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12

Budgerigar

(Melopsittacus undulatus)
Alternate name(s): "Shell Parrot", "Warbling Grass-parrot",
"Canary Parrot", "Zebra Parrot", "Love-bird"
Aboriginal name(s): "budgerigah", "betcherrygah", "gidjirrigaa" [gamilaraay, yuwaalaraay]; "dingleyerong" (WA); "gilgilga", "cathathara" ("katatara"), "coolyerrin"

Size: 17-20 cm
Weight: 30-40 g
Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Budgerigar at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

ADULT

MALE

Frontal view of a male Budgerigar; note the blue-grey cere
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2013]

Frontal view of a male Budgerigar
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, October 2013]

Near-lateral/ventral view of a male Budgerigar
[Near Wee Waa, NSW, January 2016]

Lateral view of a male Budgerigar
[Near Hungerford, QLD, September 2012]

Near-dorsal view of a male Budgerigar
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2013]

Near-dorsal view of a male Budgerigar
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, October 2013]

FEMALE

Near-frontal view of a female Budgerigar (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lake Bindegolly NP, near Thargomindah, QLD, June 2019]

Near-frontal/ventral view of three female Budgerigars
[Near Wee Waa, NSW, January 2016]

Close-up lateral view of a female Budgerigar (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Kilcowera Station, between Thargomindah and Hungerford, QLD, June 2020]

Lateral view of three female Budgerigars
[Near Wee Waa, NSW, January 2016]

PAIR

Frontal view of a pair of Budgerigars - male on the right, female on the left; note the different colours of the ceres
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2013]

Frontal/ventral view of a pair of Budgerigars
[Bowra Wildlife Sanctuary, near Cunnamulla, QLD, June 2019]

Lateral view of a pair of Budgerigars (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Mungerannie, SA, June 2015]

Lateral/ventral view of a pair of Budgerigars "getting into the mood"
[Near Pilliga, NSW, May 2020]

Near-dorsal/ventral view of a pair of preening Budgerigars
[Near Pilliga, NSW, May 2020]

Near-dorsal/ventral view of a pair of Budgerigars; male on the right - these are the birds whose calls were recorded on 4 March 2020
[Mt. Kaputar NP, near Narrabri, NSW, March 2020]

Sex unknown

Comparison of a Budgerigar with a White-browed Woodswallow
[Bowra Wildlife Sanctuary, near Cunnamulla, QLD, June 2019]

Budgerigars roosting and preening in an eucalypt tree
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2013]

Budgerigars are highly sociable animals - everything is done in large numbers
[Sturt NP, NSW, September 2012]

Cooling is part of a Budgerigar's life in outback NSW in summer...
[Near Brewarrina, NSW, March 2008]

... as is preening
[Near Brewarrina, NSW, March 2008]

Lateral view of a mixed flock of Budgerigars and Gouldian Finches in flight (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Top End, NT, July 2018]

Near-dorsal view of a part of a flock of Budgerigars in flight
[Sturt NP, NSW, September 2012]

Flock of Budgerigars flying in to feed on grass seeds
[Sturt NP, NSW, September 2012]

This is how much one can see of about 200 Budgerigars when they have settled in in tall grass...
[Sturt NP, NSW, September 2012]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Frontal view of an adult male (right) and an juvenile male (left) Budgerigar on the ground
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2015]

Frontal/ventral view of a juvenile male Budgerigar, left and upper right, in a small mob
[Near Narrabri, NSW, July 2020]

Lateral view of a juvenile male Budgerigar on the ground; note the absence of tail feathers
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2015]

(Near-)dorsal view of an adult male (left) and a juvenile male (right) Budgerigar
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2015]

Dorsal view of a juvenile, probably female, Budgerigar
[Near Brewarrina, NSW, March 2008]

Bred varieties

Sometimes escapes can be seen out in nature. The budgerigar shown below was found to hang out with a flock of House Sparrows.

Frontal view of a male escape Budgerigar; the colour of its plumage is a bit lighter than that of its wild cousins

There is something to nibble, too

The same Budgerigar as above, now in a tree...

...and here seen preening

Breeding information

Breeding season: June - Jan Eggs: 4 - 8 Incubation period: 17 - 23 days Fledging age: 28 - 35 days

Nest building: ? Incubation: Female Dependent care: Female & male

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Tree hollow Material: ? Height above ground: 2 - 10 m

Budgerigars can, in principle, breed any time after significant inland rain. They choose sites in both live and dead trees and often nest colonially. At prime nest sites, when there is a lot of pressure on available nest space, they can choose all kinds of cavities to nest in, also very low near the ground. The male feeds the female at the nest while she is incubating. This is the reason behind their elaborate "affectionate" bonding rituals that have earned Budgerigars the nickname "Lovebirds".

Pair of Budgerigars at the entrance to their nest hollow in a live eucalypt
[Bowra Wildlife Sanctuary, near Cunnamulla, QLD, June 2019]

Female Budgerigar at the entrance to its nest hollow in a live eucalypt
[Bowra Wildlife Sanctuary, near Cunnamulla, QLD, June 2019]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 18 x 14 mm Colour: White Shape: Rounded

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Dispersive Elementary unit: Flock

Budgerigars are highly sociable and gregarious birds that will (especially after a successful breeding season) form flocks of many thousands. In such huge flocks the individual birds are well protected.

Bonding ritual at the start of the breeding season: Male Budgerigar feeding his partner, who will be reliant on him while incubating their eggs (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Kilcowera Station, between Thargomindah and Hungerford, QLD, June 2020]

Bonding ritual at the start of the breeding season: Male Budgerigar feeding his partner, who will be reliant on him while incubating their eggs (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Kilcowera Station, between Thargomindah and Hungerford, QLD, June 2020]

Bonding ritual at the start of the breeding season: Male Budgerigar feeding his partner, who will be reliant on him while incubating their eggs (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Kilcowera Station, between Thargomindah and Hungerford, QLD, June 2020]

Bonding ritual at the start of the breeding season: Male Budgerigar feeding his partner, who will be reliant on him while incubating their eggs
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, August 2013]

Two male Budgerigars settling an issue about the pecking order
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, August 2013]

Male Budgerigar snoozing in a tree
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2013]

Budgerigars resting together (photo courtesy of M. Windeyer)
[Warrumbungle NP, near Coonabarabran, NSW, December 2013]

Budgerigars are small and swift fliers...
[Near Bugilbone, NSW, May 2020]

... often one gets the camera ready just as they vanish behind tree crowns
[Near Bugilbone, NSW, May 2020]

Food, Diet

Adults: Seeds Dependents: Regurgitated seeds Water intake: Daily

Buderigars are nomadic, moving in and out of areas with seeding grass.

Budgerigars are one of the few bird species that can ladle water into their throat using their tongue, similar to a cat, whereas most other bird species scoop water into their lower mandible.

Flock of Budgerigars drinking from a farm dam
[Sturt NP, NSW, September 2012]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

budgy_20190618.m4a (SW QLD) Q&A (pair) © MD
budgy_20200304.m4a (NW NSW) Q&A (pair) © MD
budgy_20190617.m4a (SW QLD) Courting pair © MD
budgy_20190617_2.m4a (SW QLD) Interacting pair (inspecting nest) © MD
budgy_20200518.m4a (NW NSW) Pair courting, then leaving © MD
budgy_20200304_2.m4a (NW NSW) Departure (pair) © MD
budgy_20190618_3.m4a (SW QLD) Squabbling group © MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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