Sunday, January 30, 2011


Some budgies are capable of things that we never dared to think of. They speak a secret language and see into the future, prepare a secret plan to lock all the cackling visitors that their owner gets into a human-sized cage and they don't need a GPS to find a waterhole in the Australian Outback. But we may have forgotten something important. They can become very, very big if you feed them the wrong seeds...

(this may be a bit too silly to include in my blog, but I couldn't resist :)

They came. They saw. They ate.

"Not as good as millet, but will do."

Nobody knows where they came from. Nobody knows why they're here.
Nobody knows what they want.

"this thing is much too big to be some lost dinosaur."

While Cody the Budgie takes a stroll down Yonge Street in Toronto, John readies his tranquilizer gun. Whoever let it come to this?

This is the story:

When Mrs. Plyers bought her first budgie, she wanted to take good care of it. After all, with her husband gone, and her son's family trying to make their fortunes in the Maritime provinces, she would need a good bird to keep her company.

So when she saw the special "Growth Formula" label on the new brand of bird seed in the pet store, she snatched it up right away and promptly fed it to to her bird, Herbert.

She was only one among the dozens of people who did the same. Day's later, Mrs. Plyers woke up to find the cage destroyed and a three meter high budgie-shaped hole in the wall.

The formula had worked well. Too well. Over three dozen birds had eaten the new formula, and they were now on a destructive rampage through the heart of downtown Toronto. And they were growing. On top of it all, Mrs. Plyer's son, John, had just come home with his family for a visit! Luckily, John happens to look just like Arnold Schwartzeneggar, and his wife, Liz, who resembles Demi Moore, has had over five years of avian veterinary training. Together, they make formidable foes for the big bad birdbrains.

Nobody knows how to stop them.

At first, it is no small feet. The birds have grown three stories tall. There's no trouble finding them, though. The budgies leave a tail of destruction wherever they go. It's up to John and Liz to figure out a way to stop the birds -- before they wipe Toronto off the map!

Update: my fiancé has spotted big budgies in Brussels today! He got the chance to take a few quick pictures before all hell broke loose:

Luckily, all of this didn't happen for real. Personally I think we would live in a better world if it was to be taken over by budgerigars. In the budgie world, there are little to no conflicts and budgie partners stay loyal to each other forever. Thanks to Steven Hanov for creating this movie parody! Find out more on his website.

Also a big thanks to my fiancé, who uploaded the photos with the big budgies in Belgium! Check out his wonderful blog here.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stay out of the kitchen, please!

A budgie in a mini kitchen, cooking pasta. Awesomeness knows no bounds. But when it's your kitchen, you have to be aware of the all the lurking hazards in there, both for you and your budgie. Image (c) the Chief Overseer of Nothing.

Make sure that your budgie's cage is roomy and well supplied with food, grit and water. Don't put the cage in a hot or cold place, and certainly not in the kitchen while you are cooking! Budgies could die of the noxious fumes that are created each time you heat a frying pan that contains a non-stick coating, for example a Tefal pan. It's both harmful for you and your budgies!

In my parent's house, the budgies are inside the veranda next to the kitchen, so we always make sure not to heat up the frying pan too quickly (this is what creates the noxious fumes) and we leave the veranda doors open to let the good air in. You really have to consider doing the same thing if you are keeping budgerigars close to the kitchen.

Also don't forget to close the cage doors while you are cooking, because budgies are very curious - they would also like to know what you are cooking - and champions of escaping!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Export Prohibition / Globetrotter Budgies

Australia has been home to the wild budgerigars for at least five million years. Image (c) Bush Budgies

The home of the budgerigar is in Australia. They were discovered by the money forger Thomas Watling in 1792. Budgerigars were able to live in freedom until 1840, when the first live specimens were caught and exported to England.

