Saturday, April 30, 2011

Budgie Vision (1)

Vision is the most important sense for budgerigars. Good eyesight is essential for safe flight.

Budgies have got their eyes on the side of their heads, which provides them a wide visual field, useful for detecting predators. Birds that have eyes on the front of their heads, such as owls and eagles, have binocular vision, which is in turn useful for estimating distances while for example hunting.

Images © Wikipedia

While humans have only two eyelids, budgerigars have a third concealed eyelid that is called the nictitating membrane. This thin and transparent "eyelid" sweeps across the eye like a windscreen wiper, acting as a lubricating duct - equivalent to our tear duct. The nictitating membrane also covers the eye and acts as a kind of contact lens in many aquatic birds when they dive underwater. When your budgie is asleep, the lower eyelid rises to cover the eye completely.

If you look hard enough, you will be able to see the nictitating membrane on the picture below. It's quite hard to see in general, as your budgie often moves it with lightning speed. I have seen it in one of my budgies, Wit Zingbeest. Back then, I didn't know why he suddenly covered his eye with a transparent layer. I thought he was tired of me talking to him, but still showing his eye somehow to indicate that he was listening :-)

Image © Birds Online

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Jigsaw puzzles

If you like budgies, you will enjoy these jigsaw puzzles. It's a relaxing thing to do when you find time :)

Jigsaw puzzle of a young budgie drinking at a pool in Donkey Creek from Ardea
Click here to make a puzzle!

You can choose the level of difficulty. You can also upload a picture of your own budgies and make them into jigsaw puzzles that you can share with others. Go to this website:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy Easter!

A little late, but happy Easter everyone! ^_^

Image ©

Monday, April 25, 2011

Budgie Body Language (6)

Are my budgies fighting?

Image ©​

Budgies rarely fight. What you see here, is a clear signal from the male budgie on the right, that he is ready to mate. The female budgie on the other hand, is not ready yet. She doesn't lower her head. Instead, she objects and pulls her head away from him. The male budgie will have to be a little more patient.

Note: if you wish to have baby budgies, you have to get a good nest box. Budgies are among the few birds in Australia that lay their eggs in cavities and hollow tree trunks.

Previous posts in this series:
Body Language of a sleeping budgie
Body Language of a preening budgie (Budgie Body Language 1)
Budgie Body Language (2)
Budgie Body Language (3)

Budgie Body Language (4)  
Budgie Body Language (5)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Norwegian budgie song

My fiancé from Norway happens to know a children's song about a budgie. The song is taught together with a little dance. It goes like this:

Jeg er en liten undulat - flakser med hendene som en liten fugl
som får så dårlig med mat - stryker over magen
for de jeg bor hos, for de jeg bor hos - tegner et hus i luften
er så gjerrig. - viser med liten avstand mellom pekefinger og tommel

De gir meg sild hver eneste dag, - lager bølgebevegelser med ene hånden
men det vil jeg ikke ha. -
Nei, jeg vil heller, ja mye heller -
ha Coca Cola og is. - drikker "Cola" og strekker ut tungen og slikker på en "is"

Now, the translation:

I'm a little budgie - wave your hands up and down like a little bird
Who is so poorly fed - rub your belly
Because those I live with, those I live with - draw a house in the sky
Are so cheap. - create a small distance between index finger and thumb

They give me herring every day - make wavy movements with your hands
But I don't want that -
No, I would rather, much rather -
Have coca cola and ice cream. - pretend to drink "coca cola" and stick out your tongue, as if eating ice cream

* Important note: budgies are not allowed to eat ice cream, herring or drink coca cola! I hope you all know this :-)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Super rare mutation: the Feather Duster budgie

We all know Whipper, but is he the only one of his kind? What actually causes this mutation and what are the consequences for these birds?

Some breeders feel they are going to have a really good show budgie... for it's the English show budgies that produce the feather dusters. The baby comes and after 4 weeks, the feather growing speeds up. Suddenly the number of feathers has doubled again, and they just continue to grow. Image © Space Station Nathan

Some things you may not know about feather duster budgies:
  • It's not a species, but a super rare mutation among budgerigars. It should not be confused with the crested budgie, where the curled feathers are on the crest or the top of the head. 
  • Whipper is definitely not the only one out there - he is known to be the fourth feather duster budgie where the mutation happened by accident.
  • The first case of this mutation was reported in 1966, the budgie in question was a baby of two English show budgies. Apparently they are the only kind of budgies that are able to produce a feather duster bird.
  • The funny appearance of the birds is said to be the result of a mutation in a recessive gene. That means, if both parents carry the "mutation gene" but don't pass it on, they will produce normal-looking babies. It's only when both parents pass it on, that the "mutation gene" will actually be visible in the baby bird.
  • The mutation is sometimes referred to as the " Budgie Down Syndrome", because of the impairment in physical growth and short life span. Most budgies succumb to complementary illnesses before they are even 12 months old.
  • It appears that breeders don't wish to breed for a feather duster - they would rather avoid it since the budgies don't live long enough. If a feather duster occurs, most do not not breed that particular pair again. They actually separate the mother and the father from each other to avoid this from happening!

