You should buy as big a cage as you can accommodate. The length of the cage is much more important than its height. 90 cm long by 60 cm deep x 60 cm tall would be an ideal size for one or two budgies. It is important that the birds can spread their wings in the cage, and it is easy for you to clean.
Your first decisions are, should I buy a boy or a girl budgie, how old should it be and who should I buy it from. The first part of this question is easy – male or cock birds make much better pets. They are less aggressive and more friendly than female or hen budgerigars and while hens may not be the easiest to learn to speak, many still do and they can also be remarkable companions and characters. The ideal age is about 6 weeks old. Some breeders will tell you they cannot sex their birds at 6 weeks of age, but I would beg to differ. Finally, there are many breeders listed on the Budgerigar Club web site to help you source your new pet.
People sometimes ask, should I buy one or two birds. If you buy two, they will keep each other company but will be less inclined to talk. As for the sex of these birds – two boys are best. However, a single bird on its own, so long as it has people for company, will be just fine.
Budgerigars do need exercise just like any other pet and so it’s important to make exercise an integral part of your budgie’s lifestyle. After about four to six weeks, you can allow supervised flight. Just remember to keep all windows and doors closed and any ceiling fans turned off. And of course, there should be no other pets around. Look out for open fireplaces.
Rather than trying to get your budgie to perch on your finger by moving your hand in the cage, just put your hand inside the cage and hold it still. Before you do this. please always ensure that all windows, doors and any other potential “escape routes” are closed. Budgerigars are very inquisitive and will soon come and investigate your hand. Some birds will respond very quickly, others take a little longer and after a few days the bird will become familiar with your hand and will soon be perching on it. Once you have your bird’s confidence taming will progress very quickly.
A budgie may bite if scared or as a warning, so keep calm when handling it. Don’t worry about getting bitten as their bites rarely draw blood. Name your budgie and say its name often, especially when you feed it, so that it gets used to its new name. Just talk in a gentle and calm voice. Never pull away abruptly or overreact as the budgie will think it’s a game. If handling or holding your bird, then try not to hold it too tightly which can cause distress or harm the bird.
The bottom of the cage should be lined with disposable paper such as newspaper or paper towel and changed daily.
Budgerigars will regurgitate seed and may attempt to feed their toys. This is a totally natural behaviour.
Once a budgerigar is a few weeks old, you will be able to tell the sex of the bird by looking at its cere (the nostril area). For most varieties, a hen’s is brown, and a cock’s is blue.
If you have more than one budgerigar, they have a choice of which language to learn and they will both choose to talk fluent budgie. With a single budgie you stand a much-improved chance of a talking budgie. Before teaching your bird to talk he should be finger tame.
Get the budgie used to you – he/she will not talk if scared of you. The tamer your budgie is, the greater the chance of success. While you’re teaching your budgie, remain calm and talk in a quiet controlled voice. Don’t shout or wave your hands.
Start with short statements each including his name – “good morning Bobby” or “how is my little Bobby doing today?” or “I love you Bobby”. Your bird will see a pattern there. Say the word more slowly, “Bob-eee” and repeat that a few times. Your budgie will realise that this is an important word in your communication and will want to repeat it.
Keep sentences simple – once your budgie can say a word or two, you can start with simple sentences. Who’s a pretty boy etc.