Whether you call him a parakeet, a budgerigar or a budgie, this colorful little bird makes a fun pet. Parakeets aren't hard to care for, but do require some basic knowledge to keep them healthy and active. Take good care of your budgie and he can entertain you for years.
Your parakeet lives in a cage. Choose the cage based on what's best for the bird, not the one that best fits your decorating scheme. It should be large enough for your bird to fly around. Buy the biggest cage you can put in your space, with an emphasis on wide instead of tall. Avoid using sandpaper perches as these can harm your budgie's feet. Offer perches or branches of different dimensions. Clean the bottom of the cage daily, as well as the food and water dishes.
While you can feed a commercial budgie feed, your bird also likes occasional treats of fresh fruits and veggies. You can even pick dandelions off the lawn and give them to your budgie, as long as they weren't treated with pesticides. Avoid feeding potatoes, beans, avocado or citrus, as they can harm your budgie buddy. Your bird needs water available at all times. He also should have access to a cuttlebone, which provides calcium and chewing pleasure, along with a mineral block.
Budgies like to keep clean, so offer your bird regular bathing opportunities. Put a shallow bowl of warm water in the cage a few times a week so he can wash himself. You also can spritz him with water in between baths to help keep his feathers bright.
Budgies love toys! Since they also destroy toys fairly quickly, you can provide your beloved bird with lots of new, inexpensive items to keep him occupied. Of course, your bird needs a mirror to admire his beautiful face. He loves shiny things and stuff that makes noise, so bells fill the bill on both counts. Clean his toys regularly.
Parakeets are social birds who enjoy companionship. That's why it's a good idea to get at least two parakeets. They have each other and you have twice the fun. You can have more than two birds in a large enough cage, but introduce only one budgie at a time.
Free as a Bird
Let your budgie out of the cage periodically to fly. Of course, you have to make sure all the windows, door and any other escape routes are closed, and any cats are safely out of the room. Since birds may fly into mirrors or windows, close the curtains and take down the mirror or cover it.
Parakeets are sensitive to drafts, so keep the cage out of the way of any windows or doors that cause temperature fluctuation. Be careful when turning on the air-conditioning. Don't go overboard on the first hot day of the year. Let your budgie acclimate to the air-conditioning temperature over several days, even if it's a little warmer than you'd like.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.