep a close eye on them to begin with. After a few days, your budgerigars will remain on their perches and appear relaxed when you approach. It is important to place the birdcage in an elevated location and not to approach from above as this can scare the birds.

How to tame your budgerigars

Once they have settled in, you can slowly start to get your birds used to the presence of a human hand. This is best done using a treat, such as a Kräcker®. However, it is important that the birds have first "acquired a taste" for these treats. If you quietly hold a snack stick in the cage, the first bird will usually start nibbling away and enjoying the treat after a few moments' hesitation. If you repeat this step on a regular basis, the birds will soon start seeking out contact with "their" human on their own initiative.

Budgerigars have an inborn urge to imitate sounds and will often start repeating noises from their surroundings of their own accord. Sometimes, it is even possible to teach these birds to speak a few words. It is best to try teaching them a short sentence or a name with distinct sounds. You should repeat this on regular occasions using the same tone of voice.

Budgerigar

Scientific Title

Melopsitacus undulatus

Appearance

Wild budgerigars have a light green body colour, a yellow face and wavy, pitch-black markings on their head, wings and back. They display small, purple cheek patches and a series of black spots across each side of their throats (called throat spots). Budgerigars have been bred in captivity since the nineteenth century. Today, there are over a hundred different colour variations. The sex of an adult budgerigar can be determined from the colour of the cere (the area containing the nostrils), which is royal blue in males and brownish in females. Only in males with a rare colour mutation (such as Albino or Lutino) does the cere remain an immature pinkish colour their entire lives. Weight: 35 to 85 g, size: 18 to 22 cm (including tail), incubation: 18 days, clutch size: 4 to 8 eggs, the birds nest in tree hollows and rock crevices, the young take four weeks to fledge.

Origin

Australia. Also known as the common pet parakeet or shell parakeet and informally nicknamed the budgie, the budgerigar is found wild throughout the drier parts of Australia in scrubland characterised by bushy steppes and the occasional tree. Budgerigars are genuine opportunists. Nomadic birds, they seek out optimal conditions for moulting and breeding. They then wait for the young to fledge before moving on.

Behavior

Budgerigars are naturally very curious, active and sociable birds, and also make good companions for children. Living in flocks in the wild, they are social animals that require stimulation and interaction with other budgerigars for their well-being. 

Special features

The age of a budgerigar can be roughly estimated from a number of external characteristics: Juveniles have a pink cere and lack the longer black tail feathers. The eyes of young adults are completely black. In older birds, the eyes develop a lighter ring, which becomes more pronounced with age. The wave pattern on the head also changes, receding with age.

FAQs

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Budgerigars

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  • When do budgerigars moult?

    Unlike other types of bird, budgerigars have no fixed moulting time, but can renew their feathers throughout the entire year. In the wild, moulting time is determined by living conditions – and in Australia, independently of the season, these may be better or worse. Wherever budgerigars find good conditions, however, they will stay, breed and moult.

    When moulting, it is interesting to note that not all the feathers are renewed, as this would greatly limit the bird's ability to fly. For wild budgerigars, this would be too dangerous because, when conditions worsen, they need to move on.

    For a budgerigar, moulting is stressful and strength-sapping, meaning that, during this time, it will be more susceptible to illness and stress. To help the bird with moulting, you can preventively give it a moulting product, such as Moulting aid for parakeets and exotic birds or moulting Kräcker® sticks. During moulting, you should also ensure a consistent ambient temperature and sufficient humidity.

     

  • How do budgerigars live in their homeland of Australia?

    For a budgerigar owners who are only familiar with these birds as pets, seeing a flock of wild budgerigars is certainly a special and impressive sight. In good years, flocks can be made up of many thousands of birds which, when flying together, almost darken the sky.

    Living in a flock is very important for budgerigars. The small parrots do everything together, whether searching for food or, for example, flying to the watering hole, which is a clear demonstration of just now sociable these little bird are. Domestic budgerigars should therefore not be kept on their own.

    And what's more, in Australia, budgerigars have practically no natural enemies. Only sick or young birds will occasionally fall victim to a predator. Adult budgerigars, on the other hand, are such accomplished fliers that they can escape practically every predator.

     

  • Are the different colours of budgerigars natural or bred?

    In their original home of Australia, you will only find green budgerigars with a yellow face. However, through random changes in their genetic material and selective breeding in captivity, many colours variants have been bred over time.

    It is interesting to note that all colour variants are derived from the basic colours carried in the genes of wild birds. With the different variants, certain colour pigments in the feathers will be displayed more or less strongly, so that the other pigments dominate. A green bird will have blue and yellow pigments in its feathers, which together produce green. Should the yellow pigments be lacking, for example, the bird will be blue. In addition to birds with single colours, you can also find mottled budgerigars that display different colours in an attractive pattern.

    For the birds themselves, the actual colour makes no difference. A blue and a green budgerigar will get on with each other just as well as a white and a yellow bird, or two birds of the same colour.

     

  • How can I tame my budgerigar?

