Budgie Buddies

When choosing a budgie there are really only two options: tame or not tame. From personal experience I have discovered that a hand-reared tame budgie is the absolute best!

Hand reared budgies are well worth the extra cost (it's a lot of work to hand rear a baby budgie), and the relationship between you and your newly adopted hand-reared baby budgie can be formed in a day--budgie sits on your finger or your shoulder and you talk to him/her about the state of the world, finance or sport, and he/she listens attentively. Because you are not having to chase the budgie around the cage to try to get him/her to come out the budgie is not stressed, and is happy to come out for that fly or to sit on your shoulder. However, if it is a hand-reared budgie chances are one of the wings has been clipped to prevent the budgie from flying away and to allow the relationship to develop. Don't worry about the clipped wing, it is the removal of the flight feathers which will grown back, but by the time they grow back the relationship with the budgie is fully cemented and he/she will not want to fly away. Plus, when a budgie is introduced to a new home they don't see windows and glass doors, they just see the outside world and the next room and will fly straight into those windows and glass doors. It is better that they wings are clipped and he/she is unable to build up such a 'head of steam' that he/she will fly into the glass and injure of kill himself/herself. That would be a tragedy, so even though you may be against wing clipping, it is for their own safety. Our young budgie Oscar has flow into doors, walls and floors, that clipped wing is like a pilot losing all aileron control on his single engine plane, making straight flight a difficult prospect. Fact is Oscar crash-lands every time! But he seems okay because he walks away from every crash landing with a small squawk that almost says "sheesh, that was embarrassing".

The wonderful thing about budgies is they have a lot of personality and are chatty and friendly. Oscar makes a daily escape attempt from his cage, but when we take his cage into the next room (lounge) without the cat in the room, and open the door, he does not seem to want to come out. I have realized that he simply wanted the ability to be able to come out if he wants to. My son does, however, take him out of the cage and he does go off for a bit of a fly, and a crash landing or two. His favorite places, outside the cage, are on top of his cage, on my son's shoulder, on the top of my daughter's ponytail, and on the Christmas tree. In fact, we have removed the Christmas tree decorations and the faux tree now stands as a small and lonely pine in the lounge and is known as Oscar's tree.

We bought our budgie and supplies from our local pet store, and are getting to know the shop owner well, she buys the budgies as babies and hand rears them, which means that not only are they used to human contact, and will step onto your finger and sit on your shoulder happily, but the shop owner also gets to know their personalities. I didn't even know that budgies could have different personalities, but there you have it, they do! The benefit of a shop owner who knows the baby budgie's personalities is she can match them to the potential buyer. Such shop owners are a rare find indeed!

What does a budgie need? A good size cage, the biggest you can afford, with at least two sides containing horizontal bars for the budgie to climb on. You will need the usual seed and water dishes, a few perches and some toys to entertain the budgie. Pear tree branches make excellent perches too, so if you have a pear tree, or know someone who does, ask for a few branches that are about perch size. The variation in sized and textures of the budgie's perches are good for their feet. Budgies do like to strip the bark off the pear branch, so don't worry about that, it's not poisonous, and it entertains them, a bit like a dog with a bone I suppose. You'll also need a good quality bird seed.

Don't be cheap about the seed you give your budgie, get the good stuff as this will help keep your budgie healthy. Millet sprays and honey seed bells are quite popular with budgies as they enjoy 'working for their food' as they would in the wild.

Maybe you can't have your budgie out all day, though some people do, flying around the house, but make sure you do spend some quality time with your budgie, getting him or her out for a bit of a fly, perhaps while you are watching televisions, doing homework, or reading a book. And during the day put them somewhere in the house where there is activity and people and something for them to watch. Don't leave the cage in your bedroom all day with the lace curtains pulled across and no one coming in and out to say hello. They are very social creatures.

We have enjoyed Oscar's antics, from his head first vertical climbs down the side of the cage, his summersaults round the perch, his squawking at the radio talkback show, and his smooches when we stroke his cheeks or the top of his head. He loves human contact and affection. In fact, he loves company so much that we have decided that with the kids going back to school (I should point out that the budgie is my teenage son's pet and buddy) we should consider getting a second budgie, a pal for Oscar. We are currently waiting for the same pet shop owner to get a new family of baby budgies in so that we can adopt another member into our family, this budgie will, however, be mine. More on that later……

In a follow up issue I will cover: how to introduce you new budgie to your older budgie.

There are many pets that you could choose, but it is important that you choose a pet that is right for you, one that you feel an affinity with. For us, it's kittens and budgies!


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