Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Budgie blog on Summer Holidays

Photo © Alan in Belfast
It's that time of the year again! Please note that there will be few to no postings from July 28 - August 16. I'm on Summer holidays and will move into a new place shortly afterwards. Will be back online as soon as I have internet again :)

I would like to share another video with you before I go. Did you know that forty five budgies were camping out in Belfast last Summer? The PS2 gallery had two windows looking in on the budgie-sized caravans built out of nesting boxes that inhabit the manufactured landscape (see picture above). There was also a pool, a few wooden ladders, branches and bunting. The budgies were of course a bit shy, but it was clearly putting a smile on the face of passers-by.

Budgie Butlins from Alan in Belfast on Vimeo.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Budgie Vision (4)

I would like to add something to the budgerigar vision series: the simple fact that budgies have monocular vision. Basically, this means they can use each eye independently!

Because of monocular vision, budgerigars have a wide field of view. Photo ©
By using their eyes this way, their field of view is increased, as opposed by binocular vision where you use both your eyes at the same time. In case you tried to use both your eyes separately, you will probably know that humans have binocular vision ;)

A budgerigar's eyes are positioned on opposite sides of their head, giving it the ability to see two objects at once - or two predators, coming from different angles. This is a big advantage in the wild.

Other posts in this series:
Budgie Vision (3)
Budgie Vision (2)
Budgie Vision (1)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chirp Ahoy!

The Norwegian cruise ship "King Harald" has got a new man on board. He sings beautifully, he looks a little green and lives inside a cage.

Photo © - click to view full size
Yesterday morning, a green budgie was found on board of the cruise ship, near the shore of Vardø in Norway.

"Junior Sailor" Karsten Trondsen (11) from Bergen was travelling with his dad and sailor Bjarte Trondsen, when he discovered the little green bird. They're hoping to find the owner on the way back from Bergen to Finnmark.

"I thought a little cuddling would help to make the budgie feel safe", Junior Sailor Karsten explains. Luckily the budgie was tame. After Karsten had rubbed the budgie a bit under the chin feathers, he was able to pick it up with his bare hands.

The tour guide made holes in a cardboard box, so the budgie had a little house to sleep in during the first night.
"We gave him water and nuts. In Hammerfest we went on land and bought a cage for the budgie", tour guide Anita Helberg says. Helberg got the honour of sharing her cabin with "Harald", which everyone thought was a fitting name for their new ship mate.

Tour guide assistant Thess Appelberg hopes that they will succeed to find the rightful owner back. "We hope that someone is missing this budgerigar. In the meantime, he will stay with us on the King Harald", she smiles.

Harald is not the first budgie who made it to the sea. Another budgie was rescued from drowning not so long ago (click here to read the story of Captain the budgie).

Original article "Pip o'hoi" on
Translation by Bika Middag

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The yellow budgie in the train station

This morning around 8, I got stuck in the train station because my train to work was delayed.
It must have been fate, because as soon as I entered the station building, I heard a familiar chirping noise. I followed the noise and saw a tiny, square cage in the clerk's office. There was a little yellow budgie inside, walking restlessly from left to right.

Of course, my first thought was Oh no, she's keeping this poor budgie as a prisoner and I have to save this budgie and take it home with me so I went down there and asked the lady if the bird was for sale. It must have been the first time that someone came down there to ask for a budgie instead of a train ticket!

The nice lady shook her head and told me that it was actually her pet and that she was quite attached to it. She also told me that the bird was very tame and that she often let it out of the cage. At that point, I was starting to feel relieved. The thought of any budgie inside that tiny cage all day long was really depressing.

Inside this station building lives a budgie! Photo © Wikipedia
Now here comes the funny part: she actually took the budgie out of the cage for me! I immediately noticed the friendship between the budgie and his owner. The budgie hopped on to the microphone and started saying hello to all the people in the building, which was funny because the chirping was amplified through the speaker system.

The lady told me, half smiling and half annoyed, that the budgie always wanted her attention, especially when it was really busy. The little yellow bird apparently likes to come and sit on the keyboard to "prevent her from working too hard". I went to work with a smile on my face, knowing that this budgie is in good hands after all :)

Too bad I didn't have my camera, but the budgie looked a lot like this one. Photo ©

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Amazing senses pt.4

Budgies may have fewer taste buds than humans (birds have approximately 300 taste buds while humans have approximately 9,000!), but they are still able to detect sweet, salty, bitter, and acidic substances. So in a way, they're doing even better than us!

Image © Erlend Alvestad, my wonderful fiancĂ© <3
Sweet or sour?

Budgies like both sweet and sour food. Most birds prefer food with a sour or bitter taste, that's one reason why budgies like vegetables so much. But when it comes to apples, millet, or other treats that contain sweetness like honey, I can definitely point out some addicts for you!

