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All About Budgerigars (Budgies) And/Or Parakeets

What do you know about budgerigars (budgies) and/or parakeets? Find out the meaning behind the word "budgerigar" as well as why they are called parakeets.

Laura Doering

American budgies, American parakeetsBy Gina Cioli/Courtesy Nick Morris
The budgerigar, also known as the parakeet, is a small parrot native to Australia.
The budgie, which is a shortened version of the name budgerigar, is a small, colorful parrot often seen at  pet stores. The budgie is also referred to as a budgerigar, parakeet, ’keet, or shell parakeet. All of these names describe the small parrot native to Australia with the scientific name Melopsittacus undulates, and it is the only bird in this genus. The word "budgerigar” means "good to eat” in Australian Aborigines. The budgie is often called a parakeet, which is a very general term to describe any small, parrot-like bird with long tail feathers. While all budgies are parakeets, not all parakeets are budgies (Melopsittacus undulates). Parakeet means "small parrot," so all budgies are parrots.

The budgie is also sometimes referred to as the American budgie, American budgerigar or American parakeet (the standard 6-inch size bird that is similar in size to its wild counterpart) or English budgie, English budgerigar or English parakeet, which is noticeable larger than a standard, wild-type budgie. The English budgie references a bird that has been selectively bred over generations for a larger size and show quality, which includes a bigger head and chest and fuller feathering around the face.

English Budgerigar
By Gina Cioli/Courtesy Omar's Exotic Birds
The English budgerigar, or English budgie, has been selectively bred to be larger than the American parakeet.
Wild budgies are mostly green, with black scalloped feathers on the back and a yellow head with black stripes. The stripes on the head feathers can help differentiate juvenile parakeets from adult parakeets, as younger budgies tend to have stripes that begin near the crown of the head, which recedes as the budgie gets older. In the normal budgie color, male parakeets can be distinguished from female parakeets by their blue-colored cere (the bare area above the nostrils); female budgies have pink or flesh-colored ceres. Domestic budgies or parakeets come in a variety of color mutations, including sky blue, gray, white, violet, cinnamon, lacewing, spangle, cobalt and mauve, and more.

Domestic budgies or parakeets can have surprisingly large vocabularies. Budgie vocalizations might not be as well pronounced as those of other parrot species, such as African grey parrots or Amazon parrots. Pet budgies tend to have garbled voices, which their owners might mistake for "chatter” instead words and/or phrases being spoken.

Budgies are social animals. Wild budgies in Australia have been seen in the hundreds to flocks in with numbers in the thousands.

Budgie or Parakeet Fast Facts
Scientific Name:  Melopsittacus undulatus
Size: Up to 9 inches
Native Region: Australia
Life Expectancy: 15 years
Noise Level: Chatters frequently, can be considered noisy by some.
Talking Ability: Excellent (especially for males)
Trick Ability: Good

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Posted: June 12, 2012, 12:45 p.m. PDT

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All About Budgerigars (Budgies) And/Or Parakeets

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Reader Comments
I wouldn't say that budgies are "excellent" at talking. Spirit is seven years old and has heard the same words his entire life, and he has never spoken a single one. Maybe it's just him, but I wouldn't say that they are "excellent", even if the bird that holds the record for most known words is a budgerigar.
Victoria, W.G., ME
Posted: 6/22/2012 6:21:14 AM
Budgies rule
phil, manhattan, NY
Posted: 6/21/2012 10:57:30 PM
mark, newburgh, NY
Posted: 6/21/2012 10:55:46 PM
good article for newbies
alex, bronx, NY
Posted: 6/20/2012 9:05:41 PM
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