Parrots have always been a popular choice as pet birds. However, many people are still unaware of all the parrot species. If you’re planning to be a bird owner, it’s probably time to get introduced to the English budgie.
English budgies are known to be one of the cutest parrot species to exist. Apart from their charm, they are admired for being larger than other budgies. Their personalities are also something that captivates most bird lovers.
If you are eager to learn more about English budgies, this is the place for you. From history, size, and temperament, I’ve got you covered. You surely wouldn’t miss a single detail about these lovely birds through this article.
What Is an English Budgie?
English budgies were developed from wild Australian budgerigars through selective breeding in the United Kingdom during the 1840s. English budgies are comparatively larger than the American and Australian budgies and they were used primarily for pet trade and shows.
Due to selective breeding, English budgies became a distinct variation of original parakeets.
They were produced to have exemplary qualities in terms of appearance, size, and behavior. These traits make them ideal household pets and show birds.
English Budgie vs. American Budgie (Parakeet): What’s the Difference?
If you’re from the United States, you are probably more familiar with American budgies or, simply, parakeets.
However, both English and American budgies come from only one species — Melopsittacus undulatus. Despite this, they have a couple of differences that you need to know of.
First of all, the English budgerigar is a variant of wild budgies from Australia brought to the United Kingdom. American parakeets, on the other hand, are those that were imported to the United States.
Due to the different selective breeding practices in these countries, the standard budgies had drastic changes in appearance and temperament. Let’s first discuss their looks.
Here is how an English budgie looks:
In comparison, here is a photo of American budgie or parakeet:
At first glance, you’ll observe that an English budgie is significantly larger than its American counterpart.
You can also notice that the English budgie’s head is larger and more rounded. They also have fluffier feathers and more defined markings.
Meanwhile, a parakeet is slimmer and has less distinct markings than an English budgie. However, both can exhibit the same colors and patterns as any normal budgie.
In terms of temperament, an English budgie is generally calmer and reserved. A parakeet is expected to be more talkative and also tends to bite. The former is friendlier and can make a perfect pet bird.
English Budgie History and Origin: Where Do English Budgies Come From?
The original Australian budgie is a native wild bird from Australia. This is where both English and American budgies came from.
The wild budgie species was then taken to the United Kingdom in 1840, where they were selectively bred to become the excellent pets we know today.
Their formal name “budgerigar” comes from the Aboriginal tribes of Australia, which describes how the migration of budgies from the barren lands led them to have access to water, animals, and plants.
English Budgie Appearance: What Does an English Budgie Look Like?
If you choose an English budgie, there’s no denying that you’ll have a cute bird as a pet.
This is one of the many reasons why they are so popular in the pet trade industry. Their distinctive appearance will make anyone fall in love at first sight.
Since budgies are the only species in the genus Melopsittacus, you can expect an English budgie to come in all colors and patterns as that of a standard budgie.
These include having the signature yellow head and black tail. Other color variations consist of the blue-white combination and the rarer variations like grey, violet, olive, mauve, and cinnamon.
However, because of selective breeding practices, English budgies can have slightly different features.
Firstly, they have hook-type bills and long tail feathers. Their head is also larger, and the neck is covered with fluffy feathers that resemble a beard.
As they reach maturity, male and female English budgies become distinguishable through the color of their cere or the part of the beak where the nostrils are located.
A male English budgie will develop a bluish cere while a female will have a brown cere during breeding mode and white if not.
I know a single bird is not enough, so here’s a video of three English budgies marching together as friends:
English Budgie Size and Weight: How Big Do English Budgies Get?
English budgies are on the larger side of parakeets. They normally grow around 10 to 12 inches from the crest to the tail tip.
They can also weigh around 1.6 to 2.2 ounces (45 to 65 grams) on average. Because of this, you may need a larger cage for them to have extra room to play and fly.
In contrast, American budgies are considered small parakeets that grow only between 7 and 7.8 inches tall.