The shipping of budgerigars was a very severe ordeal. The birds had little to no chances of survival, because no one knew what kind of food and care budgerigars needed. In fact, very little was known about budgerigars, because no one had ever studied a live specimen. Most of the budgerigars that did survive the whole journey often died shortly afterwards. This nightmare went on for years and the trade with budgerigars rose in such leaps and bounds that the Australian government finally imposed an export prohibition for budgerigars in 1884. This export prohibition is still valid today, although the budgerigar doesn't belong to the list of the threatened species in Australia.

Budgerigars huddled together in cold and rainy Western Europe. Image (c) Alieh S.

The few birds that survived the shipping journey were pampered in every way possible in order to keep them alive and happy (and to encourage them to breed, of course). There is a positive consequence linked to this: it is so easy to breed budgerigars today that no one bothers to catch them in the wild anymore. Just like globetrotters, they have travelled all over the world.

Budgerigars can be found all over the world, although their natural habitat remains in Australia. Image (c) Wikipedia

The first breeding result was based on pure luck. A female budgie had crawled through the small hole of an excavated coconut and gave birth to a nest of baby budgies, right there inside that coconut! By the end of the 19th century, yellow budgies started to appear and in 1910 the first blue budgie attracted many surprised people to an exhibition. Today, there are millions of colour and mutation variations, some of them more extraordinary than the others.

When budgerigars were first imported into the UK, people chose coconuts as nest boxes for budgies, thanks to the first breeding success! Image (c) Barrie's Budgerigars.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Brilliant eyes and beautiful colours

One thing you may not know about is that budgerigars have the ability to see our world in colour, just like humans. They have no trouble registering different colour nuances, so put those old black and white movies away! :)

Other than that, budgerigars can hear you well and feel you even better. Some even say that budgerigars are able to sense the coming of future events. One thing is for sure: they have truly amazing senses.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Can budgerigars and lovebirds live together?

Please take notice of this rule: all bigger parrots should never be kept together with budgerigars. Some of those bigger parrots only think of budgerigars as little pests, because they misunderstand their body language and behaviour. It takes no more than one hit with their beak to kill a budgie.

I sincerely hope that by the time you are reading this blog post, you have NOT tried to put budgerigars together with love birds. These two species don't get along at all and start fighting almost immediately, and the budgies can't possibly win the fight - they get hurt or they die.

Other reasons why you should look out with budgies and lovebirds:
  • Lovebirds are known to be extremely territorial and aggressive, especially during their breeding season. Any poor little budgie who even comes near them will be chewn to pieces.
  • Their beak is their most powerful weapon and the more bulky lovebirds won't hesitate to use it, which would cause deadly wounds to the budgies.
  • Lovebirds can be so nasty that even adult macaws are scared of them.
  • Budgerigars prefer the company of other budgerigars. It's that simple. You should never put their life in danger.

Providing a large aviary would offer your budgies a small chance to escape the lovebirds when they attack. Image (c) Foxlow Snapper on Flickr

While there are always exceptions in the personalities of birds, there are some generalizations that are often true. Not all small birds get along with each other either. There are budgerigars that bully eachother and try to keep others from accessing all the delicious food in the cage. Budgerigars are also known to dominate the more mild-mannered cockatiels. Luckily for the budgies, cockatiels are friendly and get along with pretty much all other small birds. But I repeat: this is NOT the case with lovebirds! They can be aggressive to both bigger and smaller birds.

In case you still want to experiment with putting two incompatible bird species together - despite all warnings - please make sure the following things are done first:
  • provide a very large aviary of minimum 10 squaremeters. This would offer your budgies a small chance to escape the lovebirds when they decide on having the budgies for lunch.
  • Birds that are raised together from the time they are babies can be the exceptions to these horror stories. Several people keep different species together without any incidents. But the birds are in a very large place with plenty of food and water, so there is no real need for competition.
Other posts in this series:
Can budgerigars and canaries live together?
Can budgerigars and cockatiels live together?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Budgerigar Conservation in Australia

In 2000, 20% of Australian birds were listed as threatened. The most contributing factor is the on-going clearing of vegetation for the purpose of both agricultural and urban expansion. On top of this, Australia has to deal with climate change that increases the frequency of heatwaves and changes rainfall patterns.

