P is for Parakeet

The letter P makes me think of Parakeets.

I grew up having birds as pets, and our family has enjoyed having parakeets, or budgies, as pets the last few years.

Here are a few tips I have learned:

Don't just feed them seeds

When you bring your bird home from the breeder or pet store, you will also be buying a bag of seeds. But think about it, seeds are mostly fat and protein. You can also buy pellets, which are a more complete food, at the pet store. There are feeds out there that contain both pellets and seeds, but if you feed these to your bird, he will probably eat all the seeds and push aside the pellets. It is better if you feed seeds for a day or two, and then offer only pellets for three or four days. Then rotate back to seeds for a couple of days. You do need to start this when they are young; pellets are very hard to introduce to adults. Our parakeet is older so we actually have seeds for him at night, but during the day we feed him other foods including bread, broccoli, grated carrots, lettuce, kale, pasta, and lots of other things. Each morning he comes out and eats eggs with us, on his own little plate. But don't feed them avocados, mushrooms, fruit seeds, or spinach. These things can be toxic.

Be aggressive with  your training

Training a bird takes lots of time. To successfully train, you need to spend time with your bird every day. The first step is to get him used to your hand, then getting him onto your finger, then coming out of  his cage on your finger. This process can take a few days, or a few weeks, depending on how much time you spend with him. We learned this after we suddenly lost a bird. We were very sad, and went out that day to get a new one. And because we wanted him to be super friendly, we started right away and got him finger trained within a day or two. Within a week he was sitting on our shoulder, as we walked around the house. He was a very young bird and did not get stressed by us. Of course, if your bird is showing signs of stress and hiding down in the bottom of his cage, you need to back off and take it slower. Having their wings clipped during this intense training time is key, so they can't fly away from you. Which leads me to my next point....

The debate: clipped wings or un-clipped wings

We always have clipped our birds' wings, even when they became adults. Until something sad happened to our bird Romy. He was trained well, but had his wings clipped. We would even take him outside in the backyard, and let him play in the grass. 

Well, he was on a shoulder in the front yard and flew down to the driveway. We went to catch him, and he flew farther, into the street. Right before our eyes, a cat came out of nowhere, caught him up, and ran and jumped over a fence. (That was the sudden loss I referred to above.) If he had not had his wings clipped he would have at least survived, but might have gotten lost. And then more recently our current bird, Ozzie, who does not have his wings clipped, accidentally flew out our garage door and into the front yard. He flew down three houses, and into a tree. But, because he was very tame, we climbed the tree and got him back. So the debate still stands. We have decided to clip wings during training, but then to let them grow out when we feel they are trained enough.

Birds need companionship

Do you mostly see birds outside, by themselves? No, they are usually in a flock, or at least in the vicinity of other birds. Birds need someone to talk to, or even just someone to be around. Our very first bird, Sunny Honey, belonged to Dasher, so when we got him and he was trained, his cage went up into the girl's room. After a few weeks, he began to loose his feathers and stopped making his little bird noises. I went onto the internet to research and realized that he was lonely. So back into the kitchen he went, where we spend a lot of time and within a week he was growing his feathers back and happily chirping. When you get a bird, you need to deliberately spend time with him each day. As I am typing this, Ozzie is flying from my shoulder, to the window, to the bathroom mirror, making all sorts of happy noises. Whenever he comes by, I take a minute to talk to him. He loves it when we rub his neck, and will even come down to our hand and rub it when he has an itch. He is a very affectionate bird, and when we are talking to him, gets very close and rests his beak on our noses. Birds have different personalities and we have found that he is the most affectionate of all the birds we have had, so others might not be as cuddly. 


So the next time you are thinking of an inexpensive pet, think of a parakeet. They can usually be purchased for under $25, you can find a cage for under $50, and you will spend under $5 a month to feed them.

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