Newest Review: ... in family activities will provide your bird with plenty of stimuli. Food and Drink Budgies need a balanced diet or bird food, which you ... more
Member Name: thole09
Date: 20/12/09, updated on 20/12/09 (955 review reads)
Advantages: Unique personalities, Wealth of subject material to be uncovered
Disadvantages: Medium to high maintenance costs
A budgie, or Budgerigar, is a common small parrot. They feature flat tails and usually tall, slender bodies. In the wild budgies are generally either white or yellow based in colour, but in captivity have been bred to form desirable mutations. Budgies are widely available and range in cost between £10-30 for a standard aviary bird. Specially hand reared birds will cost significantly more due to the intensive training and care provided in the early stages of the bird's life.
Prior to buying a low cost pet, one must examine the cost of supplies necessary to care for it. The bird cage is often deemed a vital necessity and can be the mostly expensive piece of equipment required by the bird keeper. The old adage "bigger is better" applies well to budgies. They may be small birds but usually live very active and vocal lifestyles. A budgie should always be allowed daily roaming time outside of the cage but this can often be dangerous due to household hazards or other animals. A carefully purchased bird cage can alleviate some of the stress caused by constant confinement. There are many round cages on the market but each sport the same disadvantage in its round design. The item may be aesthetically pleasing and fit in well with home decor, but the bird held within it will not experience the same happiness as in a rectangular cage. This is because birds are, by nature, very low on the food chain and prey for other animals. Cages with a rectangular box design offer four corners which the bird can cower into should they feel afraid or for general peace of mind and self assurance. My budgie frequently spends her day with a toy mirror in the corner of the cage and appears very content with her surroundings. Cages range in price but a basic "starter" cage with food cups and lining sheets can begin around £20. I usually find this price's size only suitable for one budgie, and should the keeper be considering two or more he or she may want to look for larger sizes which can begin around £40. A cage cover may also be on a wishlist of items. A clean blanket or bed sheet could also be found useful in place of a formal cage cover. Cages should be covered nightly to allow a more calming resting atmosphere, and lately the cover has been used to keep my bird warm in our current severe winter weather conditions.
A budgie's cage will also require cleaning periodically. Keepers differ on what should be done and when, but I have been finding that changing the lining paper once a week followed by a paper change and complete clean the next week is suiting my bird. The cleaning process can be a long one depending on the size of the cage and the amount of toys and items held within. I begin by first removing the bird from the cage and allowing her to fly freely around a closed room. All toys and cage fillings are then placed in a plastic tub of hot water and natural washing up liquid. These are left to soak while the cage itself is cleaned. I take my cage which consists of a removable plastic tray, the outer plastic shell and wire cage top into the shower and hose it down with scalding hot water. A mixture of 25 drops colloidal silver per pint of hot water is then prepared within a clean hair mister and used as a surface spray. After allowing the mist to sit on the cage items for 15 minutes, it is once again sprayed with hot water to remove residue and dried throughly with a clean tea towel. The soaking bird cage parts are then throughly rinsed, dried and placed back within the cage. A fresh sheet of paper is laid down at the bottom of the cage and is returned to its rightful owner after filling up the food and water cups. At the moment, colloidal silver is not found in high street shops in the UK and because of this I may be switching over to a brand of "bird safe" disinfectant cleaning sprays. I have seen these range from £2.99-5.00.
Avian nutrition is also an area to dive into a wide scope of knowledge and wisdom. Unfortunately, many bird keepers see the standard white millet mix for 89p as safe to provide as a daily feed for birds. This diet for a bird is equal to daily helpings of cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets and chips for humans. White millet is fatty, oily seed which can be used to maintain the glossiness of feathers nicely, but should not be offered as the sole point of nutrition. Variety should always be provided to birds who will accept it. Raw foods including fruits and vegetables should be given daily but don't be surprised if a bird doesn't take to this food. Neither of my birds have willingly eaten fruits or vegetables and prefer to stick to what they know. Budgies should never be offered avocado, mushroom, apple seeds or dry beans. Each of the foods can be deemed poisonous for birds and may cause extreme intestinal discomfort or death. Dark, leafy greens are generally safe and provide an excellent boost of nutrition to those who will take it. Seed mixes otherwise make up an acceptable dietary base which can be supplemented through the use of over the counter multivitamins and minerals. Vitamins can either be supplemented as on food powder or in water liquid with the same general result being achieved. I prefer using in water supplements due to their ease of delivery and my feed mix being naturally richer in vitamins to begin with.
