Australia exports parrots to other countries
The budgie and its name
From the time it was discovered in Australia, it took a while before the budgie was considered "in" in Europe. The English researcher John Gould (1804 to 1881) was so fascinated by the small birds that he brought the first specimens from Australia to Europe in 1840.
Because of the pattern on the plumage, he called the species "Melopsittacus undulatus", which translates as "wavy singing parrot". This is where the German name "Budgie" came from. It was also Gould who wrote the first scientific book on the newly discovered bird species.
The long way to Europe
The budgie soon enjoyed great popularity in Europe. However, the importers, owners and breeders made life hell for the little bird. Many animals did not even survive the crossing. It was considered a success when two-thirds of the birds got through.
When they arrived in their new home, many died because they were given the wrong food, were kept in cages that were too narrow or kept in isolation. Millions of budgerigars were imported until the Australian government imposed the export ban in 1884 in order to save the bird species from extinction.
Breeding is best together
The most common budgies today, those with light blue and yellowish feathers, were bred as early as 1872 and 1878, respectively. Just a few years after the Australian export ban, the population of the birds was considered secure.
They didn't make it too difficult for the breeders either: budgies are sexually mature shortly after birth and can reproduce. They do this with pleasure and often. The females can breed several times a year at almost any time. Other birds, on the other hand, are tied to certain cycles or key stimuli.
As soon as a suitable place for breeding has been found and a pair of budgies starts, the whole swarm usually follows suit. Budgies are so-called community breeders.
Survive in Australia
The reason for this downright reproductive rage lies in the special adaptation of the budgie to its native Australia. During periods of drought, entire flocks of over a thousand birds can perish. Only a high birth rate compared to other birds ensures the survival of the species.
Budgies can do without water for weeks. Their trick: they pull the moisture out of the seeds. When the birds are looking for a new territory or breeding ground, they usually fly in huge flocks to deter potential attackers. They can cover up to 100 kilometers a day.
Parrot or not?
It has now been established that budgies are directly related to parrots. They do not belong to the subfamily of the so-called "real parrots", but are a subfamily of the generic group of the "flat-tailed parakeets". But at the top of the ancestry chain is the parrot.
The budgies have one thing in common with him, which fascinates people in the past as well as today: They imitate noises and the human voice and are true masters at this.
Budgies as pets
The little voice acrobat is usually an enrichment for people - the other way around this is rarely the case. Budgies are often exposed to enormous stress: noisy children who touch the parakeet against its will because it does not become tame quickly enough. Too little free flight in the apartment or years of "solitary confinement" without a partner.
Before getting a budgie, be aware that this is a long-term decision. Life expectancy falls by half in captivity - mostly because of the above-mentioned factors, but as a guideline one should count on nine years. The budgie is a group animal with a pronounced social behavior that, if treated incorrectly, suffers like a human.
Author: Götz Bolten
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