About Budgies


Etymology

There are at least three plausible roots for the English name budgerigar:

  • A combination of the words budgery (excellent) and gar (cockatoo). Budgerigar is an Aboriginal word that meaning “excellent eating” or “good meal” in several Australian Aboriginal languages. The Oxford English Dictionary backs this up. The term budgery, also spelled boojery, was formerly in use in Australian English slang meaning “excellent.”
  • An modification of Gamilaraay gidjirrigaa likely inspired by the aforementioned slang word budgery. The American Heritage Dictionary backs this up.

The genus name Melopsittacus derives from Greek and means “melodious parrot”. The species name undulatus means “undulated” or “wave-patterned” in Latin.

Characteristics

Adult females have pink to brown ceres, whereas adult males have blue ceres (seen above).
Adult females have pink to brown ceres, whereas adult males have blue ceres (seen above).

Appearance

Budgerigars are roughly 18 cm length and 30-40 grammes in weight. The underparts and rumps of wild budgerigars are green, while the upperparts are banded with black and yellow. The adult’s forehead and face are yellow, while the young’s are barred black with yellow until they reach adulthood at 3-4 months of age. Each cheek bears a tiny dark purple patch and a succession of black patches around the throat (dubbed the “necklace”). The tail is greenish blue or purple, with a centre yellow band on the outer tail feathers. Their wings are greenish-black in colour with black coverts and yellow fringes. The bill is olive grey, while the legs are greyish blue with zygodactyl toes. Budgerigars in the wild are considerably smaller than those in captivity. In captivity, these parrots have been produced in a variety of colours, including white, blue, and even purple, however they are most often seen in pet shops in blue, green, and very rarely white.

The cere (the region holding the nostrils) varies in colour between sexes: royal blue in males, pale-brown to white (non-breeding) or brown (breeding) in females, and pink in immatures of both sexes (usually of a more even purplish-pink colour in young males). Young girls are often distinguished by a slight chalky whiteness that begins around the cere nose apertures. Male albinos, lutinos, or recessive pieds commonly keep their juvenile purplish-pink cere colour throughout their lives.

Color Variations

The budgerigar now has at least 32 primary mutations, allowing for hundreds of secondary mutations (stable coupled main mutations) and colour variations (unstable combined mutations). Each of these main mutations belongs to one of four categories:

  • Albinism, a condition in which eumelanin (dark pigment) levels are diminished in all bodily tissues and structures. It might be total (full lack of eumelanin) or partial (an incomplete reduction in the amount of eumelanin).
  • Dilutism, the partial reduction of eumelanin, occurs nearly entirely in feathering.
  • Leucism, a condition in which all pigmentation is diminished, is nearly always seen in feathering.
  • Melanism, in which eumelanin is almost exclusively increased in feathering.

Each of these mutations is inherited via one of the dominance connections listed below:

  • Autosomal co-cominant
  • Autosomal complete dominant
  • Autosomal incomplete dominant
  • Autosomal recessive
  • Autosomal polygenic
  • Sex-linked recessive

Because birds have a ZW sex-determination system, sex-linked recessive traits are more prevalent in females than in males, as opposed to the converse in humans, who has an XY determination system.

Personality

Young male budgie with split dominant pied plumage. Budgerigars, particularly males, make excellent house pets.

Budgerigars are fairly accommodating of people and other birds, but they should never be kept with any other bird but another budgerigar. Even when putting two budgies together, use caution since they may do major injury to one another if they do not get along. They are quite easy to control.

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