Wondering just what your budgie is doing, and why he does that? Read this section to learn all about budgie behavior.
Curiosity & Playing – Every budgie has its own unique personality, but all budgies are naturally curious and playful little birds. Your budgie’s antics will entertain you for sure. It is important to foster your budgie’s curiosity and playfulness by making sure you provide various toys in the cage and different healthy foods daily.
Flocking Together – Budgies are social flock birds. The flock is a very important part of a budgie’s life. Almost everything a budgie does is normally flock oriented. Preening, eating, napping, socializing are all done as a flock. It is important to make sure your pet budgie is part of a flock. If your budgie is lone and is not tame and does not have much interaction with anyone in the household, he will be missing a vital aspect of his life. In this case, it is best to provide your budgie with a flock-mate, another budgie, in an appropriately sized cage for two. If your budgie is tame, you must make him feel like your family is his flock. Your budgie needs daily time out of the cage, with plenty of interaction. Have your budgie on your shoulder to watch TV with you. Have him sit down for a meal and give him some healthy tid-bits off your plate. Make sure you get some one-on-one time with him and talk to him like you guys are friends. You and your household can be a sufficient substitution for a budgie flock as long as you provide him the interaction and inclusiveness that a budgie flock would. You will find the friendship that grows between you and your budgie very rewarding.
Preening – Every budgie needs to preen! This is how a budgie keeps his feathers clean and neat. A budgie preens his feathers by first gathering some oil from the preen gland at the base of the tail. (You might be able to see this gland in between the feathers of the rump when your budgie puffs its feathers.) The budgie then runs his beak all the way down each feather, starting at the base where it is attached to the skin. He keeps doing this until every single feather has been properly preened. This can take a long time, but is an important part of a budgie’s day. Preening is a flock activity. When you have more than one budgie together in the same room, you’ll notice that they usually all preen at the same time.
Bathing – All budgies have individual preferences when it comes to bathing. Some don’t bathe at all, and others like to often. Budgies who do bathe should take a bath about once every week or two. Some budgies will bathe on their own, using the water dish provided in their cage to splash water on themselves with their beak. You can also provide a bath for your budgie by filling a shallow container with water and putting it in the cage once a week. If your budgie wants to, he’ll go down and splash about in the water. Some budgies enjoy bathing by rubbing on wet greens you put in the cage for them to eat. You can also bathe your budgie by spritzing or misting him gently with a spray bottle (one that has never had cleaners in it). If your budgie wants to bathe, he’ll show it by puffing up his feathers. If he doesn’t, he’ll try to get away from the spray, and you should stop.
Poofing & Tail Wagging – Budgies sometimes poof up and shake their feathers in order to straighten them out. After preening or some other activity which may have ruffled their feathers, budgies will poof up, do a quick shake, and then maybe wag their tail real fast. This gets all their feathers into proper position. Budgies also poof up their feathers (without shaking) when they get really comfortable, such as before a nap. A budgie may poof up for a few seconds when they get happy or excited. Also, when a budgie is showing off for another budgie, he may puff up certain areas, usually head feathers, and display the tail feathers.
Stretching – After a period of inactivity, you’ll probably notice your budgie stretching. Usually a budgie first stretches out the leg and wing of one side, then the other. Then he’ll usually lift both wings up without extending them to complete the stretch. If he’s really stiff he may repeat the process. Sometimes a budgie will do a little exercise after stretching.
Exercising – You may notice your budgie getting some exercise, especially in the morning after just waking up. Budgies do this by vigorously flapping their wings while hanging onto a perch, flying in place. It’s part of a morning routine to get the blood flowing, and is usually done right after stretching. They often make “mad” sounds while they get into it. You’ll see if you watch the video to the left!
Scratching – Budgies would normally use their beaks to preen and to scratch an itch. But when it comes to their head they have a dilemma, like you do when you need to scratch your back! If a budgie has a buddy, they can get head scratches from each other. If not, of if they just have a quick itch, then they can scratch with their foot, or use a perch or other object to get to the scratch. When your budgie scratches with his foot, you’ll see him lift his foot behind his wing and scratch his head rapidly for a second or two. You may also see him rubbing his head on a perch, toy, or clip.
Yawning – Budgies yawn too! Usually budgies yawn when they get sleepy, before their nap or before bed time. When your budgie yawns, you’ll see his little budgie beak open up wide, his neck stretch, and his eyes close. Sometimes a budgie needs to yawn to get something loose, similar to when you need to yawn to pop your ears. You’ll see him yawn repeatedly and stretch his neck out a lot. When you watch your budgie yawn, you’ll probably find yourself yawning too!
Beak Grinding – While falling asleep before a nap or before bed time, especially after the lights go out, you might hear your budgie grinding his beak. It sounds like quiet little grinding sounds. It is made by opening the beak slightly and gently grinding it closed. This means that your budgie is very comfortable and is on his way to dream land.
Napping – Every budgie usually needs to take a mid-day nap. Napping is a flock behavior. All or most of the budgies in a flock will nap at the same time. You can see a flock of budgies napping above. The nap may last about 15 to 45 minutes. Some budgies nap standing on two feet. Others nap standing on one foot. Some budgies nap with their head forward. Others nap with their head tucked back.
Chewing – It is a natural behavior for budgies to chew and tear up things. This is how they keep their beaks in shape. It is important to provide them with an outlet for their chewing. You should know that a cuttlebone just won’t cut it, since they are much too soft. Most pet stores sell toys that are made for birds to chew up. Just remember that because their beaks are smaller and softer than parrots, budgies need a softer material to chew. So toys made of popsicle sticks or soft wood would be good, but ones made of manzanita sticks would not. Pet budgies should always have a toy or item in the cage that is meant to be destroyed, so keep in mind that such a toy would need to be replaced every once in a while.
Singing – Male budgies are the singers. Some love to sing more than others. Sometimes they sing to themselves. Often they sing for their cage-mates. Young budgies can learn singing skills from older, more experienced singers. Singing is a form of entertainment, play, and interaction among budgies. Budgies create their own unique songs full of trills, tweets, screeches, and croaks. Some even incorporate other sounds into their songs. One of my budgies dings his bell as part of some of his songs. Head bobbing and eye dilating are also part of singing. Male budgies will sing to other male budgies as a way of showing off. They will sing to female budgies as a form of courtship.
Mutual Preening – Budgies can’t preen their own head and cheek feathers. A lucky budgie has someone who will do this for him. Mutual preening occurs between bonded pairs as well as between good budgie buddies. If you have only one budgie as a pet and you have a good relationship with him, he may enjoy a good head scratch from you. If your budgie wants you to “preen” him, he’ll poof up the feathers on his head and cheeks and turn his head as you scratch him. You know a budgie is really enjoying his head scratch when he closes his eyes.
Bonding – If you keep male and female budgies together, you may notice some of them pairing off. In bonding, a male budgie will sing to his mate and bob his head at her, as well as feed her regurgitated food. A male and female budgie will touch beaks often, as well as preen each other’s head and cheek feathers. If you have multiple budgies in one cage, especially in a flight, you’ll notice the bonded pairs will often stick together.