I love raising budgies; they are just the cutest and most adorable birds out there.
The Basics of Feeding Your Budgies
Budgies are omnivores. This means they can digest both vegetables and insects. In their natural habitat in Australia, they have a varied diet of grass seeds, leaves, insects and so on. They sometimes fly miles and miles to feed themselves.
Of course, for a domesticated bird, this isn't an option. But it's still important to keep them fit and healthy while staying as close as possible to their natural diet. A tamed budgie, much like its counterpart in the wild, is very curious and will try anything it's offered. Therefore, it's up to you, the owner, to offer the little bird a healthy and balanced meal.
Note: Budgies eat insects and so qualify as omnivores, but do not offer them a steak or other slice of meat. They cannot digest this. The same goes for milk.
What Should a Budgie Eat?
The following are the main necessities in a budgie's diet.
1. Premium Seed Mixtures
Like all birds, budgies love to eat seeds. As this is absolutely necessary in their diet, a good and quality mixture of living seeds is crucial. Always choose the best premium food available: If you want to save money, food is not the item to do it with. Premium brands will offer a mixture of seeds, millet, oat, grit and eggfood. Often there are other additives as well, all designed to keep your budgie at the peak of its health.
How to Handle a Picky Budgie
Of course, there's a downside to a mixture like the one described above. A picky budgie (and they're all picky) will be able to choose the seeds it likes best and ignore the rest. Often, the budgie will choose the fattest seeds as the yummiest, and so the healthiest seeds are left behind! If this is the case with you, don't refill the bowl until it's almost completely empty. Don't be fooled, though: The empty husks of the seeds are often dropped into the bowl, so take a good look to make sure there's still something edible in there.
An alternative would be to limit the access to the food to set hours in the morning and evening. In the beginning, this will take some adjusting from your budgie, but soon he'll learn to adapt and eat as much of the food as possible, as he's learned it's not freely available. This will result in all seeds being devoured, not just the tastiest.
2. Pellets: Compressed Seeds and Fruit
You could also choose to offer your budgie pellets. These are about the size of seeds and composed of compressed seeds and fruit. This is often the most complete food you will be able to give the bird, and it prevents the budgie from selecting only the tastiest seeds.
However, not all budgies like to eat pellets. There is usually a schedule on the package to convert your budgie, but keep in mind that some birds never make the switch. Of course, you still need to provide fresh drinking water, grit, fruits and vegetables to your bird.
3. Fruits and Vegetables
A healthy addition to any bird diet, fruits and vegetables help ensure long and healthy lives. Give your budgie a piece of produce every day, preferably as fresh as possible.
Every budgie has its own favorites and will need some time to get used to this new form of food. Offering a piece of produce every day at the same place in the cage will help the bird identify it as food, rather than a toy to tear apart. Being the curious little thing that it is, eventually the bird will take a nibble and so be introduced to the wonderful flavors of fruit or vegetables.
Of course, it's always possible they just really don't like the taste of what you offered, so try to put some variation in what you offer. It will help if the bird sees you or its own kind enjoying the healthy snack. This will again stimulate their curiosity and will teach them it's a delicious form of food.
Many budgies prefer the taste of apples, carrots, or oranges. Bananas, pears and lettuce are all loved. Do not offer too much lettuce, though, as that might cause diarrhea.
Warning: Rhubarb and avocado are poisonous to budgies! Avoid the cabbage family.
While many bird owners only offer this at times when the bird is breeding or growing new feathers, it's not a bad idea to provide eggfood at least once a week. It's packed with minerals and nutrients. To offer a complete and balanced diet, eggfood really should be on the menu.
Eggfood is healthy, easy to digest and delicious. It not only strengthens the bones (a calcium bomb), it also gives extra strength and vitality and stimulates growth. It's an excellent dish to serve a mother budgie and her youngsters.
Eggfood, while very good for your budgie, contains a lot of fat. Twice a week at most when not breeding or sick really is enough. However, when your birds are sick or breeding, always have eggfood readily available. Put the dry eggfood in a feeding bowl, add some water to moisturize it, stir and offer. It's not supposed to float; just a bit of water is plenty. Don't leave it in the cage for too long as it will quickly grow a lot of bacteria and spoil.
There are some who argue budgies do not need grit as they take the husks off their seeds. While this is true, they do actually still need grit. Here is why:
Grit is a name given to a lot of very small, sharp stones that we feed to birds. It contains calcium that helps to strengthen the bones and stimulates growth, but it has another, more important function that has to do with a budgerigar's digestive system.
A budgie has two stomachs. A first stomach adds digestive fluids to help soften the dehusked seeds. After this, the food is transported to a muscular stomach that grinds everything with the help of the grit to allow the nutrients to be taken in by the body. Since eventually the grit is ground into powder, new grit is frequently needed. Grit made from oystershells is the most nutritious.
