Frequently Asked Questions About Caring For Budgies
This page is going to be under construction for a while, but I wanted to get started on it. For now, it will just be some stuff that I copy and paste from my emails to people who have asked questions. When I get a chance, I'll spiff it up a little and make it easier to read.
#1 most frequently asked question: Where are you located?
We are located in Central Indiana, about forty minutes north of the Circle in Downtown Indianapolis. We are south of State Road 32. We are also not far from U.S. 31.
(We get to know our customers before we give them our actual address.)
Second most frequently asked question: Do you ship?
Third most asked question: Do you have any English Budgies?
While we do own a few English budgies, we breed for the pet (or "American") style of budgie, and rarely pair up two English with each other. All the budgies we sell will be either American, or have American mixed into them. We do not produce any budgies for exhibition.
From A Question About Getting A Single, Parent-Raised Bird To Acclimate To His New Home:
(Hand raised birds do not need this kind of a settling in period.)
I wouldn't try to liven him up yet. Let him come around at his own pace. Do you have the cover over his cage, with just the front exposed? If he's feeling insecure, then trying to stimulate him to come out of his shell will have the opposite effect.
So, make sure you aren't hovering too close, up in his face. (The Friendly Giant may be harmless, but the bird doesn't know that yet, and it's still really big!) Let him get used to your movements around the room at a distance, and talk to him cheerfully, but from afar. Give him a chance to relax and start eating, before you start working on getting closer.
Another thing to keep in mind is that predators stare down their prey, so he will probably feel more comfortable if he doesn't think you are watching him like a hawk. Act like you are ignoring him, and just watch from your peripheral vision, without making direct eye contact, just yet. Act cheerful and relaxed so as to convey that everything in the household is peaceful and happy.
I know you want to bond, but the time for that is after he's gotten a couple of good meals in his tummy. :) When you do have to go near his cage, or fiddle with anything in or around it, just act matter of fact, and as though you don't even notice him there. You can talk to yourself. That is less stressful than someone who is worried about the bird, and so acts tense and watchful, darting their hand in and out real quick, thinking that they are getting the necessary evil over with faster. Your attitude will definitely convey to him.
Also, they are real copiers, and they notice a lot. So when you are going to eat, do it nearby where he can see you. Wild animals are vulnerable while they are eating. If he can see that the other animal in the house can eat safely, he will be encouraged that he can too. (Must not be any predators lurking at the moment.) You probably noticed with your birds in the past, that when the family sits down to eat, the bird has his meal, too. That happens all the time here.
In a day or two (or three), once you see that he has gotten over his initial fear, and is eating well, you will be able to gauge how soon to start approaching and working out a closer relationship. He will be curious, and you will be able to tell when he won't mind the chance to check you out closer. That's when you can start the eye contact, and offering the millet through the bars. When you know he is happy to eat millet from your fingers through the bars, that's when you can up the stakes by putting your hand in the cage and seeing how long it takes to get him to eat directly from your hand while it's in his safety zone.
I know it's hard to be patient in this first day or two, but the main thing is to let him relax and eat, so he doesn't lose too much weight. This part is something he just has to get over on his own. Then he will become happy and cheerful. You'll see.
From a question about getting one or two parakeets:
You bring up several valid points. It is true that if you don't have a lot of time to spend with a bird, it might be better off living with another bird. That changes the dynamics of your relationship with the bird(s) though. A bird that lives with another bird can still be tamed, but it will never have quite the same bond with a human, since the other bird meets its needs better than we people possibly could.
It is possible to tame and train two birds that live together. But it would take a little more work and dedication than working with a single bird. Having two, on the other hand, can be very enjoyable for other reasons than their tameness. Watching two interact with each other is very entertaining. It's really very different than just watching one play in a cage (or out of it) by himself.
So there are sort of three scenarios, and each person has to decide which one is closest to what they have in mind.
First is a single bird that is extremely bonded with the owner. It requires that you be dedicated to not leaving him to pine away for you too much of the time. (Quite a bit of alone time is fine, just not constant neglect.)
The second scenario is keeping two or more birds in a cage and leaving them alone to enjoy each others company, without much taming, training, or interfering by humans. (Just enough so that they are comfortable with the work you do in and around the cage.)
And the third scenario is kind of a hybrid, or compromise. Where you keep two budgies, either in the same cage, or cages near each other, and you work with them both so that they are tame and friendly, even though they won't see you as more important than the other bird. If you work with them well enough, you can be quite successful with their level of tameness. Very likely, one will be more responsive than the other, and that one then tends to get more attention, and make the most progress.
Your idea to get one first, and then a second one later on is a good idea that can work out very well. It gives you the chance to try the single bird route for a while to see how it works. It sounds like your situation, where one of you does "bird duty" during the week, and the other takes over on weekends, could work well. Then you could take your time deciding whether the bird was happy that way, or whether a second bird would be a good addition. That also gives you plenty of time to bond with your single bird, so that when you did add a second bird, your first one won't really lose all that closeness, just some of it. (Depending on how much you continue to keep working with it.)
