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How to Groom Your Budgie

By: Dr. Susan Clubb

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Budgies – or parakeets – are one of the world's most popular pets. Easy to care for, these cheerful birds came originally from Australia – hence, the name Budgerigar, which comes from the indigenous language of the Continent Down Under. In the wild, the birds are usually bright green, but pet birds come in a colorful palette of blues, yellows, greens, grays and white. Here's how to keep a pet parakeet looking his best:

  • Budgies love to bathe and you can purchase small birdbaths that fit into the door of a standard budgie cage. They should be filled with lukewarm water and left for the bird to enter as he chooses. Budgies can also be bathed by misting with a fine mist spray bottle. They should be bathed twice weekly to maintain healthy plumage.

  • Wing clipping is essential for initial training; you will need to clip the bird periodically as his flight feathers grow back in.

  • Many people keep their birds full flighted, and a budgie flying around the house can be delightful. If you do choose to let your bird loose, there are some safety concerns to be aware of:

    Ceiling fans. Make sure you turn them off before you let the bird out to play.

    Stoves. Turn them off and remove hot food before releasing the bird from his cage.

    Toilets. Make sure the cover is down: Birds have been known to drown in them.

    Windows and doors. Make sure they're closed so the bird can't fly out. Also be sure to put the bird back in his cage before answering a doorbell – escapes happen quickly, especially if the bird is startled.

  • Overgrown nails can be a hazard. Clip them with fingernail clippers, watching for the quick (vein) inside the nail. Since a budgie's nails are white, the vein is visible and the nail should be clipped a little bit past the vein. If the nail bleeds when it is cut, apply a little Quick Stop, a commercial remedy that will stop the bleeding. (If you don't have any, you can stick the nail into a bar of soap, apply flour or cornstarch, or light a match, blow it out and cauterize the nail on the hot head of the match.) Because the birds are so small, it's important to stop the bleeding right away.

  • Breeders often identify the birds with a leg band, which shows the hatch year and breeder code – and may also indicate the family of the budgie. If well-fitted, the bands represent negligible risk, but they may help you to retrieve your bird if it is lost.

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