From their beautiful plumage to their joyful chatter, parakeets make wonderful pets—whether you’re a first-time bird owner or you’ve kept birds in the past. These sweet, social birds are relatively easy to care for and bond well with their human companions. And when you take into account the fact that parakeets can be taught to speak, it’s no wonder that these particular birds are the No. 1 choice of pet for bird owners.
As with any pet, there are pros and cons to bringing a parakeet into your home, and it’s crucial that you do your research before doing so. While they are known for being agreeable, easy-to-care-for pets, ensuring that you can properly care for it is more important than anything else.
So what is it about this small bird that makes them so special? Read ahead and find out why a parakeet might just be the pet for you.
Parakeets are a type of small parrot
When you think of parrots, especially as pet birds, you probably picture what is known as a true parrot: Large beak, rainbow-colored feathers, and that trademark “Polly wants a cracker!” (which, might we add, is more of an urban legend unless you specifically teach this phrase to your parrot).
However, there are many species of parrots that are kept as pets, such as the cockatoos, the African grey parrot, monk parakeets, and parakeets, which are also sometimes referred to as English budgies.
While some pet owners enjoy keeping the larger species of parrot, like the true parrot or cockatoos, parakeets make the perfect companion bird because they are parrots of small size and take up for less of your space and your time compared to their larger counterparts.
Parakeets need more than your average birdseed to stay healthy
Parakeets are a species of parrot, known for their long tail feathers, vibrant coloring, and cheerful chatter. Although they can be fed seeds and variations of birdseed, a diet of seeds alone could cause a parrot more harm than good. This is because birdseed is high in fat, and doesn’t offer enough variation and nourishment in your pet’s diet.
Pet owners often think that if they’re not feeding their pet bird an all-seed diet, they should be feeding it pellets instead. But this isn’t necessarily a good idea, either. While birdseed is high in fat, pellets can be too high in the nutrients (such as fatty acids, vitamins, and ascorbic acid) that your feathered friend needs.
Instead of one type of food or another, we recommend that your parakeet, and all other parrot species, are fed a mix of seeds, pellets, and natural foods. Only about 10% of your bird’s diet should consist of birdseed, as these birds will typically go for the seeds first and fill up on that, leaving the rest of their more nutritious food untouched.
Many types of birds, like parakeets, cockatoos, and African greys, are foragers, and they will benefit from having natural foods like fruits, vegetables, almonds or walnuts, and grains in a mix with their regular diet. This will not only provide them with a vitamin- and mineral-rich diet, but it will also stimulate their natural instincts to forage.
Like any other pet, talk to your vet before switching your parrot or parakeet from wild bird food (seeds) to natural parrot food.
They are companion birds
In the wild, parakeets live large flocks and have been observed to socialize with one another. This means that adding another budgie to the family is almost always a good idea.
But their social nature also applies to their human companions. The more time you spend with your pet bird, the closer you will become!
Pet birds, even including parrots and cockatoos, have been known to recognize their owners, their cages and feeders, and their toys. With training and patience, many parakeets will even get along with other pet birds and small house pets (as long as these pets have been trained as well). You will even occasionally see a parakeet perched on the shoulder of their owner while out running errands!
Please note: It is not recommended that you take your bird outside, even to a backyard or outdoor feeders, unless your bird is trained and you have the knowledge to handle any unexpected events.
Chickadees, various types of parrots, and cockatoos are all known for their impressive cognitive skills, but parakeets are especially adept at problem solving and mimicry. Having a pet who will respond verbally when you talk to them is just one of the pros!
Like humans, many budgies have distinct personalities. Some will grind their beak when they are excited or happy, while others might have a specific chatter for each person living within their household. They also use body language like clicking their beak, spreading their wings, and ruffling their feathers, to tell their owners how they’re feeling. The longer you spend with your pet bird, the more you will learn about them and their unique personality!
There are many stories as to how parakeets made their way to the UK
According to urban legend, Jimi Hendrix let a pair of ring-necked parakeets loose in London’s Carnaby Street in the 1960s, which caused a widespread growth of the birds throughout all of England. And while he did release two of these small birds into the wild, Jimi Hendrix was not what brought them to the UK.
In another famous rumor, two small parakeets escaped from the set of the film “The African Queen” in the 1950s, causing an upswing in the number of “small green parrots” seen throughout London.
However, biologists have found that ring-necked parakeets were around as early as the 1930s—perhaps even earlier—and that their numbers grew so quickly due to unintentional release rather than from movie sets or as a publicity stunt.
Originally from Africa, these non-native ring-necked parakeets now thrive across the entire UK. However, because of their large numbers, they are considered an invasive species in nearly three dozen countries across five continents.
Covering their cage at night will help them—and you—get some rest
When gathering the essentials for your new budgie friend, like feeders, toys, water dishes, and a cage with plenty of room to move around, it is also .
important that you have something to cover the cage with at night.
Like their human companions, parakeets are easily awoken by loud sounds, bright light, and movement around the house. Covering their cage at night, moving their cage to a quieter part of the house, or even buying a separate sleeping cage, ensures that your feathered friend gets the rest they need to keep their energy and spirits high throughout the day.
Pet-related companies can provide you with the proper cage, the right type of feeders, the parrot food, and the toys. But only you can give your pet budgie the comfort and care they need at home.
Keeping a companion bird, whether it’s one of the many popular parrot species, or a smaller bird, takes dedication, special care, and a willingness to learn everything you need to learn to give your feathered friend their best life. Are you ready to welcome a parakeet into your family? For a complete guide on how to take care of your parakeet, we suggest reading the Parakeet Handbook.