Weird and wonderful facts from the world of budgies
- According to the Guinness World Book of Records the British budgie population reached its peak in 1959 when there were thought to be 5,250,000 pet budgies in the UK.
- Breeders have tried to produce jet black and pink varieties of budgie but have so far been unsuccessful. Most breeders consider it genetically impossible to produce a pink budgie. However, it is reported that in 1983 a £1000 prize was claimed from the Budgerigar Information Bureau by Bob Wilson for the first ever pink chicks. However, Bob Wilson went on to be accused of giving the chicks powdered medicine to make them turn pink but he vehemently denied this.
- There is one reporting of a female budgie from Nottingham (owned by June Lowton) sleeping on her back with her feet in the air on the base of her cage! ‘Jenny’ was the first budgie ever reported to have slept in this position. Since then there have been other reports of this unusual behaviour in budgies.
- The oldest budgerigar on record was a female budgie called Charlie who lived to the ripe old age of 29 years and 2 months. She died in London on 20th June 1977.
- The Queen has a flock of liberty (free-flying) budgerigars at Windsor Castle after being given a pair as a present in the 1930s. Liberty budgies usually leave the aviary to fly around during the day and then return to the aviary for the evening. However, hawks prey upon liberty budgies so allowing budgies to free-fly can be dangerous.
- The Guinness World Book of Records reports a young budgie called ‘Joey’ escaping from his cage in 1978 and surviving for five years before returning home. It is thought that he survived in a nearby forest although this is made even more amazing by the fact that Joey was pure white and would not have camouflaged easily.
- The most famous talking budgie was called ‘Sparkie’. Sparkie is reported to have known 531 words, 383 sentences and 8 complete nursery rhymes. Sparkie became famous in 1958 when he was entered by his owner into a BBC budgie talking contest. After this he featured in TV adverts, had a record contract and even his own bank account. Sparkie can still be seen stuffed and mounted at Hancocks Museum in Newcastle.
- The most recent budgie to hit the headlines with its gift for talking is Disco the incredible talking budgie. Disco has learnt over 130 phrases.
Click here to see Disco the incredible talking budgie in action:
- Budgies are usually monogamous and form bonds with each other that last a lifetime. Signs that budgies have bonded include feeding each other regurgitated food and preening each other.
- Budgies are more likely to breed after rainfall. This is because in the wild rain signals the growth of new grass seedlings and the chicks will be able to feed when they hatch.
- The first breeding of budgerigars in captivity is thought to have been by Charles Coxon, who sold his first pair for £25 (approximately £1,000 today). Interestingly, he was the brother-in-law of John Gould who originally imported the first budgies into Britain in 1840.