First recorded in 1805, the budgerigar, more commonly referred to simply as the budgie, is thought to be the third most popular pet in the world – and for good reason. These lively little birds have many of the lovable characteristics of parrots, but in a smaller package, making them ideal as pets for just about anyone as they require less space and less food, but as with all pet birds, thrive on loads of attention. Available in a wide range of colors and varieties, budgies are very intelligent, are easily tamed and can even be trained to talk.
Originating from Australia, where they are still found in the wild, budgies have a preference for grassland areas where they feed mainly on seeds. They are by nature sociable birds and in the wild they live in flocks of varying sizes. They breed according to the availability of food and in times of plenty may produce clutches of seven to eight chicks, while when drought conditions strike (as they are prone to do in the outback of Australia), budgies will not breed at all as they conserve resources for the existing flock.
Wild budgies have light green bodies and yellow heads, with yellow and black rippled stripes from their foreheads down their wings. They have long blue tails and dark purple cheek patches. Selective breeding over the years has produced a wide variety of colors, body shapes and sizes in pet budgies. The hobby of ‘showing’ budgies has led to the breeding of birds with physical traits that are considered desirable by judges, but are far different from the original Australian wild budgie that has survived in often harsh conditions for millions of years.
Pet budgies are happiest and healthiest when they have a diet as close to that of their ancestors as possible, so a variety of good quality seeds is essential. These should include a high percentage of a variety of millet seed, canary seed and a small amount of whole oats. There are commercial mixes made specifically for budgies, or you can mix your own. Make sure that the seed mix you offer your canary is free from dust and mold. To boost the immune system of your budgie, try sprouting some of the seed. This will also be a good indicator of whether the seed you are using is fresh. Soak some seed overnight in water, tip it into a sieve and leave it there until a white tip starts emerging (24-48 hours). At this stage you can mix this in with some dry seed and give it to your budgie. Remove the remaining mix at the end of the day, as it could make your bird ill if left for too long.
Budgies also need some fresh fruit and veggies. They are fond of chickweed, which is very nutritious, and they enjoy dandelion, carrots, broccoli, apples and a variety of other fresh foods. It should go without saying that all fresh foods should be free of pesticides and other toxins, such as car exhaust fumes, so don’t buy from roadside vendors. It is also a good idea to provide them with a cuttlefish, which they will use as and when they need it. If you feed your pet budgie a well-rounded diet as described, with seeds as its mainstay, it should not need additional vitamin supplements.
There is no better way to decorate your garden than with a collection of wild birds that bring color and song to the trees and landscaped areas. Luring a variety of birds to a garden is not always as easy as it may sound. Most birds know exactly what they like and will travel to an area where they know they can eat their preferred seed or form of food. Fortunately, if you know what birds you want to attract, you can purchase the seeds and items that draw these species into your garden.
It is important to fill a variety of bird feeders and place them in different locations throughout the garden. This way birds will not be fighting to get to the food and a greater number of birds will frequent the feeders. Putting out their favorite foods is the best way to ensure that they will continue to return, and in winter bird feeders assist a great number of birds to survive the cold weather. Wild birds will not usually eat artificial pellets or processed seeds as they are not accustomed to them, so natural seeds are the key.
Sunflower seeds are generally a safe bet, as a wide variety of birds will eat them, such as chickadees, nuthatches, finches, cardinals, grosbeaks, sparrows, blackbirds, jays, woodpeckers and titmice. All these birds, with the exception of the sparrows, blackbirds, jays and woodpeckers, will also eat Safflower seeds. When trying to lure ducks, geese, mourning doves and quails, cracked corn will do the trick; and woodpeckers, titmice and chickadees are also known to eat unsalted peanuts. Nyjer (or Thistle) will attract redpolls, doves and pine siskins; while orioles, thrushes and hummingbirds prefer nectar. Fruit is another option to use in combination with seeds as mockingbirds, bluebirds, thrushes, cedar waxwings and orioles will enjoy the treat. The preferred food for juncos and towhees is millet. Setting out a mixture of seeds, fruits and nectar will have any garden filled with birds in no time, allowing home owners to enjoy the beauty of these winged creatures and relax to the melodies of their cheerful songs.
Organic farming has become vital to the conservation of the environment and has been shown to have more health benefits than conventional farming that makes use of fertilizers and other aids to improve their crops. Scientists, therefore, were not testing the health benefits of organic farming when they decided to test which type of grain birds would prefer. Previous testing was done over very short periods of time, but the latest studies have proven that, when given a choice, birds prefer conventionally grown seeds to organic foods.
