Why Do Parakeets Have Rings on Their Legs?

Find out your budgie's age from his ID band.
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Your new parakeet may have a little ring around one or both of his legs, placed there by his breeder. Depending on what the rings or miniature bracelets look like, they may contain identifying information about your feathered friend or about his family line.

ID Band

Take a look at your feathered friend's leg ring, also called a leg band, and see if contains writing. If it does, the band is what's known as an ID band. Breeders place the little bands -- made of plastic, aluminum or stainless steel -- on baby budgies while their legs are still pliable and small enough to slip through the bands, at around 9 to 10 days of age. The American Budgerigar Society provides most of these colorful bands to parakeet breeders in the United States. You'll see ABS written on the band if it's the organization that issued the band to your feathered friend's breeder.

What's the Writing?

You're probably wondering what the writing on the band means about your little budgie. Around the band are letters and numbers. One set of these letters refers to the issuing organization for the band itself, such as "ABS." Another identifies the breeder, usually with a three-digit number. A two-digit number identifies your particular bird; it is unique to him, along with a two-letter abbreviation for his state of origin. Some states use a small image -- for instance, California bands have a bear on them -- rather than a two-letter abbreviation. Finally, a two-digit number printed on the band identifies your little one's birth year.

How Old Is That Bird?

Check the ID band for the birth year of your little bird if he'll stay still long enough for you to do so. Having trouble reading some of these numbers with your fidgety feathered friend? Look at the color of the band itself. Usually, the issuing organization changes the color of the bands they distribute to parakeet breeders each year. Consult the website for the organization that issued the band to your birdie's breeder if you're unsure what years certain colors represent. The ABS website lists each year and the color that coordinates to that year so you can determine just how old your budgie really is. If another organization issued the band, it may not change the band colors like the ABS, or have this information on its website. In this case, consult with your breeder or try to identify the year printed on the band itself.

Blank Band

In addition to or instead of an ID band, you might find a colorful but blank band on one of your parakeet's legs. This band is just for your bird's breeder to use to keep track of his family lineage; it is known as a family band. These types of bands are usually made of plastic and aren't closed all the way around. Instead, they are split on one side for easy removal even after your feathered friend reaches adulthood. Unless you're the breeder of your little one, it won't have any meaning to you.

Why the Banding?

Some states require that licensed parakeet breeders place bands on their budgies to keep track of them in case the little ones become infected with a communicable disease. You'll need to keep this band on your bird if you wish to show him professionally; it can help to identify him, too, should he become lost. If the band is irritating your feathered friend's leg, consult with an avian vet to remove it. Don't remove it yourself because this can injure the delicate bird's leg.

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