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The budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus), also known as the common parakeet or shell parakeet, is a small, colorful long-tailed, seed-eating parrot commonly referred to as the budgie or parakeet in American English. Budgies are social birds and can be taught to mimic human speech.
See the fact file below for more information on Budgies, or you can download our 32-page Budgie worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- George Shaw described the budgerigar in 1805, and John Gould gave it its current binomial name in 1840. Melopsittacus is an Ancient Greek word that means “melodious parrot.” The scientific name undulatus means “undulated” or “wave-patterned.”
- The shell parrot, warbling grass parakeet, canary parrot, zebra parrot, flight bird, and scallop parrot are all names for the budgerigar.
- The budgerigar is the only species in the Melopsittacini tribe that belongs to the genus Melopsittacus, the only genus in the tribe.
- The budgerigar is closely related to the lories (tribe Loriini) and the fig parrots (tribe Cyclopsittini).
|Scientific name:||Melopsittacus undulatus|
- Budgerigar fossils can be traced back 50,000-70,000 years. Its name has several possible origins. First, it could be a mispronunciation or alteration of the Gamilaraay word gidjirrigaa or gijirragaa from the Yuwaalaraay. The second is budgery or boojery (Australian English slang for “good”) and “gar” (“cockatoo”).
- While many references mention “good” as part of the meaning, and a few specify “good bird,” it’s possible that local reports are more accurate in specifying the direct translation as “good food.”
- All bird species share the majority of physical components.
- The cheek patches and neck spots are the main characteristics that distinguish this bird from other species of birds.
- However, all wild budgies have them, and they are an essential component of the bird’s body language.
- Due to the complexity of the bird’s colorful gene pool, not all varieties of pet budgies have them. Budgies can detect the UV light reflected from their cheek patches because of their excellent vision.
- The average wild budgerigar measures 18 cm (7 in) long, weighs 30–40 grams (1.1–1.4 oz), and has a wingspan of 30 cm (12 in). Due to their diminutive stature, pointed wings and tails, distinctive plumage patterns, and rarity, they are unlikely to be mistaken for any other parrot.
- Its abdomen and rumps are light green, and its mantles (back and wing coverts) have evident yellow undulations and pitch-black mantle markings (blackish in fledglings and immatures).
- In adults, the face and forehead are yellow. Young birds have blackish stripes that extend down to their cere (nostril area), which they have until they are around three to four months old.
- They have three black spots across either side of their throats (called throat patches) and little, iridescent blue-violet cheek patches. At the base of each patch is the two outermost throat marks.
- The outside tail feathers have central yellow flashes, and the tail is cobalt (dark blue). Their wings have black coverts with yellow fringes, greenish-black flight feathers, and central flashes of yellow only visible in flight or when the wings are spread out.
- The legs have zygodactyl toes and are blueish-grey with olive-gray bills.
- There is a very slight sexual dimorphism. The cere is light brown to white (non-breeding) and brown (breeding) in females. In males, the cere is blue.
- Budgies congregate in large flocks and are highly social. Their grouping allows for tremendous feeding success while also protecting them from predators.
- There does not appear to be any hierarchy in groups, but females are generally more aggressive than males.
- Like most birds, their activity begins just before sunrise with preening, singing, and movement within trees. The birds fly to the foraging area after sunrise and feed all day. They do not forage during the day or in extreme heat; instead, they seek shade and remain motionless. They gather in groups at the end of the day by calling loudly and flying fast around the trees. They then return to their roosting site shortly after sunset.
- Budgies inhabit semi-arid and sub-humid habitats, mainly in Australia’s interior.
- They are occasionally found in the dry grasslands of the southeast. Although mostly confined to the continent’s interior, there are a few coastal interruptions in the northeast and central south. They migrate north during the winter to ensure a constant food supply.
- Budgies are excellent exploiters of food and water resources when they are available. Because they feed on the ground, they prefer the seeds of grasses and crop plants, particularly spinifex and tall tussock grasses. They dehull the seed before swallowing it whole or broken.
- These seeds are very high in energy and have the same caloric content as animal tissue. As a result, they require no other food source.
- Budgies have strict water drinking schedules and consume approximately 5.5% of their body weight daily. They frequently locate themselves near water holes to satisfy this demand.
