Hello fellow members of ABC. My name is Susan Valenti and I am the companion of two female budgies, Phaser and Sirona.
I’ve always loved budgies because I find them comical little characters.
I think a lot of people consider budgies a low maintenance pet, but nothing is further from the truth. I learned that
if you want your budgie to be a healthy, happy bird, you need to do your homework. And, prepare yourself for putting a lot
of energy into interacting with them.
Phaser is nine years old and still kicking, even though she has slowed down and mellowed out. I know, you want to know
why in the world we would name a budgie "Phaser." Well, if you remember the old Star Trek show, the ship Enterprise used
a weapon called a phaser. When we first brought Phaser home, she had her unique tweet that sounded just like the Enterprise's
phaser. She is unusual in that she was hand-fed as a chick. I was looking for such a bird because, truthfully, I was tired
of taming young birds and wanted one that was already warmed up to humans. Was I in for a ride!
Phaser was so human oriented that, of course, she thought she was human. She wanted to be wherever we were at the moment.
She wanted to eat at the same time we did and if we covered her up for the night and left the cage door open, of course,
she’d slip out to be with us if we were still up. She is so intelligent, that she does need continuous challenging things to do.
Being hand fed means that she insists on being a "free range" bird and expects to be out of her cage during the whole day.
That means a lot of supervision and making sure she doesn’t get into some sort of mischief or on the floor. Of course, you
can imagine the amount of clean-up I need to do each day.
Everyone who meets her is amazed by her "people orientedness." She loves coming up to someone’s nose and making different
sounds she thinks is human speech. Compared to a "normal" American budgie, she is somewhat large and has a big head. We think
that with all the stimulation and interaction in her life, she has actually developed a larger brain. I call her a "humakeet"
because she has gone beyond the scope of normal budgie behavior.
I now would not recommend hand feeding budgies. Not because they can be quite a handful, but because I now realize that it’s
not in their best interests. I ran that by Dr. Frederickson of VCA Petcare and she stated that budgies not fed by their mothers
at hatching do not have all the nutrients they need. While it can be a lot of fun, if I were to obtain another one, I would want
it to be gently human handled at a young age so it can tame up more easily.
Since it’s not good for any budgie to be left alone, Phaser has a pal named Sirona. Sirona is also a female, three years old,
who really prefers the company of other birds. While she is used to humans, she is more of a normal parakeet and not like Phaser.
While Phaser might like to engage in solitary amusement, Sirona likes to interact with her and at times can be bossy. They have
their fights and problems and issues of dominance, but for the most part get along. However, when they get into breeding cycle,
which is right about now according to Australia time, watch out!
While some people may prefer budgies of unusual color, I prefer the standard yellow and green colors. The reason is that the
farther you go from these colors, the less disease resistant they are. A vet back East told me that in the past 15-20 years,
budgies’ genes have been weakened due to in-breeding and color breeding. The unfortunate reality is that budgies can be little
tumor factories and I have had my share of grief over this happening in the past.
I’ve been fortunate that neither Phaser nor Sirona have had serious health problems. I think it’s a lot due to my feeding them
the Harrison’s pellets, and as much fruit and veggies as I can (they’re very picky). They’re o.k. with the pellets, but they insist
on seed which I give them at night. At one time, Phaser did have a liver problem, but I give her milk thistle powder mixed into her
pellets and her liver has actually improved over the years. She has even been able to get rid of a couple of lipomas she had on her
I have to admit that Phaser is getting on in years and may have some arthritis in her feet and wings. She has somewhat of a
problem gripping surfaces she finds herself on and her wings are a little droopy. I’m going to try a platform perch and hope for
the best. If any of you have any suggestions as to how to help make life easier for an older bird, please let me know.
Looking back, I am glad to have found Phaser. She has taught me so much, especially patience! I wouldn’t change anything,
because she has been such an incredible pet. Those of you who have owned or now own budgies, I wish you the best of luck and
that you and your budgie have many happy and healthy years together.
-- Susan Valenti