Tuesday 25 April 2017


Image result for youtube

This is a very short post just to say that I have made a YouTube Channel with a unique and catchy title - Reggie the budgie  :P

I've been asked so many times if we were going to make one and I didn't for several reasons, but mainly because I simply couldn't be bothered. It takes quite a bit of effort to run the Instagram page, and writing this blog doesn't get as much attention as I want, so I didn't want to make something that needed lots of dedication. Knowing me though, I will throw myself right into it and be making documentaries in no time at all! (I won't really)

However, I had a brain wave! I like posting our old videos of the boys when they were younger, and when Reggie used to talk, but it takes so bloody long to scroll back through Instagram to see them that reposting them is a bit of a mission (If anyone from Instagram ever reads this - please make a skip button, or a 'jump to first post' button!). Also, there are only so many throwback posts I can do on a Thursday, and we have lots of old vids.

So, that's all I need to say really. I am going to go through my hard drive and attempt to compile some videos using the hundreds of little clips I have and post them on to YouTube so they are easily accessible. I will of course post current videos too, mainly the longer versions of the 1 minutes Instagram videos. Bear will us as it will take a while to get into it but i'll try to pop some videos up frequently. 

I don't want to be a sell out, and I was always adamant I would only have the Instagram page, but I've now found a legitimate reason so use YouTube. I won't be making a Facebook page for the boys though! 

I hope you enjoy the new channel. 


Friday 10 February 2017

15. OSCAR!!

This post is going to cover why I wanted another budgie, why I wanted an English budgie, the differences between English budgies and pet budgies, and how Oscar came to join my flock. 

It's a little over due as I've now had Oscar for 4 months.
Welcome Oscar my beautiful big English boy!! 

Why did I choose a big bird?

If you didn’t already know this - budgies are addictive!! One was fun and interesting and new, then I felt guilty having one on his own. Two was a lot more entertaining, they got on reasonably well, acted silly together and they had each other for company when I was out, but on the flip side, Reggie stopped talking. Then I got the urge for another. I genuinely think this is because I am one of three kids so three to me is the magic number, two makes me uneasy and I always find homes with two kids a bit odd (yes I know it’s weird to think of my birdies as my kids but right now that’s what they are!) Also, I'm crap with hobbies, I move on quickly from one to another. Obviously I can't move on from my boys and cast them aside like my shelves of yarn, so I just get complacent. A new budgie did the trick, and recently a new cage has kept me occupied. What do I do in a few months when I need another change?? 

@thorthebudgie has the
greatest dome!

To make the addition of a third budgie a little less stressful for all involved I wanted an English budgie as they are supposed to be calmer and quieter than their pet counterparts. I had been following and admiring a budgie called Thor on Instagram for a long time. He’s a big cobalt yellow face with an incredible crown. My boys are little and the thought of having a big guy next to them was hilarious - imagine the photos of the three of them! It’s expected that the big birdies are slightly quieter and more docile so I didn’t think adding Oscar would be too troublesome. Obviously birds are all individuals and I could have gotten a really noisy one, but because he was from a show breeder this was less likely because they have these qualities bred into them for showing purposes. Thankfully I can say that I have found this generalisation to be correct and the addition of Oscar has not greatly increased the noise level in the house. He does enjoy having a little sing song but it is at a much quieter volume and the shrieking that the others do isn't copied – thank god! Anyway, more about Oscar will follow later.

Two’s company, three’s a crowd? 

So am I now happy and content with three? Yes I think so.......for now....... I won’t lie, I would LOVE to get another one to even them out a bit, and now that I have a great new big cage there is more than enough space for a fourth. I think getting a fourth would calm Reggie down a bit and take away his infatuation with Oscar, but then again it could cause even more issues! However, three was a push and I’m pretty sure my boyfriend would genuinely leave me if I got another. One day I really want to breed budgies (I’d love to be able to whilst Reggie is still of age) but my flock won’t be increasing again anytime soon. I would also very much like to rescue injured and disabled budgies in the future as there are many budgies with issues such as French moult that need special homes and I know that I would do a great job housing them, but this will all have to wait.

