I have an 8-month-old budgie named Sam. Sam will get on the perch and then my finger, but he will not let me touch him at all. When I try, he flies away. Also, he will not play with his toys at all. He comes out of the cage and goes on top of it, and stays there. What can I do?
It’s time for a reality check. Go to a pet store and watch how the budgies interact. They might bop each other on the beak. They might talk to each other. They might do the same thing at the same time — eat or preen or sleep — but they won’t be touching.
Some species of birds like to be touched more than others. Cockatiels love head scratches. Lovebirds climb into pockets and under hair. Conures lie on their back. These birds like contact with flockmates and preen each other. Many parakeet species, however, are more standoffish about any type of touching or petting. They have other positive attributes though.
You may have to change your expectations of the relationship you have with your budgie. A young budgie such as yours can become tame, but it happens over several weeks or months. You and your budgie will spend time together throughout that time. A tame budgie will sit on your shoulder and willingly hop on your hand.
As a general rule, budgies don’t like to be touched, so aim for interaction that your budgie accepts and enjoys. For example, budgies are quite vocal. You and your budgie can develop a verbal relationship if you foster that. Male budgies are among the most talkative of all parrots. Speak to your budgie as though it were a 3-year-old child. Explain things. Get excited about words that would be special to your bird. Even if your budgie does not repeat a word, it can often learn what the word means. Words your bird might like to learn include: "hello,” "good-bye,” "good night,” "treat” or "seed.” Make a habit out of naming its treat foods: apple, millet, toast, etc.
Birds naturally like to duet, and a single budgie can participate in that with you. Sing or say something, and wait for your bird to respond. If that doesn’t start a duet, try to imitate your budgie when it chatters, and see if you can get a back-and-forth conversation going.
Teach your bird games. Most of our small birds naturally climb up a ladder. If you use the same command for this activity each time, your budgie will quickly learn to climb a ladder up to its cage or a playstand when you say so. This can be useful when a bird flies off its cage.
A budgie can learn any of the tricks taught to larger parrots. If it likes to pick things up in its beak, you can teach it the retrieve. Your budgie could be dunking basketballs or stacking rings in no time.
Toys are more interesting if they change. If you have seven budgie toys, start putting in one a day and rotating the former toy out, so that there is always something new in your bird’s cage.
Make sure your toys are interesting. Budgies like to chew on toys, especially wooden or rawhide ones. They also like to move things, such as beads. They see in color, so toys should be colorful. One toy should have a bell on it. Budgies also like to climb and perch, so one toy could be a ladder or swing, or a special rope perch.
Want to learn more about budgies?
Top 10 Pet Budgie/Parakeet Questions
Top 10 Pet Budgie/Parakeet Vet Questions &