Budgerigars were first imported into this country from Australia in 1840. In their native home, the original green coloured bird dominates the massive flocks that can often be seen, wandering across the continent, visiting remote watering holes and feeding on the ripe grass heads that cover the massive central plains. All of the colours available today have originated from the wild green birds. Colour mutations such as the blue, grey etc. do occur in the wild, but the obviously different coloured birds often stand out from the remainder of the flock and can be picked out quickly by a predator.
In the wild, the Budgerigar nests mainly in the tall eugalyptus trees that are very abundant. Like other parrotlike species, they like to nest in a hollow limb or tree trunk. They normally form small colonies when nesting and often share the same tree with many other pairs.
The name Budgerigar forms some debate. It is thought to be a corruption of the Aborigines' name for the bird "Bethcherrygah" meaning "good" or "pretty bird".
Cocks can be easily distinguished from hens by the cere which is situated immediately above the bird's beak. In the amjority of cases the cock bird has a blue cere whilst the hen is brown. It is only when trying to sex Lutino's and Albino's that problems may occur. Cock birds in these cases do not have a blue cere, but have a slightly opaque coloured cere. Birds that are out of condition often show a cere which appears the wrong colour.
Many books on Budgerigars are available from bookshops and libraries, but you will form your own ideas as your experience with the birds grows.
Many different diets are offered by seed manufacturers today. Most are based around the same type of ingredients but presented in different percentages. The basic seed requirements for the Budgerigar are quite simple. These consist of plain canary seed, milled millets including white millet, pannicum millet and Japanese mille (fed sparingly, as birds can become overweight if fed too much Japanese millet). It should be remembered that the Budgerigar is a member of the Parrotlike family and will benefit from additional sees such as sunflower, safflower, wheat, buckwheat, maize and many others.
Do not be afraid to try various other types of seeds to establish what your birds like best, a varied diet can only help your bird to thrive. Rembember a healthy bird is a happy bird and the results from good feeding should begin to show in the following breeding season. Grit, cuttlefish and iodine blocks should be available at all times. Drinking water should be changed every day.
Softfoods can be offered daily when chicks are in the nest. Some Budgerigars do not taek readily to softfood, but if you persist eventually they will start to eat most type of softfood offered. EMP and CEDE forms a nice ready-mixed convenient softfood. To this add a few groats and some grated carrot. Vegetables such as carrots, sweet corn, cabbage, brussels etc. can be offered daily. Fruit can also be offered, such as apples, oranges, pears etc. Small amounts of chickweed, groundsel and seeding grasses can be offered.
Budgerigars suffer from the small "red-mite". This is usually brought into the shed by newly purchased stock or from a dirty show cage. The mite does not stay on the bird, but during the day hides in small cracks and crevices in cages or flights, only coming out at night to feed on the birds. A aerosol spray is available that combats the mite and can safely be sprayed onto the birds directly. Check perches and other parts of the cage regularly for signs of the mite.
Scaly face is caused by another tiny mite. This mite feeds on the outer layers of the birds skin usually in areas around the beak and feet. It will burrow into the skin forming a scale like layer which must be treated with a proper cream. This is available from most good pet centres or from a local veterinary surgery.
French Moult is not unique to the Budgerigar, but seems to occur more often with the species than with other birds. Much speculation has been made of the causes of French Moult and no cure has ever been established. Some breeders believe that it is caused by an overdose of vitamins, others that it is the result of insects, the third that it is a bacterial infection. The truth is that no established cause has really been established, but many specialists are working constantly on the problem.