Different types of budgies:

I’ll talk more about Oscar and the boys later, but first let’s go back a little bit and look at English budgies and what they are all about. Where did they come from? Why are they so different? Are they a different species? Why are they called English? Where are his eyes, is he blind? Sooo many questions that I get asked by people who seem a little confused about the difference between Reggie, Buster and Oscar. 

The name:

English, Show or Exhibition budgies are all the same thing and you could use either name to describe Oscar.
Pet, Wild type, American or Australian budgies are all the same thing and you could use either name to describe Reggie and Buster. 

Why are there two types?

All budgies belong to the species Melopsittacus undulates, but due to aviculture (bird breeding) we now have a variety of colours, sizes and plumages - is plumages a word? Lol. From what I’ve read, it’s understood that English budgies originate from only about 120 birds that were taken from Australia and bred in captivity. Over time specific characteristics were selectively bred into the birds (bigger body, longer head feathers etc) and people started to show them at bird competitions. Exhibition budgies can be quite a controversial topic as many people don’t believe that the birds should be meddled with so much because often their health has been compromised – its comparable to what humans have done with dogs. It’s all quite scientific but it stems back to the small gene pool (120 birds) that was originally used. I suggest if this topic interests you to go and read more about it online, but just be aware that there is a lot of conflicting information, breeders and judges will justify what they are doing, and others will do anything to slate them.

What do I think? I think there is definitely a limit to what’s acceptable, Oscar is just within the realms of what I think is OK but I still notice the negatives of his size when compared to the little two. He’s big and clumsy and when they all take off he will be the one that crash lands or flies into a wall. I was stood in front of their cage recently and I actually had a gasp knocked out of me when Oscar flew into my back haha. He is also always growing pinnies (new feathers) and that cannot be fun for him – especially now that Reggie is over his new friend and doesn’t groom him (my birds must be the only ones who don’t groom each other, they’re useless! Get a second budgie they said, it will be great company and they can care for each other in ways that you can’t they said, hmmmmm, they were wrong!). He doesn’t have the biggest crown, and it’s not actually as big as I desired, but having now owned him for over 4 months I’m glad about that because I do think he sometimes struggles to see properly – out the side is fine but he’s basically wearing blinkers 24/7.

From my not very extensive research into budgie shows and breeding, it appears that the standards always seem to be shifting and so surely with the creation of sillier budgies the ethical line will keep moving in order to keep the show birds from crossing what is considered unhealthy and cruel? There’s no denying that English budgies have a shorter lifespan. Other problems are flight restrictions, partial blindness by their own feathers, painful pinnies almost constantly growing and they can have issues breeding with the feathers covering the vent etc etc.

What are the key differences between the big English budgies and the little pet budgies? (they’re the names I use)

The silly size difference. This was the day they first met - Reggie wont sit next to
Buster now without being an arse and shooing him off

Weight - English budgies are bigger, bigger bodies, bigger feathers, bigger feet. On Average a pet budgie will weigh 30-40 grams and an English will weigh 50-60 grams. Oscar weighs 53g (5 more than when I got him), Reggie weighs 33g and Buster weighs 36g at their last weigh in (January 2017).

Oscars big old fluffy head
Feathers – English budgies have more feathers. Reggie is such a neat little bird, but then you look at Oscar he’s so scruffy and bedraggled looking. You might question why people think that a better show bird is one that cannot see, but thats the strange world we live in. I just enjoy the extra blobs and the head that moves when they're happy.

Lifespan – I don’t know the exact figures, and it is obviously dependent on many factors, but a pet budgie can feasibly live to 15 years, whereas English budgies commonly don't live that long. When I picked up Oscar I asked what the life span of the birds where and he said 4 years! 4 years! Then he said that he had a bloke to took one of his birds and he lived to 9, so I relaxed a little. Oscar was coming to a well love indoor home with everything he could need, so I have a lot of faith that he will have a long life with me (unless he knocks himself out).