    Each budgerigar has its own character, so getting used to people will differ from animal to animal. What's important is not to pressurise a young bird, but – in particular in its early stages – to give it a little peace.

    To get the bird used to the presence of people, you should approach it slowly and at eye height, then speak with a soft, calm voice. If the budgerigar is already responding somewhat trustingly, you can carefully approach it with your hand. At the beginning, you should simply keep your hand regularly for a little while in the bird's cage. When doing so, it's important to be very calm and under no circumstances attempt to pick up the bird.

    If the budgie remains calm, you can offer it a treat, for example a Kräcker®stick. If it eats this from your hand, the ice is finally broken.

     

  • How do you raise young budgerigars?

    Budgerigars nest in tree hollows. Since they do not build nests, they do not require any nesting material when kept as pets, just a nesting box.

    After breeding and hatching is when the actual bringing up of the young ones begins, which is essentially undertaken by their mother. She only needs a little help from us in doing so. However, it's important to ensure they have the right food: It should be specially designed for the particular needs of budgerigars during the hatching and rearing phase. At the age of four weeks, the young birds leave the nesting box but are still fed by their mother for a few days.

    A pair that likes to breed a lot might immediately have a new clutch of eggs. You should limit the number of times they breed, however, to twice a year, so as not to weaken the female bird.

    Important: in some countries, including Germany, an official license or permit is required to breed parrots, including budgerigars.

     

  • Can I shorten my budgerigar's beak by myself?

    With older birds in particular, a budgerigar's beak can occasionally grow too much. Cutting the beak is best left to a vet or experienced breeder, however. With some animals, however, this procedure needs to be repeated regularly. In this case, we recommend that you obtain advice on precisely how to go about it, thus saving the bird from frequent visits to the vet and associated stress.

    Besides this, you can naturally take further measures that enable the bird to wear away and look after its beak on its own – for example, by using Vita Fit® Mineral cuttlefish, or fresh twigs, for example from fruit trees, on which the bird can pick.  Another way to wear down the beak naturally is to let your bird nibble on delicious Kräcker®sticks.

     

  • Can I clip the claws myself?

    A budgerigar's claws may occasionally grow too long. However, you should do everything you can to prevent this from happening in the first place. Through climbing on perches, branches and twigs, the claws will wear down by themselves. What's important is that the branches have different diameters.

    A practiced budgerigar owner can clip the claws of their bird themselves. Beginners can ask a pet supplies retailer, breeder or vet to show them what to do.

    When clipping the claws, it is very important not to damage any sensitive blood vessels, so make sure you never cut too deep. The veins are easy to see against a light surface. Clip the claws diagonally to create a new point, which will help the bird with climbing.

     

  • How can I stop my budgerigar becoming bored in its cage?

    Boredom can become a real problem for pets. This applies particularly to budgerigars, which by nature are very social and active. We therefore need to be sure to give them activities suited to them.

    What budgerigars require most of all is contact with other budgerigars. These birds, therefore, feel best when kept as a pair or small flock. In exceptional cases, it may be necessary to keep a bird alone temporarily. At such times, activity and attention are naturally of particular importance.

    A suitable diversion is obtaining food: On a Kräcker® stick, for example, the bird really needs to work to get its food – as it would in the wild. A further option for suitable activity could be regular and extensive free flight. Occasional "redecorating" of the bird cage can help to counter boredom, for example with the aid of fresh twigs, which can also be nibbled by the birds. 

  • How can I get my budgerigar back into its cage?

    While it's flying free, don't give your budgerigar any food. The rapid circulation of the small bird forces it to eat very frequently. Hunger will therefore attract the bird back to its cage after a little while. Ideally, you should make a regular habit of it, so that the bird quickly learns that, after flying free, a treat awaits it back in its cage.

    If necessary, you can darken the room or wait until the evening, when the bird is sure to seek a place to sleep in. When there, you can pick it up carefully, as the animals cannot see very well in the dark. You should only really use this trick in cases of emergency, however, as the bird should develop trust in people and become tame. Rushing about wildly to catch the bird should under all circumstances be avoided.

     

  • Do budgerigars need to fly freely?

    In their native Australian habitat, budgerigars are genuine opportunists. They fly around in flocks until they find a place where there is sufficient food and water. Once there, they breed and raise their young, before eventually flying on. Covering large distances is therefore in the nature of wild budgerigars. Our budgies also carry something of that with them, which makes free flight particularly important.

    Anyone with a large aviary will not need to worry about giving their birds an opportunity to exercise. Birds that only have a smaller cage available to them, on the other hand, must be allowed to fly free regularly. This means taking some precautionary measures in the home: windows and doors should be closed and toxic house plants only located where the birds cannot gain access to them. A strong branch from a fruit tree, ideally with a few side branches, provides a perfect place for landing and playing. Simply place it in a large flowerpot with sand or gravel!

  • What greenery is suitable for budgerigars?

    In the wild, budgerigars mainly feed on a wide range of grass seeds. Nature should also be the model when selecting food for our pets. That's why our Menu budgies main food is made up of a variety of fine types of seed.

