Saturday, April 30, 2011

Budgie Vision (1)

Vision is the most important sense for budgerigars. Good eyesight is essential for safe flight.

Budgies have got their eyes on the side of their heads, which provides them a wide visual field, useful for detecting predators. Birds that have eyes on the front of their heads, such as owls and eagles, have binocular vision, which is in turn useful for estimating distances while for example hunting.

Images © Wikipedia

While humans have only two eyelids, budgerigars have a third concealed eyelid that is called the nictitating membrane. This thin and transparent "eyelid" sweeps across the eye like a windscreen wiper, acting as a lubricating duct - equivalent to our tear duct. The nictitating membrane also covers the eye and acts as a kind of contact lens in many aquatic birds when they dive underwater. When your budgie is asleep, the lower eyelid rises to cover the eye completely.

If you look hard enough, you will be able to see the nictitating membrane on the picture below. It's quite hard to see in general, as your budgie often moves it with lightning speed. I have seen it in one of my budgies, Wit Zingbeest. Back then, I didn't know why he suddenly covered his eye with a transparent layer. I thought he was tired of me talking to him, but still showing his eye somehow to indicate that he was listening :-)

Image © Birds Online


  1. Learned something new today! And thanks for the sweet story :)

  2. l am a new budgie owner and have much to learn. I made a mistake
    and let him out of the cage too soon, and had to chase him to get him to go back to the cage (was unsucessful) franky went back in on his own when he was hungry and needed water. some damage was done as he was frightened of me for the next day or so. seems to be adjusting as he will chirp at me. when should i
    try free flight again? does he need to be comfortable with my hand before i
    attempt this again?
    Thank you for your help

    1. Hey, I too am a new budgie owner, but I do have a little knowledge regarding these birds as I have looked after a few pair of budgies during my hostel stay (school)... It's okay to let him out of the cage, but make sure that you don't chase him... First tame the bird... Until unless he trusts you do not let him out... He shows his trust signs by sitting on your finger when you put your hand inside the cage and so on... Hope this will help you... But, as a matter of fact, I too am finding a bit difficulty in taming my female budgie...

  3. It's sad no one replied to you. Hope your budgie and you are both well. I've had a budgie for a few years now and he's never really been out the cage. I did end up getting him a rather large cage though. I've brought him into my bedroom now too because he was always quiet unless I was around and I felt sorry for him. Now he's really happy and won't shut up as he's always around me. I'm going to see if he wants to come out of his cage before long too and let him go back when he wants. I just hope that's the right thing to do and I'll research it a bit more before going ahead.

    1. I have two budgies. My first one was easy to hand train, but never went on my finger inside the cage. I guess he thought that is his own personal space. When he was fine sitting on my hand he went back into his cage by himself. When the second budgie arrived my first one trained him to go back into the cage. It was pretty funny to watch the herding and conference talks!