Behaviour – English budgies tend to be calmer and more docile than the little guys. That’s not to say that all English budgies are like that, or that they are all quiet, but I can definitely tell the difference with Oscar. Whilst Buster and Reggie zip about and shout, Oscar will quietly sing to himself sat on a branch. He’s a gentle soul and when he sings it’s very sweet and mellow. That said, this week I have heard him make the strangest croaky shout – I think he is copying Buster who is soooooo annoying! Oscar seems a lot more chilled out than the other two, he doesn't seem to be concerned with anything! Reggie and Buster worry and stress so much in comparison.

Poo - Oscars poo is massive compared to Reggie and Busters, and sloppier. haha. 

Getting Oscar!

Oscar wasn’t exactly what I wanted, I really wanted a baby English budgie who I could cuddle and tame to be close to like Reggie (they’re still not cuddly birds but they can be if you get them young and often enjoy scratches more than pet budgies do). I found only a few for sale in the months I spent looking, and there was a little grey who I really really wanted, but I turned him down because my partner really didn’t want me to get a third. I think the desire got to0 strong, and desperation set in, so when I saw a breeder with some young birds who looked big and stupid I drove north 2 hours and picked him up. I don’t regret Oscar at all, but honestly he isn’t what I wanted and after driving all that way I couldn’t leave empty handed.

The photo I was sent of Oscar

Oscar came from a breeder who bred show birds, so he had all the characteristics I was looking for - big, slightly scruffy and quiet. In the photo I got sent of him, he was a gorgeous purple colour and very handsome. I had been searching high and low for the perfect baby and there just weren’t any available that were babies from regular breeders, and show breeders don’t tend to sell babies as they like to wait to see what they have after the first moult before they get rid of surplus birds. I guess I did just give up and jump into it, but I had been searching a lot and had already turned down the little grey, so my impulsiveness felt right. 

When I arrived at the breeders I was taken out the back to an aviary where all these big birds were running about – my heart sank a little bit. They were in no way neglected, but they weren’t perched beautifully on perches, they seemed wilder than I wanted, and my little Oscar looked a mess scrambling about on the floor lol. I didn’t want to give up so the breeder got him out to see how he reacted to being handled. It got worse - lots of bites as he chomped down on the breeders hand whilst being held and then he flew off and hung onto the side of the cage looking royally pissed off. I tried several times to get him to step on to my finger but each time he flew away in a panic. 

Not going to lie, I was a little dejected, so we put him back and went to check the other aviary. Sadly the babies he had all had French moult (I will one day rescue some FM’s but I didn’t want one now) so it was the birds in the other aviary or nothing. We went back and got Oscar out again, and then got another one out who seemed even wilder than Oscar, so it really was Oscar or nothing. I was back and forth questioning whether to take him home or not, I was feeling really disappointed as I had clearly stated what I wanted from a bird and felt I had been mislead going all that way. I knew before I went that he was about 9 months old and I wasn’t afraid to put in the hard work to tame him, the challenge was actually quite appealing having had 2 hand tame birds before, I knew I would be able to tame him up. However I had explained that I wanted a pet bird to live with my tame pet boys, and these birds were not even remotely tame! 

Image result for happy face!
A pretty close representation of my
face in that moment
I was about to give up and say no but then he put his little foot on my finger!! He was still hanging onto the side of the cage like his life depended on it, but he touched me!!!! This was a major triumph - maybe he would be OK after all?!?! I then managed to slide my finger a little more and he half got on....then flew off again...... BUT I wasn’t about to give up, this was progress and I was going to roll with that! I don’t know how but I ended up with Oscar perched on my finger holding him up in front of my face telling him what a lovely boy he was and asking him if he wanted to come home with me. The breeder was in shock (not because I was being weird talking baby to him - bird people are all weird) because he really didn’t expect that to happen (again another reason why I felt mislead!) – cue smug smile :D So that was that, I chose Oscar, or did he choose me??

Stepping up like a pro when I got him home. 

On the way home I cried. Why?? Hadn't I got what I wanted?? Well yes I had, but I wondered if I had made a massive error doing something my boyfriend was against with a bird who only ticked a few of my requirements. I'd searched for months for that perfect bird and was it only because I had driven for 2 hours that I picked him? I'm pretty sure had the breeder been closer I would have said nope and walked away.That's not really why I cried though, I cried because I felt so terrible taking him from the life he knew, all his friends and family, and putting him in my spare room for the next month all on his own. He was 9 months old, that was a long time to forge strong bonds with other birds and now he'll never see them again, he couldn't even write to them :( What a cruel horrible thing to do!! Budgie friends reminded me that he was going to get a lot of attention from me and my boys, lots of nice food, a warm house, toys to play with etc etc and so I felt a little better....just a little.

