Caring for a Budgerigar

Budgerigars make colorful and cheerful pets and many people living in flats and single rooms who cannot have a dog or cat rely upon them for companionship.

When choosing a bird it is helpful to have some idea of its age.

When first hatched a baby bird has a dark beak. This gradually becomes yellow, until at 6 weeks a small dark spot at the tip of the beak is all that remains.

The young bird also has dark stripes on the forehead, which tend to disappear at 6 weeks when the adult colors of greens, yellow or white dominate.

After the first molt, between 6 and 12 weeks, dark spots appear in the light-colored feathers in front of the neck.

A cage should be selected that allows the bird to exercise freely and to spread its wings. Hopping from perch to perch not only exercises the bird but helps to keep the claws from overgrowing and becoming misshapen.

Do not so clutter the cage with ornaments and mirrors that the bird cannot fly from perch to perch without striking its wings.

It is wise to place some material at the bottom of the cage that can be readily removed when cleaning. Clean seed and water containers are essential for the well-being of the bird.

Most budgerigars are fed almost exclusively on packaged seed. While the seeds in these mixtures are usually of high quality, they do not supply the full range of essential nutrients required. It is preferable to offer the bird a variety of food to make sure that no deficiency may occur.

Unfortunately, as feeding habits are largely acquired from the bird’s parents, patience is often required in introducing an unfamiliar food to a young bird.

Green foods supply Vitamins A and C, and most birds will readily try such greens as dandelion, chickweed, spinach, lettuce and parsley. Ripe fruits such as apples, tomatoes, banana, oranges and grapes also provide these vitamins.

Vitamin D is not found in any quantity in seeds, and it is therefore worthwhile to try to introduce some hard-boiled egg into the diet.

If the bird refuses to try any of these common foodstuffs it is advisable to add a water-soluble vitamin supplement to the drinking water.

Access to a range of minerals is important for the continued good health of the budgerigar.

The normal seed diet contains most minerals but access to a fresh branch or twig of a softwood tree, such as apple or cherry, will ensure an adequate level of some of the minerals which tend not to be in sufficient quantity in the seed diet.

Calcium can be supplied in cuttlefish or ground sea-shells. Sand and grit mixtures should not be spread on the floor of the cage, where it becomes contaminated, but hung in a seed up on the side of the cage.

Iodine deficiency can produce thyroid disorders in birds and these can be avoided by adding one drop of an iodine solution to the drinking water once a week.

Most birds appreciate being in the sunlight for at least part of the day. In summer time overheating is possible, which can be fatal. Make sure that at least a portion of the cage is shaded.

Birds living inside can suffer if they are continuously exposed to light, day and night. Be sure to cover the bird at night if it shares the room.

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