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Leeds Budgerigar Society


A Pictorial Guide to Keeping Budgies as Pets


Welcome to the wonderful world of the budgie


     Indoor Cages

     Keeping budgies in an aviary

Choosing your budgie

Types of Budgies


Caring for your Budgie

Training and handling

Your Budgies Health


Welcome to the wonderful world of the budgie......

Originating from Australia where they can be found in flocks of thousands, the Budgerigar or as they are more commonly known the ‘budgie’ is a small colourful long-tailed, seed-eating member of the parrot family. They are very sociable birds that are easy to look after and tame.

As pets they can live up to 15 years or so and choosing one, as with most pets, is a long-term commitment. You can keep them in a cage on their own, however as they have a gregarious nature they would much prefer the company of their own species.

They make a friendly, cheerful companion for all age groups and are particularly suited for flats and other situations where it may not be practicable to keep a larger pet such as a cat or dog. If you keep them in a cage indoors, once tamed they will need to have regular daily exercise outside their cage and during the daytime they will be at their most active, roosting and resting once it gets dark.


Budgies can be housed either indoors in a wire cage which usually has a pull out tray in a plastic base which makes cleaning them easier, or they can be kept outdoors in a purpose built aviary.

Indoor Cages

If you chose a cage for indoors it should have both vertical and horizontal bars which will allow the birds to climb, therefore many of the round type cages that can be purchased are not really suitable as they only have vertical bars.

The cage bars should be no wider than 12mm (½”) apart to prevent the budgie getting trapped or escaping.

A wire or plastic bath can be fixed to the outside of the cage or if the budgie prefers it they can be lightly sprayed using a small hand sprayer filled with clean tepid water.

Toys, ladders , mirrors and bells are often put in the cage to keep the birds amused and occupied, particularly if a single bird is kept on its own.

Wherever possible you should allow your budgie out of the cage daily for exercise, remember though before opening the gage door make sure all doors and windows are closed when doing this.

Your budgie will settle down and roost more readily by covering the cage with a lightweight cloth at night.

Do not place the cage in a window where it is subject to full sun as the cage can become very hot and the budgie will suffer from heat exhaustion if there is no shade.

Keeping budgies in an aviary

Although budgies can be kept alone, being of a gregarious nature (they are sociable and like to live in flocks) they prefer the company of their own kind. You can keep them in pairs (males with females) although if you are just keeping a few birds then a number of either sex together should be okay.

For a larger type aviary operated on a colony system (where birds are free to select their own partners) it is usually better to keep more hens than cocks to avoid the cock birds fighting over the hens.

Having budgies in an aviary is more likely to be seen as a hobby or as an ornamental garden feature.

Keeping budgies in an outdoor aviary will imitate to a degree some of the conditions faced in the wild which means as a result of this these aviary birds have more stress than a single or paired caged birds kept indoors and therefore they tend not to live as long.

All other aspects discussed in this article must be adhered to so that your birds are looked after in the best possible way.

If you are interested in breeding your budgies why not read the web article ‘Starting with Budgerigars’ which can be found in the ‘Beginners Corner’ on this site by clicking >>>> here <<<<.


Whichever method you chose to house your budgie they must be kept in a clean environment with the cage cleaned regularly and clean sand sheets placed in the base.

If the outdoor aviary type of accommodation is chosen the base should be able to be cleaned easily and there should be an area for the budgies to shelter and roost which is clean, warm and damp free.

Choosing your budgie

Many people go to a local pet shop and buy their budgie from there or perhaps they prefer to purchase from a local budgie breeder and see the parents and surrounding they were bred and raised in. However you prefer to do it isn’t paramount but it is true that the male budgie will settle down and become tame quicker, so you need to make sure that you know the difference between a male and female (the terms used are, cock for the male bird and hen for the female).

The easiest way to tell the difference is by the colour of the cere (where the nostrils are above the beak), in the cock budgie this will be blue and the hen budgie will show cream or brown in varying depths of these colours.

Cock bird with a blue cere

Hen with a brown/cream cere

If you chose to buy a budgie or number of budgies from a member of a local Society (which are often less expensive than pet shops) they will more often than not have baby birds for sale with closed coded leg rings which will identify the year in which the bird was born. The breeder is also an invaluable source of information regarding the feeding and keeping of the budgie. Also being local they are a good contact in case of any health problem occurring with your budgie and many are recommended to potential owners by others who have purchased a budgie from them.

So you now know what to look for with regarding the difference between a cock bird and hen, but how do you know how old a bird is. The age of a Budgie is quite easy to ascertain if they are wearing closed coded rings

The rings which are very light are made from anodised aluminium or plastic and show the year which is also identifiable by the colour, they have consecutive numbers and the breeders code number.

However, if they have no ring or are wearing split rings which can be fitted to the birds at any age it isn’t that easy.

The Iris ring of a budgies eye is another way of telling how old a bird is because when a budgie has deep black eyes you can estimate that it is approximately four months of age or younger.

When a budgie has a hint of an iris ring you can estimate your budgie to be four to six months old.

If the budgie has a very distinct bright white iris rings which can be seen very easily then you can estimate the birds age to be eight months or older.

Once a budgie has a full white Iris rings you will no longer have to estimate his or her age all you will know is that it is an adult.