Oscars quarantine cage - I tried hard to encourage him to
enjoy being out of it but he was happy to stay in it most of the 
time. I had to tie a shawl around the base of it because he 
decided he enjoyed flinging seeds everywhere - another reason 
I started doubting my decision to get him - more mess!
When we got home I put Oscar in his new cage and then had further panic. He didn’t want to perch! He jumped to the floor and ran about a bit and then sat in the corner – not that’s not right, you are home now you should be perching!! He didn’t eat or drink, and he looked in distress making little calls (was he calling for his friends - omg I'm so cruel!!) THIS IS ALL COMPLETELY NORMAL!! I should have read my own blog to remind myself this was all OK, perfectly normal new home behaviour. When he did get on the perches he looked so uncomfortable and clumsily maneuvered himself around flapping to keep his balance. 

Hunt the budgie - you can see his little head
peaking over the top

I started to get him tamed whilst he was in quarantine in our spare room. He panicked a little if I put my hand in the cage and I did what you are not meant to do – I chased him about the cage till he was on my finger. Don’t do that, it’s not the right thing to do! But anyway, we worked like that for a while. I let him out almost immediately (again don’t do that – do as I say not as I do lol) and I got to see how terrible he was at flying compared to Reggie and Buster. Wow he was like a helicopter! Crashing everywhere haha. I had to become a rescue party almost daily, usually because he was behind the spare bed. He couldn't injure himself getting there, he just couldn't get out. I also didn't want him to land where I couldn't see him as his poo's are HUGE!! He did slowly get better at flying and now he’s in the living room he has improved greatly as long as Reggie lets him land on his own terms. 

The perch of sin!

Something that really surprised/worried me was Oscars love of a specific perch. The bugger started humping it! This was not OK and not what I wanted - I really didn't want to introduce a hormonal boy to my flock to cause issues! Oscar humping = regret!!! I took the perch out and he hasn't humped anything since - phew! I'd love to know if anyone else has had the same problem with the same perch. I bought it from Petco on a trip to America, it's an edible perch so I wonder if it has some sexy smell that made him all frisky. I might put it back in the cage now to see what he does with it - this would probably break Reggie's silly heart to see him loved up haha. (evil laugh!)

I hoped this as a sign of behaviours
to come - I think he was just too
scared to tell me to go away lol

Oscar is now a reasonably tamed, handsome and polite lad, but he has never really to bonded with me - much like Buster. He has gotten used to me being around and handling him and since introducing him to the other two he has maintained a steady level of acceptance of me but we certainly are not friends. I wanted a tame loving show bird, and instead I have a silly independent oaf whose introduction has actually caused more issues than I anticipated. However, I do love him for who he is, and he takes a great photo! 

Next post: Reggie, Buster AND Oscar. 

Thursday 2 June 2016

14. Cages, Toys & Equipment

This is a long post!! 

In this post, and one to follow, I want to tell you about the cages, toys and equipment that I have for the boys and tell you whether I have found them to be worth while or actually just a waste of money. There will be a few bits of advice (which I have read from the professionals) that I think are essential to know and should definitely be followed but mostly I will just write about my own experiences. This is a big topic so I have written in this post about what you should have inside the cage to help keep your bird healthy, entertained and safe. There is a whole lot that can be said about outside the cage time which I will post separately - watch this space! 

I usually only buy items once I have read reviews about them and compared them with other items of the same specifications. This has proved to be very useful, but it makes spontaneous purchases challenging! Please use this post as just another review to compare to what you might read elsewhere. There are many other cages and toys available and you might come across something fantastic that your birdies love (please share!). I think creating a fun cage environment is something quite personal between the owner and the bird and you will come to your own idea about what works well for your bird. I have updated Reggie's cage in the past and he's quite clearly been annoyed about the changes. 

