Parrot of the Week #3
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Scientific Name: Melopsittacus undulatus
Classification: Kingdom: Animalia > Phylum: Chordata > Class: Aves > Order: Psittaciformes > Family: Psittacidae > Subfamily: _Loriinae _ > Tribe: _Melopsittacini _> Genus: _Melopsittacus _> Species: undulatus
Conservation Status: Least Concern
Other Common Names: common pet parakeet, shell parakeet, budgie, warbling grass parakeet, canary parrot, zebra parrot, flight bird, scallop parrot
Average Length (wild): 18 cm (6 - 7 in)
**Average Weight (wild) **: 28 – 40 g
Average Lifespan in Captivity: 5 – 15 years; the English budgie has half the lifespan of the American budgie because they are often inbred. With good care and proper diet, budgies in captivity can reach their 20s.
Average Lifespan in Wild: 3 – 5 years
Native Range: Most of Australia, rare in the eastern coastal region and the extreme south west; they are nomadic, constantly on the search for water
Natural Habitat: Open habitats, such as scrublands, open woodlands, and grasslands, always near water sources
Flock Size: varies from a few hundred to few thousands; I can’t find the source, but I remember reading that the largest flock ever recorded was around 24,000.
Call: Quiet warbling to sharp chattering and a quiet screech
Breeding: Between June and September in northern Australia and between August and January in the south. They are opportunistic breeders and will start to breed when the rainy season starts, which is when grass seeds become most abundant.
Nesting: They nest in holes in trees, fence posts, or logs laying on the ground. They have 4 – 6 eggs, which are incubated for 18 – 21 days. The female’s cere, usually a light tan, will turn crusty brown during breeding and nesting season. She lays her eggs on alternate days, with a gap of two days between each. The females hardly leave their nests during incubation. She will not let the male inside of the nest.
Wild Diet: ground feeders; Spinifex seeds, grass seeds, ripening wheat, crop plants
Sexually Dimorphic: Yes, males have blue ceres, while females have brown ones
Description (wild): Their bodies are a light green. Their faces and wings are yellow with black, scalloped markings on the nape, back, and wings. They have blue cheek patches and three black spots across each side of their throats. Their tails are blue and the outside tail feathers have yellow flashes.
Budgies in the wild are smaller than their captive counterparts.
(Above: The bird on the left is an English Budgie. As you can see, they are much larger than their American and wild counterparts)
Color Mutations: Many, with over 32 primary color mutations, hundreds of secondary color mutations, and a vast amount of patterns and feather mutations. Common ones include crested, albino, clear winged, opaline, gray winged, violet and spangled. The most common varieties in stores are blue, yellow, and green.
Noise Level: Quiet
Talking Ability: Excellent. They have clear voices, but have very small voices that some describe to sound like a sped-up recording. The males are more likely to talk than the females. The budgie Puck, who died in 1994, holds the world record for the larges vocabulary of any bird, at 1728 words!
Personality: They are easily hand tamed and become loyal, loving friends quickly. They are social, active, and curious, though a bit timid at times. Some people think their Budgies housed together remain friendly with humans if continually socialized.
Behavioral Concerns: They are highly social, and can become very depressed if not given adequate social interaction.
Health Concerns: They are very small, and are susceptible to accidents such as being crushed. Unfortunately, due to their size, inexpensiveness, and availability they are seen as “throw away” pets. Because of this they are often mistreated either intentionally, due to neglect, or due to ignorance of proper care. It is always important to do lots of research before getting any pet. They are also prone to obesity, fatty tumors, liver disease, foot disorders (bumblefoot), scaly face and scaly legs, Polyomavirus, Psittacosis, French Mold, Feather Plucking, Goiter, and intestinal parasites, all which require veterinary care. Yearly checkups are recommended for all pet birds, including the budgie. Obesity, fatty tumors, and liver disease are often due to all seed diets. Remember to give your budgies fresh fruit and veggies every day, and offer them pelleted diets as well.
Aviculture: Commonly available as pets and popular as companion parrots. There is the American Budgie and the English Budgie, that later of which is twice as large as wild budgies.
History in Captivity: They were first recorded in 1805, but were not bred in captivity until the 1850s. The naturalist John Gould and his brother-in-law, Charles Coxen, brought the budgie to Europe in 1838. Australia banned the exportation of budgies in 1894. In the 1920s, the budgie came to America, and became popular in the 1950s.
- They are the third most popular pet in the world, behind the dog and cat, but is the second most popular bird in the U.S., behind the cockatiel.
- The throat spots reflect UV light and can be used to distinguish individual birds. So, in the eyes of your birds, they aren’t black!
- The budgie’s Latin name means “song bird with wavy lines”