A bird owner's guide to the parakeet

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The parakeet, also known as a budgie or budgerigar, is a small form of parrot with a flat tail, a small bill and striping on the head and wings. Graceful and energetic, parakeets are flock birds and tend to be very social, both with each other and with their human companions.

Origins and Natural Habitat

The budgerigar is native to Australia, and has survived for millions of years in the country's arid inner regions. They are nomadic, traveling in small-to-large flocks and moving as dictated by food and water needs.

Appearance and Characteristics

Size: An adult budgie is about 7 inches long and weighs an average of 1½ ounces.

Plumage: The primary body color is light green. Black mantle markings with yellow accentuations line the wings and head, and most parakeets have purple face patches, black spots on the throat and dark blue tails. Due to selective parakeet breeding, significant color variations may also be available in your local pet store.

Song/Chirp: The parakeet sings an expressive, emotional song that ranges in complexity from a few chirps to lengthier musical phrases and interludes, akin to the song of a lovebird. They also chatter, especially to one another, communicating through a sharp, short series of shrill calls. Male birds do the singing, which may include completely unique sound combinations that no other individual bird can replicate.


Given the importance of the flock in the life of a parakeet, it's vital that these birds be kept in at least pairs, if not groups or families. These birds are also curious and playful by nature, so it's important that parakeet cages include a selection of bird toys to keep your pet occupied. Proper parakeet care also includes time out of the cage each day, which should include interaction with humans or other birds. Talk to a bird professional if you have other behavioral questions about parakeets.

Health and Care

Feeding: Good parakeet care includes a diet consisting mainly of soaked, sprouted or dry seeds, but with added supplements. Slip whole grains, edible flowers or greens, fruit, legumes, pellets and some meats into your bird feeder regularly, too.

Grooming: Beyond providing your bird with clean water to bathe in and an occasional nail trimming, you won't have to worry much about grooming your pet.

Health Concerns: Most parakeet illnesses can be detected in their early stages by watching for symptoms including:

  • Cloudy eyes
  • Mouth or nasal discharges
  • Ruffled feathers
  • Failure to eat
  • Tucking its head under its wing or rump

Also keep in mind that rhubarb leaves, alcohol, avocado and chocolate are very toxic to parakeets. Your bird may well die if it ingests any of these substances.

Life Expectancy: Parakeets live an average of 12 to 14 years.

Selecting a Pet Parakeet

Breeding parakeets is a well-established science, and there's no reason you should take home a bird that's any less than completely, 100 percent healthy. Avoid any birds that seem unusually sluggish or quiet, don't seem to be alert or have poor posture. Hand-fed, pet-quality budgerigars are usually available for about $10 to $20. Quaker parakeets are more expensive, usually selling for $100 to $200.