Whipper is not alone! Meet Munchkin, another Feather Duster budgie:

      •  Feather dusters start out as a normal-looking baby, but this changes as the feathers start to grow. The feathers will continue to grow in curls, without stopping as a normal budgie's feathers stop to grow.
      • Feather duster budgies don't live as long as normal budgies (they only live 2 - 12 months): the reason for the short life seems to be that the bird cannot get enough nourishment to support the constant feather growth as well as to keep the rest of his body alive. Most feather dusters have trouble perching, climbing, preening and flying and can suffer severe muscle wasting (hence the reference to the Down Syndrome). It is said their eyes have a different shape and that they produce a different sound as a normal budgie.
      • Providing a more nourishing diet may extend the life of the budgies*, but unfortunately, they will still be unable to fly or even perch normally. Most feather dusters just sit in their food plate all day long. They have to eat constantly to keep up with their rapid-changing body.
      • The feathers also cover the budgies' face and eyes, which make it impossible for them to see normally and also interferes with eating. That is why some people decide to clip the feathers, especially around the head, so that their budgie can see and eat. This can be a very dangerous job; one of the breeders reports that one of his feather duster budgies died shortly afterwards he had clipped the feathers in the facial area. They also clip the feathers around the vent, so the budgies don't constantly dirty themselves when eliminating (remember, they poop every 15 minutes).
      • Even after they molt, the new feathers grow back the same way as they did before: very long and curly.
      • If it was not for the fact that these birds live extremely short lives, they would probably be quite popular as pets because of their unusual appearance.

      * If you want, you can also read the article on Feather Duster budgies by author and budgerigar breeder Stephen Fowler. You can find it here.

        Wednesday, April 20, 2011

        Opposites do not attract

        Photo ©
        I found an interesting article online about mate choice among budgerigars. After reading this, it became clear that budgies often choose a mate that they can relate to. Just think of when you fall in love with someone, and suddenly he or she tells you about the great concert of last week. It happens to be your favourite band too! You admire the person even more. Having something in common like this, creates a bond. This is exactly the way it goes with budgies - although it's just one factor in the mate choice - they want a mate to share their song with - the song of their life.

        Opposites do not attract

        "Research conducted recently at University of California has revealed that female budgerigars choose a mate whose contact calls closely resemble their own. Males, in turn, also pay more attention to similarly-sounding mates than to females whose calls differ from theirs, grooming them often and defending them vigorously. When paired with such females, male budgerigars also devote substantially more time to the care of their young. This extra care translates into an increased rate of growth and survival for the nestlings."

         We sing the same song
        "It has long been known that male budgerigars imitate the calls of their mates, and that doing so seems to strengthen the bond between the pair. Budgerigars have highly variable contact calls, more so than many other parrots. This may help the pair to maintain contact and to thwart competition within the huge flocks that parakeets typically form. The current research is the first to show that female mate choice is influenced by the initial sound of the male’s contact call, before he has begun to imitate her sounds.
        Although budgerigars breed readily for pet keepers, this information may have important implications for hobbyists and zoos working with rare parrots that do not reproduce reliably in captivity."

        Article information © thatbirdblog/

        Monday, April 18, 2011

        Meanwhile: WWWD

        What would Whipper do?

        ... if someone told him he looked like a feather duster and not like a budgie?
        ... if someone asked his owner if he always has a "bad hair day" ?

        Whipper, who hatched right before Christmas 2003 (if I'm correct), was rejected twice by his parents. Out of mere instinct, his mother decided to take care only of the "normal" babies. His owner Julie Heyward found him sprawled on the ground, picked him up and put him back, only to find him lying on the floor again shortly afterwards.
        Life in the aviary was too cruel for the bizarre-looking budgie, so his owner set him up home indoors in a bright purple cage. A lot of people think he's cute and, in more than one way, special.
        Unfortunately, that charm is failing to impress other birds. None will look at him twice, even when he sings while hanging upside down. He will probably never find a mate who preens his feathers and sits close to him when the sun goes down. Before he started growing the long, curly feathers, he made some noises that were very unlike other budgie noises.

