BoBo is one of my many pets, and he’s a playful and colorful Melopsittacus undulatus.
You may not be familiar with this name, but I like using it to avoid confusion. So a Melopsittacus undulatus is actually a common pet parakeet or shell parakeet and informally nicknamed budgie. These I’m sure you’ve heard of!
Just look how cute he is.
Allow me to talk some more about these incredible birds.
The budgie is the only parrot with a long tail from the Melopsittacus species. These rainbow birds were first found on the Australian continent where they evolved close to five million years.
“Melopsittacus ” means “singing parrot” in the greek language.
Budgies are nomadic birds found in open habitats primarily in the Australian bushes, forests, and open pastures. They can usually be found in small groups, but can also form large flocks if certain conditions are provided. These birds are very active and they often move around depending on food and water sources. They are survivors.
Budgies like to eat grass seeds, but when held in captivity it’s also recommended to feed them fresh fruits and vegetables, sprouted grains, wholegrain bread and pasta, boiled eggs and other food considered healthy for humans. This mixed and rich diet prevents obesity, because they get much less activity in a cage than in the wild. It’s good to know they may not be able to adapt to certain foods, you’ll have to keep an eye on that. Chocolate and avocado are very toxic to parrots, avoid feeding them that.
Most parrots like to use non-verbal communication, which means they’ll let you know when they’re hungry by making noises and flapping their wings.
Wild budgerigars average 18 cm (7 in) long and weigh 30–40 grams (1.1–1.4 oz). They can have every color known to man: white, red, green, blue, yellow, anything you can think of. There are over eight types of budgies, Alexandrine, Budgerians, Debyan, Estern, Indian Ringneck, Plum-headed, Regent and Quaker. Some have thin black and white stripes on their heads and wings. Growing older, their chests get spots indicative of their aproximate age.
Sexes can be noticed by the color on their beaks. The area containing the nostrils is called cere, and studying its color we can determine sex. When they are young they are difficult to identify because the cere is pink in both sexes, but as adults, female budgies get a brown or white cere while males get a blue cere. Sure enough, different species can get certain shades of brown and blue, but once you get to know these things it’s very easy to tell sex.
Contrary to popular belief parrots are not solitary, and they need a mate. Some parrots even develop depression from being alone and can pull out their feathers as a sign of stress. But problems will definitely arise if you place several females in the same cage. They can get territorial and harm each other badly.
Each parrot has it’s own individual personality, they like certain types of music and certain types of toys, they may like to be played with or prefer not to. You will have to learn all these and avoid forcing the little guy to be something he’s not. You are buying a smart animal, not a plant!
Parrots take care of their own hygiene, cleaning their feathers from dust and parasites. In the wild this would be a necessary activity since it helps their flying. They can also show affection to us or their mate, and they often feed each other seeds or regurgitate in their flockmate’s mouth. Inflating their feathers during sleep is a sign of health and a deep, satisfactory sleep.
The Melopsittacus undulatus is one of the few domesticated parrot species, they’re being bred since 1850 and it’s taken breeders decades to produce an extremely varied range of colors, models and mutations on feathers. Parrots are cheap and budgies are preferred for their small and cute size. Though some species can get expensive depending on their size and rarity.
Budgies are very smart and sociable, capable and willing to interact with humans. A common behavior between all parrot species is chewing on leaves and wood pieces when building their nest. You can keep a parrot busy by providing some thin sprigs for them to chew on.
The way they breed, in small, enclosed nests, makes it easier for us to breed them in captivity. In the wild they make their nests inside hollow trees or logs laying on the ground, and lay four to six eggs.
Male budgies can learn and repeat dozens of words up to a thousand or even more. The famous parrot Puck keeps the world record of knowing 1728 words:
Breeding for parrots is easy. The male will stand on top and very often pull the female by its feathers. All species need a nest if you want them to breed. The female can produce eggs just like a hen, however these will not hatch if not fertilised by a male. Eggs are produced 2-3 every day, except the first batch which is usually succeeded by a two days break.
Incubation takes 20 days and in the beginning the hatchlings are completely helpless and dependent on their mother. They have no feathers and their eyes only open after ten days.
Take a look at some more images that show the diversity budgies can achieve: