Give your budgies the nutritional equivalent of what they’d get in the wild, and you’ll maximise your chances of keeping them both happy and healthy. A high quality dry seed mix should be the basis of their diet, along with some sprouting seeds, some fresh fruit and veg, a cuttlefish bone and a mineral block.
Like kids in a fast food restaurant, budgies will usually opt for the less healthy options if you let them. If dry seed is offered to the exclusion of everything else in the early weeks of your budgie’s life, he may well turn up his beak at anything else you provide. You might think the most irresistible foods would be fresh fruit and veg; but to your budgie’s palate, nothing hits the spot quite like dry seed. If this is all the bird gets to eat, he may end up overweight, especially if the seed includes (as it usually does) a heavy dose of millet and other oily grains.
Keeping the food varied is a key to good health
So keep it varied, and keep an eye on what he’s actually eating. Does the veg look untouched while the millet spray is stripped bare? If so, minimise the seed supply for a few days, effectively forcing your bird to try the other good stuff on offer.
Budgie food in the wild
In their natural Australia habitat, budgies eat seeds, mainly from grasses. They like their seeds in all forms – dry and ready to fall, freshly sprouted, or taking root and turning into mini plants. Budgies also eat some leaves, mainly from the eucalyptus trees they favour for roosting and nesting. They also like fruits when they can find them, and get themselves into all sorts of trouble by descending in huge feathered clouds on farmers’ fields of barley, wheat and whatever else, and helping themselves.
Giving your pet birds access to this wide range is the key. Fortified mixes and supplements fill the nutritional gaps, but nothing matches a rounded ‘wild’ diet for ensuring a bird stays healthy and lives a long life. Poor diet is responsible for many budgie deaths, something that can seem baffling if you’ve been religiously feeding a seed mix that claims to cover the budgie’s complete nutritional requirements. The balance might be there in theory, but older dry seed loses its nutrients. This means a bird that regularly fills its crop with food can still suffer from malnutrition. You’ll get the same problem if you offer too much nutritionally poor ‘treat’ food such as bread, pasta and rice.
Budgies’ water should be changed daily. Even if the bowl or drinking station is protected from falling food and poo, the hyperactivity of the birds will inevitably throw dust, husks and feathers into the water. They may sometimes use a drinking bowl as a bath, too. Make sure the water you use for the birds is clean – if the tap water where you live is fine for human consumption, it’s fit for budgies too.
A water dispenser attached to the cage minimises spillage
You shouldn’t have to fortify your birds’ water with vitamin or mineral supplements – that should all be coming from the food. If medicine needs to be added to the water on doctor’s orders, clean the bowls and drinkers thoroughly every day.