The Basics: Intro to Budgies and Parakeets

Have you been thinking about getting a parakeet or budgie? Are you a new budgie owner or perhaps looking to learn about caring for your pet parakeet? Maybe you're up for a refresher course. Well this is where you'll find all the information you need!

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Download and print out the "New Budgie Checklist"
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A complete list of everything you need for your new budgie, plus a guide to picking the right budgie for you!

What's a Budgie? And is there a difference between budgies and parakeets??

Two Male Budgie Parakeets

Many people know them as "parakeets," but their real name is "budgerigar". The word "budgerigar" comes from the aboriginal people of Australia, the budgie homeland. We like to use "budgie" as a shortened version of "budgerigar". In English, "budgerigar" or "budgie" is a more accurate name, because "parakeet" actually refers to a large group of small to medium sized parrot species. That's right, budgies are actually small parrots! Click here to see what other parakeet species are kept as pets. Since John Gould brought the first budgerigar back to England in 1840, budgies have become extremely popular pets throughout the globe. You can now find budgie lovers in just about any country you travel to!

Budgie names from around the world:
English:budgerigar, budgie, parakeet, keet Spanish (Español):periquito Filipino (Tagalog):maikling loro
French (français):perruche ondulée Hindi (India):बजरीगर (bajarigar) Chinese:虎皮鹦鹉 (hǔ pí yīngwǔ)
Dutch:grasparkiet German:wellensittich Japanese:セキセイインコ (sekiseīnko)
Norwegian:undulat Polish:papużka falista Italian:pappagallino ondulato
Russian:волнистый попугайчик (volnistyĭ popugaĭchik) Arabic:الطائر الطيب Korean:잉꼬 (ingkko)
Turkish:muhabbetkuşu Czech:andulka Hungarian:Hullámos papagáj
If you want to add to the list, let me know!

Do budgies make good pets?

Budgie Parakeet Landing on Owner's Finger
photo posted by conure6 on the Budgie Place Yahoo! Group

If you ask me, budgies make awesome pets! They are very active, playful birds, and they are incredibly intelligent. Some (but not all) budgies learn to talk, there are even budgies have a 100+ word vocabulary! Budgies can easily become finger tame while they are young with some diligent training, even if they were not hand fed as babies. Many owners of fully tamed budgies will swear that their budgie thinks it's a human! Even if a budgie is not tamed, they still make enjoyable pets. Their antics and singing will brighten up any room in your home. And budgies who are not finger tame still can become friendly towards you, and even still learn to talk.

It's important to keep in mind that if you have (or plan to get) only one budgie, it's imperative that you socialize with him or her every day. Budgies, as with all parrots, are flock birds, and it is important to their mental health to have interaction with others. If you tame your budgie, you can provide him (or her) with the social interaction he needs by spending time with him every day (even if he or she just hangs out with you while you do your homework or clean up around the house). If you don't have the time or inclination to tame your budgie, then you must plan on getting at least two budgies so that they can provide each other the social interaction they need to be happy and healthy.

There are some downsides to keeping budgies as pets that you should be aware of. You should know that budgies can be messy. Seeds and feathers tend to scatter around the cage, so you'll have to sweep or vacuum often. A cage skirt (available at pet stores) can help cut down on the mess. You also have to be diligent enough to make sure your budgie always has fresh food and water, and to make sure the cage bottom gets cleaned about once a week. Budgies can also be a bit noisy, although they are not quite as noisy as most parrots. Budgies spend several hours a day, especially mornings and evenings, chirping and singing and sometimes squawking. This is normal behavior, and most people enjoy the singing and chatter of budgies. However, if the noise does not appeal to you or may bother other people that you live with, you may need to consider closely where you put the cage or if a budgie is the right pet for you. Covering the cage at night will keep your budgies quiet from bed time until you wake them up in the morning, but the rest of the day is fair game for budgie banter.

I want a budgie that will be hand tame or talk...

Nathan and Buffy the Seafoam Green Budgie Parakeet
Nathan and Buffy

Well then, make sure you read this section! The best way to get a budgie that will become hand tame is to buy a baby (about 3 months old) that has either been hand fed or handled as a chick. He or she will already be at least somewhat hand tame! You are most likely to find this from a breeder, and most likely not to find this at a pet store. If you cannot find a breeder in your area and you have to buy a budgie from a pet store, you are going to want to make sure that he or she is still young. See the Your Budgie's Age page to learn how to tell if a budgie is still young. The younger your new budgie, the greater the chances for him or her to become very hand tame and friendly. If you would like to try and teach your budgie to talk or whistle, then you will want to choose a male budgie. Generally only male budgies will learn to mimic humans, although there is no guarantee that your budgie will learn to talk, even if it's a male. It can be difficult to sex young budgies, so study the Your Budgie's Sex page carefully. When choosing your budgie from a bunch that is already somewhat tame, choose one that seems to have a good personality. Color preference should not be your first priority. A budgie that seems curious, playful, and does not seem to be scared of you will be a better choice than one who seems skittish or flighty when you approach the budgie cage at the store. You'll be able to make the best choice if you go to a store or breeder who lets you handle the budgies before you buy. You'll want to choose a budgie that is willing to stay on your hand or finger for even a short period of time. For guidelines on choosing a budgie, see my FAQ article on buying a new budgie.

If you do plan on taming your budgie, it is best to keep him or her alone and not get another budgie. This is because a budgie kept alone will be more inclined to bond to you instead of bonding to the other budgie (which is what will happen if you keep more than one budgie together). It is possible to tame a budgies who are kept together, but it is much more difficult and recommended only for experienced bird owners. Also, the chances of your budgie learning to talk will also be greatly diminished if kept with other budgies. You also will not want to put any toys with mirrors in the cage for the same reasons. Your budgie will actually think that the bird in the mirror is his friend! Once you have your budgie, see my "Taming and Talking" section for guidance on taming your pet budgie.

What do I need to get started?

What is involved in caring for a pet budgie?

Now that you know the basics of budgie care, check our Advanced Budgie Care page to learn about budgie and parakeet diet, important safety concerns, how to keep your budgie healthy, and what to do in case of illness or injury.

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