Smart Little Bits of Sunshine
By Lori Scott Pikkaart
A member on a bird Facebook group recently got a new budgerigar (American parakeet) named Robert and asked the group to give their best advice. My mind flew back to my childhood, to the sweet soul that evoked my love for birds, a little green and yellow budgie similarly named Robbie. We bought him at Pampered Pet in Downers Grove, IL and he was the most lively, intelligent pocket-sized parrot one could ever ask for. He was truly a smart little bit of sunshine in our lives.
Because I was an only child, Robbie was kind of like a little brother. We played together all the time. In the mornings, he would open his cage door, fly to my room, and sit by my face until I woke up. He had a little plastic rattle that was his favorite toy, so anywhere we took it, Robbie would follow. I would grab it, shake it, run down the hallway and Robbie would give chase and look for me if I darted into a bedroom. I’d take a couple of chairs and cover them with a blanket to create a little circus tent. Robbie would play the unwitting star, walking across tight rope wires, riding in a little Weeble wagon or lifting a tiny barbell. He was a terrific talker and said many things, most memorable were a “Yeah!” or a laugh at appropriate times. Robbie passed away during my senior year of college at the ripe old age of 15, and I vowed to get another bird after graduation.
The best advice on keeping a budgie as a companion is to be consistent, patient and loving. You’ll need consistency to build trust – doing the same things every day in a predictable way. Patience will help if results come slowly, and love because they will respond to you – more quickly if hand-fed, and eventually, if not. I recommend keeping a single budgie if you want a dedicated friend but keeping more than one works too if you just want avian company without having to give out a lot of attention.
Kristen Morris of the Facebook page and blog, Home Keet Home, says, “Although you can develop a very strong bond with your budgie, the relationship can also be a bit more distant with a larger flock. If you want to spend hours a day with one budgie, that’s great, on the other hand, if you want a flock that maybe keeps to itself more and doesn’t rely on you for its social needs you can do that too. A flock of two or more budgies will likely lean on you a lot less for their entertainment and will probably bond more closely to each other.” This makes budgies versatile as pets – you can keep just one for more meaningful interactions or several for the joy of flock-keeping.
A few fun facts about budgies …
- With 32 primary mutations, they come in just about every color. Wild budgies in Australia are green with yellow heads, but captive birds are often bred to produce a rainbow of colors: blue, yellow, lutino, gray, olive, white, aqua, and my favorite – violet (check out @_akipooh_ on Instagram). There are even “half-siders,” birds that are half green & yellow, half blue & white. Unfortunately, there are no pink or red budgies (but there are pink Bourke’s parakeets).
- Green and yellow/lutino budgies literally glow in UV light. Since all birds can see UV light, budgies in these colors stand out more to potential mates.
- Of all talking parrots, budgies are consistently ranked in the top two among birds with the capacity for the largest vocabularies. Talking budgie @mr.poof is so popular on Instagram that he has his own merchandise.
With their bright colors, playful personalities, and cheerful chirps, our world is even more wonderful because it has budgies in it!
Keep lovin’ your “birbs,”
Birdie mama to Percy, Pippin & Twitter