What Are the Migration Habits of Budgerigars?

Budgerigars are one of the only domesticated and captively bred parrots found in pet stores.
Budgerigars are one of the only domesticated and captively bred parrots found in pet stores. (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

A budgerigar is a small parakeet, which is part of the parrot species. This medium-sized bird is primarily green and yellow but can have black markings along with blue and white plumage. The budgerigar is the most popular domesticated parrot, with captive breeding being done since the 1850s. While these birds are seen in pet stores across the United States, their wild counterparts can be found migrating across Australia.


The wild budgerigar lives in Australia, primarily in desert areas such as scrub lands and grasslands. It can also be found in open, dry woodlands. Although budgerigars are not native to North America, some "wild" budgerigars can be found in American farmlands and on roadsides. These budgerigars were, or came from, domesticated birds that either escaped or were set free. Florida is one of the locations in the United States where wild, domesticated budgerigars can be found. Adaptations to their habitat by the budgerigars include being able to go without drinking for a month and not breeding if they are living in an area riddled with drought.


Budgerigars are typically found in flocks, other known as chatters. Large flocks can be formed under favorable conditions, such as an abundance of food or breeding females. These flocks can number upwards of 5,000 to 10,000 birds. Flock movement is based on where food and water are available. Competition among budgerigars is typical in flocks for food, water, mates and nesting holes. Flocks of budgerigars are known to withstand many hardships that other flock birds can’t survive, such as brackish water, food shortages, extreme temperature changes and a large number of predators. The budgerigars found in wild flocks are strong, adaptive and intelligent, as opposed to the less adaptive birds that get sick and die easily in the extreme conditions in which they live.


Budgerigars can fly up to 250 miles in a day to locate food and water. Budgerigars have such excellent eyesight they can sense rainstorms up to 40 miles away. This helps them migrate to areas that have a better potential for water and feeding grounds. Budgerigars typically migrate over vast distances.


Opposite of birds in the Americas, Budgerigars in their natural habitat of Australia migrate in a north to south pattern. This means that budgerigar flocks typically fly south in the spring and stay through the summer. In turn, budgerigars fly north in autumn and stay up north through the winter. The locations of migrating budgerigars, and the abundance of the flocks, vary from year to year. The north to south pattern of their migration makes it possible for budgerigars to take advantage of seasonal aridity and rainfall of the inner-Australian region.

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