Budgerigars for Beginners

This page is composed of extracts from the Budgerigar Society's Powerpoint presentation "Budgerigars for Beginners". (Some of the pictures shown here have now been replaced on the full presentation). Of necessity, we cannot include here all the features, subjects and detail which appear on the Powerpoint presentation itself, which is now obtainable from the Budgerigar Society's Office on Compact Disk, and can be viewed on any computer where Powerpoint is installed.

        If, like me, you are on "pay as you go" rather than broadband, the images may take some time to load. I would therefore suggest that you read the script before looking again for the pictures - hopefully, they are worth waiting for !

        We hope that the CD will be of help to all who are considering taking up this fascinating and rewarding hobby, and also to Area & local societies: in fact to anyone who is interested in either finding out for themselves, or including this presentation in stands at events such as Agricultural or Horticultural shows -  anywhere where the general public congregate - to help people learn more about why WE breed budgerigars.

           Hopefully this, and the CD will be of help in this aim.  If YOU have any suggestions as to how this page, or the CD itself, may be enhanced, or suggestions about how we can "spread the word" better, please contact the society's office.

The Budgerigar Society, Spring Gardens, Northampton NN1 1DR
Tel 01604 624549      Website :-www.budgerigarsociety.com


 Budgerigars for Beginners



A  Brief  Introduction



                                       Prepared and presented by Herring Bros, Tel: 0191 5651415. E-mail david.herring@ukonline.co.uk.  


What's it All About ??


Budgerigar breeding remains one of the most popular small livestock fancies in the world, because it can be carried out by folk from all walks of life, with stock ranging from a few pairs, upwards. There is no real upper limit.
   Whether you are attracted to the idea of keeping only an ornamental aviary, breeding for pets, or going on to enjoy the full range of the hobby’s attractions by showing your birds alongside fellow fanciers, you will be welcomed into your local society, membership of which will enhance your enjoyment.


The Fascination of the Hobby

There is no real substitute for the thrill one derives from keeping livestock, and we budgerigar fanciers believe that we have selected the best small livestock hobby that there is.
Following the progress of your own breeding pairs as they produce their eggs, their successful hatching and the rearing of the chicks is a particularly rewarding experience.



 The next slide illustrates this





What you will Need

  • Suitable housing, that is, a shed, outhouse or spare room, preferably with natural and artificial lighting
  • At least three pairs of birds, with spare hens
  • Breeding cages to house them, if using this method
  • All necessary feeding substances and equipment
  • Time, patience, diligence and a sense of humour
  • Friends and colleagues in the fancy, and as soon as possible – join your local society, for a start, and preferably before you spend too much in setting up !






 Suitable Housing (1)


A “Shed” – This birdroom was built and erected by the folk at the Washington Multi Purpose Centre, Tyne & Wear, which works with disabled folk. It was stocked with birds donated by Sunderland BS members.
As you can see, it is both ornamental and practical and could easily hold more breeding cages, if required.




The next pictures show another good example of a small aviary, this time built by and for someone who was setting up in budgerigars as a hobby for the first time – very much in the same way as thousands of fanciers have started

This aviary is 9' x 6', set on second-hand paving slabs, and is built from new materials, inside and out. The fancier reckons his total outlay was about £500, but that this would have been considerably less if he had used reclaimed timber, and less still had he converted an existing shed . There is an inside view of this aviary further on in this page.

A leaflet describing the construction of the aviary is available from the Budgerigar Society’s office.













Suitable Housing (2)


Outhouse-  It might be an old coal house, wash house, unused garage – in fact any small outhouse which is upwards of 6 feet square in size


Spare room If you have a room in your house which is not in use, it can be adapted to become a very useful (and usually generously-proportioned) birdroom/aviary.




Equipment (1)

Cages     come in all manner of shapes and sizes and are constructed from a wide range of materials. The main consideration is that each cage is large enough to give your birds the space and comfort they need while confined there.

 They can be built into the main structure, or be individual cages which can be lifted around, as required for repairs, cleaning, re-painting, etc.



To the right, we see a block of cages built into a fairly  small  aviary.  This will be seen as an ideal start by       some, but it is only just completed and the fancier is    already planning an extension, (for which he had made  some provision when planning this structure - a very wise thing to do !! 






  Our birds should not remain confined to cages, however large, except when it is necessary, for example in controlled breeding in the breeding season; they need to be able to fly when possible- so flights are an important part of our equipment, whether outside and open to the elements, or inside the birdroom itself.

