Budgie or Cockatiel? Our Limited Experience

The video below essentially highlights the key differences in personalities between cockatiels and English budgies (the carefully-bred, more-expensive-than-their-svelte-American-cousins behemoths of the budgie world):

When people debate over getting their “first bird” (I refuse to call any bird a “starter bird”, for each bird is its own individual and there will never be another quite like the one you adopt) most people question whether or not they should go for a cockatiel or a budgie (a.k.a. parakeet).

This has been debated to death in very clinical ways (like here or here or you can even take a fun test to determine your “right” bird here!) but I can’t help but weigh in.

Now I’m sure parakeet lovers will drag me over the coals, but I have to be honest–

I’d recommend a cockatiel every time.

Budgies are gorgeous and come in so many fun colors that rainbows are frequently jealous, but their personality (at least, if you have more than one) pales in comparison to their lesser-hued cockatiel compatriots.

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Roosevelt and Beaudesert, our rainbow American budgies who flew over the rainbow bridge.

Having owned five budgies in my relatively short life and having spent several years volunteering at a bird store, I feel like I am qualified to comment.

While budgies are quite entertaining, playful, and curious little buggers, they fail to fully connect with their human care-givers, especially in the presence of other little birds. And we’d know–the baby budgies pictured to the left were hand-raised, spoiled-rotten little dudes that we visited literally every day up until they came home with us–even before they developed their pin-feathers, even! We showed up, petted and coddled and generally loved our baby budgies almost from the moment they each hatched–and yes, they were incredibly docile, happy to step up, groom our hair (and eyelashes, which is sort of weird), were generally not nippy, and were overall wonderful birds.

However. In spite of being raised in separate cages and given ample one-on-one attention from both Hubby and myself, they still more tolerated us much moreso than wanted our company. Sure, we were interesting sources of entertainment for two or three minutes, but they were MUCH happier on one of their numerous playstands with each other throughout our house.

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An American and an English budgie–size comparison! …Also where they preferred to land when they’d randomly go spastically flying off.

That lack of connection coupled with the fact that budgies (especially the skinny American ones) are so easily startled makes for one spazzy pet! Winston, our English budgie, is certainly calmer, but put her in a scenario where she is with other American budgies, and the flock mentality takes over–she’ll go flying… or hovering clumsily, as the case may be… just the same as the American ones. So if you’re the kind of person who wants to merely be able to pick a bird up, set him somewhere fun, and watch him play (and quite probably go flying off the other direction five minutes later), then sure–get a budgie (or two or three… flock birds are happier birds!)

But if you want a calm pet who is very interested in a connection with you and won’t go flying off with the slightest brush of the breeze, go for a cockatiel. They crave companionship of all kinds–when we pull Qtip down with us, he’s genuinely curious. Many of the cockatiels we’ve known have been QUITE snuggly, especially any that were hand-raised. Some can be needy, so if you don’t want a bird with the same penchant for attention as a dog or a cat, sure, go the way of budgies… but if you really don’t want a hands-on bird, don’t get a parrot. Both cockatiels and parakeets really need time outside of the cage every day–if you want a bird merely to watch and keep you company,  get  several finches instead. 

Also, did I mention that cockatiels dance? And sing?

Cockatiels are just so lively, curious, and full of personality with a drive and desire to connect with bird and people alike (especially if you keep your little dude in a cage separate from other birds). We’ve truly fallen in love with the species as a whole–they have all the BEST parts of the cockatoo family while forgoing the worsts.

We went with budgies as our first birds because of their coloration and the dry pros/cons articles listed above; while I wouldn’t trade my current English budgie girl for anything, I still wonder what would have happened had we taken home a cockatiel.

We probably would have wound up with ten birds instead of five. xD

Parrot Culture

Today, Hubby and I had our semi-weekly coffee shop work date, and a teenager was there with a survey for school–one of the questions was “What sub-culture groups are you a part of?”

His answer?

Parrot/Aviculture

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Hubby and I, attending the 2015 Birds of Prey Soiree, a benefit for Nature’s Educators, a non-profit organization that rescues injured birds of prey (and educates people on why they actually don’t want a “pet” falcon.)