Their weight is only anywhere around 1.1 to 1.4 ounces (25 to 36 grams). Compared to wild types, English budgies are considered two to three times bigger.
However, when placed next to a cockatiel, an English budgie is significantly smaller. It is found that the smallest cockatiel is comparable to the biggest English budgie in size.
English Budgie Temperament and Behavior: Are English Budgies Good Pets?
Because they are calm and more laid-back birds, English budgies make great pets.
They are overall friendly and less prone to biting and showing aggression. They would gladly hop onto a stranger’s finger even when they are not used to being handled.
English budgies have low voices and can learn to mimic human speech very well. In fact, they hold the record for most vocabulary learned by a bird with over 1,700 words.
Aside from this talent, they are also delightful chirpers and singers. If you have several birds, you can often hear them chatting among themselves.
Most budgies have high-energy levels, so they are very playful and will remain active throughout the day.
They require a lot of attention from their owners and are mostly happier in groups. However, female English budgies are not advised to be caged with other females.
Another notable aspect of their personality is their ability to be trained easily.
Aside from knowing various speech and sounds, they can also learn basic commands and different tricks like hopping on your hand or perching on your shoulder.
English Budgie Lifespan and Health Issues: Are English Budgies Healthy Birds?
An English budgie has a slightly shorter lifespan than a wild parakeet. Their average life expectancy in captivity ranges from 7 to 9 years.
In order to maximize your bird’s life with you and your family, it should be free of any illnesses and diseases.
As an owner, it’s your responsibility to watch out for signs and symptoms of the following health issues:
- Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY) Infection: Yeast infections are pretty common in English budgies. AGY, in particular, targets the gastrointestinal tract of the bird. This is caused by a bacteria called Macrorhabdus sp that causes indigestion and failure to absorb nutrients. Some of the symptoms to look out for include lethargy, weakness, weight loss, and loose droppings.
- Budgie Candidiasis: Another health issue to watch out for is candidiasis. Like AGY, candidiasis is a yeast infection that affects the digestive system of an English budgie. It is caused by Candida albicans that can be passed to a baby bird through its parent. Common signs include lethargy, poor appetite, and vomiting.
- Parrot Fever (Psittacosis): This is a bacterial infection caused by Chlamydia psittaci, a bacteria that can spread through bird droppings, mucus, and saliva. Psittacosis is actually a fatal disease marked by a nose and eye discharge, crusty and swollen eyes, infrequent vocalization, depression, and disheveled feathers, among other symptoms. It is also transmissible to humans.
Buying from a trusted English budgie breeder is the first step towards preventing your pet bird from having any of the mentioned health problems.
However, a good health measure should also involve proper environmental maintenance.
English Budgie Care, Feeding, and Exercise: How to Look After Your English Budgie?
Keeping your English budgie in the best condition physically and mentally is essential. However, without the proper knowledge, you may end up doing more harm than good to your pet.
In this section, I’m going to discuss the proper ways of caring for an English budgie.
Let’s start with their environment. For large birds like English budgies, purchasing a spacious cage is a must.
This is where they will spend most of their time playing, singing, and sleeping. It’s necessary to keep it clean at all times.
Bird droppings or any dirt and debris should be removed from the cage regularly. This routine should be done several times a week.
Thorough cleaning of the whole cage should be accomplished each month, along with perches and other accessories inside the cage.
The room temperature inside the house should be around 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and no lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If they are kept in a warmer or cooler place, they can experience stroke or hypothermia.
Bathing your English budgie is also necessary and should be done every couple of days. If they are not a fan of bathing in a water basin, you can alternately use a spray bottle to clean their feathers manually.
Regarding feeding, an English budgie should be given a well-balanced diet consisting of food plants like green vegetables and fresh greens.
Cooked carrots, sunflower sprouts, good seed mix, and whole-grain bread are also good food for them. Clean water should also be readily available in their cage.
English budgies also need a good deal of exercise every day. In the wild, they can freely roam from one tree to another to stay active.
