One of the most commonly kept pet bird in the United States, American parakeets, also known as budgerigars (budgies), are chatterboxes that love to play and hop around on their playgyms and sometimes their owners. This pet bird is active and curious, and will use all the cage room an owner can provide for it. A larger cage is ideal for these parrots. The term American budgie is used when comparing budgies to the English budgie, which is a budgie that is bred for the show bench. It is a much bigger budgie with a larger head than the American budgie. American budgie and English budgie are not scientific classifications or formal names, just general terms used in the pet industry. A mutation, such as color or pattern, occurs naturally. However, bird breeders can breed for certain traits, and they have been breeding for different color mutations in budgies since the 1870s. The first color mutation recorded breeding was in Germany of a black-eyed yellow mutation budgie. There are two basic colors in budgies: green and blue. All color mutations come from a dominant gene modifying these colors and expressing them in different shadings. Common color mutations are: sky blue, albino, olive, cobalt, mauve, violet, dark green cobalt, yellowface, greywing, cinnamon. Common patterns are spangle, pied, opaline, lacewing, spangle, mottled. There is also the crested and buff.
Neglected budgies/parakeets can be susceptible to a host of avian diseases, including psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD), fatty liver disease, psittacosis, polyomavirus, cancer, giardiasis, gout and chronic malnutrition. If you are not willing to dedicate time to this pet parrot and provide it plenty out of cage time and toys to keep it busy, give the bird a larger cage and a companion bird to please both yourself and the bird. A solely seed diet is not healthy for a budgie. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be a large part of this bird’s diet. A budgie’s sex can easily be determined, especially when they are mature. Males have a deep blue cere while females have a tan to brown colored cere. As babies, both males and females have a light purple cere. Some males in certain color mutations of budgies have ceres colored similarly to that of a baby budgie. While both sexes make good pet birds, males tend to be better talkers and females are known to be quieter but also more aggressive and playful. Determining the age of a budgie is fairly easy. Until they are 5 to 6 months old, budgie babies have stripes down their cere. The iris of these common pet birds is black at a young age and changes to gray as it matures. The beak of a young budgie is slightly colored black, disappearing after a few weeks of age.
|“Fabulous bird, totally underrated. They are one of the best of the companion species and less prone to ‘psychological problems’ than larger species. They are also GREAT talkers.”|
Liz Wilson, CVT, CPBC
“Budgies are superb pets when hand tamed and most can become superb talkers. I met one once who could sing the entire Star Spangled Banner! I also had one that could play fetch with a little plastic ball. That little bird would play for hours, it seemed that you could not wear him out. Medically, watch out for obesity, especially on seed diets. Goiter (iodine deficiency) is common on seed diets. Tumors of the kidney and gonads are very common and usually present as a lameness.
Samuel Vaughn, DVM, Dip. ABVP – Avian Practice