Birds as Pets: Budgerigars

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When I was a teen I really wanted a Myna or a Cockatiel.  My mother had finches or a canary in the kitchen and eventually a rescued Budgie.   They were housed in 2 small cages and the kitchen was a large and busy place.  Luckily there were few pet stores that offered birds and sadly next to no information on looking after them.  My father was against getting a parrot due to the disease factors.

Close to thirty-five years went by before the ‘get a bird’  bug hit me again.   This time around it was a specific type of bird – the parrot.  Thanks to the internet you can learn quite a bit about birds as pets.   There was this little Bourke’s Parakeet at the nursing home, where my mother was after her stroke.   It was so wonderful and so alone that I wanted to slip it into my pocket and take it home.  I didn’t know what type of bird it was at first.  It was so unusual to me.  I quickly found out that it was a male Bourke’s.   They are primarily an aviary bird but can be tamed.  A male Bourke's Parrot at the Flying High Bird...They are very gentle Grass Parakeets, from Australia.  When I found out about it I realised that it shouldn’t be alone in the sun room of a nursing home with no toys or in a smallish cage.  At least it wasn’t in the sun and the cage was clean with lots of wooden perches, food and water.

For six years I did a lot of research on parrots and I was happily reading books from the library,  asking questions on bird boards and thinking long and hard about my obsession.  I’ve been a member of at least 4 bird boards since before I got my 1st Budgie.  I felt that research was key.  When I married, my husband had an aquarium.  After quite a few disasters with this aquarium I did months of research and bought the proper things and set up a species tank that lasted 10 years.  It was a relief to see those healthy fish in their tiny environment, thrive for so many years.  It was a lot of work and we had a lot of fun with the cat TV.

Wanting a bird as a pet consumed me.  Try as I might I couldn’t step away from myself to look at my want and say to myself it was not necessary.  If I went to a pet store for my cat’s needs or for treats for my parents’ dogs and they had birds, I was overwhelmed with want.  I would spend hours going from cage to cage and holding them on my hand whenever possible.  I had to ban myself from going to pet stores with birds or pets of any kind.  It does prove that these stores make a pet purchase an easy and spontaneous thing when it shouldn’t be unless you are prepared with experience.

Eventually I convinced my husband that it would be Ok to check out a Budgie.  His main objection was that they were caged.  He wanted a flighted bird.  They are suitable for an apartment and it would be a rescue.  When I saw Laker on Petfinder I was so excited.  He was lovely.  Laker was a Yellow faced, Cobalt, White Wing.  He was a foundling and had been adopter once but returned – age unknown but mature.  I drove  over an hour to the town where he was.  He cost $10 and the cage was thrown in for another $10.  Of course I spent about $70 at the pet store immediately.  I rushed to the store and  he sat in the cage on the front seat, watching the world go by, singing sweetly.  Later’s sweet songs and whistles were a pleasure to hear every night as he sang himself to sleep.

Laker in his cage

Laker tried so hard to fit into our life.  He was always singing and chirping, especially when you came home or we were all together.  He would shake the bars by the door of his cage and flap his wings like a helicopter.  It became apparent that I couldn’t leave him in the cage and so I began to train him to step-up and to come to me.  It was very easy.  He wanted to be with us no mater the cost to him.  He even loved our cat but that was closely supervised and his cage was placed up high when we were out.

After about six months I began to see that one Budgie wasn’t enough nor was it good for Laker.  Birds do not do well without a flock and when we are out the radio isn’t enough either.  So I looked around and got a bird from a family who had an aviary.

Rio - Summer 2008

Rio is a Dilute Blue Opaline. Rio was like night and day to Laker.  Laker was happy and so was Rio.  Rio was a bit wild and we let him be so mostly until it was bedtime and he had to go into his cage.  Laker hated to share his cage so we had another one for Rio.  Laker would hop into Rios cage to lure him in and then hop out so I could close the door.  I began to give Rio bedtime treats of grass or millet.

Sadly when Rio was about six moths old, Lake died.  It was terrible.  I took him to the Vet but he  passed away that night.  Rio was desperate.  He started hanging out with me and eventually we formed a strong bond.  Rio will even come to me if I call him.

Once more we needed to get another Budgie.  Rio was going to go nuts or I was.  I found a breeder in another part of town.  Bow was the only chick of an old pair of Budgies and the only one that wasn’t all blue.

Bow - adult plumage Bow is a Dutch Pied, Double Yellow, Sky Blue Budgie, just like his Dad.

Bow was hand raised and is so happy to be with humans he can be quite a pest.  He likes Rio but they aren’t the pals Laker and Rio were.

With a new Budgie came a new cage and a much bigger one.  In fact it is sold for cockatiels normally.  I am very happy with it and so are they.  They often hang out inside or on top.  They have their own places to hang throughout the back of the apartment and I have a curtain to stop them from coming to the kitchen and living room.  I set that up after Bow demonstrated that he could fly in the dark if he had to.

Now we are a family with 2 Budgies and 1 Chihuahua.  They are all a lot of work to keep happy and healthy.  Would I recommend a Budgie or any bird to anyone? No.   Budgies are destructive as are most parrots.  They are messy and they are loud.  They are also delightful and loving.  Birds are lovely – they need lots of attention and they need some freedom to fly.  To be a bird is to fly and I could not clip their wings or keep them in cages and feel good about it.