Friday, July 9, 2010

Recognizing a Baby Budgie (Budgerigar Parakeet)

A friend asked me what inexpensive bird would make a good pet for her nine- year-old son. What could be less expensive, or more fun than a Budgerigar parakeet?

They are very domesticated and make wonderful pets, especially for children. They are hearty birds whose average lifespan is 6 to 8 years, although many live much longer. I had one white female who lived to be 12 and I’ve known some to live as long as 14 years, although that’s unusual.

Female Budgie
At pet shops in the USA Bourkes and Splendids can be $150 or more, whereas, a young budgie may be $15 to $25, making them a good first bird for children. A child should be able to handle the budgie and not be bitten, so you want a tame, friendly bird.

How can you ensure that will happen? Look for a very young Budgie. When very young, they tame down easily and will like being held. This post is to help you identify that baby. Let color influence you to some degree, but personality is more important.

Male Budgie
The photo to the left shows an adult female budgie. Her cere (nose or nostril) is brown. The budgie on the right with the blue cere is a male.

The budgie with an almost colorless, pinkish or white cere is the youngster. A black smudge across the beak like the one below has is also a good indication that it’s a baby. Not all babies have that black smudge, but if black is present on the beak, it’s a very young baby – a good sign! The black smudge will quickly subside. Notice, too, that the eyes on this baby are very dark and don’t show a ring around the iris. That’s another helpful clue. However, most important is the color of the cere…it should not be brown or blue. If it is, then the bird is an adult, or very close to it.

If there are other birds present, observe them. Babies will looks “soft” … Their feathers will appear fluffy … difficult to describe, but there is a slight difference in the appearance of a baby’s new feathers and that of an older bird.

Very young Budgie. Cere hasn't changed color yet.
Be sure the baby’s vent (under the tail) is dry. Budgerigars have nicely formed droppings that aren’t as “wet” as other birds. If the feathers under the vent are soiled, avoid the bird as it might be ill. Unless they’re sleeping, healthy birds are active and curious. A curious budgie is likely to make a better pet that will be highly interactive with humans.

Good luck! Budgies are sweet birds, easy to raise and maintain. There’s a reason they’ve been so popular for many centuries.

Upcoming Post: Intricately carved egg shells by Doris Bowman, from Cockatiel to Ostrich.

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