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Posted by Mikael prsley on November 19,2016 at 12:36 AM
I have a peakeet that has egg that just hached what do u need to do or is there any kind of food I will need to feed the mom and dad of yes then what kind should I get them?
Posted by Shauna on March 26,2013 at 08:57 PM
I hav had my parakeet Buddy for 3 days. He is always puffed up except when I come near his cage. He is sometimes not puffed up but most of the time he is. What's wrong? Am I doing something wrong or is it just that he is scared or nervous?
Posted by Boomerang on March 26,2013 at 08:54 PM
My parakeet is always puffed up. I got him on Sunday march 24th. It has only been 3 days but is that normal? His name is Buddy. I go near his cage to say hello and his feathers go back down. I walk away, and they puff back up. What does that mean? Does it mean that he is sick? Does he need to go to a vet? Am I doing something wrong?
Posted by george on February 10,2013 at 08:30 AM
hello i have a light green parakeet and a month ago i noticed a strange thing like meat growing beside its beak....does anybody know what it is? please help i' m worried!!
Posted by Hope on February 02,2013 at 08:02 AM
I have this thing for birds ever since the third grade, and I don't know how I convince my mom to let me get one. I've done tons of research and I got really exsited when she said we could go price out parakeets. But now it's over, she's been quiet about the whole thing. And I wonder if she's thinking about it or if she's stalling just to shut me up. But the crazy part is I don't want the answer to come! If she says no I'll die inside even more than what I am. And it doesn't help that I can't talk about it anywhere! School, Home, even my friends don't understand! I feel like I'm at war with myself! Plus we have a dog (he`s not that big but he seems harmless) and what if he gets a hold of it? I`ve tried making pro & con lists about it but nothing helps! So how can I either get over it or convince my mom?
Posted by Cynthia on July 06,2014 at 05:01 PM
You keep trying Let your mom know thus is important to you tell her this will make you happy Talk to your mom she will listen Don't tell don't get mad just let your mom know how you feel She will get you your bird God bless you
Posted by Elizabeth on January 25,2013 at 05:19 PM
Is a parakeet/budgie a good first bird and I also have a cat that sits at the wind stares at the birds flying outside, would it be smart to get a parakeet and if it is were would you recomend to get one besides Animal Ark.
Posted by AJ on December 28,2012 at 06:48 PM
I've had my parakeet about 2 months now but she doesn't do anything! I've read into some stuff that says these kinds of birds are fun energetic birds. I've tried talking to her taking her out of the cage but she just climbs back in. She is all alone and I feel really bad for her she seems so depressed. I'm thinking about getting a male bird soon but I'm scared she'll attack him or he'll attack here. What should I do?
Posted by Elizabeth on January 25,2013 at 05:33 PM
What i have researched and learned was to buy a seperate cage at first and set them next to each other. Have your current bird in its current cage and put the new one in the new cage. After at least 2 or 3 weeks let them out of their cages at the same time, be in the room and watching them closely for any harmful behavoir. Keep doing this and if they fight the first time seperate them once again, if they don't fight keep letting them play together when they like each others company, and play with each other without hurting each other put the biggest cage you can afford, with 2 water dishes and 2 food dishes. HOPE THIS HELPS:)
Posted by Tiffany on December 12,2012 at 04:58 PM
Anyone know about parakeet illnesses well? My parakeet Juju has suddenly become interactive. I had her for 2 years and she was very active, played with all of her toys and chirped all day. Now just recently for a whole straight week her chirps are very weak and hoarse, Her feathers are ruffled, she has her head turned back all day and no longer plays with her toys. She barely touches her water but I do see her eating her seeds. I don't spray any aerosols or perfumes of any kind around her knowing that is toxic to parakeets. Is this a sign of illness or some type of cold? Thanks
Posted by becky on December 04,2012 at 02:41 PM
I was washing my parakeet one day and I saw this pink spot on both of her wings and my parakeets colors are only white and yellow what does that mean?
Posted by alicia on September 16,2012 at 02:35 PM
Both my parakeets flew away today. Can they come back i left two cages out there with food and water . We used to let them fly inside our house all the time and after their done they would come back into their cage at night. will they come back?
Posted by tasnia on December 07,2012 at 05:00 PM
yes they might come back if you behave nicely with them and they goes inside their cages on their own. maybe they just went to see the outside world
Posted by BARRY BLOUNT on January 30,2012 at 09:23 AM
My next door neighbour has a budgie which has started pecking under its wing and made it bleed
Posted by Vegiegirl1 on May 19,2012 at 03:05 PM
Tell neighbor to take the bird to the vet quickly if this is not resolved. It might mean that something is VERY wrong but,it also might just be a rash.
Posted by Gammy on January 20,2012 at 09:59 AM
My male and female have lived together for several months. They always wanted to be together, but now the female attackes the male. I pulled them apart this morning. Her claws were hanging on to him and they were biting each other. They both bit me when I was getting them apart. The male's leg is hurt. I have them apart now, but I have only one cage. Tweety, the male, stays on my shoulder most of the time. Sometimes he flies to the cage and sits on top, then the female, Birdie, will try to bit him. WHAT IS HER PROBLEM??
