The budgerigar is a long-tailed, seed-eating parrot usually nicknamed the budgie, or in American English, the parakeet. Naturally, it is green and yellow with black, scalloped markings on the nape, back, and wings. Budgies are bred in captivity with the coloring of blues, whites, yellows, greys, and even with small crests. They are the third most popular pet in the world, after the domesticated dog and cat. Budgerigars are nomadic flock parakeets that have been bred in captivity since the 19th century. In both captivity and the wild, these parrots breed opportunistically and in pairs.
Budgerigars are found wild throughout the drier parts of Australia. They live in open habitats, primarily in scrublands, open woodlands, and grasslands.
Budgerigars are social birds; they are usually found in small flocks but can form very large flocks under favorable conditions. They are nomadic and flocks move on from sites as environmental conditions change; it is typically tied to the availability of food and water. Drought can drive flocks into more wooded habitats or coastal areas. Budgerigars wake up just before sunrise and start their day with preening, singing, and moving around from one tree to another. After that flocks head to forage. During hot midday hours, budgies hide in the shade of tree canopies and rest. Closer to evening they fly around calling loudly and then return to their roosting sites.
Budgerigars are monogamous and form pairs. Breeding in the wild generally takes place between June and September in northern Australia and between August and January in the south. Budgies show signs of affection to their flockmates by preening or feeding one another. Pairs nest in holes in trees, fence posts, or logs lying on the ground. The female will usually lay between 4 and 8 eggs, which she will incubate for about 18-21 days. Females only leave their nests for very quick stretches and quick meals once they have begun incubating and are by then almost exclusively fed by their mate. Females will not allow a male to enter the nest unless he forces his way inside. The chicks hatch altricial; they are blind, naked, unable to lift their head, and totally helpless, and their mother feeds them and keeps them warm constantly. Around 10 days of age, the chicks' eyes will open, and they will start to develop feather down. They develop feathers around 3 weeks of age. As the chicks develop and grow feathers, they are able to be left on their own for longer periods of time. By the 5th week, the chicks are strong enough and both parents may stay out of the nest more. Young budgerigars typically fledge (leave the nest) around their 5th week of age and are usually completely weaned between 6 and 8 weeks old.
There are no major threats to the budgerigar at present.
According to IUCN, the budgerigar is abundant throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. However, national population sizes have been estimated at less than 100 introduced breeding pairs in Korea and around 100-10,000 introduced breeding pairs in Japan. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are increasing.