Budgerigars are small members of the parrot family. They are one of the most popular pets, and are most often known as budgies.

Budgerigars in the wild

Budgerigars in the wild. © Getty Images

Budgerigars in the wild. © Getty Images

Budgerigars are native to Australia, where they can be found living in groups called flocks in many parts of the country. They are nomadic, which means they fly from place to place wherever there is available food and water, rather than stay in a small location. However, they stay in open areas like grasslands and woodlands in dryer parts of Australia.

They feed on insects, grains and seeds.

Where budgerigars are found in the wild.

Where budgerigars are found in the wild.

Their main natural predators are snakes and birds of prey. When a budgerigar flock is flying, the birds dart about fast, twisting and turning. This makes it harder for birds of prey to catch them in the air, because it is hard to predict where they'll move.

However, pet budgies are bred in captivity and bought from pet shops,  not taken from the wild. Budgerigar breeders have developed many more colours than the original wild birds,around 32 colour variations are now found in captive birds. 

Appearance and Behaviours

Wild budgerigars nest in tree hollows. ©Getty Images

Wild budgerigars nest in tree hollows. ©Getty Images

Budgerigars have slender bodies and long tails.  They are about 18 cm long. Wild budgerigars have green, black and yellow feathers. Their backs and wings, called the mantle, have black markings. These markings give them camouflage in the wild when they are on the ground feeding: they are harder to see from above.  

Adults have yellow faces, and some have purple patches on their cheeks.  Budgies have a long tail of dark blue, but when they are flying, the yellow outside of the feathers can be seen.

Budgerigars are the only birds that have the first and fourth toes facing backwards, while the second and third face forwards. This helps them climb well and perch comfortably.

Budgies also have a special feature in being able to see ultra violet light.  This means that some of their markings glow and attract attention, which is how males attract females. 

The upper part of a budgie's beak is strong and smooth, larger than the bottom part. Their beaks are always growing, so they need to chew or shred things to keep them from getting too big. 

Adult males have a blue cere above the beak. ©Getty Images

Adult males have a blue cere above the beak. ©Getty Images

 At the top of the beak is the part where the nostrils are, and it is called the cere (rhymes with ear). Males have a blue cere, breeding females have brown. Females that are not breeding have a pale brown or white cere, and young ones have pink.

Budgerigars are playful and curious. They are very smart, and easily learn to sit on a person's hand or finger. They will copy sounds and words that are repeated to it.

Life Cycle

Unlike most birds, budgies don't make nests. In the wild, female budgerigars lay their eggs in hollows in trees, and in captivity in a nesting box. The female begins to lay eggs about a week after mating with a male. She lays from four to six eggs.

A budgie chick © Getty Images

A budgie chick © Getty Images

  The female incubates the eggs by sitting on them to keep them warm. The eggs hatch after about eighteen days. The young are born without feathers and are blind. The female feeds her babies with partly digested food which she brings up from inside her body. After five weeks the young budgerigars have feathers and can fly and look after themselves.


Budgerigars as pets

Housing your pet budgerigar

Pet budgies lay their eggs in a nesting box. © Getty Images

Pet budgies lay their eggs in a nesting box. © Getty Images

Budgerigars like to fly and climb so they should be housed where they can do both. An aviary with wire walls on which they can climb and with space to fly is ideal. If the budgie is kept in a cage it should be in a place where the temperature is about the same at all times and away from draughts.

Tree branches and perches of natural wood in the aviary or cage will help the budgie keep its claws and beak trimmed.

Cuttlefish bone is also used by the bird to trim its beak.


Feeding your pet budgerigar

Pet shops sell a seed mix specially prepared for budgerigars. The birds should also be fed fresh fruit and vegetables such as apple, broccoli and green leafy vegetables.

Small toys and mirrors keep pet budgies entertained. Getty Images

Small toys and mirrors keep pet budgies entertained. Getty Images

However, some foods can make your budgie sick and should not be fed to it: cabbage, lettuce, potato,  citrus fruit, plums, onion, chocolate.  

The budgie should always have fresh drinking water and water in which to take a bath.

You can buy toys and mirrors at pet shops to put in the aviary for your pet budgie.

Responsible pet ownership

Pet budgerigars depend on their owners for food, protection and shelter. Before becoming a pet owner think carefully about all the things you will have to do to care for your pet responsibly.


Read more and watch a video about budgerigars


Read about how to care for your budgie


Read kidcyber pages about animal pets