A Guide to Pet Budgie Birds

The little budgie is a popular option as a pet

Budgie birds illustration

The Spruce / Bailey Mariner

The little budgie bird is one of the most popular pets in the world, ranking just behind dogs and cats, and it's no wonder. This affectionate, cute bird is small and inexpensive, and if trained properly a budgie can mimic human speech. The origin of its formal name―budgerigar―is a mystery, but by any name, this little bird is a charming companion for most pet owners. 

Budgies aren't all fun and games, though, so before you bring one home, make sure you're not in for any surprises. Here are some key things to know about budgie birds. 


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  • 01 of 06

    All Budgies Are Parakeets, But Not All Parakeets Are Budgies

    Close-up of budgerigars perching on branch

    Olga Palinska / Getty Images

    Some people refer to budgies by their full name (budgerigars), and some call them parakeets. But while budgies are parakeets, there are many different types of parakeets, and they come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Some parakeets, like the Indian ringneck parakeet, are very large—reaching lengths of up to 16 inches from head to tail—while budgies are much smaller. Because of these vast differences in size and more, it is more accurate to refer to these birds by their true name.

  • 02 of 06

    They're One of the Smallest True Parrot Species

    Budgie at Franklin Park Zoo

    Sarah Nichols / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

    They're not the smallest parrots―that distinction belongs to the parrotlet―but budgies are quite tiny. Most budgies in captivity average between 7 or 8 inches from the beak to the tip of the tail. Wild budgies in their native habitat of Australia are even smaller. 

  • 03 of 06

    There Are Two Different Types

    Budgerigars on a tree limb

    Tier Und Naturfotografie J und C Sohns / Getty Images

    Not many people realize that there are actually two distinct types of budgies―the traditional Budgerigar, hailing from Australia, and the larger English budgie, bred in England specifically for the show and the pet trade. While the two are clearly both budgies, there are differences when they're observed side by side. English budgies are usually 1 to 2 inches longer than their Australian counterparts and have larger heads and puffier feathers around their faces and crowns.

  • 04 of 06

    Budgies Can Learn to Talk Better Than Some Larger Parrots

    Budgerigar on a perch
    jeridu / Getty Images

    There's no way to guarantee that your budgie, or any other parrot, will learn to "speak." However, budgies certainly have a knack for it, and many times they speak with greater clarity and broader vocabularies than larger parrot species such as macaws and cockatoos.

    While their voices are small and gravelly-sounding, budgies have an impressive ability to pick up on human words and phrases, and even using them in proper context sometimes. They are a great choice for those new to bird ownership who want to own a talking parrot.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Green Is the Only Natural Color for Budgies

    Grey budgie standing apart from green budgies
    Michael Blann / Getty Images

    While people are normally accustomed to seeing a variety of colored budgies for sale in pet shops, the only natural color of budgies in the wild is the yellow/green variety. All other budgies, including the blue budgies, white budgies, and others, are color mutations bred specifically for the pet trade. There's nothing wrong with these birds, but don't expect to see a blue budgie in the wild. 

  • 06 of 06

    Try a Varied Diet

    Close-up of budgerigar eating fruit

    Hani-Hans Mograby / Getty Images

    Since they're small, budgies are relatively inexpensive to care for and feed. But contrary to popular belief, a diet consisting only of seeds is not good for a small bird like a budgie, and can even cause health problems. Instead, veterinarians recommend a budgie diet that includes pellets and fresh fruits and vegetables including leafy greens. It's OK to feed budgies a small amount of seeds as part of this diet, as long as the base of their diet is pellets, vegetables, and small amounts of fruit.

  • How old is my budgie?

    There are a number of ways to figure out the age of your budgie:

    Look at the stripes on its head: if they reach down to its beak, it's three to four months old.

    View the colors of its beak: dark—like black—beaks are a sign that your budgie is under 12 weeks old.

    Next, take a look at your bird's eyes: black eyes, with no visible irises, show the bird is less than five months old. If the budgie has a white iris ring, it's at least eight months old.

  • What's the difference between a budgie and a parakeet?

    All budgies are parakeets, but not all parakeets are budgies. The most popular kind of parakeet is the budgerigar, nicknamed the budgie. Budgies are the most common parakeet, and they're native to Australia.

  • How do you help a molting budgie?

    If your budgie is molting, it will be itchy. Give yours a shallow dish of water to use to bathe itself. You can also use a plant mister to give him a spritz.