The mix I provide to my budgie is a 50/50 blend of "supreme" branded seed, which usually contains canary seed, white millet, proso millet, red millet, oats, and green egg biscuit, and EMP. EMP is a brand of soft egg food formulated to promote feather and bodily growth and repair. It is also a rich nutrient source of protein, vitamins and minerals which are often missing in a standard seed mix. This is not an economical solution in comparison to the "cheeseburger style" white millet diet. Each kilogram of this 50/50 blend can range between £5.50-6.00, and I find 1 KG can last for three or four months on one bird. I do attribute it to my bird's fit state of health and have no intention on switching her away from this diet unless suggested under a vet's advice. Regardless of what seed or food the bird keeper wishes to provide, fresh seed and water should be provided daily at minimum. Food cups should be washed in between use as well.
As with most of our animal friends, a trip to the veterinarian will be required at some point. I have not needed to make many trips with my bird but should one become necessary it is a lengthy journey to the other side of my town. For birds, a regulated avian vet should be sought as most standard veterinarians do not have the experience of theoretical knowledge to properly deal with bird ailments. This level of care and expertise does come at a price, however. My most recent trip to the vet due to an upper respiratory infection cost me £130 which included a short course of antibiotics followed by a course of probiotics and in water vitamin supplements. Should a bird keeper suspect his or her budgie is sick, time is of the essence as many fatalities occur during an observation period before being acted upon. Budgies are naturally very intolerant of stress and sickness, and can pass away very quickly under these circumstances when it could have been prevented. Listings of avian veterinarians can be found by doing a quick Google search for "Avian Vet UK".
Another stress budgies typically experience is boredom; they can literally be "bored to death". Many bird keepers combat boredom through the provision of toys and cage fillers which do usually do the job. Toys can range in price depending on what the bird keeper wishes to provide. Most "value" range toys are satisfactory in this instance, and can fill the cage with an assortment of mirrors, ladders, and bells for under £5. A bird cage should also be placed close to where the bird keeper spends most of his or her time. My bird is currently sat on top of my dresser which is about five steps away from where I'm sat at my home computer. The changing of sounds, music, movement and other stimulation can also help with combating boredom. Whenever I leave the room for an extended period of time, such as when I'm going out of the house, I will switch on my radio or leave a playlist of songs which continually loop until my return.
Hygiene seems to be a pressing issue with budgies. Unfortunately for me, both of my budgies hated taking baths and at any point I would put the bath in they would fly in terror from the cage. This often leaves me with the requirement of buying over the counter plume sprays or simply spraying them with the warm watered hair mister used to clean the cage. This is not something I do on a regular basis and wouldn't recommend it more than once a month if budgies are naturally against the thought of bathing.
Budgies are social animals and therefore love to make noise. Most mornings I rise to an onslaught of chirps and yells from my bird who is telling me it's time to get up. Their lively personalities can't be described in modern terms. Like all beings, personalities can be unique to the bearer and these birds bring with them a strong sense of emotional variety. Noisy and upbeat typically describes a healthy budgie but my bird enjoys extended quiet periods without any obvious health concern. Most budgies will typically become quiet during seasonal moulting periods. This is the process by which budgies renew their feathers by "shedding" the old ones. It's important to maintain cleanliness and nutrition during these periods as the process would likely be very stressful to go through. I can't imagine having to renew my skin by losing it on an annual basis.
Owning budgies has been a great experience for me. While they typically don't provide the outward love of a dog or the smothering of a cat, their presence is a joyful one and something which I would recommend to anyone seeking a pet. Ownership is expensive but the expense is recovered in its infinite reward of companionship.
Summary: Thumbs up
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