Acquired: Pet store
Posted Oct 09, 2015
Of my three parakeets, Dakota is the one that I have had for the longest--a little over five years. He is male, which when it comes to birds, are the easier of the two genders to raise, because there is no potential issue for egg binding. (Egg binding occurs at times in female birds and can be fatal). He is very social, although mostly he just likes to chirp at me from his cage rather than come out frequently. He and I have conversations when I return home from work. I ask him questions, and he chirps if the answer is yes, silence if the answer is no.
He also has his own very unique personality--he likes to tease me, so I'll ask him questions like, "Did he miss me?" and he won't answer, so I'll tell him he's mean. Of course then he starts chirping, and chirps when I ask him if he's teasing (it's a daily joke between us). I do not know if he understands everything I am saying, but I think he enjoys the game.
He also likes to fly, so when he is out of his cage, this is what he likes to do best, although he will sit on my finger or shoulder for a moment or nip my fingers affectionately.
He also retains characteristics of budgies in the wild. The main characteristic he has maintained is that he will call for members of his pack. In the wild, budgies stick together for safety from predators, and when the group is separated, they call for each other to bring them back together.
Although we do not live in the wilds of Australia, if I leave the room, Dakota has a very high pitched shrill chirp that he repeats over and over again to call me back. He does the same with my other two birds--if I take him out of the room, after a little while (five to ten minutes or so) he will begin calling for them. On one hand, this habit of his can be annoying, because the chirping is so shrill, but on the other, it is cute that he sees me as a member of his pack and wants me to be safe.
Budgies are very messy, and one of the hardest parts of owning a budgie is keeping their cages clean. I do my best to clean his cage every week, but sometimes it takes a little longer, and that really isn't good. This is something that I am working on, but it can be a struggle.
Budgies also need a multitude of different foods to survive and thrive--not just bird seed or pellets. Neither bird seed or pellets meet all of Dakota (or any other budgie)'s nutritional needs. The good news is that Dakota can eat many of the foods that I eat, however there are a few exceptions. Avocado, chocolate, alcohol, and spicy foods to name a few are deadly poisons for birds. It is wise to check with a veterinarian or literature about budgies before feeding them foods from our own table. Some foods that are acceptable to feed a pet budgie are fruits and vegetables, breads, and believe it or not, chicken. Much of a wild budgie's diet is made up of greens, fruits, and insects. Seeds actually make up a very small portion of a budgie's diet.
As for Dakota, I feed him a base diet of either seeds or pellets (often a combination), and I share with him chicken, greens, and fruits from my own plate. It is important to remember to keep additives to a minimum, so no BBQ sauce. I also avoid giving him dairy, as I have read conflicting information regarding dairy products and birds.
Pet budgies do get sick at times. I have lost two budgies due to illness/medical conditions. One was sick for a long time, and even the vet did not know what was wrong with her, while the other died as a result of an egg binding. She was higher risk due to being ill and to it being her first time laying.
It is important to take a budgie to the vet at least every 1-2 years for a check up, and if they show signs of illness. Budgies are very good at hiding illness, so it is important to get them in for check ups, especially if you are not as familiar with symptoms of illness.
The most common illness in a budgie is an upper respiratory infection. Dakota has never been diagnosed with this, however, one of my other birds had one of these twice during her lifetime. This is a simple matter to treat with antibiotics administered through an oral syringe.
Symptoms of a URI are sneezing (although this in and of itself does not mean an infection), glazed over eyes, lethargic behavior, head under wing, and trembling. If you see these behaviors, the budgie needs medical care within a few days.
An egg binding may look like a tumor with a bulge at the bird's vent. She will be struggling to get the get out. Get her to the vet as soon as possible, and whatever you do, do not remove her food. If anything, give her extra, so she will be strong enough.
The most important thing to train your bird to do if you want to interact is to teach him to step up. It is easy to teach and easy for them to learn. You press your index finger in front of their chest and gently push your finger up. The bird should then step up onto your finger. If he does, praise him a lot. The best way to train a bird is with positive reinforcement (praise or treats).
For me, I cannot imagine life without this little guy. How close your bird is to you, depends all on you. If you have just one bird, they will become very attached to you and need a lot of attention. If you do not have time for this, getting a pair of budgies allows them to bond to each other and need you a little less. For me, I wish I had kept it to just one bird, so I could have bonded a little more closely with Dakota, but I still love him all the same.