Texas, United States
Posted Oct 30, 2008
I put 10 years in the 'timed owned' slot just because if i tallied it all up, that would be the amount of time that i had budgies during my rescue/rehab days. My earliest recollection of budgies goes back as far as my memory - Sam and Pete - my grandparents’ two budgies. I've no idea how old they were, but they had been around quite some time and i adored them. They died when i was 4 years old - pretty blue Sam first, followed very shortly by sweet green Pete. I bet you'll be surprised to know that a little budgerigar named "Puck" held the record for a few years as having the largest vocabulary of any bird with some 1,728 documented words, phrases and sentences. Most folks aren’t aware that there are two very distinct budgies: the English budgie and the American budgie. The English budgie has been far more well-bred, with emphasis on maintaining size, coloration and conformity than its more indiscriminately bred little American cousin. Are they the same type of bird? Yes, yes, they are. It’s just that the English focused on the quality of breeding whereas the Americans’ focus tended toward how many they could produce and sell. The Good: Budgies can make really awesome little companion birds. They can be gentle, loving, inquisitive, playful and entertaining. While no bird really qualifies as “quiet,” the budgie is not nearly as vocal as most others, as a rule. The Bad: Trying to locate a “good!” You won’t find one of them at the flea market, the discount store, the state fair, or even the pet store. Those are the places you will, overwhelmingly, find the poorly bred ones or those that have had zero human interaction or those who are not fully ready to leave their parents, etc. It’s my considered opinion that, with very rare exceptions, you’re purchasing yourself either frustration or heartache by buying one of those pretty little things. Frustration because the bird has been terrified from being yanked out of a free flight aviary (where they are most commonly kept and bred), brought to a loud and unfamiliar place, stuck in a box and handed to you, driven home and then plopped into yet another unfamiliar cage in yet another familiar place. It likely isn’t going to be anything you expect it to be. It’s going to pinch the dickens out of you, flutter and flap, do everything it can to escape and escape. Heartache because chances are enormous that its parents were fed nothing but seed and their parents were fed nothing but seed and IF it knows how to eat on its own, it’s been fed nothing but seed. The Ugly: The American budgies are substantially smaller, have had few breeders that were concerned about conformation and health, and have been inbred, all of which has resulted in more that are “damaged” than are not. The poor little American budgie is rarely more than a “cash crop” for the breeder. As stated, they are most commonly kept in very large flights or aviaries, they breed when they want and with whom they want, no regard is given to whether siblings might breed with one another or a parent/chick might breed with one another and inbreeding of those close relational ties results in something no different than in any other animal. Well, shoot!! Is there any good news here at all? Yes, actually! The English budgies are larger, prettier, far healthier and have a greater degree of intelligence. Ethical American breeders interested in maintaining the integrity of the budgerigar began importing English lines several years ago. These high caliber breeders have done an excellent job of doing what they set about to do – maintaining the integrity of the species. Many, if not most, pull the chicks for handfeeding at the appropriate age and produce adorably sweet young birds who have been properly socialized to human contact. They start them out on a healthy diet and their parents have been on healthy diets. As a result, you will almost always get a budgie that has a reasonable life expectancy, a better than usual change of being a little entertaining cuddler, and with no known genetic health issues. Remember, just because the bird is small doesn’t mean that the same amount of care and concern in its breeding shouldn’t be considered. A good breeding program for producing great budgies is just as important as one for producing great amazons and macaws. They’re tiny, but every bit as important! Take the time to look around for that great breeder and you'll not only be spending your money with someone who has earned it, you'll be much happier (as a rule) with your little bird.