Is Your Budgie Pudgy?


Budgerigars, sometimes known as “parakeets” in the United States, are lovely, adaptive, and amusing small parrots that have been beloved companions for many decades. Unfortunately, they are often fat little fellas who refuse to consume what is healthy for them. They are native to Australia and migrate in large flocks for long distances, grazing on the ground at regular pauses for seeds and sprouts, which they devour in large quantities. Wild budgies, on the other hand, need all of those calories to keep them going on their journey.

Budgies continue to be voracious feeders in our homes, but their efficient utilization of nutrients and constrained, frequently unproductive lives make them excellent candidates for obesity. They are also predisposed to fatty liver disease and a variety of malignancies. This combination often leads to chronic health issues and significantly shorter life spans. As a result, despite being popular pets, they are sometimes considered as cheap, interchangeable, or “throwaway” birds, not receiving the respect, adequate nutrition, and medical treatment they need and deserve. In my opinion, every bird, regardless of size or price, loves life and illuminates the world for us, and as their caregivers, we owe them the finest possible care. Proper budgie care may result in a lifetime of 15-20 years, rather of the usual 5-10 years.

For 15 years, I owned huge parrots before getting my first budgie, a charming tiny lady called “Max.” As a Macaw and Cockatoo keeper, I battled (and still do) with how to feed these small fellows in a reasonable and size-appropriate manner. When it comes to feeding, those of us who sincerely want to provide the greatest care for our birds, in the words of one of my avian doctors, often “kill them with kindness” (too much). What I’ve had to learn is how to provide these small ones with all the diversity and ingredients they need, but in the correct micro dosages. So, if you’re dealing with a chubby budgie, here are some ideas.

*Portions- Keep in mind that a dish of anything should never be greater than the size of a bird’s head. In other words, 1/2 grape is sufficient for a budgie; 2 or 3 grapes is much too much! Fill the cup no more than two-thirds filled with seed! For these people, I often characterize budgie portions as “pinches” and “dabs.”

*Food- Unlike bigger parrots, budgies consume mostly seed in the wild, therefore it’s OK (and even required) to provide some seed everyday. Amounts should range between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon per day, depending on body size, activity level, and metabolism. You may feed a commercial excellent budgie seed mix or spray millet – one or the other each day, not both. Spray millet helps them to forage more organically and is low in fat and rich in protein (for a seed). However, a serving is around a 1″ chopping off a spray – NOT the whole thing for one budgie! I merely sprinkle a few organic pellets on the seed mix once or twice a week. Small birds have greater liver, renal, and gout problems if pellets make up too much of their food, therefore I only feed at a 5-10% rate. I provide 1 teaspoon of my organic “Amber’s Continental Cuizine” (my prepared food) to normal weight budgies every day and every other day to tubby budgies.

I also add a lot of finely chopped vegetables to this. In reality, the most essential component of a budgie’s daily diet is vegetables, which should account for the majority of the daily rations. Clip chard, beet, carrot, and radish tops, kale, dandelion, spinach, mustard, cilantro, parsley, romaine, and other dark leafy greens to cage bars or above. Serve raw or boiled broccoli to budgies, who like florets clipped to bars. Next, serve rich orange and colorful vegetables in a cup, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, beets, rutabaga, and jalapeño peppers. To get the most beta carotene, cook everything except the peppers. Many seed sprouts are delicious and widely consumed. Fruit may be eaten as a snack every day or two if consumed in moderation – try papaya, mango, kiwi, melon, berries, pears, apples, and stone fruits.

*Diet conversion- In a perfect world, newborn budgies would be weaned onto a varied diet that included all of the above-mentioned items and would readily accept anything you offered. But in the real world, most are nursed on seed (it’s cheap and simple), and if you adopted an adult, he’s most likely a proven seed addict who would vehemently reject all this new healthy food. Budgies, along with cockatiels, amazons, and cockatoos to a lesser extent, are among the MOST obstinate eaters. You can’t “starve” a bird into eating properly – he’ll practically starve to death before consuming anything he doesn’t consider “food.” I stage feedings to assist steer new eating, feeding various foods at different times to limit his options.

