by Gordon M Duncan©
Budgies and lovebirds are probably the most widely kept small parrot-like
birds in the world. In adult budgies the sexes are easy to determine.
The male has a blue cere (the naked skin above the beak) while the
female’s is brown. With young birds this is more difficult
to determine, but both sexes make equally good pets – it doesn’t
really matter. Lovebirds are, with a few exceptions, impossible
to sex visually.
Through mutations and selective breeding literally hundreds of colour
forms and combinations have been developed both in budgies and lovebirds.
The choice and variety is truly unlimited.
Budgies and Lovebirds are intelligent and active birds. Never imprison
them in tiny cages. Buy the biggest cage that you can afford, with
45cm long by 20cm wide and 30cm high being an absolute minimum size
for one or two birds. Most cages come equipped with two food and
water dishes, a removable floor for cleaning and two or three perches
The perches should preferably be natural, non-poisonous sticks or
twigs, which vary in thickness to provide variety and exercise for
your birds’ feet and beak. Twigs are easy and free to replace
when chewed up by the birds and certainly do improve the quality
of your little friend’s life. Plastic and metal perches are
totally unsuitable. If your bird is to be housed alone without a
friend, it is a very good idea to stock up on a selection of toys.
Before you buy a bird or birds you need to decide what you hope
to get out of them, and much more important, what you are prepared
to offer them in return. A single, tame and talking pet needs a
lot of regular attention. A pair will never get as tame, but will
keep each other company. If you are prepared to take on the responsibility
and joy of a single pet, be certain to buy a newly fledged baby.
An adult will never become truly tame.
Any bird that is tamed and allowed outside his cage needs to have
his wings clipped. I find that removing ± one third of the
flight feathers from both wings is about right. He should not be
able to fly upwards. Taming consists simply of gently placing him
on your hand. If he jumps off, gently retrieve him and place him
back on your hand. Keep doing this until he stays there. Gentleness
and patience are the key words here! To teach your bird to speak,
you must keep him (or her) away from other birds, start young and
be regular and patient with your lessons. 15 minutes of repetition,
twice per day, every day will do it.
Should you, however, decide that you want the pleasure of birds
without the responsibility of an individual pet, a pair will very
happily live together in a cage in your living room. A multicoloured
group of budgies or lovebirds (never both!) will also live very
happily together in a garden aviary. Make sure that a part of the
aviary provides shelter from the rain and also from cold winds.
Provide twice as many nest boxes as there are pairs of birds in
the aviary if you want peaceful breeding to take place. Provide
dead trees in both the sheltered and open part of the aviary as
perching. Allow 1m of aviary space per pair of birds.
- Seed: A good mixture including millets, oats, canary seed, and
for lovebirds a little sunflower.
- Soft food: Avi-plus parakeet, or a little moistened stale bread
should be offered daily in clean dishes.
- Fruit and green food: Greens and a slice of fresh fruit (not
avocado) should be offered as often as possible.
- Grit and minerals: Supply a mixture of crushed, untreated charcoal,
oyster shell grit, river sand and a powdered mineral supplement.
- Fresh water: Obviously clean, fresh water for drinking and
bathing must be available at all times. Clean the dishes and supply
fresh water daily.
Should you wish to try your hand at breeding budgies or lovebirds,
this can be done in the living room as easily as in an aviary or proper
breeding set-up. Join a bird club and buy a good book to get proper,
detailed information. In short, all that you have to do is supply
a nest box (and nesting materials for lovebirds) in a large cage,
offer a good, balanced diet, make sure that the birds are not unduly
disturbed and they will get on with it themselves. And of course make
sure that you have a true pair to start with. Most pairs are free
breeders once they start.
If you wish to meet others who enjoy the hobby as much as you do then
it is advisable to join a club.
The members of the Rand Avicultural Society meet at the Honeydew Country
club Tennis club section, No 1 Boundary Rd Honeydew, Johannesburg on the LAST
TUESDAY OF EVERY MONTH, except December.
If you wish to find out more about the club then click back to RAS