Budgerigar Fact File
In its wild form the budgerigar is a small yellow and green parrot. There is a small patch of blue on the cheek and three black dots. The yellow feathers cover the head and wings with black striping on the head and brown and black barring on the wings. On the underside of the wings is a pale yellow bar. The green feathers are on the underside.
Their long pointed tail is colored blue-green. They have a small curved beak. The cere is colored a darker blue-grey in males and pale in the females.
Captive birds have been bred to have a number of different colors including pure white, blue, yellow, olive or grey.
An average budgerigar will measure 18cm (7in) long and weighs 25g (0.88oz). Their wingspan is 30-35cm (12-14in) across.
The budgerigar is a herbivore. They feed on seeds, nuts, fruits and berries. The majority of their diet is seeds from native grasses and herbs. Most of these are eaten from the ground.
They have some ability to survive without water but they are not often found far from this. Drinking usually occurs in the morning and they can consume as much as 5% of their body weight in water each day.
Australia is the native home of the budgerigar. Here they can be found in the arid interior of the country with a wide range which only avoids the coastline and tropical areas in the north.
Introduced populations of the budgerigar exist in the United States with large populations in Florida and Puerto Rico.
Budgerigars make their home in forests, savannas, shrubland, grassland and deserts. They are not often found far from water.
They are highly nomadic with their habitat changing throughout the year based on the location of seeding grasses.
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Breeding takes place in response to rains when conditions are most suitable. If possible they may produce multiple clutches during this breeding event.
A pair of budgerigars will form their nest in a tree cavity or on a branch.
In to the nest a female will deposit a clutch of up to eight eggs which she does most of the incubation of. At birth the young are without feathers and helpless.
They will remain in the nest being cared for by the parents for 35 days.
During most of the year a flock of budgies will include between 3 and 100 birds. After rain this number may grow in to the thousands.
While they are resting a pair of budgies will preen each other.
Most of their activity occurs during the morning so that they can rest during the heat of the day.
Budgerigars remain in contact with one another using a ‘chirrup’ call and show alarm using a ‘zit’ call.
Predators and Threats
Natural predators of the budgerigar include birds of prey such as the peregrine falcon and hobby falcon.
One way they can avoid predators is to fly in erratic patterns which involve twisting and turning along with making lots of noise to confuse the predator.
Introduced predators such as the domestic cat also present a threat.
The budgerigar is among the world’s most popular pet birds. They have been bred in captivity since at least the 1850s.
They have the ability to mimic human speech.
Budgerigars are also known as the ‘shell parrot.’
Their common name comes from a Gamilaraay Aboriginal language name ‘Betcherrygah’ which means ‘good eating.’
Their scientific name ‘Melopsittacus’ is Greek for ‘melodious parrot’ with the second half ‘undulatus’ being Latin for undulating. This is a reference to the scalloped patterns on their wings.
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Copyright. The Animal Facts.
Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK
Morcombe, M., 2003. Field Guide To Australian Birds. Archerfield, Qld.: Steve Parish Pub.
Bush Heritage Australia. 2020. Budgerigars – Bush Heritage Australia. [online] Available at: <https://www.bushheritage.org.au/species/budgerigars> [Accessed 14 November 2020].
Birdlife.org.au. 2020. Budgerigar | Birdlife Australia. [online] Available at: <https://www.birdlife.org.au/bird-profile/budgerigar> [Accessed 14 November 2020].
The Australian Museum. 2020. Budgerigar. [online] Available at: <https://australian.museum/learn/animals/birds/budgerigar/> [Accessed 14 November 2020].
Alice Springs Desert Park. 2020. Budgerigar. [online] Available at: <https://alicespringsdesertpark.com.au/connect-with-nature/animals/animals/budgerigar> [Accessed 14 November 2020].
Parksaustralia.gov.au. 2020. Budgerigar. [online] Available at: <https://parksaustralia.gov.au/uluru/do/birdwatching/budgerigar/> [Accessed 14 November 2020].
Audubon. 2020. Budgerigar. [online] Available at: <https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/budgerigar> [Accessed 14 November 2020].