        "He sounds more like a budgie every day, than in the beginning, when he made his own language. We put him next to the big aviary, so he's actually learning to speak like the other budgies. It's quite interesting." says his owner Julie Heyward.

        I think Whipper would eventually find his place among the other budgies, if they give him the chance. It takes some time to get accustomed to him, but keeping him apart wouldn't do him any good. He has his loyal fans from all over the four corners of the Earth, but he needs bird company as well. He can't fly and they are not sure whether he can see or not, but otherwise he acts just like a normal budgie. Most budgies of the feather duster variety (the first one appeared in the fifties in the UK, as a result from showbird breeding) usually sit and do nothing. Whipper on the other hand is just himself and doesn't seem to be bothered by his long feathers at all! Now that is one strong budgie!

        Sunday, April 17, 2011

        New gadget: Yuki says

        The mysterious white budgie that has been flying in and out of my blog, has finally gotten a name.
        As from today, Yuki will be our mascot, appearing in the top right of my blog with a different quote each time you visit the page. The little chatterbox has a lot to say, going from budgie gibberish to true wisdom. Thank you for voting and I hope you like it!

        Also thanks to my fiancé Erlend, for helping me with the html ^_^

        Yuki ("snow" in Japanese) made his first appearance in my post about kitchen hazards.

        Thursday, April 14, 2011

        Picture Intermezzo: resting budgerigars

        Click to view full size.

        Aren't they gorgeous? I love the mix of all the colours, and how relaxed all the budgies look. This beautiful image is © NeslisH Hakkinda on

        Tuesday, April 12, 2011

        How much do all my budgies weigh together?

        Image ©
        Question of the day (asked by Erlend, my fiancé)

        "If you put all your budgies together, how much would they actually weigh?"

        Answer: consider that a grown budgie weighs 40 grams, and that we have about 20 budgies. They would weigh 800 grams together! Imagine how light they are! It's good that my arm weighs more than that, so they can all sit on it together ^_^

        Monday, April 11, 2011

        Top 5 Companion Birds

        In case you want a feathered and singing companion in the house, consider the top 5 popular pet birds to start. These 5 pet bird species are the most popular among bird lovers who are after colorful, entertaining, happy birds that are easy to keep. Some of these birds are also suitable for children.

        5. AFRICAN GREY

        Image ©
        The African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus), also known as the Grey Parrot, is a medium-sized parrot found in the primary and secondary rainforest of West and Central Africa. Experts regard it as one of the most intelligent birds. Their overall gentle nature and their ability to mimic speech have made them popular pets all over the world.

        4. LOVEBIRD

        Image ©Wikipedia
        A Lovebird is one of nine species of the genus Agapornis (Greek: αγάπη agape 'love'; όρνις ornis 'bird'). Their name stems from the parrots' strong, monogamous pair bonding and the long periods in which paired birds will spend sitting together. Although small, they’re intelligent and very fun to watch. They’re not too noisy like other birds, so they’re ideal as pet birds in apartment or small house. Lovebirds are very colorful and they possess the same personality as their larger cousins, the macaws.

        3. FINCH / CANARY

        Image ©
        Image ©Wikipedia
        With most varieties measuring 5 inches or less, finches (Fringillidae) and canaries (Serinus canaria) require less space than most other bird species. These little birds thrive in small flocks, and generally pay little attention to humans. This makes them perfect pets for those who love to watch birds, but would like a pet that requires minimal interaction. A healthy finch or canary can live for up to 10 years.

        2. COCKATIEL*

        Image ©
         The Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus), also known as the Quarrion and the Weiro, is the smallest cockatoo endemic to Australia. They are prized as a household pet and companion parrot throughout the world and are relatively easy to breed. Cockatiels love to imitate all sounds from cat meows to telephone ringing. As a caged bird, cockatiels are second in popularity only to the...

        1. BUDGERIGAR

        Image ©
        The budgerigar makes a wondeful pet for children or those who are new to keeping birds. These hardy little jewels come in an array of beautiful colors, and require less space and maintenance than larger bird species. They are quite intelligent in spite of their small size, and while most are content to whistle and sing, some have been known to learn a more than just a word or two. Average life expectancy is 12 to 14 years.

        * Some sources claim that lovebirds are the rightful owner of the second place. Whether this is true or not, is up for discussion.

