Baby Budgie! Day 01

I got a Budgie!
What's that?
A parakeet

There is a common misconception about Parakeets - that I used to have too, even when I worked at a pet store. That they are more like "mice" or a pigeon than an actual parrot. The difference between a dove and parrot is like the difference between a mouse and a dog. When someone would want to get a parakeet I would think of it like them wanting to get a mouse - which can be good "pets" but they just kinda run around and eat and you have to clean after them. Parrots on the other hand were more like "wow I wish I could afford one of those - they are like little people!" That was what I used to think about parakeets because I worked at a pet-co and the ones they get there are like getting mass bred birds that are never handled and are treated like - mice.

It wasn't until years later that I saw some parakeet videos on YouTube that I realized that they are a lot less like mice and a lot more like a mini- parrot - but actually more like a dolphin or an ape in terms of intelligence. It never really occurred to me that just because they are only 19$ at a pet store that their cost equaled their worth. An African Grey may be close to 2,000 dollars but a 20$ bird can learn to speak even more words! The reason for the price difference wasn't their worth but more so how difficult they are to raise. Parakeets breed often are are very easy to make babies. They also mature in only a couple months and do not have to be hand fed all day everyday for weeks at a time. They can be raised by their parents and then handled to become tame. The ones at the pet stores that purchase them in bulk are never handled unless they are being thrown into a cage or poked at through a window. If you want a tame bird it's best if they have tame parents and are raised around people. That is not how most pet store budgies are brought up.

So with that being considered where and how old and what kind of parakeet you get will determine what it's personality will be like and how easily it will be to tame. I've had a lot of parakeets but they have all been from a petco/petsmart - some of them will get on a finger almost out of the box and others only after a lot of practice - and some never really like it. They have varied personalities like any thing else and some are more friendly than others.

Their age also has a lot to do with it just like with anything else. A puppy is a lot more friendly than an older dog and it will bond with you more easily the younger it is. It has less chances of being frightened of people. Maybe kittens are a better example since a kitten raised with a lot of attention will grow into a much friendly cat than one not handled or handled improperly. It is possible to tame a parakeet that has never been around people when it's older but - it isn't quite the same as one raised tame.

The other really important factors to getting a tame and friendly parakeet is to only have ONE. If there is more than one they will bond with each other and not with you - so when you try to handle them they area always anxious to get back to their friends. They are also a very social creature so if they don't have another parakeet they will be a LOT more motivated to interact with you.

So anyways. I had four parakeets a couple years ago. Started off with one and then decided to get another because I felt bad for not spending enough time with it. That turned into 3 - then four. They were relatively tame - they would step up on my finger and stay on my shoulder but like I said there were 4 so they would always try to get back to the cage to be together and they were always more afraid of me than not. I didn't spend enough time with them to train them to talk or do any tricks. I hoped they would have babies so then I could hand raise some to be really tame. That didn't happen.

We have an atrium in our house that is perfect for an aviary so I put screen on the top so nothing could get in or out and put up some ropes and they LOVED it out there. They could finally fly around and it was about the nicest environment for four parakeets you could ever have. They had been out there for months - all day and night and had no problems what so ever. The weather was ideal and since it's an atrium and there is a door into the house it stays about the same temp day and night.

This is where it gets sad. We went out of town for a couple days and came back and the first thing i did was to go check on them. They were all dead and chewed up... Started crying like a little baby - I reallly loved my budgies especially Parker - who was my favorite and liked me the most too. He even said "I love you" once when I was upset. What must have happened was that rats attacked them - because nothing else could have gotten in there and - it was just strange. It wasn't like it was the first time we left them out there - they had been out there for months. It's also strange that they could have even caught the birds since they could fly? It was just weird and really sad. We then had to put our dog Spencer to sleep because she was 15 and could barely walk and we had to take the carpet out of our house and everything.

So I was kinda traumatized and over having any animals for a while. That changed a couple days ago when I finally decided to get another budgie! I was going to remember everything I knew about how to raise it to talk so only get ONE. Get a boy (Boys talk better) and try to find a young one preferably hand raised.

I found some online but were far away, and some others but were already a few months old. So I just went to the local petsmart to look - and I told myself  "Derek don't just get one cause it's cute, don't be impulsive" fast forward  - I got one that was cute and but probably a girl and not young and not tame... opps. I was like - it's ok it will be a challenge!

