Tinge of different colors has been produced in budgerigars by captivity. The cere, which is the rectangular, fleshy area above the bill, varies in color with the bird’s sex: the male’s is yellow green or flesh color, and the female’s is chocolate brown. In the adult male, the cere is pale watery blue.
There are four toes, two pointing forwards and two pointing backwards. There is 61 members of the parrot family. Normal body temperature is 42.2°C. weight is about 50 grams.
Budgerigars are blind and naked when hatched. Eyes open at six days and month plumage is complete. Adult budgerigars moult irregularly throughout the year. However, control of light and dark and control of humidity can regulate moulting. There is no way of estimating age except by leg rings. Older birds tend to have longer upper beaks and nails grow longer with age and become more friable. In immature birds, plumage markings are fainter, and the forehead shows faint, dark bars. When maturity is reached at three to four months, but cocks should not be allowed for breeding under ten months, and hens under eleven months. The lifespan of females up to six years, males up to eight years, though some can live to twenty years.
Budgerigars are hardy and can be kept outside all year round once they are acclimatised.
As pets they benefit from daily exercise and can be allowed to fly around the room or around the house, although care must be taken with glass, windows and mirrors.
A cage that is too small is a common cause of illness in parrots.
The galah is especially suited to aviary life as it is a proven breeder in captivity. However, as it is one of the bigger members of the parrot family it requires a large aviary.
Budgerigars will breed all year round if allowed. If possible have equal members of the sexes and pair them in separate cages before introducing to the breeding aviary. Some pairs are incompatible.
Compatible birds rub their beaks and ‘kiss’ and the cock feeds the hen. If the hen declines the cock she pecks him and refuses to be fed by him. The nest box should be introduced some five to seven days after mating a pair. Most hens commence to lay at ten days after nest introduction. If they do not, they should be returned to the aviary and another hen substituted. Because eggs are laid every second day, the young hatch every second day. They are born bare of all feathers.
Budgerigars live in flocks naturally and hence may be kept in community cages. Breeding will take place in wooden nest boxes 15 X 15 X 23 centimeters The entrance hole in each box should be 4 centimeters in diameter, with a perch provided in front of the entrance. Breeding boxes should be left uncleaned, as the excreta provides a good source of heat during its decomposition. Perches should be 12-17 millimeters in diameter, and the birds will also relish irregular twigs for perching.
The cock feeds the hen while she is sitting on the nest. The young are fed by both parents by the regurgitation of partly digested seed. They leave the nest at six weeks of age and are fed for several more days by the parents. Young birds should be left with their parents for ten days, if compatible, after they have learnt to fly so that the older birds may encourage the youngsters to shell seed for themselves.
Male birds talk better than females, and it is best to remove young birds within a few days of actively leaving the nest if you wish to train them as talkers. An ideal feed for budgerigars is canary seed 7 parts, panicum 12 parts, whole oats 1 part. Green feed is essential, such as seeding grass, silver beet, carrots or apples. In addition, the daily use of a vitamin mineral drop in the water is recommended. Shell grit, cuttlebone, and iodized salt blocks are recommended additives. On leaving the nest, the young birds may be given canary seed in place of millet, as it has a higher protein content.