Urbanisation in Australia always begins with a total clearing of the area. This leads to devastating results for the biodiversity.

Where do budgerigars play a part in this?

Budgerigars in Australia. Map (c)

As you can see, budgerigars are all over Australia. They cannot possibly escape what's happening, though at the moment their wildlife status is still secure. What threatens them most might not be urbanisation, but especially agricultural expansion in combination with climate changes. A more recent article on Australian bird conservation says that many birds that depend on the Australian network of wetlands are getting in trouble. Among those birds are budgerigars, who are often on the move in search for a new waterhole. Any undesirable changes through river regulation, water diversion, land clearing or salinity puts the life of the wetland birds in danger.

Budgerigars drinking at an isolated dam. Photo (c) the state of Australian birds, 2004

There are thousands of budgerigars living in the central part of Australia, where it's very hot. They already have to cope with a severe climate and would do anything for water. You don't need to imagine what happens when there is water shortage, for it has already happened in the past. When they finally find water, budgerigars go insane and all swoop down at the pool at the same time, being so thirsty that they accidently drown each other. A water-hungry venture such as agriculture only increases the risk of this horrible accident.

What can be done?
  • When planning new urban areas or agricultural expansion, large areas of land should be left intact. Wildlife corridors should be included in urban planning.
  • Every individual person can help, because it's also your responsibility. You have to be aware that not only in Australia, but pretty much everywhere in the world it's getting harder each day to maintain bird habitat and biodiversity. Plant and plan your garden so that birds can find their home there, when their other home is destroyed.
To read the latest report on the conservation status of Australian birds, go here (2010, Islands and Birds)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Om Nom Nom

Another picture intermezzo:

Nothing beats a real good and healthy food snack for your feathered friends!

picture (c)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Man and Budgie (video)

In this video, you can see a man relaxing and enjoying the company of his lovely budgie. You can see the friendship between these two :) The video may be a bit long, but it's worth watching!

(Music by Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Victor the Budgie (3)

Victor was a very remarkable budgie, who apparently not just mimiced the words he heard but also understood the meaning of them. He made jokes (mostly when picking fun on his mate Betty) and played with words. According to his owner Reynolds, he started almost every recording with little rhymes. One of his storytelling accomplishments was a twelve part series where he talks about passing from this world and what the afterlife would be like. You can hear this story in his series called "Heavens Gate." It is possibly the most inspiring story ever told by a nonhuman being.

This budgie also seemed to do more than just mere talking. In the next video, Victor predicted his own death. He has also a message for the PETA so they will not think that he was abused in his life.

(if you think you will be scared, don't look at this)

In "Heavens Gate", he also spoke of a volcano in Mt. St. Helens that would devastate the world in the near future, sending ash and causing millions to flee. After that, he says that earthquakes will begin. He says that in the future, budgies will learn to speak and help the world by warning of future disasters.

I am safe in here, uh, huh.
This part convince me God speak to budgie
But he spoke there, like he has known Victor, parts of life
Okay, now tell me what's above life!
You will teach them all for talking budgie contest!
They'll make this world for future, for people around.
Poor Victor doubt Ryan.
Ryan still hope in something but
the beautiful vast don't believe in bible. Yeah.
What's a blue budgie?
Don't we believe we good to help like that?
Ideally what's right? They're too often afraid to!
You all seem to act stupid!
Conduct your life! Work on stuff!
A purge help it. I can arrange it.
Don't put it off!
Be new year, big volcano, not nuts
Erupt ash on mill-ions!
The ash will happen some day
When it comes up you have right to know!
Okay, take a look at... earth
That produce death
Causes earthquakes

This could possibly refer to what happened in 2004. Could he have known this all along?

Many people wonder what is true about this and what is not. Personally, I think that Victor was a very intelligent and talented budgie. I don't know if budgerigars are able to see in the future, but then again, for all I know it could be true. There are many sceptics who think the whole story about Victor is a hoax.