I named her N-U-A-L-A Windsor - (From the Stanley Kubrick movie: Eyes wide Shut) but she was very afraid of me and every time I moved she would start to shake. She didn't move from one spot for hours and then didn't eat or drink for over a day. I knew that that was normal and it usually takes them a while to settle in but I was really anxious and I didn't have a good feeling about it. I was suppose to be excited and happy not nervous and hesitant. So I decided to bring her back and take the drive to the Parrot store. Coincidentally when I was getting nuala a girl came up to me and said she had one too but that I should get one from Omar's instead - the exact place I wanted to go in the first place. A sign? Maybe. I checked their web site one more time to see if they had updated it with any new ones - there was still only the ones at the stores far away. I decided to call the local store that is only 10min away (there are 4 Omar's bird stores in Southern California) and they said they had JUST gotten in 3 newly hatched English Budgies. - Exactly what I wanted! Score!

So I brought Nuala back - which I felt really shitty for, but instantly felt relieved. It was one of those things where you knew you got something you really didn't exactly want because it was convenient and that you should wait for what you really want - kinda things. I was right! I wanted a baby not an unknown pet store one.

There were 3 of them. One was yellow the other blue and a lil yellow and then a light blue and white one - which is the one I got. It looked most like a boy (you can tell by the color above their beak) The difference between a normal budgie and an English budgie is that the English budgies are bigger and have a different shaped head. They are more like the "show birds" or the "fancy kind" haha Omg when I first saw them It was like seeing puppies or kittens and I knew I made the right decision. They are so young they had a kind of dumb and fluffy look to them like they can barely open their eyes.

Safety First

The difference between Omars and Petsmart's birds is like a pound and a very nice breeder. They gave me a ton of extra food and a toy, free vet visit and they even want you to come back in a week so they can weigh and check up on them. The English budgies are also most expensive at 109$ vs the 69$ Omars usually charges for a regular budgie and 19$ that petsmart/ petco does.With dogs and cats their cost or if they are 'breed or pet' quality doesn't matter when it comes to how nice they are. With birds the cost of hand raised is directly related to how tame they are.

The difference between the two budgies is night and day. Where as Nuala didn't eat and was super afraid the entire time - ____ started eating .5 second after he got in the cage and then later on when I opened his cage he walked right out and across my desk and jumped right on my finger and was snuggling with me! I was like omg It likes me already! I finally have one of those budgies like I see on youtube that actually wants to play and be held! And this is only an HOUR in. Imagine what he will be like in a few days or weeks?

Besides wanting a lil friend and companion I especially wanted a budgie to teach it how to talk. I have been really interested in "language acquisition" and animal intelligence. I would always show my other budgies other birds on youtube and hope they would pick up their talking. I figure if I record and develop the best way to teach ____ how to talk then I can make videos that other budgies can watch and they can learn how to talk too. There is also the potential for a program that teaches language in the best way possible. So that if you can develop a way to teach a bird how to talk through symbols and sounds etc - then you could apply that same process to humans or other animals.

If these little guys can learn up to 1700 words and have the intelligence of a toddler - then it's really only a matter of education and understanding how their minds work to unlock their potential. I figure that if they can learn how to use a touch screen - then I could design some kind of interface to allow them to communicate, or at the very least entertain themselves. This isn't 'out there' my new little guy was already pecking/ licking at my cell phone screen to flip through pictures. It already understood the concept that if it touched the screen it would cause it to move. So imagine taking that a little further. Apes use Ipads and the only reason a parrot hasn't is because no one has tried to teach it to. There is also implications to how they are treated and how they should be treated if they are capable of "human speech' and are as intelligent as a small child or more.

Im not sure what his name is yet, I was thinking "Mensa" haha

It's interesting because they found the the younger Orangutans learned how to use the ipad quickly but the older ones either couldn't or were not interested. I think it's very possible to make an app that an animal could play with! An angry getting angry after playing angry birds haha. Wait for it!

I'm going to keep track of his progress on here and maybe a tumblr/ instagram.

  • Budgies are the third most popular pet in the world after dogs and cats. 
  • The budgerigar has been bred in captivity since the 1850s
  • Males are typically cheerful, extroverted, highly flirtatious, peacefully social, and very vocal.
  • Females are typically highly dominant and more socially intolerant
  • Females are often more bossy and rude with their own gender, but with males they get along better; usually when budgies of different gender are put together, they tend to be more kind to each other, some will not even fight or peck at each other for their life time.
  • Singing and mimicry are more pronounced and better perfected in males. Females rarely learn to mimic more than a dozen words. Males can easily acquire vocabularies ranging from a few dozen to a hundred words. Pet males, especially those kept alone, are generally the best speakers.
  • Puck, a male budgerigar owned by American Camille Jordan, holds the world record for the largest vocabulary of any bird, at 1,728 words
  • -Wikipedia - Link


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