Two Budgerigars: Living With Woody, Sparky and Ozzie's Ghost!

Buy the largest cage you can afford and have space for

If you have space, this would be the ideal home for one or two pairs of budgies.
If you have space, this would be the ideal home for one or two pairs of budgies.

Would I do it all again? read on.


The first article I wrote for Hubpages was about my two budgerigars which I had just acquired. The main thrust of my hub was less to do with keeping cage birds - of which I had no experience - but about getting a pet, or pets, such as these for company.

Now, more than two years on, I feel qualified to add some information and make a few comments about keeping budgies: the good and the bad.

First of all, unless you are a fancier, and/or someone not stressed easily, you may choose birds that make less noise! I have found that budgies, apart from a break every so often to take a nap, eat or groom themselves, keep up a continual cacophony of sounds, ranging from a pleasing "song," a long conversation with their mate, life, their inner thoughts, etc., which can indeed rival a nightingale. So beautifully can my new little male budgie sing when the mood takes him, that he has in me in tears sometimes as his music touches primitive longings of my own.

Unfortunately, the other side of the vocal coin is loud irritating chirping or screeching which goes right through your head. No amount of shouting at them will stop this. Yes, you can of course silence them and scare them half to death by throwing a shoe, etc., at the cage, but they are so pitiful for hours afterwards, you only do this once.

So my first piece of advice if you like is: budgies should have their own space like a garden aviary with winter protection, or a large cage like mine, but a place in a room where you don't spend a lot of time. Not cut off, they need to see and hear you, but somewhere where the screeching is filtered to a tolerable level. In my small flat, they have a place by the living room window and can actually drown out the sound from the TV when in good screech!

It is a truism that no cage is large enough. Even the largest and most elaborate cage is, after all, a prison cell. I wonder sadly if they feel frustrated and enraged when they see all the wild birds flying past the window. I let them out (only "Sparky," the young male comes out and then reluctantly).

This brings my next piece of advice. Don't confine any animal or bird alone without contact to one of its own species at least. I know from my own time in a prison cell that company makes the experience bearable, solitary confinement can drive any species crazy.

My budgies, "Woody" and "Sparky" are a mating pair and happy to that extent, although I haven't let them breed yet.

My next suggestion is you think long and hard before breeding your budgies unless they are in an aviary. (they will mate, but she will not lay unless you put a nest box in the cage).

Budgerigars are not popular at present, people think they take too much care and prefer a fish tank these days. (They may be making a small comeback). They are messy and you will need to clean a pair or more out at least once a week; twice is better. This means changing the cage floor paper, loaded with poo, seed husks and other detritus, sweeping the floor under the trays and the bars and disinfecting with a pet-safe disinfectant. Johnson's "Clean and Safe" is fine. Then get the vacuum out and do your carpet! Budgies moult more or less continuously; mine have shed a pillow-full over two years. The down will float all over the flat.

(Sorry, one of the birds in the original story "Ozzie" died. I had bought her thinking she was a male, but they were two girls...she had a succession of strokes before the grand mal that killed her).

Do be sure what sex your birds are. I originally relied on the advice of the pet shop cynic who erroneously sold me two females instead of a pair. The mature males have a blue, smooth “cere” at the base of the beak, female, rougher and brown, but these are often not pronounced when the birds are under one year, so get a guarantee from Mr. Pet Shop, who will then assure himself what sex they are.

My cage has about 12 toys in it! They get bored and will play with their toys as the fancy takes them. I also have cuttle-fish bones, mineral blocks, a variety of natural perches and a small fruit tree branch where they spend most of their time. Note: Fruit Tree! Other trees can be poisonous to them. Some toys have small mirrors, but they also like a large mirror placed close to one side of the cage on a wall and will sing together to their reflections. This may be because they are flocking birds in nature and do well in a large aviary with others of their own (or other) kind.

It is advised to cover the birds at night at a regular time and uncover them at the same time each morning.

