It is difficult to think of Budgerigars as anything other than cage or aviary birds, but they are both larger and more colorful than their wild relatives. The pretty little birds found in practically every pet store and kept in many homes are generally called “parakeets.” In fact, they are just one of the many different kinds of parakeets.
They are also prolific breeders. It is generally considered that a cock bird makes the best pet if you are only buying one bird. Usually, the cock will learn to talk better and is more gentle than the hen. In Budgerigars, it is easy to identify their sex by the color of the cere (the area of bare skin above the beak).
The cock bird has a mauvish-blue cere which turns a true blue in adult birds with the exception of a few forms, including Latinos, in which it is a pale mauve. In females, the cere of a youngster is whitish blue or white turning brown on maturity.
To keep your budgerigar healthy you should, first of all, keep him out of drafts. Innumerable cage birds have died as a result of being kept too close to a window, even a double window. Locked up in their cages, they cannot escape the constant draft which may not be noticeable to a human being but may in time end a bird’s life.
When you notice your bird sneezing, try to discover how he might have caught cold. A cover over the cage at night helps to keep drafts away from him. In winter a bird may perch close to a drafty window, especially if this is his favorite spot.
If you wish to train your bird to talk, do not let it have a mirror while it is learning, otherwise it will spend all its time admiring itself and not concentrating on lessons. Only a budgerigar which is kept alone and away from all other birds will learn to talk and become an affectionate pet. If he has no mate in his cage, he will become very attached to his master and other members of the family.
A group of budgies can be taught to do tricks. For instance, the birds can be made to sit on a playground while one or two are led through their paces, climbing ladders up and down, walking tight ropes, going through tunnels, etc., the rest will wait their turn. Then all may ride on a toy train or merry-go-round.
As has been observed by trainers, budgies make very adept students. They learn more and quicker than any of the brightest birds among the finches, including canaries. Two can be taught to sit at the ends of a teeter-totter, while a third one perches in the center and, on command, walks back and forth tilting the teeter-totter up and down. A budgie placed on his back on a table will learn to roll a ball with his feet. The ball has to be provided with holes in which the bird can insert his toes while rolling the ball.
Some will walk a tight rope carrying a parasol or balancing a rod in their beak. Others can be taught to drive automobiles, changing speeds by pulling a lever. A number of different tricks can be developed by utilizing the fact that the budgie will pull objects. He will also learn to perform on a trapeze or slide down a rope suspended diagonally, holding on with his beak only. One budgie may learn to shoot off a toy cannon while another is hoisting a flag.
There are more tricks a group of circus budgies may be taught. The training takes unending patience, an understanding of what a bird is able to learn, and a great deal of time. It takes close a year to teach a bird some of the more complicated tricks, especially those which involve obeying commands. The simpler tricks can be taught a young bird in a few days.