- Budgies are found throughout Australia, except for coastal areas in the far east and far southwest. This species has also been introduced to a variety of locations around the world. They have been successfully established in Africa, Japan, the United States, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, and New Zealand, but only in Southwest Florida.
- Budgies breed in the wild between June and September in northern Australia and August and January in the south. However, they are opportunistic breeders that respond to rains when grass seeds are most abundant. They show affection for each other.
- Budgies feed one another by eating the seeds and then regurgitating them into the mouths of their flockmates. Populations in some areas have grown due to increased farm water availability. Nests are built in holes in trees, fence posts, or logs on the ground; the four to six eggs are incubated for 18-21 days, with the young hatching about 30 days later.
- Female budgies lay their eggs on alternate days. There is usually a two-day gap between the first and the next.
- It takes about 18-21 days for the eggs to hatch. The hatchlings are altricial, meaning they are blind, naked, unable to lift their heads, and completely helpless. Their mother constantly feeds and keeps them warm.
- The chicks’ eyes open around ten days of age, and they begin to develop feather down. Around three weeks of age, they begin to grow feathers. Young budgies usually fledge (leave the nest) around the fifth week of life and are completely weaned between six and eight weeks. However, depending on the age and number of surviving chicks, the age for fledging and weaning can differ slightly.
- The budgie has been bred in captivity since the 1850s. Breeders create different colors, patterns, and feather mutations, including albino, blue, cinnamon-into (lace-winged), clear-winged, crested, dark, gray-winged, opaline, pied, spangled, dilute (suffused), and violet.
- “English budgerigars,” also known as “show” or “exhibition budgerigars,” are approximately twice the size of their wild counterparts and have puffy head feathers, giving them a bold, exaggerated appearance. The fluffy head feathers can completely obscure the eyes and beak.
- Budgies can be trained to talk, whistle, and play with humans. Both males and females can sing and learn to mimic sounds and words, as well as perform simple tricks, but males’ singing and mimicry are more pronounced and perfected.
- Budgies chew on anything to keep their beaks in shape. Mineral blocks (ideally iodine-enriched), cuttlebone and delicate wooden pieces are appropriate for this activity.
CONSERVATION AND POPULATION
- Regarding extinction risk, the budgie is classified as the slightest concern. They reproduce quickly and frequently, both in the wild and in captivity. As a result, the global budgie population is estimated to be more than 5,000,000 birds and growing.
- All captive budgies are classified into two primary color groups: white-based (blue, grey, and white) and yellow-based (green, grey-green and yellow).
- Currently, at least 32 primary mutations (including violet) occur, allowing for hundreds of secondary mutations (stable combined primary mutations) and color variants (unstable combined mutations).
- Color mutations occur in captivity as well as in the wild, as they do in all animal species. This has been demonstrated when captive-bred budgies developed mutations previously only observed in wild populations.
- Budgies are grass and fruit species seed dispersers. They are common throughout most of Australia and are considered a pest species in agricultural areas. Farmers are concerned about their ability to consume many seeds in large groups.
- Budgies are the world’s most popular pet birds. Budgies are known for being outgoing and playful. They enjoy interacting with humans, which can attract tourists to zoos.
PREDATORS AND THREATS
- The overall budgie population is growing. Because these birds are easily and cheaply kept as pets, habitat destruction and other risks that would concern other wild creatures are not significant concerns for them.
- Larger birds, such as hawks and falcons, prey on the budgie. Feral cats, rats, and rodents occasionally raid budgie nests for eggs or hunt the birds.
- Changes in their habitat frequently cause threats. There are numerous other threats, some of which affect entire communities, while others may be limited to a specific site or only affect individual species.
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about Budgies across 32 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use worksheets that are perfect for teaching kids about the Budgie, also known as the common parakeet or shell parakeet, which is a small, colorful long-tailed, and seed-eating parrot.
Complete List of Included Worksheets
Below is a list of all the worksheets included in this document.
- Budgie Facts
- My Body Parts
- The Sorting Budgie
- Secret Passage
- Spot the Budgie
- Budgie Nests
- Budgie Mapping
- Daily Routine
- Funny Imagination
- Be A Breeder
- The Budgie Guide
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Link will appear as Budgie Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, November 10, 2022
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.