Parakeet Care

Information About Parakeets –
Parakeet Care, Raising Parakeets, Parakeet Age and more

How to Raise and Care for Parakeets Properly

When we first found Yorkie, our young little yellow parakeet clinging upside down to a parking lot gate, we found that in order to raise and care for her we had to rely on instinct, a brief amount of parakeet information gathered from the Internet and our experiences raising dogs. But, the beauty and challenge of parakeets is that they are unlike other pets. So, although the similarities of raising pets still centered on loving care and soft positive talking, a differing sets of skills were required to properly raise and care for our parakeet. A complete in-depth how-to information guide on raising parakeets would have been the perfect online source.

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In the absence of such useful online information about raising and caring for parakeets, we decided to relate the important and useful tidbits of information learned from raising our own budgie firsthand.

Parakeet Care

Keep Your Budgie Clean
Some online parakeet sources will tell you that parakeets love water and that they need water or a bath in order to stay clean. In addition, they say, parakeets love to frolic in water. Well, in our experience, all of it is true except for the “loving water” part. Parakeets don’t necessarily love taking baths especially in a new environment. Our parakeet shied away from the bathtub, the sink, even the cereal bowl full of water that I placed on a small table beside its cage. She wouldn’t go near any of them.

Parakeets are careful if not paranoid about new environments because their mindset is that any human or animal organism larger than it is potential prey. Our yellow parakeet is no exception. For most of the first 5-6 months, our budgie avoided taking baths then one day I noticed her dancing and frolicking in and out of its drinking tray in its cage. Her bathing activity lasted about 10 minutes and she was quite careful to bath every body part by climbing in and out of the drinking water in different positions. She never submerged her head. To this day she still finds bathing solace in the drinking water. I make sure to change the drinking water once a day now.

As your pet parakeet matures, it should trust you more and it should become easier to keep your budgie clean. This is a good time to entice it to bath in a larger bowl that is not its drinking source.

Parakeet Care – Wings, Claws, Beaks and Eyes

Parakeets require care but not as much you may think. They are self-grooming birds. Most will preen a lot if they are the only bird in the house. However, parakeets do require some minimal yet essential cleaning care.

How to Care for Parakeet Wings
Most parakeets that you buy, either from a bird store or from private breeders, have clipped wings. I am not a proponent of clipped wings but in the case of our own budgie, we are glad that her wings were, in fact, clipped. Otherwise, we would not have rescued her from lurking, unfamiliar and perilous outdoor dangers.

Just because a parakeet’s wings are clipped does not mean they should be confined to a cage all day or for their entire lives. Parakeets are social and inquisitive. They are bright and gregarious. They will become bored and possibly depressed if not let out of their cages. Parakeets do poop but it dries hard within minutes without any staining (be sure to clean the poop up daily to avoid allergic reactions). So, whether your pet parakeet has clipped wings or a full set of them, let it fly and investigate its surroundings. It will be a more social and happy bird as a result and you will have a better chance of connecting with it.

Types of Parakeet Wings
Did you know that parakeets have over 2,000 feathers in their body despite their diminutive size – 4 inch bodies, 8 inches form head to tail?

Down feathers
The closest feathers to a parakeet’s body are soft down feathers which provide warmth. These are the little quarter inch fluffy feathers you see falling to the ground during molting season. When a pet parakeet gets in a raucous mood, one activity they enjoy is rapidly fluttering their wings while perched in their cage. Fast fluttering wings create rapid air currents which dislodges the soft down feathers from the bottom of the cage spraying them into the air like feathers in a pillow fight. It’s quite a sight to see.

Contour feathers
Contour feathers are the feathers that define the birds body. They are colored. The small scalloped head feathers are also contour feathers.

Semiplume Feathers
Semiplumed feathers are the feathers on the head and cheeks.

Flight feathers
Flight feathers are elongated colored feathers that allow the parakeet to fly

The important point to make is that parakeets must continually preen and wash their wings and feathers for safety and cleanliness so ensure that bathing water, apart from drinking water, is always available.

Male or Female – The Parakeets Beak (Cere)
Above the parakeets nose is the cere, that little bump above the beak. The cere is the parakeets nose. You will see two holes in the cere which is used for breathing and smelling.

Oftentimes, you must wait 1-2 years in order to discern the sex of the parakeet budgie. A male parakeet has a blue-purple colored cere but all parakeet babies typically have blue ceres. Upon maturation, the color remains blue or slightly purple in a male parakeet or, if it’s a female parakeet, the cere color changes to a brown or pink hue. We found our parakeet in the firtst year of its life (and since we found it we don’t know the exact date or month of birth). Only this past month, exactly one year after we found it, did its cere begin to change color. Because Yorkie’s cere color is a pink-red color, we assume it is a female parakeet. If you still are unsure of the parakeets sex after the parakeet matures bring it to your avian veterinarian for confirmation.

