Friday 11 March 2016

11. Getting a second budgie - Making that decision

I'll warn you now - this might be quite a long post! 

Choosing to get a second budgie was a hard/easy decision for me and it caused a lot of deliberation around the subject - I'll explain these mixed emotions later. Following this post I will write about quarantine (please please please read that one, it is VITAL and it could save your birds from serious injury and even death) and about introducing a new budgie - it is not as simple as placing them in the same cage. 

I'm not too sure where to start with this post, so I may as well begin with a disclaimer.....
I am not judging anymore that keeps a budgie on its own! If you feel that you can give your bird enough attention in a given day and he/she is happy then that is your choice. I know many birds that are single budgies and they live happy lives with their devoted owners. I will be writing about why I got a second budgie and how I felt personally about Reggie being a lone bird, which might sound like I am insulting you single bird people. I am not. 

Back to the post! I really hope I can help anyone out there who is deciding to increase the size of their budgie family. I am writing it from the perspective of adding a second, but you can use the same principles when thinking about adding a new budgie to an already established flock. When I decided I wanted to get a second I searched the internet for peoples stories about how it went. I looked on YouTube and chatted to people who had introduced a second, I went on forums and read the stories (of which there were very few), and I asked Instagram for advice. Not all introductions will be as successful as mine so don't read this and think that's the outcome you will get, but add it to the list of positives for why you should get a second. Yours might even go better, Reggie and Buster can wind each other up a lot!

The divider means I can supervise their play times,
but I have positioned their ladders so they can still
get comfort from each other.
Getting a second budgie does have some additional costs that you should think about whilst considering the emotional well being of your current budgie. As I said at the beginning of this post, you must put your new bird into quarantine. In short, this means in a different cage in a different room with no contact with the original bird for a minimum of 30 days. So before your second budgie comes home you need to have a second cage and toys for the new bird to live in. This cage doesn't have to be anything fancy; Buster lived in our old hamster cage that I modified for him. In the unfortunate event your two birds do not get along, you need to consider the possibility of them having to live separately, permanently - do you have the space for this? This might mean you need to then upgrade the quarantine cage to something more suitable for long term living, or like me, get a larger cage that has a divider down the center. (Reggie and Buster do get on, but I don't trust them to live together 24/7)

Why did I want a second? 

Reggie seemed perfectly happy when he lived alone. We had worked super hard at the training and he was very tame and very loving. I would play with him and give him so much attention from the moment I got home from work, and he would happily eat from my hand and sit on my shoulder giving me kisses. He had learnt to talk which was a very good sign that he was enjoying his new flock because he wanted to better communicate with us. 

Doug and Reggie bonding on their
lunch break

How about when we were at work -  who did he talk to then? The radio was on, but there was no one there to give him kisses or talk to him. Apart from an hour at lunch time when Doug came home, Reggie was alone from 9am - 6pm (give or take). I told myself it was OK because when I got home I pilled on the attention and affection, and budgies sleep for 12 hours a day so no problem at all.....right?...... hmmmm, I wasn't convinced. I think I was always going to get Reggie a friend but because I was new to birdies I was a bit dubious about two. Hamsters are solitary animals so I never felt guilty about them being on their own, but I knew budgies were flock animals that lived in big groups. 

I'm going to interrupt myself here and say that again, I am not telling you to get your bird a friend if he/she lives alone. I am explaining my thoughts and if that niggles at you and makes you think differently about keeping your bird alone then wonderful, but if you are happy with your single budgie then I am too - just treat them well and don't leave them locked away with no toys. They are such playful little birds that need stimulus and they are flock animals, so you have become their flock and you must provide them with companionship. 

If you asked me whether I thought you should get a single budgie a friend, I would say yes. But here is why I would never tell you that without first being asked my opinion- when I joined Instagram I was almost immediately confronted with the following: (you might even recognize the second one word for word)

''A budgie buddy would make him happy when you and your boyfriend are out'' 

''Don't you think he feels alone without a budgie friend :) Humans can never replace a real friend :) '' 

Yes, I had thought that, and it was a consideration I thought about daily, but please don't attack me without knowing anything about my situation, anything about my plans for the future, and in some cases I have seen, anything about the birds that already live in the same house! Stop judging people on their snap shot photos! One poor girl got affronted with the question about her bird feeling alone on her first photo, an hour later she posted a photo of her bird with all his other budgie friends. This person was too quick to judge and got it wrong. I saw someone ask an account I follow just this week 'Does your budgie live alone?. I jumped in and answered saying if they looked at the other photos they would see there was another bird in quarantine. I knew for a fact this person was asking this question because they disapprove of single budgie ownership, they've written so in their account bio!! They were asking so that when the owner replied no they could shove their opinion at them. 

