Basic Care of Budgerigars
By Andrew Rocuant
Budgerigars are a lot of fun, but require more attention and special care than the more common household pets. This article covers the basics of pet bird care.
I will cover the following topics: Nutrition, Environment, Housing, Activity, General care, and Things to avoid.
As with any pet, the nutritional and quality aspects of the food you provide is extremely important for the well-being of your bird. A quality seed mix is essential, as is fresh vegetables daily. Apple slices, grated carrot, and chopped lettuces are among the favorites of many birds, helping to provide essential nutrition.
Since Budgerigars are native to Australia, it is essential their environment is not overlooked.
A healthy bird will be able to tolerate most temperatures that are comfortable to its owner. Avoid sudden changes in temperature, as this may cause discomfort and even sickness if extreme changes occur.
As with temperature, humidity is not a problem to most birds. A higher humidity can benefit your budgerigar, but is not essential.
-Light & Fresh Air
Fresh air and direct sunlight for at least part of the day is essential to the well-being of your budgerigar. Always be sure to provide ample shade, as excessive sunlight can cause your budgerigar to overheat.
An oversized cage is a must. A large cage provides room for eating and play, which are so essential to a happy, healthy bird. The cage should be made of strong, non-toxic materials, designed for safety and easy cleaning. A cage which is wider than it is tall is best for budgerigars.
“Variety is the spice of life” Variety in types of materials used and perch diameter. Provide various sized perches made of non-toxic woods. Never place perches over food and water dishes, as droppings may contaminate the food or water and cause bacteria to build which could make any bird sick. Also never use harsh sand perches or sandpaper perch covers, as this can lead to foot trouble.
-Food & Water Bowls
Wide bowls that latch to the side of the cage are best for your budgerigar. Deep dishes may cause wasted food as opened seed shells may hide seeds deeper which may never be eaten. Again, never place food or water dishes directly beneath perches to prevent contamination.
Clean both the cage floor and food and water dishes daily to keep tabs on your budgerigar’s health and to prevent bacteria build-up. A deep-clean of the cage, dishes, perches and toys should be done weekly.
To line the bottom of the cage and to assist in the ease of cleaning, old newspaper or paper towels should be used. Never use corn-cob or other pelleted material, as a bird may choke on the small pieces.
Most birds, budgerigars included, need a ‘personal space’ to call their own where they can retreat to, sleep, and otherwise get some privacy. A good way to provide this is to hang or place inside the cage, near a perch, a small paper bag, hand towel or washcloth.
Your budgerigar, like all pet birds, needs to spend supervised time outside the cage. This provides an opportunity to exercise, take baths, play with toys and other forms of birdy entertainment.
Toys are one of those indispensable aspects of your budgerigar’s existence. Providing a variety of toys provides your bird with entertainment, mental stimulation, and an outlet for that never-ending desire to chew. ‘Chewable’ items include wood branches, pine cones, natural ‘bird-safe’ ropes, wood blocks, and acrylic shapes.
Regular care of the beak, nails, feet and feathers is recommended. See your veterinarian for advice.
Things to Avoid
* Sandpaper perch covers.
* NEVER use non-stick cookware near a bird, the fumes travel quite a ways and can kill a bird within minutes.
* Mite sprays or boxes.
* Many houseplants are toxic to birds/parrots, a quick search online will provide ample resources.
* Never leave ceiling fans running while your bird is out of its cage.
* Cats, dogs, open water such as a toilet, sink or aquarium, and young children can also pose a threat.
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