How to Care for a Budgie

Budgies live in flocks in the wild.
Budgies live in flocks in the wild. (Image: mb-fotos/iStock/Getty Images)

Captive budgies thrive if they get plenty of exercise and social interaction and live in a clean, airy cage with access to healthy food and clean water. Budgies or budgerigars, also called parakeets, are intelligent, active and playful, and they're among the most popular captive birds. Budgies have daily and weekly care needs, and if you'll meet those, they make responsive, rewarding pets. With training, budgies can learn to step and fly onto an outstretched finger, talk, and perform tricks.

Budgie Housing

A budgie needs a large, wide cage that's regularly cleaned. Your budgie's cage should be as large as you can afford and as space allows, and wider than it is tall. It must be large enough to allow the budgie to fly. Place the cage in an area out of drafts and direct light. Don't place a budgie cage next to a window, where temperatures fluctuate. The cage should contain wooden perches, and food and water containers. Wash the containers in warm, soapy water every day, and rinse them thoroughly in clean water before replacing them in the cage and refilling them. Remove uneaten food from the floor of the cage at the end of the day, and place a cloth over the cage at night to help your budgie sleep. Every week, remove the sanded sheets or other cage floor covering, and clean the cage floor and the rest of the cage with a wet cloth. Put a new, clean floor covering in the cage.

Budgie Diet

Budgies need a mixed diet and fresh, clean water every day to stay healthy. Budgies are seed eaters, but eating too many seeds and no other food can make them ill. Commercial pelleted budgie foods supply all of a budgie's needs. If your budgie is reluctant to eat pellets, try mixing them with seed or soft food, such as egg. Boil an egg for 30 minutes, and mash it before putting it in your budgie's food dish. Eggs are a good source of protein for budgies, and you can leave the shell on for added calcium. Feed your budgie egg once or twice a week; remove uneaten remains after half an hour. Every day, provide finely chopped dark green or orange vegetables such as kale, broccoli, carrot and baked sweet potato. Some budgies also eat apples, oranges and other fruit. Place a cuttlebone in the cage for your budgie to chew. Place grit in your budgie's cage to help him digest his food, but remove it immediately if he appears ill.

Washing and Toys

Regular washing helps a budgie stay clean, and toys keep him occupied and happy. Place a shallow dish of water for bathing in the bottom of your budgie's cage three or four times a week, or lightly spray him all over with cool, fresh, clean water from a spray bottle. Place commercial budgie toys such as ropes, swings, mirrors and bells in the cage for your budgie to play with. Avoid toys with sharp edges, small pieces or gaps that could trap the bird. Budgies also enjoy climbing on and chewing branches. Replace toys and branches as they are chewed and worn down.

Daily Interaction and Exercise

Without daily interaction and exercise, budgies become unhappy, unhealthy and overweight. Talk to your bird often every day. If you work away from home, consider keeping two or more budgies to provide the social interaction the birds need. Paired budgies rarely breed in captivity. Allow your budgie out of his cage every day for an hour or longer. Make the room safe for your budgie before opening the cage door: Turn off ceiling fans, close all doors and windows, and cover mirrors. To hold your bird, gently place your hand over his back and hold him so that his tail lies along your wrist. Allow his head to rest between your first and index fingers, and fold your other fingers and thumb around his wings. Have your veterinarian clip your budgie's wings if you can't provide a safe environment for him to fly.

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