Most fanciers agree we should aim to have the perches as far up from the floor as is possible, to increase the strengthening exercise  the birds derive every time they fly up and down to feed, then  return to the  perch.

If space is really limited, it may be possible to arrange things so that the flight is not in place all year, but dismantled when most birds are caged for the breeding programme.








As, during the breeding season, some of our birds will be confined to cages for a considerable length of time, it is important that we ensure that the cages are as large as possible to allow our birds some opportunity to take essential exercise.

The breeding cage is usually equipped with nest box, seed dispenser, soft food dish, finger drawer (on perch) and drinker. An iodine-impregnated calcium block, to provide essential minerals, etc,  (particularly to the hen) is usually offered as well, although some fanciers still off Cuttlefish or alternative sources of Calcium.




Friends and Colleagues

Perhaps not completely essential to budgerigar keeping and breeding, but it is more enriching by far to share your pastime with folk with similar interests.

This picture, taken at a meeting of the Sunderland Budgerigar society includes one of the society's newest members, Paul Burke, who is now the secretary, with two members who joined the society in 1958 on either side of him.

The scene is typical of the make-up of many of our smaller societies. A happy spirit of comradeship prevails and new members are therefore readily received and welcomed.











Colony Breeding (1)


This method is probably the nearest that we can provide have to the wild environment in that the birds are encouraged to breed as a colony, selecting their own mates.


  It is not, of course of much help of those who breed for exhibition or to produce specific colours of birds, as these fanciers need to make their own selections in order to form their kind of stud.
Colony Breeding can, however be a highly successful, low maintenance, method of  breeding birds for pets and an added interest to an ornamental aviary
Normally colony breeding begins in Spring with the introduction of nest boxes to the flight, which should be a minimum of 6 feet x 4 feet in size (183cm x 122 cm) to accommodate four pairs.
It is important to ensure that there are equal numbers of cocks and hens and for four pairs, you should supply at least 8 nestboxes, preferably identical in design and sited at the same height, so as to minimise the possibility of squabbling over one particular box.

The picture alongside shows the aviary, seen earlier , which would also be suitable for colony breeding, especially if it was not used for this pursuit                                                                    until late spring and summer.

The main part of the shed would then be used to house  spare birds as well as perhaps trying one or two pairs on  the Control Breeding system.

   There are obviously many ways in which this structure  could very easily be adapted, to meet a variety of needs.  For example, the main entrance to this aviary is in the end (left-hand side – not shown on this picture) and  would benefit from a simple safety porch over the  entrance, to avoid accidental losses.




Feeding (1)

A constant supply of seed is particularly important to the likes of budgerigars, which need a continual source of food to provide the energy that helps keep them healthy in body and spirit.
There are many good seed mixtures on the market; these can be bought in 25kg sacks or, for those with only a few  birds, in smaller quantities from their local pet shop.

A range of  Buckton’s seeds for budgerigars, prepared after consultation with, and for, the Budgerigar Society can be obtained from any one of a number of stockists throughout the country.

It is as well not to keep changing the seed you use – better  to let your stock get used to good seed from one reliable  dealer.


Many fanciers still successfully rely purely on a staple diet of seeds for their birds, stating that there is no need for supplements, but most breeders still like to offer an egg-based, dampened mixture to their birds during the breeding season.





Not quite as obviously important as the seed, because there is always a certain amount of water available to our birds through the food we give them.


Budgerigars are originally desert animals, and do not normally ingest large quantities of water.
It is, nevertheless, important that they have a supply of clean, fresh water to visit whenever they wish.

Again, always use water from the same source if possible, as some birds react badly to a change of supply.




Those folk who keep only a few birds in an ornamental aviary, and perhaps breed a few chicks in this environment may decide that they can rely on natural lighting and let their birds breed according to the natural lengthening of the days.


However, many breeders supply the pet market, to try to produce certain colours of birds, or breed for show birds, so need to breed birds earlier in the year. In these cases, it is more than useful to have artificial light in order to extend the daylight hours.


Usually this is accomplished by leading an electricity supply into the birdroom.    This also allows us to provide  ………..


– an electric heater is safest, being free from fumes. Our birds do not, of course, usually need this facility.   Like many other birds and wild animals, budgerigars are capable of comfortably enduring colder weather than we can.


   In fact, those of us who have a heated birdroom readily admit that we provide it mainly for our comfort, to ensure that we don’t hurry our jobs in the aviary “because it is too cold”.