1. First of all you need a cage (or a house as I prefer to call it)

Cage size - depending on where you read it!
Minimum recommended cage for 1 bird = 18 x 18 x 18 inches
Minimum recommended cage for 2 birds = 30 x 18 x 18 inches

Generally you would want to buy a cage that was wide rather than tall. Let you little birds stretch their wings and hop along the cage. You will find a lot of space isn't actually used when you have a tall cage. Birds like to perch and roost at the highest point, so be sure to use the rafters of your cage as well as the middle. 

It's sad how many birds are still being housed in round cages, and its even sader to see how many shops continue to sell them. Only last week was there a discussion on a Facebook page with someone advertising their shop. They said round cages were popular that's why they sell them. This is a terrible attitude and it's why bird owners need to do their own research and not trust these dodgy sales personnel. Pet shops cannot be trusted to sell you what is right, instead they will sell what makes them money, there is often little pride in providing adequate pet care and advise. 

Anyway - why are round cages bad? Several reasons:
1 - They are dangerous! Where the bars meet at the top, they close in and birds have been found hanging with trapped feet. Dead. 
2 - Birds like corners, they provide comfort and allow the bird to perch up high in relative safety. Round cages lack corners. 
3 - They have very little space. Bird cages need length not height. Round cages provide height and no length. They are so deceiving, they look spacious and they absolutely are not. 

Round cages are incredibly outdated, just because they were OK in the 70's, or they are used in countries like China, does not make them OK now. Aviculture has come an awfully long way and for the better. 

Reggie's first cage

Liberta Siam Bird Cage, 52 x 46 x 36cm (20 x 18 x 14 inches)

Image from Amazon.co.uk - Item Liberta Siam bird cage

This cage doesn't quite fit the recommended minimum cage size for 1 budgie, however I found it to be more than adequate for Reggie and had I not gotten Buster I would have happily kept Reggie in it for a while longer. 

The Pros:

The doors: In my opinion, the best thing about the Liberta cages are the doors. There is a main door on a hinge that swings open - as doors tend to do. But it's the door that slides up, within the large door, that is the best feature. When you are hand taming your bird you need to get your hand inside the cage, but you want to prevent the bird from escaping. This little door is the perfect size to put your arm in to train your bird at step up, it also rests comfortably on top of your arm to seal off the exit. I didn't have to worry at all about Reggie flying free before I was ready and it removed that worry whilst I was working with him. 

The feeders: A little door slides up so you can take the feeders out without opening the main door and putting your hand inside. When training your bird you still need to give them seed and fresh water daily and these feeders allow you to do this without disturbing him too much. 

The tray: The slide out tray at the bottom was well designed and came out easily. Not too sure what more can be said about this as it all worked OK. Most cages come with a slide out cage as standard, if the cage you desire does not then I would recommend reconsidering it as they really are helpful to keep the cage floor clean. 

The Cons:

Erm.....OK this is hard to write any cons!!

The size: I've already noted that the size of this cage is not the recommended size for one budgie, and whilst I do think the bigger the better, this cage was absolutely fine for Reggie. Especially as a little baby who didn't actually do a lot, the room was fine. He was allowed out of cage time every day for about 6 hours so I was not worried. I also know a few budgies that live in little cages and are actually much much happier that being in a large cage. So size isn't a con lol.

The perches: I am totally clutching at straws here, the perches are wooden doweling rods. They fit, they're secure, they're wood. Whilst they're not natural wooden perches with varying widths and textures, they're still a hell of a lot better than some of the plastic perches that are sold with cages. The boys current cage came with plastic and rubber perches which were immediately removed! 

Buster's first cage
Savic Cambridge Hamster cage 59 x 36 x 43cm (23 x 14 x 17 Inches)

I've confused you haven't I? 
Buster, in theory, was only ever going to need his own cage for a few months. We had a hamster cage going spare (RIP Natasha lol) and with a little customization I was able to convert it into a suitable budgie quarantine cage. 