Careful! Birds are very susceptible to being made ill and even dying from gasses from household cleaners, such as bleach and even the gasses given off by an overheated Teflon frying pan. Oven cleaner is especially dangerous. Please don't keep them in your kitchen unless it is very large and you are super careful. They are fragile and vulnerable and can even have a heart attack if they get over stressed.

My own experience is they love sunshine and warmth as long as shade is available - they are originally Australian natives after all.

Please keep them out of draughts in chilly UK and the North of the US.

Budgies should be fed as much special budgerigar seed as they need. I change mine weekly and put the residue out for the wild birds. You can carefully blow the husks off and top-up, but that means you gradually accumulate old seed in the pot. I hang a spray of millet - which they love - every couple of days. They also have treats hanging (change regularly) of fruit and seed. My two rarely eat fruit, although I have tried apple, banana etc. They do like fresh green stuff two or three times a week, hung from the top of the cage: dandelion is good, so is mixed salad greens I use the “demand/supply” water containers which hang outside the cage. If you put water inside their house, it gets poo in it. They do like a bath, but I have found the best way is a spray bottle and give them a good soaking a couple of times a month, when it’s warm (NO draughts!)

Budgies will not “speak” if kept in pairs. They say you can teach a single bird to say a few words, such as “Get me a mate, I want some action!” But they do like you to talk to them. I have a rather deep voice, so I have to summon a sort of baby chatter to them. Guys, the sweet talk you use for reluctant virgins will suffice! Sometimes they chirp back and they like your company, even if they can’t tell you.

I keep this pair in a large, “Monterrey” cage by San Diego Products. You can find them online. I find it satisfactory, except I never use the huge feeding bowls they supply in the access ports. I find smaller pots hung on the bars inside by a long, thick perch to be better. Try to locate feeding bowls where there are no perches above them to minimise the poo in food, etc.

That’s about it for the life of Woody and Sparky. Sparky is the traditional green color (all budgies are this color in the wild). Woody is white. You can get exquisite colors these days; they really are the most lovely of little creatures...if only they wouldn’t bloody squawk!

You can easily handle your birds and they rarely bite, but they don’t like it much any more than you would a 200-foot giant wrapping a two-ton hand around you.

I have purposely made this just general info about two years of budgie keeping and what I have learned. You can get breeding, veterinary and specialist information online from several sources.

If I knew two years ago what I know now would I have got them?

On balance, probably not, they are messy, noisy, need constant attention of one sort and another and they tie you down more than a dog or cat (and certainly a fish tank). But if I had a larger place and a garden I would be happy to have these bright, inquisitive and merry little chaps near at hand...now where’s that lottery ticket!?

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Comments 16 comments

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 5 years ago from New York

Very nice hub diogenes, though you sound like you're not too crazy about your birds. I am living with my second cockatiel who sounds a lot like your budgies. Same mess, same screeching, same feeding, etc. Mine, however is alone so he does talk some though not a lot. My previous cockatiel talked more. Good luck with your budgies.


PETER LUMETTA profile image

PETER LUMETTA 5 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

A really interesting observation Bob. I think I will not get a bird as a pet. I've lived with them in the past but was never the primaty person of resposibility for them. They are to, how do you say, LOUD! but I give you credit for the perserverance. A good read though, thanks

Peter


Dragonrain profile image

Dragonrain 5 years ago

Great hub. Growing up my father always had a budgie or two and the whole family really enjoyed them. They can be loud, but other types of birds can be a lot worse. I miss having the birds around now that I'm all grown up and living on my own, but decided to stick with quieter pets for now as I live in an apartment in the city.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Thanks for visit, tillsontitan, Peter and Dragonrain.

I am fond of them, but they tie me down too much and they really do make too much noise at times. As I said, I don't recommend them when you are all on top of one another...Bob


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

I had a cockatiel once named Mork. He loved to take a shower with me. He would sit on the shower rail until I was done, then jump down and play in the water at the bottom of the tub.

