Acquired: Pet store
Posted Mar 13, 2016
"The budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus)...also known as common pet parakeet or shell parakeet and informally nicknamed the budgie, is a small, long-tailed, seed-eating parrot." via Wikipedia
Imagine owning a real live dinosaur! According to Wiki, the budgerigar, or budgie parakeet, has survived the last five million years on Earth! Amazing! But, that isn't the only amazing thing about the budgie. In addition to it's sweet, cheerful chirp and whistle, like a parrot, a budgie can learn to mimic and imitate sounds and voices it hears in it's environment. In my own experience with one particular budgie I kept some years ago, Tulane learned to mimic the bark of a neighbors teacup chihuahua!
Budgie parakeets are rather social birds and have a literal "pecking order" in their natural groups. This effect will be replicated in captive birds introduced to one another in adolescence, but serious incidents should be somewhat controllable, provided you allow them adequate space and provisions for all company to thrive. You never want there to be a fight over food and water, grooming amenities or shelter and perching.
Budgies thrive best in pairs, but can be fooled into believing they're with company, by simply giving them a mirror. A male/female pair may attempt to breed, especially if you provide your budgies with the necessary nesting items. A comfortable nest will encourage confident breeding. Please carefully consider whether breeding is plausible for your situation before attempting to do so. I encourage you to learn as much as you can before making any earnest attempts. A male/female pair will naturally try to breed, however, this has been mostly unsuccessful in my personal experience with pet store bred birds. While I have entertained the idea of breeding budgies, having adequate and viable space to do so, should be your number one consideration. Even though they're small, budgies need space. And the more budgies you have, the more space you and they need. Remember, unless their wings are clipped, which this reviewer does NOT recommend, these birds need to fly, hop, climb and generally move around freely, in order to maintain calm, domesticated behavior. Please review your space needs and general indoor bird safety before proceeding with caution!
Budgies require consistent and regular interaction in order to be properly domesticated. Careful and gentle handling of your budgie can ensure a trusting relationship between you and your bird. I find this takes quite a lot of patience. Their beak may be small, but it will deliver a mighty pinch that can break skin enough to bleed and hurts like mad! Fair warning: You never want to aggravate your budgies! Even if by accident!
I've found that a good way to start a trusting relationship with your budgies, aside from being patient, is to keep their environment clean and tidy. Regular cleaning gets them used to being handled. The budgie is a natural housekeeper, but ironically messy in the process! Make sure to clean your budgies grit paper or other proper bedding on their floor, such as bird sand, or even newspaper, daily. This is significantly important to your budgies overall health.
Training your budgie is much like training a dog. Positive reinforcement using treats, such a bits of fruit, was what I found to work best. I've read about some people using a clicker method, but I personally don't like the noise, so avoided trying it. Again, patience and repetition are what your budgie needs in order to show off his or her personality to you. Your budgie will be just as curious about the hand that feeds it as you are about your bird! If you want your budgie to talk to you in your own language, constant repetition will be key. Budgies may take longer than larger parrots to mimic voices. Some budgies may never develop this trait, especially if you don't speak directly to them or fail to make a sincerely personal connection with your birds.
Budgies are known for their sweet whistle and twitter. After a long day of chattering at themselves in a mirror, their mates or you, it's often recommended, and I agree, to drap a light cloth over their aviary in order to block out light. This will encourage your budgies to quiet down and sleep when you need them to. Be sure the covering is loose and light, to allow air flow.
As someone who has kept budgies, finches, doves, ducks and chickens, I must say in conclusion, budgies are, by far, the most fun to train in my experiences with birds. While I've trained and bonded with many of my other birds, budgies seemed to most sentient and showed an instinctual desire to communicate on a level that other birds rarely seem to. This was a huge draw for me. If you find this fascinating, as well, I highly recommend keeping budgies as companion birds. Parrots and other larger birds can prove to be more of a handful than budgies, but budgies can be a great first bird for anyone wanting to work their way up to a larger, more complex bird, such as a parrot or cockatiel.
As another reviewer summed up, cheekily, if you're not into mornings, constant whistling and chattering and regular/daily upkeep, you may want to consider a pet with fewer requirements! Budgies definitely require consistent effort on your part!