In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka tells how to handle Budgerigars and keep them comfortable
Where in my house should I keep my Budgerigar for the most appropriate care?
Keep the cage in natural light and away from draughts. Exposing your bird to half an hour of direct sunlight a day will help them to synthesise Vitamin D. Covering the cage in the evening can help ensure your birds get a full night of sleep. In summer and the monsoons, keep near a window so that they can see the world. Keep your bird’s cage away from the kitchen — the fumes produced are toxic to birds. If possible, let the bird fly free in the house.
I recently bought a budgie bird; how can I tame it and be friends with it?
Budgies are generally very social, gentle and affectionate in nature. These loving companions interact well with most members of the family. Budgies are inquisitive, active, free spirits who enjoy flying, playing and chewing. Some even enjoy head scratches and petting.
Your new bird should be exposed early to different events — young and old people, males and females, other pets, car trips and visits to the veterinarian — to help promote a calm, well-adjusted pet.
Are budgies social creatures? Should I consider introducing a companion for my bird?
Budgies are flock birds, and they will live happily together. A pair of budgies will, generally, be happier than a single budgie. They are sociable birds, and in the wild they live in large flocks. Two birds, and a couple of mirrors, will recreate the contact and noise of a flock (albeit a very small one). It would be easy to say, ‘the more, the merrier’, but this could be taken as suggesting that happiness increases with the size of the flock, which is neither true nor practical unless the enclosure is really big. If you are only keeping one bird, you will have to provide all the social stimulation it needs. This means spending as much time as you can with it every day and even that will not be enough.
I feel guilty about buying Budgerigars, should I release them into the wild?
Since they are not native to India the chances of survival in the wild are almost nil. They have no idea where to find food or water or birds of their own kind. In nature they are flock birds who live on seeds. If you released them, they will either starve to death (which is a long, slow, painful death) or they will be killed by predators. What you should do is let the birds fly free in the house. Shut the windows and put amusements for them all over the house and perches.
Should I bathe my bird myself? If yes, what is the procedure?
Most budgies love taking a bath. It’s pretty easy to do, as your budgie will do most of the work by fluffing up her feathers to let the water down near his or her skin. You should give your budgie a chance to take a bath a couple of times a week, especially if your home is dry. A bath encourages your bird to preen, and it also helps remove dirt and other debris from your bird’s feathers.
Fill a shallow bowl with lukewarm water. Water should only be an inch or two deep. It shouldn’t be too cold, as budgies are susceptible to cold. You can also find baths that attach to the side of your bird’s cage. If you find your bird doesn’t like the bowl of water, you can also try wet grass or greens at the bottom of a (clean) cage. Your bird will enjoy rolling in them as a way of bathing. You don’t need to use soap.
Place the bowl in the bottom of the cage. Set the bath in the bottom of the cage where your budgie can jump in. Make sure it’s on a level surface. If you prefer, you can also fill up your sink with a small amount of water. Take the budgie in there and close the door so she can’t fly away. However, make sure your sink is clean first.
Let the budgie play. Budgies will splash and flutter in the water. The splashing is the budgie giving themselves a bath. Most budgies enjoy the process immensely. If your budgie doesn’t jump in immediately, give her a chance to get used to it. If he or she still doesn’t hop in, you may want to move on to the next method.
Let your bird dry off. Your bird will shake herself to get the water off. However, make sure that the area they are drying off in isn’t breezy or cool. You might want to cover his or her cage with a towel to help.
Do Budgerigars talk or mimic sounds?
Not really. But why do you want to teach a bird human language? One endearing trait of a budgie is its cheerful whistle and chatter.
How do I make my new Budgerigar bird comfortable around me?
Food usually does the trick. Offer your birds their favourite treat, like fruit, a vegetable, or breed-specific treats. Birds love tasty treats, and if you’re the one who gives them the treat, they will see you as a friend. Please note, it’s important to keep a healthy diet for your bird. Don’t feed too many treats to any pet.
When bonding with your bird, it is important to take them out of their habitat. This out-of-habitat time is enriching and provides stimuli they need to be happy and healthy. While they are out of their cage exploring, try to take them into another room away from their habitat, so if they have the desire to take refuge in their safe home, they will likely retreat to you instead of their habitat. They see their home/ cage as a safe space, but it’s important that you bring them comfort as well. This positions you as safe space, creating a connection with your pet.
Birds are smart animals. They remember interactions with humans, and if you adopted a rescue animal, they might have had a negative experience with past owners. Help them warm up to you by slowly socialising your bird. If they seem nervous when you come to their cage, take a few minutes a day to sit by their habitat, talk to them, or simply spend time with them. They can pick up on energy and words that you and your family say. Gradually spend more and more time by your birds until they are comfortable in your presence. Before you know it, you’ll likely be able to hang out with your feathered friend for long periods of time.
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