Friday, July 11, 2008

My thoughts on budgies...

In my continuing series of writing about the birds sharing their lives with me (see my entries on caiques and timnehs), I move on to one of the parrot world's under appreciated jewels: budgies.

In my adult life, I've been lucky enough to share my home with 4 different budgies. Lenny and Jeff Saturday were not tame, and Ethel and Daphne were. Is there anything sweeter than a tame budgie?

Daphne (pictured at left) is the only one still around. Budgies tend to have relatively short lifespans, due in part to the fact that they are tumor-prone caused by inbreeding. Daphne is at least 4, and half-English (who tend to have shorter life-spans) so we optimistically hope to have at least 6 years left with her.

In my opinion, budgies are extremely underrated. There are many reasons for this. They are relatively inexpensive, so are easily purchased as impulse buys. They are relatively easy to breed, so there is an overabundance of them in captivity. Many people have memories of bitey, scared, cage-bound budgies from their youth, so immediately discount having one as an adult. There is a misconception that they don't have personalities, or that they are boring.

Nothing could be further from the truth! A hand-tame, friendly budgie is such a delight! And even not tame budgies can brighten up someone's home with their cheerful chattering.

Ethel (pictured below) was the first tame budgie who lived with us, and she opened our eyes to what they can be. She immediately fell in love with Thomas and followed him everywhere. She was very intelligent and could figure out rather complex problems. She had a fiery personality and made sure things were just how she wanted them. She loved playing with toys and learned to imitate Calypso's call. In the days after her death, our house was eerily silent without her chirps.

We had just over a year with Ethel, and even now, more than two years since her death, tears are rolling down my face as I think about how much I miss her.

Budgies make wonderful pets in houses with gentle children. Although they can bite, it's hard for a budgie to do serious damage. Their tiny feet can be just the right size to perch on a child's finger. They also fit more smoothly into the average family's lifestyle. They aren't as demanding, messy, loud, and destructive as the larger parrots.

As you can see, I am a huge fan of budgies! It breaks my heart that there is such an overpopulation of them in captivity and that most don't reach their potential as loving companions.

The picture of Daphne was taken by my friend J as she visited my house last week. I love it when people with large birds come to my house and handle her because they are often shocked at how tiny and tame she is.


Stephanie said...

I had two Budgies as a kid that I worked my a** off to hand tame. They were awesome! They were full flighted too. But I confess that I don't like their voices very much when they really get going. It's a bit grating to me. Their chattering is sweet but they have that one sound that just gets me.

Mary said...

For me, it's the sound of green cheek conures that I can't stand. It's not even that loud, compared to Rocky, but I'd take a macaw's screams any day over green cheek conures!

It's funny how different sounds can be nice or irritating to different people. One friend of mine loves the green cheek's sounds. I might actually be crazy if I lived with one :)

Mary said...

Also, congrats on taming them down! It can be very difficult to tame down wild budgies. We were making progress with Jeff Saturday before he died, but we didn't try much with Lenny since he was already in his teens and we worried about giving him a heart attack! Eventually a tumor took him as well...