A obstinate budgie in a cage with seed will ALWAYS eat it instead, therefore remove the seed for 3-4 hours and just serve fresh healthy food. Bribe him by putting some seed on top or using something he already enjoys, such as corn or peas. Offer new meals to him by hand or at the dinner table while the rest of the family eats to urge him to join his “flock.” Finally, don’t lose trying after a few days; birds sometimes need to observe something many times before they’re comfortable enough to eat a new item. Remove any wet or fresh meals after 3-4 hours to prevent them becoming sour and becoming a source of germs. Budgie diet conversion is a months-long process for most people, not something that will happen in days or even weeks. Many budgies prefer to chew on vegetables fastened to cage bars or impaled into kabobs before attempting to eat items cut in their dish. Be inventive and, most importantly, patient.

*Weights- Weighing your budgie is the only method to ensure he maintains a healthy weight!

It’s as easy as that. Based on body size, the optimal weight is usually between 32 and 38 grams, average 35. English budgies will weigh 45 grams or more. Weigh yourself on a regular basis—at least monthly, but weekly is preferable in the beginning. Aim for daily checkups on infants, ill birds, and dieters. For the maximum precision, weigh first thing in the morning on an empty crop. Any increase or loss of 10% or more is important, thus a budgie just needs 3-4 grams to be in danger. An increase indicates that it is time to reduce seed (or females may be with egg), but a reduction, particularly if abrupt, might indicate illness, renal difficulties, diabetes, or a too tight diet. In such situation, consult your veterinarian.

Determine your budgie’s optimal personal objective by weighing him and then palpating his keel and chest to see what works best for his size and body type. He’s too thin if the keel feels sharp like a razor blade. He’s certainly overweight if he has visible cleavage or so much padding that you can’t see the keel. It’s OK to be on the lean side when it comes to budgies. Any weight reduction strategy should be implemented gradually to prevent harming or aggravating an already fatty liver.

*Workout- If you have a tiny, SAFE area where you can fly your budgie, it is the finest exercise in the world! Every other day, my budgies fly free in our “Tweety” area for 3-5 hours. There are several long ladders leading from the floor to different playstands for climbing. I regularly urge them to travel back and forth as much as feasible. “Francis,” one of our rescues, arrived at 65 grams and couldn’t get off the floor. Francis (for St. Francis) can now fly around the room 6-8 times without panting or tiring. If you don’t have a safe spot and need to keep your wings clipped, promote activities like as climbing ropes and ladders, chasing a ball on the floor, bouncing on a bungee, and others. Hold your budgie on a finger or perch and gently raise and lower your arm to stimulate flapping. To further promote activity, cages should be spacious enough and provided with a variety of interesting toys.

*Supplements- Australian birds have a greater iodine need and may develop goiters. I provide kelp granules or powder as a reward in a treat cup and add a pinch to their cooked “Cuizine” around three times per week. Because budgies are prone to liver issues, I use milk thistle as a preventative for ALL budgies. This herb aids in the rebuilding and renewal of the liver. Every day, I give my budgies 5-6 organic milk thistle seeds, and those that are overweight or have known liver illness also get milk thistle tincture (preferably glycerite or low alcohol formulations). I put 10 drops tincture to 1 cup water in their filtered water. I offer my “Dried Greens/Herbs Mix” in a treat cup at random and with a pinch of “Cuizine.” It comprises a dozen organic plants that supply trace elements, beta carotene, calcium, and other minerals, as well as beneficial phytonutrients that help with immunity, digestion, and energy.

The bottom line on budgies is to give your precious little ones a little more attention and love by setting a plan now to guarantee a long, happy, healthy life and to prevent the chubby budgie syndrome that so many budgies suffer from. Have fun with your small pals!

*This page is dedicated to my budgie family and friends that have died, some due to fat problems – Max, Bruno, Pretty Bird, Pal, and Mikey – I adore you two!

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