The internet is full of information about this case study. Here are some interesting links:

The Phases of Research

Victor's Audio and Video Archive

The Victor Chronicles

Newspaper articles about Victor:

Talking budgie predicted his own death

Budgie gets religion on death bed

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Attention: all bird lovers!

I recently found a cool website for all people who are not so crazy about cats and dogs, but prefer the presence of our feathered friends :)

Birdorables are the kind of cute and colorful birds you might find in your backyard or when you go birding. Each bird has been cutified in the original Birdorable style:

On their website, they have many beautiful birds from around the world, including perching birds, parrots and parakeets, birds of prey, water birds and more. Check out the Meet the Birds page to see all cute Birdorable birds. You can find lots of fun stuff on Birdorable, including free wallpapers, MySpace graphics, a Blog and many products featuring our cute birds!

Of course, budgerigars have their own page on the website as well! Check it out here ;)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Picture Intermezzo

Before I get on with Victor's story, I would like to share a photo with you. Because sleeping budgies are so adorable!

Photographer: Serghei Starus

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Victor the Budgie (2)

Many people believed Victor was the Einstein of parrots. Back then, the record holder of the "Most Proficient Talking Bird" was an African Grey parrot named Prudle. Victor mastered a vocabulary of at least 800 words, equal to the parrot's vocabulary, but he also seemed to know the meanings of the words.

Reynolds, owner of Victor: "Victor could speak and understand concepts the same as a human and it wasn't until several years after his death, that I began to really understand what he was saying. So you will often hear me asking Victor silly questions in the videos. I guess it was my way of couching him to talk, but little did I know what he was really saying. I would only catch about 5% of what he was saying in real time."

"I would often put myself in his place and ask how would I feel if I was in captivity and I had someone two hundred times bigger than me taking care of me? How would I feel about trusting someone, who was basically my captor. All budgies are born free by nature and part of their natural instinct is to do what they want to do. They do not like to be told what to do. They can become very close to humans, but they have to be treated fairly and with respect. Most importantly when it comes to talking and bonding with people, they can get discouraged very easily. Once they are discouraged you may never have a bonding type relationship that will facilitate them wanting to communicate with you."

Victor had only seen other budgies when he was still a baby. After 3 years, Reynolds got him a mate, Betty (she looks like a clearflight pied type, but I'm not sure). She was his mate for approximately 3 months before he died. During that time, she picked up much of his vocabulary. Her pronounciation is less good because she had a lot of contact with other budgies and spoke their language with them.

In this audio, Victor seems to be aware of the fact that Betty came from a pet store and wanted Reynolds to thank the pet store for her.

"Betty was even progressing faster than Victor, due to the training he gave her. Once he knew that Betty was learning from him, he said he wanted to start a budgie school. He was also proud and called himself her teacher. Victor believed that he had important things to teach people about budgies as well. That is one of the reasons he liked to be recorded. He wanted everyone to hear what he had to say. I believe one of his goals in life was to teach people how special budgies can be."

Victor is giving Betty his school lessons under the kitchen table.

In this audio, Victor is happy because Betty starts talking, which makes him a good teacher.

Information, images and audio (c) Ryan Reynolds

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Victor the Budgie (1)

Victor was, like many budgies, bought at a pet store, at the age of 8 weeks. He lived from 1997 until 2001, and in those years he did the most remarkable things. Things that might send chills down your spine.

Ryan Reynolds awoke one morning on a holiday and looked over at his budgie, Victor, who looked back at Ryan and said, "Pretty Ryan, where's Onie?". It was at this moment when Victor commented on the empty bed beside Ryan normally occupied by his wife, Apollonia, that Ryan began to wonder if Victor was no bird brain.

"A year ago, he started to say things I hadn't taught him, and he was describing things I was doing", Ryan says.

Ryan Reynolds is a Canadian psittalinguist: a person who interpreters the language of the parrot family. His budgie Victor had a vocabulary of over 1,000 words, which he used in context. Basically this means that Victor knew well what he was talking about and not just mimicing human speech or talking gibberish.