6. Mineral Blocks (for Beak Maintenance)
A budgie's beak never stops growing. Eventually, the beak becomes very pointy and long, making it impossible for the bird to eat. It also starts to stab the bird in the chest! Of course, you can imagine that this would hurt. A bird's beak needs to be maintained. This is why a bird needs a mineral block or a cuttlefish bone. However, cuttlefish bone is made from the skeleton of a squid and is high in salt. Therefore, a mineral block would be preferable.
The extra benefit of offering a mineral block is that you're providing the bird with a great source of calcium, resulting in stronger bones and stronger eggs. It also helps prevent a breeding bird from getting eggbound.
7. Fresh Water
Like all living beings, budgies need water. Replace the water at least once a day and have it always available to the birds. It shouldn't be ice cold or hot. Soda water is not good. Water out of bottles is the healthiest.
What Else Can You Feed Them?
The following are some ideas for treats and optional foodstuffs you can give your bird.
Millet is a veritable delight to any budgie's tastebuds. Almost without exception, budgies are extremely fond of this treat, and it's the ultimate assistant when trying to tame a new bird. It's also easy to digest! Thus millet is also often used to teach a young budgie to eat seeds or to encourage a sick budgie to eat a bit.
Millet is high in fats and should only be offered once a week, at a quantity of half a string per bird. While millet is no replacement for a good seed mixture, it is to be preferred over candy sticks for birds.
2. Candy Sticks
These are the seeds glued together with honey to form a long stick. Almost every store has these treats on offer; they're yummy and very popular. Budgies love them—naturally, since they taste very sweet! However, there is a lot of sugar in candy sticks, so don't offer them too often. They should be more of an exception rather than a frequent snack. Besides causing diabetes in budgies (yes, they can get diabetes), too much sugar can cause obesity and infections in the crop.
3. Cold Tea
Tea might be an unexpected addition to this list. Even for budgies, tea is healthy. Of course, it shouldn't be boiling hot, and you shouldn't add honey or sugar to it, but plain, diluted tea is very healthy and can even be used to support a sick budgie.
Make the tea as normal, then add the same amount of water again, stir and let it cool down before offering. When you offer tea, always also offer fresh water.
Types of Tea and Their Benefits
- Chamomile: Strengthens the immune system and helps fight off infections.
- Sage: Helps with diarrhea.
- Black tea: Helps with stress and supports bloodflow.
- Thyme: Helps fight fungal infections.
- Stinging nettle: Improves vitality and purifies.
- Fennel: Improves digestion.
Note: If your budgie is sick, take it to the doctor. Giving it tea should not be the only treatment!
4. Other Things
Of course, there is much more a budgie could eat. To list it all would be impossible. Therefore, we'll end this chapter with a list of some examples: bread crumbs, dry toast, a little bit of dry boiled rice or macaroni, a few drops of yoghurt, a small bit of cheese, etc.
One golden rule: When in doubt, don't feed it to a bird!
What NOT to Feed a Budgie
There are some things that a budgie really cannot eat, ever. Either it's really unhealthy or hard to digest, or it's just plain poison!
Don't Let Them Eat Off Your Plate
Although sometimes it can be very tempting, it's best not to allow your budgie to eat food that's on your plate. People food tends to be very bad for the tiny kidneys of a budgerigar, and it's often simply poisonous. Avoid salt (bad for kidneys) and sugar (causes infections, obesity and a whole host of problems).
Foods That Are Lethal to Budgies
These foods are absolutely forbidden because they're lethal to a budgie:
Disinfectants also contains alcohol, so avoid using them while cleaning!
How Much Food Do Budgies Need?
If you only have one budgie, buy smaller bags to ensure the seeds are still fresh when you offer them to the bird. The nutrients are at their peak, and there's a smaller chance of bacteria or funghi being in it. A normal budgie needs about two overflowing tablespoons of seeds per day.
If you have multiple budgies, always have some extra bags ready. You'll be all out before you know it!
Keep an eye on the date label on the package.
A Fresh, Quality Diet Leads to a Healthy Life
Budgies can eat a lot, but not everything. Quality and freshness should be valued over price: it can determine how long your budgie will live, and in what condition it will spend its life. Avoid sugar and salt, and never ever feed them an item from the poisonous list. Your budgie will thank you, and reward you with a playful friend that has a long and healthy life.
Quiz on Feeding Budgies
For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.
- Which of the following is poisonous?
- Which is the healthiest?
- Candy sticks
- Of the following reasons, why should you offer eggfood?
- It's a good snack.
- It helps fight off infections.
- It strengthens a budgie in many different ways.