             It is, nonetheless, a good idea to have artificial heating when we have our birds breeding, so that if a hen leaves the nest for a little longer than usual there is a good chance that her eggs or chicks will not become chilled.





General Husbandry

This title could, just as easily, have been ‘Routine’, because this is really what it is all about. Especially for those who are intent on breeding budgerigars either to supply the pet trade or to produce show birds, it is vital that our birds know that we are going to keep their food, water, softfood  (to aid breeding birds feeding young),  grit etc., in good supply.


If at all possible, it helps our own management if we can arrange to complete our major birdroom tasks at the same time of each day.

The immediate needs of the birds attended to, it is also vital to keep your aviary clean and tidy.   (It should go without saying that all seed pots, drinkers, etc must be kept scrupulously clean)

.......   This is not purely for appearance purposes. A clean aviary also helps in the fight against disease, and deters pests and vermin from establishing a base in the birdroom.

For the same reason, it is essential to keep a close eye on the condition of the structure of the birdroom, especially wooden buildings, and to ensure that vermin in any form can not gain access.





Fanciers who are members of the Budgerigar Society (BS) or one of the Area Societies obtain their own Closed Coded Rings throughout the BS. These rings bear the member’s personal membership number, the year, and rings each year are consecutively numbered- ensuring that no two birds wear the same ring number!


The rings are fitted on the leg, slipping over the toes, when the chick is between five and nine days old –leave it too late and the ring won’t fit!


Rings are an excellent way of showing the identity of the breeder and the age of those birds, which is very useful when buying and selling stock.

We therefore strongly advise anyone who is considering buying a bird as a pet, or to breed pets to ensure that any bird they buy is wearing and Official Closed Coded ring - preferably one bought through the Budgerigar Society - or even through one of the other national organisations






Many of us like to show our birds and shows range from small cage birds sections at local horticultural and agricultural shows, to the World Show of the Budgerigar Society, held in Doncaster (pictures on the next slide), where the best birds in the country compete for the major awards.
The Budgerigar Society secretary brings the society’s stand, as do most of the main Area societies.
The Club show has taken place in the middle of November for many years, and this show gives fanciers the chance to pay their subscriptions and order rings for the coming year.













Another highlight of Budgerigar Society’s Club Show is found in the trade stands which selling foodstuffs, additives and equipment. These stands add to the interest of any show
The main reason for showing birds is to enable us to compete and at the same time mark our own progress in improving our birds.
On top of this, it allows us to mix with fellow fanciers, attending seminars, making new friends, renewing acquaintanceships, exchanging news and views and enjoying some of the light-hearted competitions which take place.






Progress through the sections from starting out to the Champion status is achieved on a basis of time and the level of success on the showbench, so no-one can 'get out of their depth'.
There are “Any Age” classes for birds over a year old and also “Young Bird” classes for birds bred by the exhibitor and wearing the exhibitor’s own closed ring, issued through the Budgerigar Society.




There are a great number of colour varieties, including:-


Normal Greens , Normal Blues,

Normal Greys, Normal Greygreens,

Opalines (Greens and Blue),

Cinnamon (Greens and Blues in Normal and Opaline),

Lutinos (from the Greens) and Albinos (from the Blues),

Clearwings (Yellowwings and Whitewings), Crests, Spangles,

Dominant Pieds,  Recessive Pieds, Yellowfaces,

Rares (including Clearbodies, Saddlebacks),

Any Other Colour  (this category includes a number of other, specific, varieties.



The Colours

The Light Green is the normal colour of budgerigars in their natural habitat – mainly Australia. All other varieties, illustrated in the following slides, have sprung from these.

Mutations that appear in the wild are few and far between and are quickly lost, because the chances of, say, two blue budgerigars meeting are remote .

Careful selection of mates is needed to “fix”  any new colour, and this is how so many of the varieties shown on the slides which follow these Greens have been established.









Thank you for taking the time to look at this presentation, and we hope that it has been of interest to you. This text only 'scratches the surface' of the subject of budgeriars - after some 47 years in the fancy, the writers are still learning !


If you wish to obtain a copy of the full presentation, which also has other features, and/or to otherwise find out more about our fascinating hobby, please contact :-  


The Budgerigar Society, Spring Gardens, Northampton NN1 1DR
Tel 01604 624549
(We will also put you in touch with your local or Area society.)



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