"It's just a parakeet" is an expression I hear to often and yet is so untrue. Budgerigars, often referred to simply as parakeets, are the most underrated of parrot species. I would like to share some of the experiences I had with one and provide some tips to owners of these wonderful birds. If you don't remember, I had a Dark Eyed Clear mutation Budgerigar named Duke who was a wonderful trick performer. Unfortunately he died young so I never learned his true potential. Still I would like to share some of what I learned about parakeets with you.
While the Melopsittacus undulatus is the most commonly kept companion parrot, it is also the most underrated and misunderstood. From name, to diet, to capabilities, owners are clueless. This of course is not surprising considering the ways in which these miniscule parrots come to be owned. Some are bought window shopping, others as gifts, many as toys for children, others found, a few taken off someone's hands who no longer wants them, etc. Whatever the means that budgies are acquired, it is usually so easy that they are often seen as cheap, incapable, and unimportant pets. When people spend thousands of dollars on a parrot, they have some kind of commitment to the bird in that they were at least serious enough to put that kind of money on the line. However, with a $10 budgie, the cage it inhabits often costs 5-10 times as much as the bird itself! Unfortunately many people see these birds as expendable.
Budgerigars are easy to breed and can be cranked out in all sorts of color mutations. When choosing a parakeet, most people are more concerned with the color than its suitability as a pet. All too often people buy these parrots for children as a pet for them to have while growing up without any concern for the complexity of the creature or its longevity.
Despite their low price tag or reputation, Budgies are more alike their big parrot cousins than different. They share the same characteristics but in a smaller size. They have the same characteristic zygodactyl feet, hook bill, vocalization capabilities, and atypical bird intelligence as do larger parrots. While parakeets are not the smartest of parrots, they are leaps and bounds ahead of your typical song bird, rodents, and other animals of their size. Heck, don't be surprised if the worthless little parakeet is more intelligent than your cat/dog! Scientific studies continue to find greater cognitive capabilities in Psittacines than ever imagined.
Don't forget that budgies are birds and birds fly! Even a budgie with clipped wings will try to fly away so it is important to use positive reinforcement to make the parakeet want to be around you instead of relying on clipping. Budgies are speedy fliers and require flight to feel secure and healthy. Using a target stick, millet, and some patience, you can teach a budgie to fly to you.
There is way too much confusion about what these birds are called. It is really quite simple though so I will state the correct name. It is called a Budgerigar, Budgie for short. It is one of many kinds of parakeets but not specifically called Parakeet. Parakeets include all small long tailed parrots such as conures, cockatiels, and ring necks. Finally, Budgerigars are true parrots and in fact more closely related to a Macaw than a Cockatiel. So there you have it, Budgerigar is the exact species, Parakeet the category, and Parrot the family of these remarkable little birds.
So if you have a budgie, don't value it based on the price you've paid but on its abilities. Don't assume it can't do something cause it's a cheap bird but instead challenge it and you'll be surprised by what it can do. You will realize that you got the best price to capability ratio parrot in existence!
If you don't have a budgerigar but are considering one, please give it the respect it deserves as a parrot and not for its price. Evaluate this species as you would any larger parrot and realize that this is a serious lifelong commitment. They may be small, but they can be similarly difficult like other parrot species. If you do buy one, make sure you spend adequate money on toys, perches, food, vet, and supplies and not treat it any lesser because the bird was cheap. Just consider yourself lucky to get such a deal on such a wonderful pet.
Share this picture and page with everyone you know who owns budgies or parrots so together we could spread awareness and respect for these wonderful little parrots! http://TrainedParrot.com/Parakeet