Budgies & Canaries
The Right Pet for You?
Budgies and canaries are colourful and friendly companions that need to live with other birds in a large aviary. This can be expensive to build or buy and needs regular cleaning, for health reasons.
What do Budgies & Canaries need?
- Companionship - to be with other budgies or canaries and to have human company.
- A balanced diet of bird food, seed shaken through a fine sieve to get rid of dust, and regular treats like fresh washed lettuce, carrots and apple.
- A constant supply of fresh, clean water.
- A large aviary, safe from predators and with sleeping areas or nesting boxes to give protection from cold, wind and direct sunlight. Daily exercise. There must be plenty of space for flying in the aviary.
- Lots of wooden perches for sleeping on.
- Budgies like to perch high up and all at the same level, while canaries need bark-covered twigs to perch on. Branches, toys and vegetation in the aviary to create an interesting environment.
- Clean water for bathing.
- Grit to help digestion.
- A cuttlefish bone to peck at.
- The aviary to be cleaned regularly.
- To be taken to a vet if they are ill or injured.
- To be looked after when you are on holiday.
Budgies can live for up to ten years, canaries for five to six years.
In the wild, budgies and canaries live in large groups so it is unkind to have just one bird. Get a pair or a group of male or female birds at the same time to avoid jealousy. Canaries and budgies should not be kept in the same aviary as canaries are smaller and may be bullied. All captive birds need a stimulating environment and space to fly around.
Budgies can be trained to land on your finger and can be handled quite frequently without stress. Canaries should be handled as little as possible. To pick up a bird, place one hand over its back. The tail should lie along the inside of your wrist and the head should rest between the first and second fingers, while the thumb and other fingers restrain the wings. Relax your fingers to make your grip as gentle as possible and never squeeze the bird.
The DSPCA strongly advises that you do not breed from budgies or canaries as it is very difficult to find good homes for the young. The best way is to keep males and females apart. Female budgies come into season from early spring until autumn, and will lay up to six eggs in one clutch.
If your budgie or canary is huddled on its perch, wheezing and gasping for breath, it may have an infection that could lead to bronchitis or pneumonia. Keep the bird warm and seek veterinary advice straight away. Budgies may suffer from an overgrown beak or claws. The beak can usually be kept in trim by pecking at a cuttlefish bone, but it may need to be trimmed by a vet. Claws can be kept short by providing perches with a rough or bark-covered surface. If they need clipping, a vet should do this. A budgie may develop a contagious condition called scaly face, a grey crust that spreads around the beak and face. It is caused by a tiny parasite and can be treated with medicine from your vet. Canaries may suffer from digestive disorders, causing listlessness, sleepiness and loss of appetite. If a canary has constipation, diarrhoea or blood in its droppings, keep it away from the others, make sure it is warm and seek veterinary advice straight away. Feather plucking can be a sign of boredom or stress. Make sure your budgie or canary has suitable companions, lots of room to fly and plenty of interesting toys and perches.
The Right Pet for You?
Birds in the parrot family include small lovebirds and parrots, which do not grow beyond 12 centimetres, right up to the large macaws, which can grow to over 80 centimetres.
Your parrot deserves the best care possible so make sure you are prepared to:
- find out how your parrot will change as he/she matures, including changes in size and behaviour, so that you know how best to interact with him/her and provide the right care, environment and companionship
- check that the person who looks after your parrot when you go on holiday knows all about the care needed, including the specialist feeding and how to minimise any disturbance
- accept that some parrots can live for more than 50 years.
Read a Parrot Care Sheet from the RSPCA website.
Remember - a pet will need your time and interest for the rest of its life.