All About Budgerigars

Written by Danny Yeoman, Academy Trainer


A new pet can be a fantastic companion, but sometimes the novelty can wear off (some pets live for a very long time). You may find that regular cleaning, feeding and handling becomes a time consuming chore. Please try to handle and play with your pet as often as possible, you will find that you will be rewarded with a much happier and friendlier pet. If you are not 100% sure that you or your children will be able to give your pet the attention that it needs then please think twice.

  • Average Adult Size: Budgies vary in size from 5 to 11 inches. They’re not the smallest parrots – that distinction belongs to the parrotlet – but budgies are quite tiny.
  • Average Life Span: Budgies can live for 10-15 years but have sometimes been recorded to be up to 20 years old.

The little Budgie is one of the most popular pets in the world, ranking just behind dogs and cats, and it’s no wonder. This affectionate, cute bird is small and inexpensive, and if trained properly a Budgie can mimic human speech. These small parrots make delightful pets and are usually friendly and easy to tame. Budgies are members of the parakeet family and there are two types of them, the Traditional Budgie or Parakeet, and the English Budgie. The Traditional Variety is the one most commonly found in pet stores, while the type often seen in exhibitions and shows is the larger English budgie.

Budgies are native to the woodland, grassland, and shrub land regions of Australia where they roam in flocks and forage for food. Like most other birds, they spend all their time in the sky or trees. The name “budgerigar,” is an English version of the Aborigine term “betcherrygah“, which means “good to eat“. Around 200 years ago, Australian Aborigines ate the small birds as a delicacy, which is where the term derives. Thankfully these days this kind of practice doesn’t go on, but the name remains.

The normal wild coloration of a Budgie is a light green with black bars on their wings, back, and head. Typically, mature females have a tan or beige cere (the fleshy part around the nostrils) and the males have a bluish cere but this is an unreliable way to sex a young budgie since both sexes have pink ceres.

Young Budgies also have bar markings on their foreheads that recede with age and their eyes typically have dark irises that gradually become grey with age. Through selective breeding, a huge variety of colours and patterns are available in the pet trade such as violet, blue, yellow, pied, albino, and the classic neon green.

Budgies are gentle and docile birds. They are also very easy to tame, especially if acquired at a young age. Pairs of birds make good company for each other but usually will not bond as well with their owners or mimic speech as well. A single bird can be fine as long as you spend a significant amount of time interacting with them on a daily basis but the mental stimulation and conversation of a bird of the same species cannot be replaced by a human. Budgies are also very playful, active, and quieter than some other types of parrots.

Feeding Budgies

Since they’re small, budgies are relatively inexpensive to care for and feed. But contrary to popular belief, a diet consisting only of seeds is not good for a small bird like a budgie, and can even cause health problems. Instead, veterinarians recommend a budgie diet that includes pellets and fresh fruits and vegetables including leafy greens. It’s OK to feed budgies seeds as part of this diet, as long as they’re getting enough nutrients from other foods.

Variety is the key to a healthy diet for your Budgie since Budgies in the wild will forage and eat various items. Seeds can be a nutritious part of a budgie’s diet but are high in fat so they should only make up a portion of the diet. Pelleted diets, like Harrison’s High Potency, are often a good choice for birds as they are nutritionally balanced, and your Budgie can’t pick out their favourite seeds and leave the rest (although Budgies have a reputation for stubbornly refusing pellets if they are used to a seed diet). Seeds and pellets can be fed in combination, but a wide variety of other foods should also complement the diet. A variety of fresh vegetables (carrots, broccoli, corn, spinach, beans, etc.) and fruit should be offered. Have patience with your Budgie anytime you introduce a new food as they can be scary to birds. Sprouted seeds are also an excellent way to add variety to your bird’s diet but avocados, chocolate, sugar, and salt must be avoided.

A cuttlebone can be provided as a source of calcium but contrary to the advice given in older references and by many pet stores, grit is not needed and can be harmful if your Budgie eats too much.

Housing Budgies:

Budgies are active and playful and should have a large cage to allow room for toys, sleeping, eating, and flight. The minimum dimensions for a cage that will house single bird are 18.5×18.5×18.5 inches. Bigger is better, as Budgies need space for horizontal flight and with this in mind, at Pets Corner, we would recommend 36 inches long, 24 inches high and 24 inches wide as a good size for a pair of a Budgies. The bars should be closely spaced (not much more than 1cm apart) to prevent the bird from sticking its head out and possibly strangling itself, but perfect for gripping and climbing. Horizontal cage bars offer the best opportunity for climbing and exercise. There should be space to place at least a couple of perches at different levels with enough space for your Budgie to comfortably move between them. Offering a variety of perch sizes, shapes, and textures will also help keep your Budgie’s feet in good shape. A nest to sleep in, dishes for food and water, various toys, and things to chew should all fit inside the cage.

Even if they have a large cage, Budgies will still need playtime and socialization opportunities outside of their cage. Budgies are active little birds and need exercise every day to keep themselves in top shape. Captive budgies, particularly those that live in small cages, should be allowed out for at least a couple of hours daily in a secure area so they can explore and stretch their wings.

Budgies as pets:

Budgies are such wonderful birds that it seems every bird enthusiast has owned at least one. Bred in captivity since the middle 1800’s, they remain popular and common as pets around the world today. Because of their small size, they are fairly easy to keep and care for. This makes them a wonderful option for those that prefer a smaller species or those that lack the time required to maintain a larger bird. They are a tad easier to clean up after as they are a smaller species.

They are relatively less expensive to feed due to their size and appetite and they can easily be kept in homes that wouldn’t necessarily accommodate one of the larger pet bird species. While Budgies seem to be easier to care for, they have a tendency to require extensive vacuuming as they do indeed toss food around like they were seeding a lawn.

Despite their small size, Budgies are big on brains and personality. Many have been taught to whistle tunes and talk, and are just as intelligent as some larger bird species. With proper training and socialization, they can be a delightful addition to most any family. Do not discount their value as a species because of their size. They are every bit a parrot as a Hyacinth Macaw and make wonderful companions. They are full of personality, loaded with playfulness and can bond with you like no other if you spend the time to get to know them.