I took out the platforms and ladders so it was just a cage. I then added one of the doweling perches from Reggie's cage, a swing, wooden branch swing, a ladder and a landing platform. I had to buy food and water bowls to hang from the side. The end result was actually pretty good! It worked really well as a budgie cage as it was long and had room for lots of toys and movement. Look how little he is in the photo! Had they not got along I actually would have been happy keeping Buster in this cage. 

Disabled budgies: There are many budgies that are disabled and cannot fly very well or at all. You might see budgies being sold as 'runners' - they actually have French Moult and the people selling them are really bad doing this without explaining what it is. Anyway, that's a topic for another post! My point is that disabled budgies need more length than height and rodent cages are very good places to house them as they can reach the floor. 

When the boys moved in together

Reggie & Buster's bachelor pad!
Ferplast Canto Cage with divider 71 x 38 x 61cm (28 x 15 x 24 Inches)

Image from Zooplus - Ferplast Canto Cage

I wanted the boys to have a slow introduction to each other, for various reasons, but mainly to ensure that they were happily getting along before they lived permanently together. Also, because I wanted to ensure that Reggie and I remained bonded to each other -  you can read about introducing new budgies here.
Anyway, so I researched cages with dividers and there wasn't actually a lot of choice. Thankfully this cage offered everything that I wanted. 

The Pros:

The divider: The divider allowed the boys to be in close to each other during the day and night, but not so close that they could fight. You simply slot it into the groove at the top and slide it down to the bottom. Easy peasy. 

Buster is a very domineering little boy and Reggie is very peaceful and relenting. I am pleased I got this cage because it allowed Reggie to have his own bed at night, his own food bowl, and a little bit of space as he had been used to. Not all budgies would need this, but he seemed quite keen on his own ladder for bedtime and would get a bit angry if Buster was on it. Now that the boys are best buddies the divider is never needed, but should I get a third I would happily split Reggie & B from the new one. 

The size: The size is great! Now the divider is out I can fit so much inside the cage for them to play on, but even as 2 separate cages they were adequate sizes. It fits on top of our 'pet' table perfectly and gives them lots of room without dominating our living room. 

The Feeders: They are fun little swivel trays that you turn around to remove. They're sturdy and hold a good amount. The birds did need to get used to sticking their whole head inside but that didn't take long. You must ensure the clips are secure or the birds know to swivel them and we found Reggie and Buster had gotten out one day (at our friends house!! They were climbing all over poor Stanley the budgie's cage!)

The tray: It's a tray, it works. 

The Cons:

The doors: This is a personal con, that probably isn't an issue for lots of people. As I said with the first cage, the doors were really helpful with taming as there was a lovely big swing door and a little latch door to get your hand through. This cage has 2 small doors at the sides, and 2 classic cage doors at the front. For me, they're nowhere near as good as the big swing doors and I genuinely think they hinder getting the boys back home (I say boys, I mean Reggie) as they act more like a trap door than a big glorious entrance to their castle. I am positive that if the cage had bigger doors they would fly in and out of it more often and feel less trapped. Maybe I am wrong. I wouldn't say this was a reason not to buy the cage though, it's just my feeling. 

I genuinely don't have any issues with this cage, its provided the exact home I wanted for the boys, and now they are living in it without the divider I have been able to make the most of the space and put lots of fun things in it. 

There are many many other cages available out there and there are lots that I considered. The cage is just a shell, it is what you put in it that makes it a home. As long as the outside is secure and safe, big enough, clean, made of good bird safe materials and you are happy with the look of it inside your home, you can't go too wrong.  

2. What to put inside the cage - the essentials

I won't go into too much detail about each one, but the key items to have inside the cage are:
  • Food and water dish/dispenser - there are lots of varieties available, most cages come with them but you can upgrade if desired. It is best to have a food bowl per budgie to avoid fighting. Reggie and Buster have one each however Buster the little bully just goes to the one Reggie is at and shoo's him away.
  • Cuttlebone - a source of calcium when the budgie needs it, also something to chew on.
  • Mineral block - an alternative source of calcium. You might find that your budgies don't touch the mineral block or cuttlebone, that's OK. just leave it in there and if they want it they have it. Ensure they're not in unreachable positions obviously.