So taste really differs from budgie to budgie; there are budgies that shudder and walk away after they take a bite out of a fresh, bitter lettuce leaf. On the other hand, there are actually budgerigars that dislike apples.

Note that you better don't give any fruit or vegetables to your budgies when you think it's too bitter or sour! I hereby give the example of citrus fruit like lemons and grapefruit. Also, don't pamper them too much with snacks that are too sweet or salty. You don't want your budgie to get indigestion!

Other posts in this series:
Amazing senses pt. 3
Amazing senses pt. 2
Amazing senses pt. 1

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Birds in Australia (video)

Australia is home to over 50 different species of parrots.Wild budgerigars make a short appearance in this video. Look how graceful they are flying. Apparently budgies and zebra finches live in the same area in central Australia! They face many dangers (like the falcon in this video), but this is where they always lived... it's amazing!

Friday, July 15, 2011

How many feathers has a budgie on its body?

What do you think?

A) 100 - 200
B) 1,000 - 2,000
C) 2,000 - 3,000
D) More than 5,000

I'll start by saying that the average number of hairs on a person's head is about 100,000. Most people shed between 50 and 100 hairs daily. According to estimates, the average person has about 5 million hairs on their body, varying slightly per different hair color.

Image ©
Now, if you guessed answer C for budgies, you are correct! A full-grown budgie has between 2,000 and 3,000 feathers on its body. Isn't that amazing for such a little bird? I don't know if certain color types or mutations have more feathers than others, but I suppose that goes for Whipper the Budgie.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Funny budgie videos starring Kuba the budgie

A budgie named Kuba is doing something really funny with a piece of paper. These videos made me laugh out loud because they're so cute :D

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Budgie Whistling

Whistling match

Budgies love whistling and chirping; it shows that they're in a good mood. Budgies are social birds and love to communicate with each other, but also with you! It can be a fun bonding experience to teach your budgie a few tunes. It's a good way to make them used to you. They might learn some of the tunes very quickly and start whistling them for you when you come home!

Image ©
Using repetition is a good way to teach your budgie whistling tunes. You can do it each time you walk past the cage and make a little game out of it with your budgie, a "whistling match".

Singing reflection in the mirror

Budgies get attached to their family and flock mates, but when they are held in captivity, they absolutely value any sign of a living budgie. That is why budgies are attracted to their mirror image. The end result of this attachment is usually a series of excited chirping and dancing around the mirror. Just like they like to play whistling matches with you, they also like to do it with their fellow budgies.

Image ©
There is some concern with mirrors amongst budgie owners. Some believe that your budgie may fall in love with the mirror bird and never form a bond with you. I don't think this can actually happen for real, unless you're only keeping one bird. Budgies desperately need a companion of their own kind and when they don't have it, they will go crazy in front of the mirror. I can imagine that happens, so again, I want to advise every budgie owner to have at least two budgies.

Strange noises

Budgies also tend to pick up the strangest noises: microwave beeps, noises from other animals or machines, your voice saying "good night, my baby" and much more. You would be surprised at what your bird can learn to mimic! So if you hear a funny noise, it could be your budgie talking :)

Whistling or talking?

Image ©
Some people believe that if you whistle to your budgies, they will lose the will to talk to you. But this is most probably a myth. In general, budgies only learn to talk when they want to. That means you have to keep them happy. And by whistling, you keep them happy because they really enjoy it, like they enjoy music. So there is nothing wrong with it :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Budgies versus Night Parrots

 I thought it would be interesting to know a little bit more about wild budgies and their co-inhabitants of the Australian Outback. That's how I learned about Night Parrots. If you look at the pictures below, you're sure to find some similarities!

Both budgerigars (melopsittacus undulatus) and night parrots (Pezoporus occidentalis) are native to Australia. The night parrot resembles the budgerigar but is larger. DNA testing has validated budgerigars and night parrots are related, because they have the same ancestors.

What else do they have in common?
  • they both are small parrots
  • the species' color is predominantly a (yellowish) green
  • natural habitat around spinifex grass in the Australian Outback

People in Australia have been able to see flocks of wild budgerigars racing through the sky. However, no known sightings of the Night Parrot were made between 1912 and 1979, leading to speculation that it was extinct. Sightings since 1979 have been extremely rare and the bird's population size is currently unknown. Even when the population size was abundant, the night parrot seemed to be an extremely cryptic and secretive species.

Image ©

How are night parrots different from budgerigars?
  • larger size
  • shorter tail
  • terrestrial nature
  • furtive nocturnal habits, even though quite a few records of Night Parrots are from during daytime

Budgies are asleep at night, but if necessary they can travel on to find water-bearing thunderstorms during harsh times of drought - even at night. Imagine these nomadic, storm-chasing desert bird tribes, millions of years ago - they were already there. Were they there together with the Night Parrot? Maybe they used to travel together, in search for food and water. And who were their ancestors?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Flight Suits: part two

What do we know so far?

