Introducing a New Parakeet Into Your Flock
Bringing Home a New Birdie
When I first brought my parakeet Bogey home, I thought he'd be a solo bird. A novice to bird keeping, I just didn't have the confidence to take on more than one bird. Fortunately, Bogey proved to be an easy and patient little bird, so my confidence grew.
After a couple of months, I noticed that Bogey wasn't singing or playing much. He'd peck his toys a few times, but none of them seemed to hold his interest for long. I tried rotating his toys and adding new toys but he didn't care; just a few pecks and that was it.
Quiet behavior from a bird can indicate a health problem and should always be checked first. Fortunately, Bogey was and is still a very healthy bird, so I had to look elsewhere for the cause. Lack of vocalizations in birds can also indicate fear, but Bogey quite happily jumped onto my finger and sat on my shoulder, all without a single nip. Whatever else was wrong, he didn't fear me.
I finally came to the conclusion that Bogey was lonely, in spite of the hours of attention that I heaped onto him. Parakeets in the wild congregate in flocks and are quite social . Bogey needed to be part of a flock. Since I couldn't bear to have him unhappy, I resolved to give him a friend. But before I brought that new companion home, I had several things to do.
One Important Thing
Those who want a parakeet that talks may want to consider carefully adding a second bird. Solo parakeets are most likely to talk, but those kept in pairs and flocks do sometimes become vocal. Helping a parakeet learn to speak takes a lot of time and work and there is no guarantee that your parakeet will ever talk—some don't. I wanted Bogey to talk, but in the end, his happiness was the most important consideration. He may still talk someday, but even if he doesn't he is still my birdie bird.
Cage size is crucial for parakeets. Before purchasing a second parakeet, check to make certain your cage is big enough for two birds. Generally a cage 2'x2'x2' will be adequate for two parakeets.
Your cage should be long rather than tall to allow the parakeets enough room for exercise. You will also need an additional cage to keep your new parakeet in during the quarantine period.
When purchasing a cage, look for options that will make day-to-day maintenance easier. Seed guards can reduce the mess on your floor. Trays should be easy to remove and clean. There should be at least one large door for you to easily move things like toys and bathtubs into and out of the cage.
Any new bird brought into your home should be kept in a different room away from your current parakeet or flock. Keep the new parakeet separate for 30 days to ensure that the bird is healthy.
Remember, your parakeets will be spending a significant portion of their time in their cage. Make sure that their home is comfortable.
Other factors to consider will be the placement, size, and types of doors on the cage. Check to see that the doors are located in good places to access what you need to access in the cage. A cage top that opens is the ultimate in convenience.
Remember, you'll need two cages: One for your current bird, and a second for the new addition to your flock. The second cage can be smaller than the one that the birds will eventually live in, since the bird will only be living in the second cage during quarantine.
Picking the Perfect Companion
Parakeets pair up well in general. Temperament plays a part in your choice for a companion. If breeding is not a concern, two males will form a harmonious couple, but two females can lead to a lot of bickering.
Parakeets kept in odd-numbered flocks tend to fight amongst themselves more, with the majority ganging up on the unpaired bird. For the best results, make sure each parakeet has a buddy.
Consider your parakeet's gender before you buy a new bird. If you want to breed your birds, you will of course need both a female and a male parakeet.
Male and female pairs are generally happy. The monogamous parakeet forms long-term bonds with its partner.
Thinking of Breeding?
Parakeets breed easily, but does that mean you should enable them? Breeding parakeets requires an investment of time and money. In addition to the cost and trouble, you will have to find homes for your new birds unless you plan on keeping them all.
Breeding birds will need vitamins at the very least. Breeding boxes are relatively cheap. Baby birds will also require a special formula if hand-fed. Check with your pet store to make sure that the supplies you need are available.
Parakeets can clutch as many as eight eggs at a time, so consider carefully your ability to house so many new birds. Selling the babies is generally not profitable for the home breeder. Before breeding, plan for your new brood's welfare.