        Source: Wikipedia,,

        Sunday, April 10, 2011

        Blue budgies in the wild: a sad story

        From time to time, a blue budgie is born in the wild. So it is possible! And not just blue budgies either; reports during the 18th and 19th century indicate sightings of dark factor, possibly violet factor, opaline and albino budgies.

        How does this happen?

        Image © Alicia Guzmán Moya
        Natural mutations occur just as frequently in the wild as in captivity. Also, there have been reports of escaped budgies in Australia that might have found their way to the wild flocks in and around the Outback. If one of these escaped budgies was a blue budgie, and if he was able to join a flock, he might have had enough time to start a nest with one of the wild budgies.

        Do they survive?

        No, almost never. The life-threatening circumstances and dangers of the wild can't make a new mutation viable, given that budgies with different appearances caused by mutations stand out and completely lose the protection of "blending in" with the rest of the flock.
        They are singled out and killed by predators, as it is easier to keep them in sight.

        No hope for blue budgies

        Some budgies do stand a chance, though. It is not unusual to find opalines, cinnamon- and greywinged budgies in the wild. You will sometimes even find grey green budgies, as they don't seem to stand out like a blue or a pied budgie would. A flock of thousands of green birds with a blue bird in the middle easily catches the eye of predators, and the hawks head straight for them. On top of that, coloured budgies are often killed by other budgies because of the danger they pose to the rest of the flock.

        Image ©
        Let's all pamper our sweet blue budgies today, make them feel at home where they are appreciated! Budgies in the wild have no choice but to reject them, for the sake of survival.

        Thursday, April 7, 2011

        Whipper the Budgie

        There are thousands of possible colour mutations amongst budgies. It's impossible to count all of them. Still, this budgie is a bit different from the others. Meet Whipper the budgie!

        Whipper the Budgie. Image © The Budgie Cage
        He looks cute, but also kind of sad, doesn't he? From the moment of his birth, Whipper was rejected by his mother. He was thrown out of the cage twice, but luckily he was rescued by his owner Julie Hayward, who has been taking personal care of him ever since. His unusual appearance, long curly plumage, and vocalisations, which were caused by a genetic mutation made him famous in its home country New Zealand.

        Whipper's vet declared him a mutant. Instead of the usual straight feathers on a budgie, Whipper has long, soft, curly plumage as you can see clearly on the picture above.
        A young girl who used to take care of Whipper claims that "it's so cute how he's got really fluffy, curly bits…". Not only does Whippers plumage set him apart from other budgies, but his owner also states that "he doesn't make the same sound as a budgie." But it's really sweet, you can check it out in the video below.

        Whipper is actually classed as a “Feather duster” variety of budgie (a mutation which causes unrestricted feather growth), and is actually the 4th ever of his kind. He is slightly different to other feather dusters in the sense that the other 3 feather dusters have been known to merely sit and stare at the floor of their cage. Whipper, however, seems to be quite normal; he eats well, sings, is very social and does normal Budgie things; however he is unable to fly and it is also believed that he is blind.
        Whipper and his owner © the Whipper Fan Page
         Information and pictures are © The Budgie Cage & Whipper's Official Fan Page

        Tuesday, April 5, 2011

        Outcasts are welcome

        Did you know that budgerigars make excellent foster parents for baby budgies from another nest? Lost baby budgies will always find a warm home in other budgie families.

        Image of this very cute baby budgie ©
        In the next post, we will hear the story of a very special outcast budgie. He was rejected twice by his mother, because of his very unusual appearance...

        Sunday, April 3, 2011

        New Arrival

        Comic © mathew/Meta at (click to enlarge)

        Saturday, April 2, 2011

        Crystal clear memory

        Never doubt your budgerigar's memory. They are capable of storing a lot of information in there, including facial recognition. They recognize you as their owner, they recognize their flockmates, they will always recognize their soulmate. This sometimes causes problems with breeders who want to put two budgies together that already have a mate. It's not hard to imagine that these budgies will simply refuse to breed. Even when they are separated, they don't want to take a stranger as a mate when they already have perfect memories of their own love!

        Image ©
        When a flock member dies, the other budgies will become silent. At first they won't understand why this budgie is gone from them, but they will remember him and they will be sad because he is gone. It is proven that budgies are able to recognize a budgie they know on a picture. Budgies who live together become very attached to each other. Some budgies who lose their mate or their best friend will just wither away like a flower. When you see any sign of this happening, you must do whatever you can to cure their sadness: pamper them, put their cage outside in the sunlight, give them plenty of physical activity (it is important that they keep moving and not sit down on the cage floor), and talk to them. Show them that you care, and that they can't give up on you <3