  • Perches - big, small, flat, twisted, long, short. All sorts! The key thing about perches is to offer variety. As I mentioned above, I removed the wooden doweling perches from Reggie's cage and replaced them with a variety of others. They are not bad perches, I did actually keep one as the main perch, and they are at least wooden, but a cage full of doweling perches offers no variety with size or texture. As well as being something to stand on, perches help to keep the birds healthy; claw length is maintained, beaks are kept smooth and sharp, and they also act as exercise machines. As the bird has to adjust its balance and footing for each different location his little muscles are working to keep him sturdy. Imagine jumping from a wall, to the floor, to a railing, your legs and feet are working different muscles on each one to keep you on it. If all of the perches are the same size then the same bits of the birds feet are touching the perch at all times, which can lead to sores or bumble foot.

    Bumble foot/sores
    Photo from http://www.officialbarrieshuttbudgerigars.com/

The best material to use is wood. Ideally you want to have natural wooden perches, you can get these from a pet shop, or you can make your own. I have pet shop perches in the cage, and I have a play stand that is made out of Beech Tree branches which I collected from a forest. Please read here for a list of safe and harmful wood for budgies and be sure you know how to identify the wood you collect. Wooden perches don't have to be stationary boring perches, I have colorful wooden ladders, wooden swings and a long branch like swing with twigs sticking out the side.

> Rope - these are fun! My boys love their rope perches. They can be twisted into different shapes and they can be put all over the cage in different positions, inside and out. They can really help to make the cage fun and entertaining. I've recently added a long rope perch through the center of the cage and the boys hop on and off it all the time. There does need to be caution, check for loose threads daily as these can either be swallowed and clog up the crop (where budgies keep seeds) or their feet can get caught in them trapping them, but generally I really like them.

> Plastic perches - I do not understand why cages are still sold with plastic perches when they can be sold with doweling perches. The odd plastic perch inside a cage is OK
, but if this is all you have then please provide something different. Plastic perches are one of the key causes of bumble foot, a bacterial infection, because they offer no variety or encouragement movement around the cage. 

Sandpaper perches/covers - these are really not great for your budgies feet and they are not recommended at all. You might read that they are good for keeping the claws trim, maybe they are, but imagine what they are also doing to the soles of the feet. Varietyis key, and mixed sizes and textures of wooden perches do every thing you need. 

  • Cage floor lining - You will probably read that you need to use sandpaper lining. Incorrect. This is a waste of money and I bought into it at the beginning too. Now I use newspaper which lots of people don't recommend as it has the print on it, but the boys really don't go down on the floor of their cage often so this isn't something that worries me. If you have birds that do forage at the bottom then I would use brown packaging paper, paper towels, plain paper, whatever you have that is disposable. It is purely to help you maintain the hygiene of the cage.
  • Cage cover - used to put over the cage at night time. It is a piece of breathable clean material which you place over the top of the cage and it blocks out the light. You can buy fitted ones for your specific cage, or you can do as I do and just use a blanket. I have listed them as essential because for us one is, however I know many people do not use one. So why do we? I like that I can put the cover over the birds and there is almost instant peace. This is great for them to settle down at night and prepare for bed (they actually get in their beds when its put over them) and it is FANTASTIC for us as we can shut them up. Budgies make a lot of noise and I am not ashamed to say they are bloody annoying. In the morning you have the control to say 'Good Morning!' here is the light. This keeps them quiet until we decide they can begin their day of shouting, constantly, all the time, budgies are noisy!! It is partly a selfish act having a blanket, however it is my house too! But being serious, for us it is good for them, they get to calm down, and importantly for Reggie, Buster stops being annoying when the cover is on. Covers can also help to control night frights as it blocks out and light or movement from outside the cage. Some birds can get injured quite badly simply by spooking themselves in their cage in the dark and then having a major freak out.
  • Grit - NO! This really isn't needed for budgies. Grit is eaten in the wild by birds to help break up and digest their food. Parrots and parakeets break the husks off their seeds and so they do not need the assistance of grit to do so. In fact, grit can be very dangerous for budgies as it gets trapped in their gizzard. I understand you may read on many websites that grit is needed, I bought it at first because I thought it was, but Reggie and Buster do not have any grit and they are digesting their food perfectly fine. I personally will not give my budgies this, but if you chose to then OK, but I doubt you will ever see your birds eating it.
  • TOYS! Of course we have to talk about toys!
    I'm going to start on a bit of a negative and put some details about the toys you should watch out for, not necessarily avoid - these are not my own opinions, they are what I have read over and over again. What you have to remember is that NO TOYS ARE SAFE, this isn't me exaggerating, this is a fact. Everything has its dangers, naturally, and you need to assess which toys you deem safe enough to allow your bird to play with unsupervised in the cage, and which can be used for out of the cage time where you can keep and eye on them. There are no regulations when it comes to bird toys, therefore anything can be made and sold as one. Just because it is in a pet shop does not mean that it is safe. Check each toy over before you let your bird play with it, keep them clean, and check for damage frequently.


