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Parrots on a Branch

Australian Budgerigar

Image by David Clode

The Budgerigars, also known as budgies or parakeets, are colorful and social little birds that can be found flying in the Australian outback. They are famous as pets around the world because of their social behaviors and colorful personalities. These birds are also the smallest members of the parrot family. 

Family and Socializing

Budgerigars live in large flocks that can number into the hundreds or more. Traveling in these large groups serves as excellent protection from predators. If predators such as falcons attack a flock of budgies, the entire congregation of the birds will disperse and regroup quickly to disorient an enemy. 

The birds communicate with chatters, chirps, whistles, and screeching. Since they live in large flocks like these, they make it their duty to care for each other. Therefore, grooming is essential; each budgie will groom the feathers of one another by nibbling on each other's feathers. Doing this allows them to rid each other of debris and keep their feathers neat. This technique is known as preening. Preening also helps with maintaining strong bonds between members of the flock.

A flock of wild Budgerigar parrots flying

Budgies constantly travel across the outback. They never settle in one spot for a day. Instead, throughout the entire day, budgerigars will fly from one area to the next in search of food and water. In the wild, they feed on grass seeds, vegetation, berries, and other types of food sources they can find. 

Compared to other types of parrots, it can be easy to tell the difference between a male and a female budgerigar. With a male, they have blue nostrils called a cere. It is just above their beak. Females possess a pink or brown cere. 

At night, budgies will nestle close together to keep warm. Their down feathers provide insulation from the cold. To help raise their body temperatures, they puff up their feathers. Raising their feathers makes them appear larger than usual.

Raising their Young

Budgies are very responsible when it comes to raising their chicks. A budgerigar can lay 4 to 8 eggs. Instead of building a nest on branches, they build nests in tree hollows or other tight spaces elevated off the ground, which provides security from terrestrial predators like monitor lizards or dingoes. After they finish laying their eggs, the female will sit on the eggs for two and a half weeks and rotate them periodically to ensure they incubate correctly. When the chicks are born, they are naked and blind. Their eyes don't develop until later on in their growth stages. As infants, they cannot lift their heads or stand on their own. Since they are completely helpless, the mother assists them with feeding. She will regurgitate food stored in her crop (a sack in her throat) into the chicks' mouths during the day. By the time they are 20 days old, the chicks will have grown a complete set of pin feathers that resemble needles. The pin feathers will then sprout into fully developed feathers. Their eyes will also have developed by this time. In time, the young budgies will be old enough to leave their nest once their flight (primary) feathers grow.


Green budgie in flight

Budgerigars are agile flyers. Long feathers at the end of their wings are called primary feathers. These feathers enable them to fly and change directions when needed. Their tail also works as a rudder when flying.

Despite their small size and vulnerability, these little parrots prove that they are incredibly designed to thrive in the harsh Australian outback.

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