Also, when getting a new bird, it's always a good idea to keep it quarantined away from your existing birds for about a month. That gives you a chance to make sure it is healthy, and that it stays healthy for the entire settling in period. The stress of moving to a new home could lower its immunity and make it susceptible to some kind of infection that it might not have had when you bought it. In general, I've found that parakeets sold in the U.S., at least in our area, are quite healthy, and quarantine is just a formality. But to skip it risks that it could be the one time an issue did come up.
So, the whole point there is that for the second bird, you have a whole month of quarantine during which you can work on bonding with the new one. Then once they are introduced to each other, you have a head start on the process of working with them together. The more you bond with them separately, the less of that bond you lose, once they realize they have a REAL bird to play with now.
From a question about males singing more than females:
As far as the difference between males and females, yes, the males vocalize a little differently, and tend to chatter away at everything in sight. Hens tend to "scold" more. But the girls do still chatter and make the nice noises, too.
Most people believe that males will talk better. The truth is, there is no guarantee that any given budgie will learn to talk, and the girls have been given a bad rap, so people don't expect much talking from them. Then they don't really work on it with the girls. But I've had a few people tell me that their past girl budgie talked, and they had never heard that males were supposed to talk better.
I try to tell people that talking should just be considered a nice bonus. If it's their main goal, they are likely to be disappointed. But if they work on it hard enough, it just might happen, with either gender.
From a question about what to put in your bird's cage:
There are so many things they sell to put in cages, and I think most of them are designed to appeal to people, more than to birds.
Toys are good, of course. I don't like to spend a lot on toys, so I look for things on sale or on clearance.
Since he will be an only bird, it's really important that you pick out toys that do NOT have any mirrors or shiny bells that he can see his reflection in. Bells that are a little more dull in color should be fine. Just make sure you don't buy the round, jingle type bells, which have small sharp slots that they can hurt their toes on.
The reason you don't want any mirrors or shiny reflective toys is because a) you want him to bond with your daughter, not his buddy in the mirror, and
b) the buddy in the mirror will look like another bird, but will not interact with him properly. That can be very frustrating and upsetting for a bird, and
c) later on he could become jealous of his mirror buddy, and try to chase your daughter away from the cage to protect him.
Mirrors are just bad for them, and lead to problems.
I've found that certain baby toys that I find at garage sales make good bird toys.
And you can make toys too, with beads and buttons and wooden pieces, using string and wire. Just make sure the things aren't toxic (lead paint or zinc or copper parts or rusty) or something they could hurt themselves with, say if they chew it up and make sharp or tangly pieces.
They really love things they can destroy. :)
I've always used twisty ties to hang things on the bars, but lately I've been reading that they can cut their tongues on the wire if they chew away the plastic. I've never believed that was a hazard, but now I'll be looking closer and re-thinking it. (Update: someone told me the wires are also toxic.)
Other good things to have in the cage are some smaller perches that have different sizes and textures, so their feet have a variety to sit on. Rough textures are good for their nails and beaks, as long as they aren't the main sitting spot. You don't want them to be forced to sit on the rough thing all day. They only need to go on it voluntarily once in a while.
You also don't want to crowd up his flying space too much. If you end up with more things than can fit in the cage nicely, then it's good to be able to rotate things in and out. It keeps them from getting bored with the same old stuff all the time. If he gets super attached to one particular thing, then it's good to just give that to him periodically, not all the time.
Cuttle bones and mineral blocks are good. I buy the mineral wheels for small animals, because they are cheaper than the bird mineral blocks. It's just something they will chew on if they feel the need for extra minerals in their diet, and anything they chew on is good for keeping their beak trimmed, too. Beware: colored ones will dye their feathers!
Definitely do not get anything that resembles a nest. (Well, with a boy budgie, this isn't quite so crucial as with a girl.) Budgies sleep on perches, so they don't need a box or any little hut type thing for sleeping or cuddling. Things that resemble nesting areas can trigger them to go into breeding condition, and then they could have hormonal or behavioral issues. (And girls will start to lay eggs.)
As for water, I use glass tube style drinkers that attach to the bars of the cage. You can use an open dish if you want, which is OK for one bird. But you might find that you have to clean it out two or more times per day, if junk gets into the water.
With tube drinkers, less stuff gets in them, so they can last for a couple of days if necessary.
Petsmart doesn't sell this type of drinker, but Petco does. What Petsmart sells are different, and I don't care for them, but you might like them just fine. For me it's a matter of keeping it efficient since I have so many birds.
You will need something to cover the cage at night. It doesn't have to be an expensive cover from the store. I use dark bed sheets. Fleece or towels are more apt to catch their toenails, so I stay away from those. But any darkish fabric should work fine.