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The English Budgerigar has been kept in captivity for centuries, and is the world’s most popular domesticated bird.

It isn’t difficult to understand why.  These friendly, brightly plumed little birds are actually parrots with the hooked beak and 2 toes on the front and back of their feet.  They have a reputation for intelligence and affecting towards their owners, and can live for 10 or more years under the right conditions.

In a range of blue, green and yellow shades, budgerigars have also been bred with crests and brighter, more unusual colour combinations.  Find a reputable local breeder who has a good stock of healthy birds, or speak to a friendly pet shop who you know deals with good breeders.  Both hen and cock birds ‘talk’, but hens tend to be slightly less friendly and harder to train.  You can house budgerigars in pairs, although do bear in mind a mixed pair will probably breed.  If you want a same sex pair, cocks are likely to have abetter relationship, although 2 hens can work. 

As with any captive animal, space is crucial, so make sure you have room for a roomy cage, and consider letting your budgie out to spread his wings (with all doors and windows firmly closed, of course) and explore.  Plenty of toys, a mirror and perches will help to keep the budgie stimulated and stave off boredom.  Make sure the budgie is located where he will not be exposed to aerosols or any harmful fumes, which includes fragranced candles or plug in air fresheners, and check to ensure your houseplants are not poisonous.

Keep the cage clean and away from draughts which can cause colds, and make sure your budgie has mirrors and toys to provide plenty of stimulation, as a bored, depressed bird can have quite serious health problems.

Food wise, speak to the breeder to see what they recommend, but a good quality budgie mix can be purchased from pet food specialist and should provide a varied diet and plenty of mental stimulation too.  Millet sprays are available as a treat, but not too often as they are high in calories and can make your bird overweight.  Grit should be provided for digestive purposes, and a cuttlefish is a good idea; they provide more interest and are a good source of calcium.  Green food, such a dandelion leave can be thoroughly washed and offered in small quantities for some variation.

These friendly little birds are social creatures, so, particularly if you have a single bird, do make sure to spend a good amount of time interacting with them.  Chat, let them keep you company when you are at home if they fly free at all, perhaps give them whistle! If you want a bird that is hand tame, you will need to talk to breeders who do a lot of socialisation at a young age, and continue this, gently, at home.  Unless you don’t mind being woken at dawn by your budgie chattering, a light sheet or cover should be placed over the cage at night, which will keep your budgie feeling secure and stop him waking with the lark, as it were!
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