He also loved popcorn. He was a fiend for it. I had to shoo him away from the stove whenever I made it or he would have burned off his little feet trying to get to the popcorn.

A cop friend came by one day in uniform with all the buttons and Mork was in love. He was a fickle bird. And because of the problems you mentioned here, I gave the bird to the cop. His wife let the bird out one day and he flew away. I was very sad and still kind of miss Mork to this day.

I've always thought an African Grey would be a great pet. But I'd rather they stay in the wild. I feed the birds now and they hang around my front yard which is much better. I don't get to play with them or feed them popcorn, but they are pretty to watch and I get to collect feathers naturally.

Enjoy your birds, Bob. They sound very happy to have you.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Hi dear: None of us have a perfect life, I'm afraid. Please read tillsontitan's hub about her cockatiel, Trouble. It sounds just like yours. I know how you feel. I gave a dog Jake away in Oz once to a bitch who said she would love him forever. She had him put to sleep after he went for a postman due to being chained. I was so mad I broke all her windows and nearly put my hands round her neck. I have never trusted anyone with a pet of mine since. I also agree with you about leaving birds in the wild, etc., that's where they belong and it's a continual source of sadness for me to see these two in this iron cage Bob


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Keeping pets is a choice between loyal and loving companions or personal freedom. We've decided to forgo any new pets so we can travel for a few years. Then, we'll see.

Great Hub, Bob! My mother had several budgies. I had one who roamed my house freely. He never offered to escape, and lived to a ripe old age.


diogenes 5 years ago

Thank Will happy travelling...Bob


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

I enjoyed this hub and a positive vote up here.

Many years ago I had two budgies called Sion and Sian.

They were true characters

Thanks for sharing and here's to many more to share on here.


diogenes 5 years ago

Hi. It's curious how many commenters had budgies once, but they don't seem to repeat the experiment as one does with furry pets...Bob


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

Bob, I had no Budgies but a large aviary of 28 inch deep by 4ft wide and 5 ft tall with pairs of various finches when I lived in California, quite noisy and messy as you describe but interesting and fun with an iron wood tree limb in the aviary an interesting conversation piece. They got used to me and other frequent visitors and would carry on. When a stranger came they would quiet down to observation until they found no danger and then back to song and flittering about. Easily adopted aviary and all when I moved I chose not to do it again as life was busy with the move and seemingly endless construction in the new place and haven't given much thought to them until now. I doubt I'd do it again but did enjoy them with my lifestyle then.

You presented a well thought out and presented article that seems useful to anyone considering an aviary. Thanks, Dusty


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 4 years ago from London, UK

No need to look for the lottery ticket; I've got it. Thank you for such an interesting and comprehensive hub. I enjoyed reading it but I won't tempted to get some. Mr sister-in-law had some and they are veyr messy.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Thanks for thoughtful comment, Dusty. The main objection I have is they tie you down so much. I suppose they would make out if I left them for days on end, but I can't bring myself to do that. If you must have pets, they have to get top treatment. I like the idea of the aviary...Bob


diogenes 4 years ago

Yes, Hanna, messy is the word, nearly as messy as I am! Where are we going if you win? Bob


Susan S Spencer profile image

Susan S Spencer 4 years ago from UK

Voted up and tweeted. Loved this hub Bob. I've got 3 cockatiels, one I hand reared from an egg. (Rosie - who is actually a male - my mistake) She is quite a character, and greets me every morning with "Hello Gorgeous!" and "Come on Charley Farley!" She also sings quite beautifully, and incessantly. (!) Your hub was very interesting as I was thinking about getting an aviary for my 'tiels and some budgies. S.


diogenes 4 years ago

HI Susan...do they lay eggs? Just like hens? Well, who would have known!

Yes, my dream is to see these two in a bigger home, but we're stuck in the flat for the moment...Bob

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