Posted by Delia on January 16,2012 at 08:08 PM
You're a real deep thinker. Thanks for sharnig.
Posted by Cali on December 30,2011 at 04:05 PM
I love my parakeets Birdzilla & Bella.Im waiting for Bella to have eggs.They have mated and my mom put grass in the bottom of the cage.They have a nesting box but I think they might want to build a nest at the bottom.Bella will be messing with it and Birdzilla will hand her more grass.Its funny to watch them.
Posted by Jose on March 09,2011 at 11:51 AM
I love my parakeet
Posted by bwalker on November 29,2010 at 10:36 PM
I had two parakeets three weeks ago one past away and today the other one died, I dont know why, I took really good to them, they where only about four years old, I dont know if it was something I did or what, can you please help me. thank you.
Posted by BirdQueen on November 12,2012 at 08:53 AM
It is possible for a bird to die of depression. Your bird may have also been sick. Birds of all species are very good at hiding sickness. It's a natural defense against predators.
Posted by Cheri on November 23,2010 at 09:19 AM
I have 2 parakeets, male and female. What we think is the female has a problem with it's left eye. The eye looks black and blue all around it and is hardley open. The bird walks and climbs as if it had a stroke , either it lost strength, feeling, or has an equalibriam problem. I had to put it in a seperate cage because the other bird is pecking at it. Maybe he beat her up. But she is eating constantly now and sleeps on the bottom of the cage as she tips over alot. What can the be and what do we do ?
Posted by Justin on November 18,2010 at 05:50 PM
My parakeet keeps running to the back of the cage whenever i sit next to them and i try to play with them but they turn all silent and scared. Wat should i do!
Posted by todd on November 14,2010 at 10:13 AM
Are bird stop chirping he is 5 years old eats well and flys just no chirping for about two weeks.
Posted by Parakeet lover on October 31,2010 at 09:14 AM
My blue parakeet is the most sweetest lil' heart on earth but im too scared to let it out the cage. i feel bad for it staying in a cage everyday, but today my dad & me r going to try to take it out of the cage. Any advise??? The only Bird food in the house is in it's cage so if it doesn't want to come back i will know that the only way to get it's food is if it comes back. I want some advise from you viewers so i can have a better chance. i hope my parakeet will lie long & happy!
Posted by BirdQueen on November 12,2012 at 08:57 AM
If you clip your birds wings it will be easier to control her actions. Plus if you let her out of the cage with clipped wings, she'll learn to depend on you and learn that are and never were a threat to her. I did that when I got my first parakeets and it created a solid bond that was extremely hard to break.
Posted by Donna on April 02,2011 at 02:30 PM
Your parakeet will come back to her or his cage when its ready to,they love to fly around,, make sure theres nothing to hurt him or her, like a ceiling fan going... also make sure theres no water on the stove cooking or anything like that,,, it takes them a little while to get use to the room, and they may fly into a window or mirror at first too... if by some chance he or she doesnt go back to the cage wait till night and have just a small amount of light in the room, and you will be able to catch it,,, be prepared tho, they do bite when not use to being handled haha,,, Donna
Posted by Frances on October 31,2010 at 12:58 PM
Try to allow your bird time out of its cage, use your bathroom. Close the toilet and hide any thing that he can get caught in. At first, he has to learn to get out of his cage, prop open the cage door, he will be curious and think about that door. Eventually he will leave the cage on his own, take your time. During this time, teach him to step up on a perch you are holding. When he is out of the cage, you will be able to pick him up by telling to step up. There is a great deal of information on the web regarding bird care and training. Learn all you can this will help keep your bird healthy and happy. Best of Bird Care, Frances
Posted by anomonis on October 31,2010 at 01:31 PM
THX for the help i'll make sure it will be safe for him to fly around the house!!!!! :) From:
Posted by annette on October 14,2010 at 09:31 AM
I have a white parakeet and up until this morning she was fine, but this morning she is hovering in a corner at the bottom of the cage sleeping. I want to make sure that this is not a behavior that I should be concerned about. I had a green one that died last week after trying to escape and the blue mate is acting normal.. Should I worry for the white one?
Posted by parakeet pale on October 31,2010 at 01:23 PM
you shouldn't worry about it will get used to things in a couple of days. just try to care for it as best as you can & most importantly, make sure it has a happy, healthy life. :)
Posted by Kristi on October 08,2010 at 10:11 PM
What kinds of flowers are safe for parakeets to eat?
Posted by joyce durett on October 07,2010 at 11:27 PM
recently my parakeet got pregnant as it came time to give birth her whole uterus came out and i had to take her to the vet she had to take out the soft shelled egg and put her urterus back up inside her and stitch her up now i have her in a cage alone so he won!t get at her again but now she seems depressrd she sleeps all the time and she looks like a big puff ball and her beck is turning black my question is , is she dying ? is she lonely for her mate? should i put her back in the cage with her mate? please help me i don!t want her to suffer ,
Posted by ariel on August 27,2010 at 10:43 AM
my female parakeet of 10 years is at the bottom of the cage, her one side of her body is not working,she will take small sips of water brought to her beak and i saw that she nibbled a little food. the vets in this area of north shore of boston do not treat birds (sad) or care to give u any help. can anyone have any suggestions for my little Polly
