Thursday 3 March 2016

4. Getting a budgie!

Make sure you are serious about the long term commitment!

Budgies generally live between 5  - 10 years in captivity with some amazing birds living close to 20 years! It is very easy to see birds online that do wonderful things and spontaneously decide that you want to own one yourself. I have to admit, I am a little guilty of this!! Everyone who knows about budgies probably knows about Disco the budgie and his incredible talking, who wouldn't want that? (It's actually quite annoying!)

Once you have decided you genuinely want a budgie and you can provide the time and the finances to care for it/them, you need to find the right bird. 

There are various places you can get a pet bird, rescue centers, breeders, pet shops or maybe even the old couple down the street that don't have time for their little friends any more. I know that sometimes your choices are limited to just a pet shop but wherever you get your new friend from, you can look out for signs that the bird you chose is healthy and happy. 

Choosing a healthy bird

When you go to look for your bird there are some things you should keep an eye out for:
(this is not a full list, but just few pointers)
  • Is the cage clean with clean water and a good seed supply?
  • Are the birds active and chirping?
  • Do the birds look healthy? Clean feet and beak, clear vents etc?
  • Does the bird have smooth clean feathers? (moulting birds can obviously look a little dishevelled but use your initiative)
  • Listen to the bird, it is wheezing?
  • Does he have all his toes?

Where I got my boys

Reggie and Buster came from the same breeder I found on When I started looking for my first bird I knew I wanted to get one from a breeder. Birds from breeders are often sold after being hand reared or hand tamed, and I wanted to make the taming process as easy as possible for myself. I also think that usually there is a higher level of care given to the birds. Many pet shops receive birds in large batches with little knowledge about the conditions the birds have come from or the birds they have been bred from. It is no wonder that buying pet birds from pet shops all over the world has a bad reputation and breeders are usually always advised. Not all breeders are perfect, and not all pet shops are bad - the pet shops have to get their birds from somewhere!
The advert for Reggie stated that he was parent reared and handled daily from a young age. The breeder wrote that he keeps very extensive records from the day the eggs are laid until the day they are sold and that he photographs the babies the day they are born and then every 7 days up to the age of 6 weeks old. For both of my boys I have a cute little fact sheet with their parent’s pictures and the promised weekly photos. Along with what sounded like a great advert from a caring breeder, was the sweetest looking blue and yellow bird perched on the breeders hand with a big smile across his beak. I had to have him even though I was convinced I wanted a yellow and green budgie.
I collected Reggie from the breeder and drove home with him on my front seat, sliding around inside the shoe box (poor little thing!). He was making a few chirps whilst I was telling him about his new Mum and Dad, the neighbours, where we lived (this was the first sign I was becoming a mad bird lady). Despite all the research, when faced with reality I was quite nervous! Luckily my neighbours who have a budgie came to my flat and helped me with the final cage preparations and also helped me get Reggie into his cage.

Reggie in his cage. Please note this was once I had started let him out for flying, as soon as I first got him in the cage I shut the door!

When the time came to get a second budgie [Getting a second budgie] I asked my breeder when he would have some more babies. It was near to Christmas so as much as I was hoping he had some available soon, ideally I wanted soon to be in January. Nope, he had some available the next week. He sent me the photo on the right of Buster and I knew I wanted him. He was a mix of yellow, blue and white, not a rainbow but near enough! I went to get him on the 5th December 2015, this time with a travel cage and a cover. Buster was TINY!! I thought Reggie was a little thing but Buster was so small. 

Buster in his temporary Hamster cage - again, don't leave the door open when you first get them!

I didn’t ask to handle either bird at the breeders. With Reggie I was new to birds so I didn’t really feel confident to ask, and for Buster I just trusted my breeder. I have friends who have chosen their budgie because when they handled them the bird was calm and there was a little spark of a connection. I watched as he checked Buster over one last time, popped him into the travel cage and off we went home. This time I was not scared to grab Buster to get him into his new home, and I felt a lot more confident about the process.
Before getting either bird, I had seen lots of budgies in pet shops, however none of the birds I saw were right. I was a bit picky with the colours (I had an idea of what I wanted), but that's not what put me off. They just all looked a bit off, closely bonded to their cage mates, and usually too old for me. We came very close to getting one spontaneously but I am now so pleased that I didn’t. I know lots of people who have bought a bird from a pet shop and they have turned out to be great little pets so I am not totally advising against it, but it is not the choice I would make when I have other options. I had a work trip to America and I went to a pet shop and the budgies in their were amazing!! All really active and beautiful colours, I could have easily fallen in love with lots of them, but I know birds are cheeky so they could have been hiding all manor of problems that generic staff might not have the time to notice.  

Too frequently pet shop workers sell a male as a female and a female as a male, incorrectly clip the wings, or they cannot give you simple advice like cage sizes etc. This is why you need to do your own research. At the beginning I asked my breeder quite a few questions and he offered plenty of advice and reassurance about both birds, he was approachable and obviously cared for the birds enough to take time to give follow up advice. Breeding birds for him was a passion rather than a living and for me that was reassurance that he was selling me a quality bird. 

I feel like I need to write this at the end of each post......I am not an expert, nor am I belittling anyone's choices! Just make your choices with an informed head and it should all work out well. 

1 comment:

  1. I love reading your blog, i was directed to your Instagram years ago as i got a bird from the same breeder! however my little pebbles had a feather mutation or something and they grow at strange angles, we call her out little special needs bird. I wonder if they're distant cousins haha