…Where people’s first reaction to furry, brilliantly-colored masks isn’t “Hi Oscar and Elmo!” but rather, “Do you have an eclectus?!”

…Where people judge each other’s “parronting” skills with the same passive-aggressive judgment as in modern-day mom groups. (You feed your parrot that? Have you provided him with all the latest foraging toys? You’re ruining your bird for life!)

…Where people endlessly discuss the various species of parrot (and especially why the species they own is the absolute top of the trees–in all seriousness, though, ekkies are the way to go.)

…Where people roll their eyes when people claim they have to leave early/arrive late to ‘let out their dog’ but who instead cancel entire evening plans to go home and spend time with their fid.

…Where use of the word “Fid” to stand in for “Feathered Kid” never needs explanation.

…Where people don’t bat an eye when someone walks in with an ‘accident’ on his/her shoe… or shirt… or hair…

…Where it’s somehow considered more socially acceptable to have a bird nestled in your bra in public than to breast feed a human child. (For the record, I don’t/won’t do this.)

…Where being bitten hard by an aggressive pet doesn’t result in the animal being put down, but rather the question, “Well, what did I do to cause that?”

Yeah. We’re of that ilk. xD

Dog and cat people may not always see eye-to-eye, but one thing they absolutely agree on is this: nobody is as weird as bird people.

 

Foraging Toy – The Stuffed Pepper

Today was a snow day, which meant I had time to make my birds a foraging toy! Hurray!

Behold the fury that is Louie:

Easiest toy ever–cut a slice off the side of a fairly large bell pepper, stuff the inside with a bunch of fruits and vegetables (this one was filled with carrots, peas, lima beans, a variety of other types of protein-ish beans, banana, and raw jalapenos), then tie it to the inside of the cage. The only safety concern is the string–you want to make sure it’s short. Once your parrot destroys it, you don’t want it long enough that it could get wrapped around your feathered friend!

I’m still not sure Louie actually likes this toy, but, you know… it’s at least entertaining for me?

Multiple bird syndrome? Just wait.

They will find you. And there will be more than you know what to do with.

It’s pretty rare for a bird person to stick to one bird–sure, if you have a cockatiel who comes out to hang with you sometimes or a canary who sings to you, then maybe you’ll stick to one or two, but when parrot fever bites you, they’r
e like chips–you can’t have just one! …Or six…

Take today. The woman who agreed to take the Grey (friend of the Amazon we’ll be taking in tomorrow) has backed out, having no bird experience–so what are we going to do? Take the bird in, of course.

Heaven help us.

If you’re a bird owner and you quite suddenly develop parrot fever…

Just wait.

Our number will be up to six in one house, three of which will be large… oi vei. And just because I’m having fun with a meme generator:

It starts with one…

Collecting birds is kind of like eating chips. One simply isn’t enough. Nor is two… or three… or five.

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Five? Five is enough, unless you want to dedicate your entire life to maintenance and clean-up. Which I don’t. Only most of my day. 😉

Ours started with a budgie. Meet Roosevelt Polk Kennedy: the lead domino in a series of (mostly) fortunate events:

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Never name a budgie until they’re a year or so old; otherwise, you’re probably wrong. xD

My then-fiance/now-husband sneezed up a storm when exposed to fur of any kind. He wasn’t a “pet person”, but I was, and our house was just a little too quiet.

And I was getting tired of loving on my electronic “Petz!” dog, especially after I let that pretty much ruin my marriage proposal (sort of). But that’s a story for another day.

One accidental trip by a Bird Store followed by the discovery that he isn’t even mildly allergic to a feathery flock, and I put my foot down: we were getting a bird.

And now we have five. Oh my.

It’s never an instantaneous process, and we have definitely made some mistakes. Big ones–but we’re still learning, and our mistakes will be our guide. This blog will cover a variety of avian subjects, such as “Why is owning a cockatoo really hard?” and “Okay, so you successfully hand-fed a baby bird–that was a bad idea, wasn’t it?”