New York, United States
Posted Jul 18, 2012
Our blue parakeet (or "budgie") named Cheeper flew into our lives on the winds of fate. Actually, my daughter found him one day, sitting in the middle of our driveway, in need of a home. Did someone abandon him, or did he escape? We never found out. But suddenly, we were parakeet owners. Luckily, a friend had a spare cage we could use. I had never owned a bird before, so this was a brand new experience for me.
Cheeper didn't seem all that comfortable with people. I don't think whoever owned him before spent much time with him. My husband got him into the cage though, so we could then make an excursion to the pet store to get whatever else was required. We bough a bag of parakeet seed, a food and water "tower," bird cage liners, two perches, a mirror (because the girl at the pet store said parakeets like company),cuttle bone (for beak grooming and extra calcium) and the fun part....BIRD TOYS! My daughter even picked out a green plastic budgie, for more "company."
We hung Cheeper upstairs, in the spare bedroom. This seemed like the best place to keep him safe from drafts, strong cooking odors (I was told parakeets don't like those!) and roaming felines. If I had it to do over, I would probably choose to accomodate our new bird addition in a more well-used area, like the living room. Parakeets are very affectionate and social creatures, and they like to be a part of things. We did, however, visit Cheaper quite a bit in his room.
I gave Cheeper "word lessons," because I heard you can teach parakeets to talk.
"Toy! Toy! Toy!" I would repeat over and over,while holding one of his many toys. "Bird! Bird! Bird!" I said, while holding his little plastic bird. He never caught on. Oh well! I probably gave up too easily.
Cheaper's favorite activity was staring at himself in the mirror. Either he was really vain, or he did indeed think his reflection was another companion in there. I dutifully cleaned his cage and changed his cage liners and supplied him with different fun toys. We set up two different height perches for him. But he never seemed completely happy or comfortable with people, much to my frustration. Perhaps he'd had a bad childhood...parakeethood?
Cheaper lived for four years, and we were all very sad when he passed on. Of course he wasn't young when we got him (you can tell a budgie's age by the black lines on top of their head. If the lines go all the way down to the "cere" - the fleshy part of the beak - then your parakeet is still really young, under 6 months. If the cap part of your bird is white and no longer striped - then your bird is older than 6 months, and there's no telling just how old he is). A healthy budgie can live 10-12 years.
I think budgies make great pets for first time pet or bird owners - and I would definitely get another one (or two!) if we did not live in an apartment.
However, I would do some things differently, next time around. 1). I'd get a bigger cage. 2). I'd get two YOUNG birds from a reputable pet store, because budgies truly enjoy REAL companionship (a mirror and a plastic bird only go so far). 3). I would keep the birds in a more well-used area. 4). I would allow the birds out of the cage more, for exercise. 5). I would spend more time getting to know the birds, and just being with them.