Preventing diseases

This text was sent to me by Jasmine's mom.

Budgies come from Australia, where the summers and winters are both brutal. Therefore, dispelling the popular myth, budgies are actually quite hardy birds that have adapted to survive with very little food or water.

Budgies are often talkative but not loud (Please follow this link to hear Jasmine chirp), curious, friendly, inquisitive, and very active. Care should be taken to secure anything a budgie might get its curious beak into or onto. Don't ever let a budgie (or any bird, for that matter) chew on wood that has been painted, as you can never really tell what is in the paint. Budgies are a little "jumpy" at first, but warm up to humans well and are often very affectionate, although usually not liking to be held or petted. They will often like to sit on a person's shoulder and preen the hair, eyebrows, ear, and anything else they can.

Surviving and thriving are two completely different things. To survive, a budgie needs a teaspoon of food a day and even less water. To thrive, a budgie needs access to good quality food and fresh water at all times, and the food available should be provided with a budgie's health needs in mind. I personally provide pellets for Jazz, which allows her to get the right balance of nutrition and be unable to "pick and choose" which nutrients she will get. I also provide a granola-type snack bar made especially for birds that allows her to have variety in her diet. On rarer occasions, I let her snack on millet spray.

Budgies need the absolute largest cage you can afford, with bar spacing no more than 1/2'' apart. Just because they are small birds does not mean you should have a small cage. Budgies are very active and love to fly and play and they should be given the largest cage possible to do this in. Horizontal bars are recommended for climbing. Even better are cages that have both horizontal and vertical bars, as my budgies love to slide down the vertical bars and climb back up on the horizontal ones. My cage, for reference, is 24'' x 24'' x 36'' and houses two budgies.

As I mentioned earlier, budgies love to play. Therefore, it's important to be sure your budgie has enough toys, but not so many that he or she can't move around. My cage has a ladder, a chew toy, a swing, a bell toy, and a few more that get rotated in. You will have to experiment to see which kinds of toys your budgie likes best. Some love bells, while others won't touch a bell and instead beat up on other toys. Also, I recommend always having at least one swing, as it is my budgies' "bed". They will go on their swing to go to sleep, because it's high and makes them feel secure. Toys should be rotated once a week to get your budgie used to new things and to prevent boredom.
Perches should be different diameters and be scattered all through the cage. My budgies have a few dowel perches and a few natural wood perches. Before you get natural wood perches, however, be sure that the wood is safe for them. Some wood types are toxic to budgies, who love to chew things.
Some vital accessories are a cuttlebone and some way for your budgie to bathe.
They only need to bathe about twice a week, but this heads off major health problems, such as respiratory infections. Some will bathe in the sink, others prefer a special budgie bath. Always be careful with water temperature as birds' skin is much more thin and sensitive than ours. When in doubt, use room temperature water. If none of that works, some birds like to be misted with a plant sprayer (designate this sprayer for ONLY your birds).

My advice on this is when in doubt, have a vet do it. Budgies' nails need to be clipped every once in a while because they can get too long and mess with the bird's balance.
I also adamantly recommend wing clipping. Far too many birds who are fully flighted get loose and are never recovered; moreover, they usually die because they can't forage for themselves and often starve to death.
Jazz and Star are clipped--do they look it? Not really, so cosmetic arguments should be ruled out. Is it natural? No, but neither is keeping a bird in a cage, providing it food and water and befriending it. Sometimes the less natural ways are more humane. What would be better: to live your entire life in the company of loving and caring humans who feed you, love you and play with you; or, starting out that way, getting loose, and slowly starve to death or slowly die from a cat attack? It doesn't even hurt the bird to clip the wings! Why wouldn't you?
As I said before, you should have a vet show you how to clip the wings and nails before you even attempt it, and always have styptic powder (or flour will work in a pinch) on hand in case you accidentally cut into the quick or into a blood feather.

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