Posted by Mel on July 25,2010 at 07:01 PM
my parakeet layed eggs, how do I care for them?
Posted by shannon Wells on July 16,2010 at 08:28 PM
My parakeet has plucked a lot of feathers out and is looking pretty rough. He also seems to be puffing his feathers more and his respirations have increased. He still is eating and drinking normally and he will sing back to me when i am trying to engage him in interaction. What to do? What to do? Any advise?
Posted by tami on July 08,2010 at 04:52 AM
i have 2 parakeets a white 1 with just very few blue feathers an then a male 1 that is blue with zebra striped wings an a white whest...........i have had them now for almost 2 yrs an the female just layed her set of eggs but i dont know if it was to many for her or if it is normal she layed 5 eggs withen a 9 days an the 1st hatched today i daughter n law to be is very excite as well as i am but i as kind not sure that she will be able to feedkthem all i need to sepperat the male from her we...............i have raised white doves an zibra finches before but parekeets these are my firs so i need just a little bite of guerence................thank you soooooo much ms new grand mother..............hehehe
Posted by Rick on June 28,2010 at 09:43 PM
My parakeet has a swollen and purple foot what can i do?
Posted by sean on June 15,2010 at 10:40 PM
i dont have a parakeet yet because we dont now what we need to get started
Posted by MARIA AMADEO on September 07,2010 at 12:21 PM
Posted by richard resnick on May 05,2010 at 11:12 AM
I have a parakeet a few months she just sits on her perch usualy head backwards this is lasting about a week she does eat nomally osmtimes sell sit csoing her eyes what can i do can oyur reccomend a vetenrian in the sheepshead bay arra in Brooklyn Ny
Posted by sara on April 01,2010 at 09:10 PM
my male parakeet (im pretty sure its male because it has a purpleish blueish thing on top of its beak) has been at the bottom of the cage for i think almost a day with his head tucked in his back, hes all puffed up, he wont let me move him, he wont move himself, he hasnt ate any food for a long time.... i was wondering what i should do, because im pretty sure most vets are closed right now so.. he seems drowsy and sleepy LIKE ALL THE TIME .. hes been like this before..
Posted by K.Dugas on September 27,2010 at 11:43 AM
My bird did that. I researched, and found that he was lonely. I got a playmate for him. He hasn't been on the bottom of his cage since.
Posted by Elizabeth on March 26,2010 at 09:45 PM
I bought two feamail birds in 2009 . Recently Ive bought two male birds.One bird ( feamal ) Wont let the other feamale have space and keeps attacking the other birds.The femail attacks one of the male bird more than the other. She pecked his head several times in different spots and his wing too He is missing feathers.She kisses the female bird all the time and she even climbs on top like if she is a male bird.Ive caught her attacking the male birds and sometimes the femail bird which recently has laid an egg. What do I do please help . Have any ideas to help.
Posted by D.H. on May 03,2010 at 04:52 AM
Put them in separate cages. So far as egg laying is concerned and make sure she has enough calcium in her diet if you want to breed them--a pet shop helper will recommend a good source. If you don't want to have chicks, then cover the at five at night and get them up at eight in the morning, so it mimics wintertime when birds are dormant in their breeding season.
Posted by pinky on March 23,2010 at 08:31 PM
a male should be be purple or blue and a female should be a pale color
Posted by pinky on March 23,2010 at 08:28 PM
You can tell by what color their noise is. A male should have a purplish or bluish noise and a female has kind of a pale color to it.
Posted by Amanda on February 19,2010 at 02:28 PM
I have a parakeet about four months old, and I was swondering if rapid opening and shuting of the beak is normal for a parakeet to do, as if singing, but no sound comes out, or if it is a sign of some sort of health problem. He(?) seems to do this after flying and when presented something new.
Posted by edna on January 14,2010 at 11:40 AM
My parakeet has a swolleen puffy sack under one of his eyes. What can I do for that.
Posted by D.H. on May 03,2010 at 04:55 AM
Go see a vet.
Posted by lee and carol on December 20,2009 at 07:34 PM
we have three parakeets: one male and two females. we have to keep the females apart, due to them fighting. they both lay eggs, just recently the one with the male hatched an egg. does this have something to do with her being with the male? the bird by herself sits on her eggs, but they never hatch. how do we care for the babies? we know it is alive because it chirps. will the mother care for and feed it?
Posted by suzee on December 05,2009 at 11:22 AM
is there any way to tell the age of a parakeet?
Posted by D.H. on May 03,2010 at 04:35 AM
You can tell the age of a parakeet by the stripes on its head--very few stripes mean that it is young. You can also tell by its size--the smaller the bird, the younger it is.
Posted by madonna on August 02,2009 at 09:26 PM
how do you know which is female or male parakeet. i got one yellow and one blue i want to know which is female and male.
Posted by parakeet lover on October 31,2010 at 09:18 AM
to tell if it's male or female you need to check the uper part of the beck , if it's maroon then it's female if it's like a purple or blue then it's male
Posted by duckyreads on September 20,2009 at 12:45 AM
The colour of the bridge over their nose indicates the sex of the parakeet. It is very easy to remember: females, the bridge over the nose is a light pink colour. Males, it tends to be baby blue. Classic baby colours!
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