Flight suits are soft, stretchy, reusable pet bird diapers. Almost any kind of parrot can wear them outside the cage to prevent embarassing "poop accidents" in the house.

Budgies, on the other hand, hate these flight suits. They will bite if you try to put it on and even if you succeed, they will be chewing on it when you're not looking.

But is it really necessary? Budgie droppings are so small that you barely notice them.

Image © Talk Budgies Forum
So what's the point?

No point in putting on these things as long as your budgie is flying freely inside the house.
But if you combine a flight suit with a so-called bird leash, you can apparently take your budgie for a walk outside, as shown neatly on the image below.

Image © Avian Fashions

Reliable or not?

I'm sorry to burst the bubble already, but the flight suit in combination with the bird leash is considered unreliable by quite a few people.  Domestic budgies have never been out in the open, so their first contact with the outside world might come as a shock. They might panic and have a bone-breaking accident if the leash pulls them back too firmly. Many people are also scared their budgie will escape, because they are so small and acrobatic. They might escape in the open air and get caught by a predator.

Image © Cartoonstock

Don't get me wrong: budgies are destined to be airborne creatures and they belong outdoors. But they can't handle the chilly temperatures from the Western world, that's also why they migrate in Australia.
Another good argument against bird leashes is that you may injury your budgie while you put it on. I just can't imagine small birds being comfortable on a leash.

Both sides of the story

The minority of people say that their birds love to go on walks with the leash on. Avian Fashions has a category with testimonials from happy owners, but as you can see, most of these birds are either cockatiels or parrots.

Personally, I admit that the idea of taking our budgies outside sounds very tempting. I want to show them some real nature, let them fly around in the garden and bathe in the sunshine. But I think it's too early. Flight suits are a relatively new concept (they've only been around for about ten years), and I think they could use some more improvement and safety before I would even consider buying one. Who knows what the future will bring us?

Image © Avian Fashions

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

More budgie love

I can't help thinking how cute budgies are, especially when you observe them as a pair:

Image © sora-yukinono
That's real love :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Poll results: how many budgies do you own?

A month ago, I set up a new poll to find out how big a typical "budgie family" is, when it comes to budgies that are kept as pets.
First of all, I want to thank everyone who voted, I didn't expect to get such a wide response so I really appreciate it! Here are the results:

30% voted they only own one budgerigar.
24% voted they have two budgies.
17% voted they have three to four budgies (a cozy, small family)
10% voted they have five to ten budgies
5% has 10 - 20 budgies, another 5% has 20 - 50 budgies and I was surprised to find a good number of people (5%) who own over 100 budgies. Wow!
Only 1% owns 50 - 100 budgies.

I was glad to learn about this, but please keep in mind that keeping only one budgie can cause a series of problems: your bird becomes bored, frustrated and lonely and may have nightmares more frequently than budgies who sleep together in a group. It also leads to a reduced lifespan. I recommend every budgie owner to have at least two birds together. Thumbs up for the ones who keep over 100 budgies, as long as your aviary is roomy enough :)

As from today, I will set up a new poll, to find out which budgie color is more "attractive" to people than other colors. I will compare this result to the actual "beauty norm" among budgerigars (just like humans, budgies prefer a certain kind of budgie) with a word of explanation. Can't wait to see how it turns out :)

Have a nice Sunday and take good care of your feathered friends!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Flight Suits: part one

I found a picture of two budgies wearing a flight suit and I thought that seemed a bit odd. Why would budgies need a fly suit when they are already so good at flying?

What exactly are flight suits?

Image ©
Flight suits, more commonly known as "bird diapers/poop suits" are actually made to prevent any kind of parrot from leaving droppings inside the house during free flight. Or as they say on Avian Fashions: "they allow your feathered friends out of their cages both in and out of the house; worry-free from embarrassing accidents (poop)."

What does a flight suit look like?

Image © 4 the birds - Avian Fashions
It's a kind of soft, stretchy jumper that hooks over the wings and fastens over the back with Velcro. A small pouch neatly located under the bird's vent collects droppings and keeps it away from the body.

Flight suits are available in every color of the rainbow and in different prints. You can find plenty of examples here.

The design of the flight suit doesn't restrict the movement of the wings or legs, but I read all over the internet how much budgies hate it when you try to put it on.

Funny note from a review: Owners may need patience to get bird to accept it and some birds may chew on (and destroy) it.

The flight suit comes in a variety of sizes. You can even buy a flight suit for a pigeon or a big macaw. According to Avian Web, budgies would need an X-small.

Waste of money?

Image © Avian Fashions
In my opinion, yes. I think flight suits are too expensive for what they are. Budgies only leave very small droppings, you can easily get rid of them. At the same time, you're doing your budgies a favour by not forcing them into something they don't want. Many budgies would just take revenge and chew the suit to pieces.
However, if you combine them with something, a flight suit might actually become useful. More about that in the next post...