You can replicate their natural habitat by installing natural wood perches and ladders on their birdcage. You can also provide toys so they won’t easily grow bored.
English Budgie Prices & Expenses: How Much Does an English Budgie Cost?
The price of an English budgie at local pet stores falls anywhere between $50 and $90. If the bird has a rare color or a unique pattern or marking, you can expect them to be more expensive.
After purchasing, you need to stay at the pet shop to buy other items required to give your new pet a warm welcome to its new home.
The breakdown of initial expenses can be seen on the table below:
|Type of Expense||Average Cost|
|Treats and Supplements||$40|
|Food and Water Dishes||$20|
|Total Initial Cost||$518|
The expenses mentioned above are just the initial cost of owning an English budgie. You also need to take into consideration vet consultations, supplements, and emergency treatment.
Places to Find English Budgies for Sale or Adoption
Parakeet breeders are more common in the United States. However, there are still a couple of places where you can purchase an English budgie, especially nowadays when it’s becoming a more popular pet.
Refer to the list below for some reputable English budgie breeders that offer show-quality pet birds:
- BirdsBudgies – This breeder specializes in breeding English budgies that become champions of various pet shows in the country. Over the years, the owner’s budgies gradually climb up the ranking as best show birds. If you want a high-quality pet, you should definitely purchase one from this breeder.
- Cute Little Birdies Aviary – This is an aviary located in Ohio that produces English budgies that are mostly sold as family pets. They hand feed all of their birds and provide them training to be perfect companions. With over 15 years of experience, you can never go wrong with this option.
- S&M Aviary – This is another English budgie breeder that serves multiple states, including New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The owners are also proud members of several groups like the American Budgerigar Society (ABS), Budgerigar Association of America (BAA), and Tri-State Budgerigar Society (TSBS).
Adopting rescue English budgies is a budget-friendly option and a great alternative to buying from pet shops.
You can refer to the list below for some rescue organizations where you can adopt an English budgie:
- Burge Bird Rescue – This rescue has saved over 300 birds of different species in Kansas since 1990. They do not require a fixed adoption fee but instead accept any amount needed to fund food, medicine, and toys for the rescued birds.
- Mickaboo – This is a bird rescue based in North Carolina that can provide you with your next English budgie. They give any form of medical support to rescued birds suffering from curable diseases. Adopters are required to attend their bird classes for free before adoption.
- The Gabriel Foundation – Another rescue you can reach out to is The Gabriel Foundation. They are partnered with Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet, which are both online pet adoption websites. Their fee ranges from $25 to $75, depending on the species.
Many English budgies end up in shelters and rescues because owners fail to understand the needs of their own pets. As a future owner, it’s best to educate yourself about this species ahead of time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Difference Between an English Budgie and an Australian Budgie?
The main difference between an English budgie and an Australian budgie is their origin and size. Australian budgies are the wild birds from which English budgies are bred.
English budgies are those that were brought and developed in the United Kingdom. They are quite larger than their Australian counterparts.
Are English Budgies Cuddly?
English budgies are friendly and affectionate birds. If they are used to being handled as young birds, they will be very eager to cuddle with you and interact.
If you find this difficult, you can give them extra training for them to become comfortable with petting.
Are English Budgies Better Than American Budgies?
English budgies are better than American budgies in terms of temperament. American parakeets are known for their tendency to bite and for being loud. They are not well-suited for people who prefer a calmer bird.
Final Thoughts: Is the English Budgie the Right Pet for You?
If you are looking for a calm and quiet bird, an English budgie is a perfect choice. They are great family companions due to their friendly and loving nature. However, they have a short lifespan compared to other birds.
To make the most of their years, you should get a young English budgie that you can bond with at an early age. They are also beginner-friendly birds, so you won’t have trouble raising and maintaining them.
Despite being originally bred in the United Kingdom, you won’t have trouble finding an English budgie breeder. Once you find your match, you’ll never regret having one.