A young budgie is also easy to distinguish from an adult because until it has had its first full moult at about thirteen weeks old it is termed as a ‘barhead’ (this term is self explanatory if you note the bars on the young birds head)

It isn’t until after these bars have been moulted that the bird will be in the adult plumage that it will retain throughout its life.

Types of Budgies

Budgies come in various colours and markings including the original Green, Grey Green, Blue, Grey, Yellow Face, Lutino (yellow) and Albino (white) both of these types have red eyes) Pied (variegated), Spangled, Opaline, Cinnamon and combinations and shades of these colours.

Yellow Face Grey

Grey Pied

Grey Green

Light Green



In the wild budgies will eat a very wide range of seeds, grains and plant life.

A good quality budgie seed mix which can be purchased from the pet shop or supermarket will make a good basic diet, but supplements will also be required such as cuttlefish and iodine nibbles which act as vitamin supplements and helps grind the birds’ beak down.

Cuttlefish Bone

Iodine Nibble

An occasional small proportion of millet is fine in a budgies diet.

However, it should not be seen as the main part of the diet as millet is missing some amino acids and essential nutrients and has no vitamin A whatsoever which is an essential vitamin for birds.

Fresh CLEAN drinking water in a clean plastic drinker that fits to the outside of the cage MUST always be available.

Vegetables are a very important part of a healthy nutritious diet for budgies and small pieces of fresh fruit and uncooked vegetables may be given, including; Apple, Apricot, Carrots, Broccoli, Celery, Spinach, Pear, Peppers (Red/green/yellow), Fennel, Cucumber, Peas, Courgette, Radish, Kale.

Having said that you should remember that you don't have to feed your budgie the recommended fruits and vegetables a day for humans, a little is sufficient. Any fruit or vegetables given should be removed from the cage at the end of the day before they start to go brown in the case of fruit and stale for vegetables.

It is important that you don’t give your birds; Chocolate, Avocado, Beans, Croton (house plants), Aubergine (Eggplant), Lettuce, Apple Seeds, Raw Potatoes and Asparagus.


Even the most choosey of birds will become used to vegetables if they are regularly offered fresh and even though most vegetables are tasty and healthy it is important to consider how they have been grown and care should be taken to ensure that any fruit and vegetables offered are not contaminated with pesticide residues.

These toxic substances can cause severe poisonings in pet birds and can even be fatal. So wherever possible you should choose organic vegetables or grow them yourself without using pesticides.

Caring for your Budgie

Budgies are intelligent and inquisitive birds that enjoy being talked to, playing, climbing and being stimulated. As mentioned previously toys are essential to stimulate them both mentally and physically which is of particular importance if you have a bird kept on its own.

An amusing feature of the budgie is that they can be taught to mimic sounds and speech. If you repeat the same word over and over they may pick these words up and start mimicking the words or phrases. If you have a bird on its own it will require you to spend more time and show more affection to it than if you have a pair or group and once tame it should be handled every day.

Training and handling

With time and patience budgies can become very tame but they need to be trained from an early age and preferably by one person only. The first stage of the training is to get the bird comfortable with your hand in the cage leading to you stroking the bird with a stick or pencil while it is inside its cage.

After a couple of days of occasionally doing this you should start to gently stroke the bird on the chest doing this a couple of times daily. You then need to slowly begin to encourage the bird to hop from the perch onto the pencil or stick you are using. This training should be repeated daily whenever you can, realising that this is a gradual process and trust from the bird may take several weeks to build up but usually it works in the end.

Whenever you intend to open the cage door you must ensure that all doors and windows in the room are closed and that people are aware that the bird is out so that they do not enter the room, unwittingly providing an escape route for the bird. You should also ensure that there are no other dangers such as open fires, chimneys, fish tanks without covers etc.

Remember the bird is in your care and you are responsible for its safety.

o pick up your budgie in or out of the cage, with the palm of your hand covering its back and wings your middle and index finger go either side of the bird’s neck being careful as a budgie will bite if it feels stressed.

If you are catching a bird in an aviary a padded rimmed net should be used, never try to catch a bird while it is in mid flight but always wait until it has perched safely.

Your Budgies Health

Although budgies are in the main quite robust the following symptoms need to be checked and if you are worried at all about any other aspect of your budgie’s health, you should seek immediate advice from a vet.

Respiratory problems or abnormal breathing (the tail will be constantly moving up and down);

A discharge from the beak, eyes or nostrils;

The face, head or chest feathers coated with mucus and/or partly digested seed;

Dull, partly closed or swollen eyes;

Growth of abnormal feathers, bleeding feather quills or abnormal and prolonged moult;

Disorientation, falling off the perch;

Abnormal droppings (note that this is usual in hens that are laying or due to lay eggs;

Hunched over perch posture;

Growths, lumps or swellings on the body;

A drooped head, tail or wings for a prolonged time;

Huddled in a corner on the bottom of the cage:

Vomiting and weight loss.

For a healthy life, your budgie needs the following:

A good balanced diet with food and water available at all times ;

Plenty of toys in the cage to keep them amused and occupied;

Water drinkers and feed bowls that are cleaned daily;

The birds nails will need clipping at least once a year and your vet will advise on this;

A bath is preferably made available daily;

Frequent exercise outside the cage to allow them to keep their wing muscles well toned.


You may be interested in purchasing your pet budgie from one of our members and you will find these advertised here >>>> Members Sales <<<<

And if you do everything that is advised you should have a happy contented budgie which will be a companion and friend for many years.