Dr Ailsa McKenzie from the Newcastle University, together with Dr Mark Whittingham, decided to run a study of their own, in the lab and in the wild, to see how birds would react to the choices given to them. They decided to give the birds enough time to be able to differentiate between the two seeds. As expected, the birds ate from both bowls only for a short period of time. Once the birds began to notice the difference in the organic and conventionally grown seeds, they ate from the conventionally grown bowl of seeds more than sixty percent of the time. After running their studies in the laboratory, they moved their research to forty-seven gardens in the surrounding area. Bird feeders were placed in the gardens and the studies were conducted over two winter periods, for six weeks and then eight weeks. This experiment also proved to show that birds chose the conventionally farmed seeds over the organic feed.
Scientists do not believe that their choice has anything to do with the taste or health benefits, but rather the protein content of the seeds. Once back in the laboratory, seeds were again taken from over-fertilized crops and given to canaries, with a selection of low-protein organic seeds. Again, the birds showed more interest in the high-protein seeds. Inorganic nitrogen, which is used by farmers, eventually becomes protein, and it has been discovered that birds will rather eat protein rich feed than organic seeds. Dr McKenzie also stressed that these findings have no bearing on human diets, as seeds and wheat are not sources of protein for humans. The study has, however, shed light on the dietary habits and preferences of birds and their nutritional needs.
When people look for a pet bird to join their family, most owners want a one that can be affectionate, a great companion and that has the ability to fit into their daily routines. The Eclectus parrot is often overlooked as a pet bird, and owners unknowingly miss out on the opportunity to enjoy a bird that is loving, intelligent and easily manageable, if they know what their basic needs are. This breathtakingly beautiful bird is not demanding at all and is actually one of the best pet parrots on the market today.
The most distinguishing feature of the Eclectus parrot is the fact that they are dimorphic. Dimorphic means that one can distinguish between the males and females just by looking at them. In the case of the Eclectus, it is the vastly different coloring that makes it easy. The male Eclectuses are covered in green plumage with variations of orange, blue and red under their wings. Their beaks are also unusually orange in color. The females are just as attractive as the males, but have bright red plumage covering their heads and neck, with their backs and chest being purple in color and their wings displaying variations of purple and blue underneath. The females have smooth black beaks. Another unique feature is the fact that the Eclectus parrot has hair-like feathers on their heads, back and chest, opposed to the smooth, locked and contoured feathers on their wings and tails.
As pets, owners will find their Eclectus parrot to be extremely gentle and fond of interaction, even though they will never demand it. They are able to integrate into the daily routines of their owners quite easily and will sit quietly while daily duties are being performed. Through enough love and care, Eclectus parrots will be able to learn a large vocabulary and their inquisitiveness makes them quick learners. They are highly intelligent birds and will quickly notice small changes in their environment. The Eclectus species is generally a healthy bird with a life span of approximately fifty years. They have simple dietary needs of fruit and seeds and enjoy changes made in their food, such as grapes one day and maybe apples the next. Owners will not regret adding an Eclectus parrot to their family, as their gentle and friendly natures make them a pet family and friends can enjoy.
When looking at the Mustached Parakeet, it is evident that belonging to the same family does not mean that you share the same characteristics. The Mustached Parakeet is related to the Ringneck Parakeet, and is often referred to as a Java Mustached Parakeet. These colorful little parrots make wonderful pets and their laid back attitude assist them in being great companions. Just as any other captive birds, Mustached Parakeets have certain dietary needs to ensure their health and welfare.
This fascinating bird has coined its name from the mustache-like markings that is found on its face and once the birds have reached maturity, the males’ beaks are orange in color, while the females are recognized by their black beaks. Growing to approximately thirty three centimeters and weighing on average a hundred and thirty grams, the Mustached Parakeet is a small parrot. They have predominantly green plumage, lighter coloring on their heads with a blue tinge and indentifying salmon to pink colored plumage on their chests.
Being extremely intelligent means that the Mustached Parakeet can get bored very easily, and therefore needs an assortment of chew toys and toys that can stimulate their thought process. Spacious cages are also recommended. When compared to the Ringneck Parakeet, the Mustached Parakeet is much calmer and can speak clearer than its counterpart. They are playful and social birds, but can test their boundaries if they have not been disciplined correctly. In the wild, these birds travel in flocks and can get very lonely if they are without a companion and do not get sufficient attention from their owners. In their natural habitat, these birds will feed on a variety of foods which include seeds, fruit and berries, and it is therefore recommended that owners seek advice from their veterinarian to ensure that the correct diet is followed.
Mustached Parakeets are very popular pets but many owners do not research their choice of pet or species and can be surprised by their natural call, which is quite vocal. Before any pet owner decides to purchase a parrot or any captive bird is it essential that they know what their care involves and how to ensure the health and welfare of these magnificent birds.