Introducing the New Parakeet
After quarantine, bring the new parakeet's cage out and place it by your current parakeet's cage. If they seem interested in each other and there is no fighting, allow them to mingle during out-of-cage time.
Once they appear comfortable with each other, place both of them in the same cage. If fighting ensues, go back to the first step and proceed slowly.
Generally, parakeets get along very well, so don't worry. This process in most cases won't take long and may happen in one day or less.
Bogey and Bella took to each other right away, although I think Bogey was a little overwhelmed by all the attention. Now they are a devoted couple with only the occasional squabble.
Easing the Transition
To help birds co-exist in the same cage, add some new toys and an extra food dish. Having one food dish per bird helps eliminate fighting for food.
The new toys will help the birds bond as they explore and have fun. Don't forget to rotate the toys every couple of weeks to keep your flock stimulated.
Keep your parakeets entertained to keep the peace. Don't overcrowd the cage with toys, though. Two or three will be plenty.Toys should be rotated often.
Don't Raise a Lonely Bird
Parakeets that are raised alone need a lot of attention. You must weigh your desire for a talking bird against the happiness of your parakeet.
If you don't have the time to give your parakeet a lot of attention, getting a companion bird will help ensure that your parakeet stays happy and healthy. I found that getting a second bird was the better choice for my flock.
If you desire expanded knowledge on how to care for your parakeet, you will find many good reference books about this popular bird. Whether you are a budgie beginner or an advanced breeder, you can find a guide to help you take the best care of your parakeets.
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great had his very own parakeet: the Alexandrine parakeet. Parakeets comprised part of Alexander's booty from India.
Pictures of My Parakeet, BogeyClick thumbnail to view full-size
Readers Offer Their Opinions
To Clip or Not To Clip?
Some owners keep their birds' wings clipped. Others feel that it is cruel.
I personally find it safer to keep my flock clipped. Neither Bogey nor Bella were hand-raised and only Bogey will willingly step up on my finger. So I clip their wings once every six months. Where do you stand?
Yes, sometimes it is necessary for the safety of the bird.
No, it should never be done under any circumstances.
My son left us his birds while he is away at college. We wanted to clip their wings so we wouldn't have a problem with them getting out of the house. We were very careful but in the end, one of them, who had become attached to me, saw me leaving and flew over to me as I left. He saw the great beyond and we have never seen him since. My heart broke as did my son's. We have since clipped his mates’ wings. It was wonderful seeing them fly around the house and I hated doing it, but I feel if you are going to keep a bird you need to do what is in the best interest of the bird even when at first it doesn't seem like it. We have since created a play area for Azra and I am looking for a playmate for her so she will have a happy life with us. - anonymous
You should never ever clip a parakeet’s wings. If you are a responsible pet owner and supervise your bird when it is out of the cage, then it will be perfectly fine! Just put the dogs and cats in another room and never leave a large thing of water out that they can fall into. God gave flight to birds for a reason. We shouldn't alter them just to tame them. Let your bird have the freedom of flight it deserves. - Amber
Yes! It provides a safety net for them, and anyway, birds don't think like that. Sure, they have feelings, but once the wing clipping is done and they attempt to fly and feel that it's different, they adjust and move on with their happy selves. - anonymous
I think you shouldn't because I have two: one came with her wings clipped, and the other didn’t. I don't think the unclipped one sees her as an equal. - Jax
I think it is a good idea. Just recently found a very tame parakeet outside. It must have gotten away from someone. Its wings were not clipped so it flew far. If they were clipped, it may have had a chance to get back because then it could not fly too far. - pam
I think it is cruel to clip a bird’s wings. I have a cat so if I clip the bird’s wings it may get harmed. And birds love flying, so it would break my heart to clip my bird’s wings. I always make sure to close the door when my bird is flying around. I have owned parakeets for 16 years and not one parakeet I’ve had has ever had its wings clipped. I have 9 birds and none of them have ever gotten away. - retacake