    Budgerigars, however, also like greens or fresh food. You can therefore regularly offer them foods such as apples, pears, carrots or grapes. You can also gather fresh greens, such as chickweed, cress and dandelions, from local gardens or fields. Important: succulent food should always naturally be free of pollutants and pesticides. Herbs that grow by the side of the road should therefore be avoided.

    If you grow your own fresh food yourself, you can be certain that it is free of pollutants. Using our practical VITA NATURE® Fresh Box, you can grow your own greens yourself and put it in your bird's cage. A valuable supplement to the budgerigar's diet!

     

  • My budgie is overweight, what should I do?

     

    Depending on its body length and stature, a mature budgerigar can weigh between 35 and 85g. You can tell if the bird is overweight by carefully blowing into its breast feathers so that the skin becomes visible. With overweight birds, there will be fat deposits there, which show up in yellow. A diminishing ability to fly, coupled with shortness of breath, can also be a sign of an overweight bird. If in doubt, your vet can support you in managing the diet of your pet.

    An overweight budgerigar should however under no circumstances simply be placed on a starvation diet. This would bring with it other health problems. What's important is a balanced diet which, alongside the main food, contains lots of succulent food. As a main food, we recommend Menu budgies or native Australian food for budgerigars. Besides this, you should give it fruit and vegetables daily, as well as something to nibble on and keep it busy, such as Kräcker® and Vita Nature® natural millet.

    Energy consumption is also important however: The more exercise a pet gets, the more calories it needs. Unfortunately, birds can often be susceptible to a vicious circle, whereby overweight birds turn into bad flyers and then, because they then tend not to fly so often, they do not get enough exercise which, in turn, causes them to put on more weight. It is therefore important to repeatedly encourage your bird to fly. To do this, ensure that you provide suitable landing places, which do not require complicated flying manoeuvres, in the room. The perches in the bird's cage, too – which should of course be of a sufficiently large size – should be arranged in such a way as to allow for short flights. Budgerigars are highly social animals that require the company of other budgerigars for their wellbeing. If kept alone, they can become lethargic. In groups, they seldom tend to put on excess weight as the birds mutually encourage each other to move around and fly.

     

  • Why does the information on the packaging sometimes differ to that given on the website?

    We may occasionally change the recipe of our products for example, to comply with legally prescribed changes, or to make the food even more tasty for the animals. Such changes in composition naturally mean that the packaging in question needs to be revised. It can also be the case that new provisions in the laws governing pet food apply only to the food declaration, while the recipe remains unchanged. The product packaging will be changed in this case too.

    While we are able to update online information very quickly, including changing pictures where necessary, it takes longer with retail stores, and for a time, you will often find both the old and new recipes, as well as the old and new packaging, available in stores.

  • Sugar in budgerigar food? Is that allowed?

    Did you know that most Vitakraft products for birds are manufactured using sugar-free recipes?

    To be able to consider sugar and its importance objectively, however, it is first important to be aware that there are many different types of sugar. Those generally known include fructose, dextrose and lactose. In addition to having different origins, they also have different chemical structures. Sugar is naturally present in virtually all foods, as it is the natural product of the photosynthesis of plants and is required as a source of energy by all living creatures. The sugar is either consumed directly or released by other carbohydrates during metabolism. The budgerigar's natural food also contains a certain proportion of sugar, for example in herbs, vegetables and fruits. 

    If, for reasons of principle, you would like to use only food with a sugar-free recipe, Vitakraft offers an enormous selection! No sugar is added to most Vitakraft products, particularly those fed in larger quantities; the main foods in other words. 

    If sugar is used – which may sometimes be necessary, for example for technical reasons – we pay very close attention to ensuring that the sugar content/overall amount consumed is kept low and appropriate. In addition, our recipes and the raw materials and types of sugar we use guarantee easy digestibility.

     

  • How big should my budgerigar's cage be?

    As big as possible! Budgerigars are very active birds. In the wild, they may cover very large distances. The bigger the space available to do this in, the better.

    Some budgerigar owners even have large outdoor aviaries or set aside an entire room for the bird, but a large and suitable cage can also offer the budgerigar a secure and fine home. The size of the cage should allow the bird to fly short distances and the equipment should also be suited to the budgerigar. What's important, for example, is a number of perches with different diameters. But don't forget: budgerigars need to fly freely on a regular basis!

     

  • How do I set up a bird room?

    A bird room available to the budgerigar all day or temporarily is a great thing to have. When setting up your bird room, however, do remember that safety, hygiene and suitable equipment should always be provided!

    Experienced bird owners will not have a problem with that: secured windows and doors, a cleanable floor covering and suitable landing places provide these, and an unused or little-used room can quickly be turned into a great bird room. Suitable landing places include horizontally hung twigs or a thick climbing branch with side branches, placed in a flowerpot filled with sand.

    A cage also deserves its place in the bird room and serves an important function. It can be used as the basis for sleeping and feeding, meaning it is associated with something positive and can, as needed, easily be used as a quarantine station or transport option.