Reynolds, founder of the Budgie Research Group, worked long and hard on the deconstruction of Victor's recordings. He later reached out to others with talking budgies, coining his work in the term Psittalinguistics. "A sensitive ear is crucial because budgies talk at a rate of 150-200 words a minute", he says. "It takes a lot of skill and concentration. Budgies have a particular way of pronouncing words. It's like picking up accents."

From left to right: talking budgies Betty (mate to Victor), Toovic, Topper, Amber

"This is going to sound crazy, but they talk about spiritual things: God, the afterlife, a better world for them"
, Reynolds says. Could this reflect the thought of a thousand generations of budgerigars who had to survive the harsch inland conditions of Australia for millions of years? Or is it the thought of budgerigars who are locked up all their life for the entertainment of mankind?

Reynolds says that Victor predicted a "tsunami on the South Bank of Asia" and warned of an upcoming "super volcano". Only a few years later In the weeks before he died, Victor said that God was coming to take him away.

"One thing I have learned is a budgies thinking process is many times faster than ours. By the time we analyze and process one thought, they may have processed several of their own. This is mainly due to their anatomy being so much smaller than ours. Because of this, their brain waves do not have to travel as far, therefore allowing them to process thoughts more quickly. Additionally, because the average life span of a budgie is around ten years, one hour to us would be equal to several hours for them. This is evident in the way Victor talked. He had to make a conscious effort to slow down so he could communicate with people. This also enabled him to learn much faster than we do. Victor began talking at less than one year old and he was only a little more than three when he died. During that time his mind had rose to a level of an adult person. This may seem hard to believe but he proved this in many of his later conversations and recordings."

Victor died several years ago, which makes it impossible for anyone else to study him. This is one of the reasons why some people suspect that Victor's ability was just a hoax set up by Reynolds. Is he just saying all those words to make his owner happy? Or is Reynolds really right about Victor, and many other talking budgies? Do they understand us? Do they somehow have the ability to see into the future? Or do they just feel certain things that we can't feel - like birds that stop singing right before an earthquake is about to take place? What do you think?

Here is already one recording of Victor:

More about this remarkable budgie in the next post.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Budgies and Rain

Before I get to the story of one of the most amazing budgies that ever lived, I'll reveal one of the biggest miracles in Budgie World.

Even though budgies come from one of the driest parts of the world, they love rain. Or maybe it's just because of that!
Rain is their hope, their life and their strength. Without rain, they cannot start a family. Without rain, there would be no budgies.
Their love for rain goes on from generation to generation. Each time it rains, I can hear how my budgies are twittering happily, thanking the rain for coming to them.

That is why you can put your budgies' cage outside in the rain from time to time, but only when the outdoors temperature is warmer than 15°C - after you removed the limestone and food in their cage. You don't need to be afraid that your budgies will get a cold from this, just make sure they're safe outside (don't let them escape and don't let any cats or dogs come close) and get them back inside after 15 minutes. You will see how much your budgies enjoy these "rain showers", they'll be cleaning their feathers excitedly afterwards and be full of life! Also don't forget to put your feathered friends back inside a room without any drafts, so they can dry up quickly without getting cold.

Have fun!

Picture (c) monicanfids on

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Budgies, just the way we know them!

Budgerigars like all kinds of toys and games. They are the world's best air acrobats and love to swing their way through life, driven by curiosity and courage. If you become their friend, they enjoy sitting on your head or your shoulder and love being carried around in the room. They are true explorers, and even though they haven't discovered America, they have discovered big parts of Australia where you wouldn't even survive for one day. You and your feathered friends can have a lot of fun trying out a new game every day. Budgerigars are able to solve easy mathematics exercises, play water polo with grapes, make music with marbles and are sometimes heard in harmony with the church bells on Sunday.

Here are another few descriptions that are also typical for budgerigars:

  • Colourful plumage
  • Curious and alert
  • Sweet and intelligent
  • Loyal to "its" human
  • Enjoy company
  • Love to cuddle with their partner
  • Flock-oriented
  • Can learn to talk
  • Loving, affectionate (budgie mothers)
Feel free to add some to this list ;)

Picture (c)