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Care and Diet for Budgerigars

Care and Diet for Budgerigars

The Correct Care and Diet for Budgerigars

Like all pets, budgies need correct species-appropriate care and a balanced diet to help maintain their health and happiness. A suitable care programme is designed to mimic the natural lifestyle budgies evolved to have in the wild as much as possible.

On the Perch

Budgies need to perch, and the perch’s design is essential to stop the birds from developing foot problems. Many bird cages contain smooth, tube-like perches made from wooden dowelling; these are actually detrimental to your budgie’s health. Also, avoid perches covered in sandpaper. A natural branch is best for budgies; this is what they would have in the wild. The surface is textured to allow them to grip on easily, and they can strip the bark with their beaks, another natural behaviour. Perches should be around 1cm thick with an uneven surface. Choose wood from willow, birch, poplar, alder, or fruit trees like apple. Always ensure that any wood you use is free from chemical preservatives and treatments. Bake the wood for around an hour in the oven; this kills any parasites living under the bark. It’s easy to make two holes at either end to string rope through to make a swinging perch as an added feature. Natural perches should be replaced regularly as they are hard to clean, and the budgie will strip off all the bark.

What is the Importance of a Bird Bath?

Budgies need a bird bath in their cage or aviary to promote feather health. It’s especially important for budgies in centrally heated homes where the air is usually quite dry. Bird baths make a mess, so some people use enclosed baths to contain splashing or gently mist lukewarm water over their budgie.

The Right Diet for Your Budgie

Budgies will select their favourites if you feed them seeds, so the best-recommended food is fresh pellets fed daily, as then you can ensure the bird has a balanced diet.  Budgie pellets are nutritionally balanced and easy to digest, so you don’t need to provide grit in the cage. In the wild, budgies would select wet seeds, so ensuring a supply of clean, fresh water is vital. An alternative to pellets is budgie seeds, a more natural way to feed them and emulate how they would feed in the wild. Seed mixes should contain grass seed, naked oats (oats without the hard husk), hemp seed and niger seed. Mixed seeds or pellets should form the bulk of your budgie’s diet for nutritional balance and optimal health. Fresh greens and fruit can be offered as a treat, either in a dish or wedged through the bars of a cage. Budgies feed several times daily, so food should always be available. However, the seed or pellets must be fresh, and the food tray must be cleaned daily. Budgies love their food, but their feeding behaviour mimics how they eat in the wild. Budgies take a seed or small amount of food into their mouth and then raise their head to stay on alert for predators whilst they remove the husk and move the food around in their mouth before swallowing. The husks drop onto the cage floor, but when the budgies flap their wings, they can be sent into the air and travel some distance out of the cage.  

Always ensure your budgie’s toys are from a reputable manufacturer and designed explicitly for budgies. They will be safe in construction to avoid injury and absent toxic or harmful chemicals. In a smaller cage, change the toys weekly; this offers the bird variety. It also allows you a chance to clean them. Use proprietary cleaning products that are safe for birds. If you are buying any products for your budgie, always make sure you use a reputable seller and that all the products are branded ‘budgie-friendly’ and free from chemicals. Regular check-ups with your vet will confirm that your budgie is in good health and provide an excellent opportunity to discuss any care issues. Budgies don’t have teeth, just like other birds, so the food is swallowed whole once any husk has been removed and sits in the budgie’s crop, a storage point at the top of the bird’s chest. In the wild, budgies will often fill their crops to capacity but in captivity, their feeding patterns are a little different; they tend to browse more as food is readily available all the time. Sole budgies feed differently to pairs or groups of birds. There can be bickering and communication, but this is normal. A male budgie feeding regurgitated seed to a hen bird is part of their natural courtship ritual and nothing to worry about. For this reason, a sole male bird will often regurgitate at their mirror or something else in the cage.

Do Budgies Need Grit?

Modern budgie diets, whether seed or pellet-based, contain very little indigestible material, so budgies, unlike other birds, don’t usually need a supply of grit to help them digest their food. Most budgie seed mixes contain tiny particles of added grit, usually oyster shells, which naturally dissolve in the bird’s gizzard over time. Offering ad-lib insoluble grit may block the budgie’s crop. If you are worried about calcium levels, add a mineral block to the cage.

Budgie Boredom

Captive budgies need lots to do to prevent them from getting bored. Swing perches and rope ladders are ideal in their aviary. Other options are bells, balls, swings, organic chewable wood and spiral ropes. Large aviaries can accommodate a bird playground, which combines many of these.

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