1619, South Africa
Posted Jun 05, 2015
Budgies are indigenous to Australia, and the original name of the species is Australian Shell Parakeet. They fly in large flocks, and the original color was green. All other colors are mutations that either occurred naturally or were inbred by breeders. The reason for the "shell" in the name is the fact that the dark edges of the wing and cheek feathers resemble the shape of a shell.
My first experience with Budgies (short for Budgerigars) was in 1982 when a friend gave me two fledgling Budgies. The father was apparently caught and eaten by my friend's cat, and mommy budgies are fed by the daddies while the babies are still dependent on their mommies for their food and body heat, so it would have been difficult if not impossible for the mommy of this particular clutch to rear the babies.
I was horrified that my friend could not have taken care of the birds in a more responsible manner. She should have known better than to ever trust a cat alone with a small bird, even if the cat was "okay" with the bird in her presence. Cats are natural hunters because the are carnivorous predators, and that should always be your first consideration when there are birds in the equation as well.
I took two of the babies to hand rear but only one of them survived. The other one was simply too weak. They were two weeks old at the time.
Birdie turned out to be a very light Lutino. The difference between a Lutino and a yellow is in the coloring. Lutinos have red eyes like an Albino, and the cheek patches are white, whereas Yellows have dark cheek patches and black eyes. The shells on the wings and cheeks of a Lutino are barely visible, sometimes invisible, whereas the shells on a Yellow are prominent and can vary in color from black to a light cinnamon.
Birdie was a female, and very gentle. I have often come across really vicious Budgies that can draw blood when they bite you, but Birdie had none of that aggression. She often took food from my mouth, and has never once bitten me even accidentally.
At the beginning, remembering the mixture I used to feed my baby Mynah Flippie, I got some ProNutro, distilled water and eggs, and reared her on a mixture of the ProNutro, warmed distilled water and boiled egg yolk.
When she was a bit bigger and covered by fluffy baby feathers I used to put her box on the living room carpet and put a whole boiled egg yolk in front of her that was still warm, and then she would dig into it like a caterpillar! :) She also started walking at the time, and looked like a large spider charging around.
I began to teach her tricks when she was around six months old. I bought her a cage when she began flying, and she loved playing with the toys in her cage. She loved dancing to the clapping of my hands, and also to rhythmic music. She had a little skateboard that was made specifically for Budgies, and she could actually ride it! Swinging on the swing in her cage was her favourite. :)
Like Flippie, she started laying eggs and I have discarded about a dozen of them before I've decided to get her a mate. I began looking for a Lutino male, but nobody could guarantee with Lutinos that I would actually get a male, so I bought a brilliant cobalt blue male and called him Pete. That was the beginning of my Budgie breeding years.
Birdie was happy about having a mate... so happy, in fact, that she stopped all her mimicking and talking, and only had eyes for Pete. Together, the two of them had about six clutches before I removed them from the aviary and brought them indoors. Birdie lived to be about 15 years, and Pete was returned to the aviary after she died.
Budgies are excellent little creatures to have as a first pet bird, or even a first pet altogether. They are sociable and easily trained, and adapt well to being in a cage. Cleaning after them is easy and without any real effort, except for the nesting boxes. These have to be cleaned out on a regular basis in order to eliminate odours and parasites. So although I do highly recommend them as pets, I have to caution any aspiring breeder that breeding takes time, commitment and dedication. Even more so when you breed professionally or for show purposes. I merely bred as a hobby, and already it took a lot of my time. Although I did enjoy breeding and found it relaxing to work with my birds, I would not go back to doing that. But I would keep a Budgie as a pet anytime.