- It strengthens a budgie in many different ways.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Omatshola Brown on August 24, 2020:
I have 3 pet budgies and they are cute
Alana on June 08, 2020:
Your infomation is so helpful i am getting a bird for my birthday
imma get a budgie on May 28, 2020:
thank you im getting a budgie and this was very helpful for my research
#birdieloves=) on May 27, 2020:
I love my budgie Topaz but he will NOT bond with me. he is always scared and skiddish. i hope the cold black tea helps!=) :0)
#ilovebudgies on May 01, 2020:
Today’s my birthday and I just got a budgie, he’s not moving his body, only nodding his head and blinking, I gave him a carrot and he has seeds and water, and he’s still not doing anything. What do I do? Please answer
Raven on September 23, 2019:
I have two budgies and they looovvvveeee carrots
Tania on August 15, 2019:
My aunty has 8 budgies im useing her tablet to find things about budgies im11 years old and when her bud gie babys hatch she would like to give 2
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Dal on April 25, 2019:
I have two budgies
Mad himel sheikh on October 18, 2018:
budgie can eat indica.
Amelia on October 17, 2018:
It has helped me a lot to find out what my budgie can and can't eat
Julie Anne on September 19, 2018:
I have four of the little critters and their favourites are carrot, wholemeal spaghetti, steamed peas and flat leaf parsley with a bit of rice as a side....
amrthagail on June 10, 2018:
That helped me some But I still would like to know to stop my bird from eating the paint off of her cage?
Random animal lover on June 02, 2018:
I really found this page helpful. And I especially think the small quiz at the end is a great idea!
lynne on March 15, 2018:
how do you tame a budgie?
abel on September 14, 2017:
I have two budgies they go crazy with fruits and and thanks for the tips my budgies are eager to eat fruits they come rushing down the cage and eat the fruits
Angie on April 02, 2017:
Can they eat sugar plum fruits????
Zohaib arif on March 30, 2017:
My bugies eat breads it is safe for them there nesting box is so dirty is it is safe for them please reply
Payton on March 28, 2017:
I breed silkworms and I was wondering if my budgies can have silkworms?
madmys on March 16, 2017:
my budgies seem to be crazy over bread slices and corns. not sure whether these are good.
Blin on February 25, 2017:
I have to budgie birds can I give the tomateo?
billy on December 21, 2016:
What is the name of the pellets please.
kaboom on October 28, 2016:
my male budgie is not talking at all . what should i do
Sarah on September 06, 2016:
I'm wondering if budgies may eat rice? Cooked white or brown rice, specifically. Some sites say yes, others never mentioned it. Rice is something I love haha not to be a stereotypical Asian, it's bountiful here in Asia and I eat rice daily, I'm just wondering if my budgies can too.
Elysianphoenix (author) from Belgium on June 23, 2016:
Thank you for the tip! :)
Elysianphoenix (author) from Belgium on June 23, 2016:
Yes, you can! Don't feed too much of a leafy vegetable. One leaf per day is more than enough. Spinach is something I highly recommend as it's also very good for the liver!
Neelanjan Ghosh on May 14, 2016:
Basil leaves(Tulsi pata) are hot favourite for the budgies...............
john on October 05, 2015:
con you feed spinage. to your bird.
Edacheeky on March 20, 2015:
Oh thank goodness budgies are omnivores! I was a bit concerned about one of my family members feeding him insects. He seems to like eating insects' legs for some reason, and he seems to leave the rest of its body behind. It's a bit cruel to the insects i suppose but at least he's getting the protein he needs.
I was wondering, what sort of insects can i feed my budgie? Can they eat grubs or worms?
Jasmine on January 18, 2015:
Really interesting ,I am gonna breed my budgies and sell them
peachy from Home Sweet Home on November 28, 2014:
i used to have 5 budgies, a lot of work with washing the poos and they scatter all the pellets all over the place. They hated the cage. Anyway, my cat ate them after it open the cage door by itself.
Elysianphoenix (author) from Belgium on September 19, 2014:
Sally: with proper care (adequate nutrition, doctor visits when they're sick, exercise, ...) a budgie can live to be 15 years. Some even make it to 18!
MattyB: Your budgies think their reflection is another budgie. They're probably trying to court the other budgie or invite it to play. ;)
MattyB on September 19, 2014:
My budgies roll on their back like a dog in front of the mirror. Why?
Sally on August 09, 2014:
How long do Budgies live?
bobalobaa on May 05, 2012:
thank you so much, this has helped me and my 3 budgies a great deal! :)
Elysianphoenix (author) from Belgium on April 02, 2012:
I did add a section on grit in the article. Do you mean you don't know whether to add it to their diet? :)
Mik on March 07, 2012:
I still don't know about feeding grit.
Good tip about only feeding twice a day though.
Very nicly put together. ;D
rinku on December 18, 2011:
i like budgies