Shell parrot, Warbling grass parakeet, Canary parrot, Zebra parrot, Flight bird, Scallop parrot, Common parakeet, Shell parakeet, Budgie, Parakeet
The budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) is a small seed-eating parrot usually nicknamed the budgie ( BUJ-ee), or in American English, the parakeet. It is closely related to lories and fig parrots. The origin of the budgerigar's name is unclear. First recorded in 1805, budgerigars are popular pets around the world due to their small size, low cost, and ability to mimic human speech. They are likely the third most popular pet in the world, after the domesticated dog and cat. Budgies are nomadic flock parakeets that have been bred in captivity since the 19th century. They are found wild throughout the drier parts of Australia, where they have survived harsh inland conditions for over five million years. Their success can be attributed to a nomadic lifestyle and their ability to breed while on the move.
Wild budgerigars have a light green body color (abdomen and rumps), while their mantles (back and wing coverts) display pitch-black mantle markings (blackish in fledglings and immatures) edged in clear yellow undulations. The forehead and face are yellow in adults. Prior to their adult plumage, young individuals have blackish stripes down to the cere (nose) in young individuals until around 3-4 months of age. They display small, iridescent blue-violet cheek patches and a series of three black spots across each side of their throats (called throat patches). The two outermost throat spots are situated at the base of each cheek patch. The tail is cobalt (dark blue), and the outside tail feathers display central yellow flashes. Their wings have greenish-black flight feathers and black coverts with yellow fringes along with central yellow flashes, which only become visible in flight or when the wings are outstretched. Bills are olive grey and legs blueish-grey, with zygodactyl toes.
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 by 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 herbivores (granivores) and feed primarily on seeds of various types of grass. They also eat growing cereal crops and lawn grass seeds.
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.
The budgerigar has been bred in captivity since the 1850s. Breeders have worked to produce a variety of colour, pattern and feather mutations, including albino, blue, cinnamon-ino (lacewinged), clearwinged, crested, dark, greywinged, opaline, pieds, spangled, dilute (suffused) and violet.Show More
"English budgerigars", more correctly called "show" or "exhibition budgerigars", are about twice as large as their wild counterparts and have puffier head feathers, giving them a boldly exaggerated look. The eyes and beak can be almost totally obscured by these fluffy head feathers. Most captive budgerigars in the pet trade are more similar in size and body conformation to wild budgerigars.
Budgerigars are social animals and require stimulation in the shape of toys and interaction with humans or with other budgerigars. Budgerigars, and especially females, will chew material such as wood. When a budgerigar feels threatened, it will try to perch as high as possible and to bring its feathers close against its body in order to appear thinner.
Tame budgerigars can be taught to speak, whistle and play with humans. Both males and females sing and can learn to mimic sounds and words and do simple tricks, but singing and mimicry are more pronounced and better perfected in males. Females rarely learn to mimic more than a dozen words. Males can easily acquire vocabularies ranging from a few dozen to a hundred words. Pet males, especially those kept alone, are generally the best speakers.Show Less