Some people, like me, choose to get a second bird after they have tamed the first - as I said, I think this was always my intention I just hadn't fully committed to it at the very beginning. There is nothing wrong with this! I'm going to be living with these birds for hopefully 10+ years and so I want to make sure that I enjoy them, and for me that is being able to interact and play with them. To get the best bond with them I chose to get them separately and work with them alone before they met each other. It's not selfish to want a pet that likes you, love you even, remember the more you give them, the more they give you and then the more you give them back again. It's a harmonious circle of give and take that works to everyone's benefit.

Rant over. Where was I? Oh yeah, so Reggie and I were getting along fantastically and I felt confident that we were bonded tightly enough to now get him a friend. This was exciting but quite unnerving at the same time, we were the best of mates and I had read so much online about people who regretted getting a second budgie because they lost their mate. My thoughts were genuinely all over the place; I loved him to pieces but I wanted him to be as happy as I could allow, I loved how he talked and came to me for kisses, but I wanted him to be happier, I loved how he had learnt some tricks, but I wanted him to be happier. Every excuse I came up with for not wanting to get him a friend was automatically overridden by my desire to get him one. I know when I can't get an idea out of my head because I dream about it and I dreamt so much about budgies in the run up to getting Buster!! (when I first got Reggie, apparently I chirped in my sleep haha) - May 2016 update, now I dream sometimes about green cheek conures are I really want one!! 

Also, baby budgies are so bloody cute!! I wanted one for me too! 

Boy & Boy, Girl & Girl, or a pair?

Once you've decide to get a second budgie, you'll have to decide whether to get a little girl or a little boy. Think about the new dynamics you are creating. I had a gorgeous little boy who was just starting to get frisky with his penguin - I absolutely did not want to introduce him to a cute little lady! I've never been fond of female budgies anyway, despite how hilarious they are. Little madams bossing their boys, and owners, about. This wasn't what I wanted though, girls are generally harder to tame and less likely to form a close bond with the owner and I especially didn't want that disadvantage for a second budgie. (I know lots of lovely girls, but the general consensus is that boys are easier to tame and nicer)

For many though, getting their bird a little boyfriend or girlfriend is what they decide and that's great! Just be aware that this could result in your birds breeding so unless you are certain you want to become a grandparent, you need to make sure you prevent this from happening. Breeding budgies is not something that should be entered into lightly! You have to ensure your birds are in tip top condition, provide the right food and equipment, be knowledgeable about potential problems, and be on standby should you need to take over the rearing. I know lots of people do it, I got my boys from a breeder, but I don't think your average pair of budgies housed in your living room need to make babies. If you do want to tread this path, please read up about breeding budgies; has a fantastic amount of advise about breeding. It also tells you how to prevent your budgies breeding, for example separating the male and female during breeding season, limiting the amount of natural light they receive, and simply taking out anything that could become a nest - coconut toy swings and hammocks are examples of these that you might not have considered. 

I chose to get Reggie a little brother. A pair of boys, usually, get on very well and can live very happily together. Males tend to be the calmer of the sexes and are less territorial than females (If I touch Reggie's bed at night time though, he gets very territorial!) If you already have a female, be wary about getting her a sister. As girls mature they can get very protective of their space and quite feisty so this pairing is not considered harmonious. You could find that it works very well for you and you have two little darlings, but boys are the calmer of the two and work better as a same sex pair. 

Buster was quite a sweety in quarantine
before he met Reggie
I also wanted to get Reggie a younger sibling. The younger the bird the easier they are to tame and so again, to help with the process of working with a second bird, I went with a baby boy. Buster actually turned out to be a lot younger than I expected and he was just shy of 6 weeks old. He was only sold when he was ready and he was surprisingly confident when he came to me. I hoped that getting a young bird would help the imprinting so that whilst I was working with him in quarantine he would bond to me quickly. It kind of worked, we had an OK relationship but once he moved out of quarantine he quickly attached himself to Reggie and made his allegiance quite clear. If you have an older budgie whose been a lone for a while then perhaps a baby could be too much for them, you will need to make this decision based on the personality you see from your bird and work out whether they could handle it. Introductions 

This post is so long, I'm going to break now and work on the posts about quarantine and how to introduce your two birds. I hope you have found this post helpful if you are considering what to do with your single bird. For Reggie and I it has turned out perfectly. Even though I don't trust them enough to live together without the divider yet, they love each others company (unless food and toys are involved then Buster is a little bully!). I feel more relaxed when we have to leave them alone as they've got each other for company and if we have to be out the house all day it's not the end of the world. Reggie still loves me and he flies to my shoulder every time I get home and we have bonding time where he sits with his head under my nose. I know he is doing this because he wants to and not because I am his only option which makes it feel more special. I was worried when they first met, so much so I got a bit of post budgie blues, lol, but Reggie was just so excited to meet Buster and I wasn't as important for a few days. I will talk more about this in a later post!!  

Please read my next post about quarantine. I know I keep harping on about it but I cannot stress enough just how important this is - and useful!

Tired out babies the first evening they met

1 comment:

  1. My new budgie looks like your blue budgie (with same colour cere). The guy at the store said the budgie is a girl, but I think it’s a boy. I wish I could attach a picture. Are both of your budgies males?