You are going to get one or two parakeets. Congratulations! Parakeets make great pets. This booklet will help you pick out your birds and the equipment that needed to keep them happy and healthy in your home for a long time.
IN THE BEGINNING
The Parakeet (more properly called Budgerigar) originally came from Australia. Flocks of thousands of these birds wander across that great land. Nearly all of the parakeets in the wild are green. The native peoples hunted them for food!
Parakeets were sent to Europe over a hundred years ago. Bird lovers quickly discovered that the parakeet was easily kept and bred in captivity. Soon blue and other new and unusual colors were produced, sparking further interest in these fascinating little birds. It was learned that tamed parakeets make great pets and can even be taught to talk.
Hobbyists started to take their parakeets to exhibitions – just as others might show dogs or cats. Now parakeets are the beloved pets of millions of people the world over.
YOUR BIRD’S HOME
Many beautiful and easy to clean cages are available from your pet dealer. Don’t be tempted to try to build your own. It just is not possible for you to make one that is as sturdy and attractive as a factory produced cage. Cages are really very economical these days. If you start adding up the price of all the paint, wood, and hardware that you would need to construct a cage, you will see that it is much cheaper to buy one.
The cage must be at least long enough for the parakeet to stretch and flap its wings. Parakeets also get a lot of exercise by climbing on the bars. Make sure that the bars of the cage are close enough together, so that the bird can’t fly out or even stick its head out. If your pet sticks its head out through the bars, it might get its neck caught and choke to death. How big should the cage be? It can’t be too big! The bigger the cage, the more birds you can keep and the more fun they – and you! – will have.
Today’s modern cages are made of metal and plastic. Don’t put parakeets in a wicker or bamboo cage. The parakeets will chew holes in the material very quickly!
Cages come in every color of the rainbow. The color is your own personal decision – buy what you like and what matches your home decor. The color of the cage makes no difference to the birds.
BUYING YOUR FIRST BIRD
Go to a store that is clean and odor free. Be sure that the birds’ water and cage is clean. The birds should be flying and climbing about their cage, making quite a bit of noise. If the birds are very quiet and tend to sit in one spot, then go to another store. Healthy parakeets never sit with their feathers puffed up. Any stains around the vent or nostrils are indications of disease. Don’t buy a sick bird!
If someone is almost always home during the day, you can get one bird. A parakeet kept by itself can become very tame and friendly with people. It can also be taught to talk. You will want to get a young boy, right out of the nest. In general, only the baby boys become tame. Unfortunately, in very young parakeets, it is not easy to tell the boys from the girls! In the green and blue birds, look for a bluish tint to the skin around the nostrils, right over the beak. This is called the cere. In all yellow or all white birds, the cere is always pale in both the males and females.
The color of the bird is up to you. The plain green and blue birds are most often a little cheaper. The pure white and pure yellow birds generally cost the most. They make very good pets and are not blind as some people say. You might see English Parakeets for sale. These are twice the size as the regular parakeet, but are the same sort of animal. The difference is on of breed, like the difference between a Great Dane dog and a Cocker Spaniel dog. English Parakeets also make very good pets.
If someone is not home during the day, it will be cruel to get a single bird. It will get very lonely being by itself all day long. In this case get at least two birds. They will keep each other company. Unfortunately, when parakeets are kept with each other, they can’t be tamed or taught to talk. They prefer their own company to that of people. Having kept thousands of birds, I can hardly blame them, for I generally prefer the company of birds to people also! Parakeets kept in pairs or a group are still lots of fun. It’s a great pleasure to see them playing all day long. Their bright colors and intelligent antics are a constant joy in the home. It is also very educational for youngsters to be able to observe birds.
If you want to breed your birds, you of course must have a true pair. Strangely enough, a single female, or two females by themselves, will sometimes lay eggs, but these eggs will never hatch. In the green and blue birds, the cere of the male is a bright blue. In the hen it might be any other color. As mentioned before, in yellow and white parakeets, the cere is pink in both the males and females. The cere of the male is always smooth. In a hen ready to breed, the cere will become rough, no matter the color of the bird.
If you want to breed your birds, you must buy a BREEDING CAGE. The BREEDING CAGE is larger than the regular pet cage and it has a trap door for the nest box. In the wild parakeets nest in holes in trees. In captivity these birds nest in boxes about eight inches square. Don’t waste your time and the birds by trying to force them to nest in a finch basket. Parakeets have up to eight babies. Remember, parakeet babies will be almost as big as the parents before they come out of the nest! Ma and Pa keet, and all the babies, must be able to fit in the nest. Keep this in mind when looking at a finch nest!
If you are not interested in breeding your birds, the sexes don’t really matter. Parakeets are almost always friendly with each other if all placed in the cage at the same time. Just use common sense and allow the birds some elbow room. Don’t over-crowd your birds.
If you have had a parakeet by itself for some time, you might be thinking of getting a second bird as a mate or friend for the first. This is a good idea, but don’t put the birds together right away. Just imagine if you have your own apartment, and one day you come home to find some stranger watching the TV. You would get very upset, to say the least! Birds are just the same. Put the new bird in a different cage next to the original pet. When you see them playing through the bars, they can be placed together. Just to be on the safe side, do keep an eye on them anyhow for a day or two.