If you check any list of unsafe bird toys, many of yours, and mine will appear on them. Please just use your head. I am writing about what I have read about, but that doesn't mean I follow this advise to the word. I judge each toy according to my own standards. I have links, plastic, metal etc, but I know the dangers each pose. 

> Mirrors - They are not terrible toys but you must be cautious. Budgies are super clever and super stupid at the same time. Whilst your budgie might be able to churn out word after word looking in a mirror, he doesn't realise he is talking to himself, he thinks he is talking to another budgie. This behaviour is dangerous and can lead to many different mental issues, including aggression towards you as an owner. I have never had mirrors in the boys cage, even now they are together as a pair I won't add one. I do not want them to become fixated. This isn't me being selfish, this is to ensure that the mental health of my boys is not compromised. I've witnessed both Reggie and Buster sit and talk to their reflections in the door handle and the leg of the TV stand. They love it and almost go into a trance so it is very reasonable to limit the exposure to mirrors. BUT, I do let them talk to their reflections now and again, and I have recently purchased a disco ball which they love. As with most things, everything in moderation.

> Certain materials can be dangerous for birds. I have already mentioned that you need to check the threads on your rope toys and if there are lose ones cut them back, or dispose of the toy. Dangly synthetic fibers can be swallowed and they can clog up the bird inside.
Metal is generally not advised. This does seem extreme doesn't it seeing as most toys are made of metal, but stainless steel or nickel plated are the advised metal.
Some plastic 'toys' are not toys and they are not safe because if ingested they could be toxic. 

Links, hooks and clasps - just be sure that all of them are done up tightly so that little beaks and claws cannot get trapped. Watch how your bird plays with them, if they have a fascination with sticking their beak in a small chain, take it away. Why not recycle the toy and break it up into something knew, removing the dangerous parts and using the fun bits? I have done this many times.

> Bells
- Birds love bells!! There's no denying that, and I am certainly not telling you to refuse your budgies bells to play with. But just have a think and a check: Jingle bells, the round ones, quite obviously pose a threat to little feet and beaks getting caught in the gaps. The classic bell which has the little dangly bit inside can cause a choking hazard as they are often very loosely attached and budgies seem obsessed with getting their beaks on those bits and becoming ''bell face'' as we call it. 

> Moving parts - Lots of fun toys have lots of bits, and between these lots of bits, heads and feet can get trapped. These three toys are very common, the boys have a similar one to the Ferris wheel. Just be sure to watch how your bird plays with them. If I saw Buster sticking his head through some of it I wouldn't let them play with it unsupervised, it is not worth the risk and they have multiple other toys to play with. 

I am going to finish this post now as I have written LOADS! I haven't covered nearly as much as I would like to so I will write another post which covers play time outside of the cage and what the boys have. They are mega spoilt! This will include their play gyms, purchased and home made, and any other toys which I think are good recommendations. 

Please read this post as food for thought, rather than telling you what you can and can't use for your birds (although I do strongly advise against sandpaper perches!). As I said, I have many toys for the boys that appear on unsafe lists, but then almost every toy has its dangers as they are not regulated. Keep an eye on your birds as they play and inspect their toys. The more variety and fun you can provide the less likely they will probably get fixated on one toy and get into trouble. 

Images: All of the images of toys used in this blog are from www.amazon.co.uk