Parakeets Eyes – their most acute sense
The eyes of a parakeet are the strongest sense they possess. Parakeet eyes, in fact, are stronger and more “insightful” than human eyes. For instance, parakeets can discern light spectrums and energy which allows them to distinguish fresh fruits from rotten fruits, healthy parakeet friends from sickly ones. Parakeets do not rely on smell or taste as much as they do eyesight in determining the yumminess factor of seeds or fruit. When flying high in the grasslands of the Australian plains, parakeets relied on their eyesight to detect fresh nuts, fruits and vegetables rather than smell.

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Understanding the Sleeping Patterns of Parakeets
It is said that parakeets require 10-12 hours of sleep each day. But you will find they don’t need 10-12 continuous hours of sleep. Some of that sleep time occurs during the day. Most of it, though, is at night while we sleep. Our yellow parakeet only really requires about 6-8 hours of sleep each night. The sleeping patterns in the home vary but despite that, a parakeet will instinctively fly back to its cage or settle down right at or close to sunset. It will eat a bit, drink, digest then gradually makes it way to the area of the cage that is most comfortable for sleeping. We play music most nights until it’s time to sleep and the parakeet loves it. Even while settled in for the night, it will softly chirp along.

When a bird sleeps, it puffs itself by trapping air in its contour feathers. The trapped air is warmed by its body which creates a perfect sleeping environment similar to the one created for us by our down blankets or bedspreads.

Try to cover your pet parakeet at night. By doing this we duplicate the dark, quiet and safe ambiance of hollowed out trees in which they used to nest in the Australian forests.

How to Care for Parakeet Claws
It’s good to let your parakeet’s claws grow. Don’t clip them to prevent growth. However, it is important to monitor them. The rule is pretty simple: a parakeet needs claws to perch on their dowels that are placed in their bird cages or on their feeding dishes. Our parakeet likes to hang out in the bathroom atop the lighting fixtures that illuminate the sink area. The light fixtures are conical in shape with rims at the top so once in a while you’ll see our budgie hanging upside down from them scanning her territory, like a bat.

There are also a string of Christmas lights that extend across a sliding glass door in the house. Outside the glass door is a balcony with a sill where I place bird seed for other wild birds to eat. Yorkie, our parakeet, likes to perch on the Christmas light loops and chat with her friends.

Without claws, our parakeet would not be able to enjoy any of these experiences. Without claws, a parakeet cannot grab and stabilize itself.

But there is a time when a parakeets claws should be trimmed and that’s when those claws begin to curl inward thus preventing comfortable perching on any surface or loop of light strings. A normal parakeet claw looks curved, even C-shaped. When the C-shaped claw begins to curl inward or it begins to look like a U-shaped or O-shaped claw, it’s time to clip them a bit to get them back to the C-shape.

How to Trim a Parakeet’s Claws
You can buy parakeet claw trimmers at your local bird store. A good way to trim your parakeet’s claws is to first, calm your budgie as much as possible before beginning. You know your parakeet better than any one. If you’re not sure how to calm your parakeet, consider placing a warm facecloth over the wings after you get it to step onto your fingers. Try to get it to perch on your middle finger so that you can gently, safely, calmly and with minimal pressure pinch the feet in place with your index finger pressed aginst your middle finger. With the facecloth over the wings, turn her on her back and calmly trim the claws. Sing a song to further calm it. The facecloth should be enough to prevent the parakeet from wildly flapping its wings. It is probably not going to enjoy the exercise so if you are a bit uncomfortable trimming claws, bring it to yor avian vet or to an experienced bird shop owner. If you live in the Los Angeles area, we recommend Birds Plus on Burbank Blvd in Van Nuys.

Do not cut the claws down to the parakeet’s nail quick. Maintain the curvature in the claw. If you mistakenly cut into the quick, apply a styptic pencil to the wounded area to prevent infection. Our bird store recommended a ring of sand paper to curl around one or some of its perches in the birdcage – instead of trimming with clippers.

How Long Can a Parakeet Live?

A parakeet can live 10-15 years and if it survives the first 7 years without growing tumors, it has a pretty good chance of attaining the full length of its lifespan. One way to note changing health patterns in your parakeet is to keep an eye on its poop (more watery) and eating habits (becomes temperamental).

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