If your pet budgerigar is
already 5 or 6 years old - or more - this in itself is testimony
to the quality of your care. Therefore, I have confidence in your
bird care regime, and won't bore you with the basics. This
article is specifically about the special needs of the older bird.
Put simply, an ageing budgie is likely to need a protein boost
whenever he or she begins to moult, and until the new feathers
have finished growing. Your little friend may also require an
even temperature day and night.
Egg is Easy
If your budgie will eat mashed hard
boiled egg, this is the easiest form of protein to use.
The bird may like whole egg mashed, or may prefer white
only, so experiment and see. Only a tiny portion is
needed, but your budgie can eat as much of it as he likes.
Try offering it in various ways to see which best
encourages him to enjoy this food. Options are: from your
hand; off the sandsheet; in a dish; or in the treat dish
of a toy.
- or Maybe Milk
For budgies who don't want to eat egg, or who
are too old to bother, the next option is to mix either
soya milk or real milk with the drinking water. Start
with 1 part of the milk to 3 parts of water, and increase
to a 50/50 mixture if this is acceptable to your friend.
Unsweetened soya milk may be a touch bitter, so a tiny
addition of sugar, honey or pure fruit syrup may please
your budgie! If your household doesn't use soya milk, an
economical way of providing it for the bird is to freeze
small portions in an ice cube tray. In the case of cow's
milk, skimmed or virtually fat free is preferable, and I
have read of one breeder using the latter 100% without
adding any water. Any milk mixture is better in a dish
than a tube hopper, as it tends to separate in a long
Of course, you will need to change the drink regularly
and wash the dish or feeder well. I'd suggest twice daily
for real milk, and once for soya milk - but if the
weather is very hot increase the frequency.
If you have a budgie who won't eat egg, (even white),
or drink a milky mixture, another option is to obtain a
special bird supplement of the kind that incorporates
amino acids which are easily digested, protein
constituents. These products are formulated to compensate
for the nutritional weaknesses of a seed diet, the only
problem being that they are - so far as I know - only
packaged and marketed with the breeder in mind. The
mixing instructions may well be for a litre or worse! and
accuracy will be important. One amino acid supplement
available by mail order in the UK is Vydex's Feathersure.
The current price including p&p is £7.95.
'Phone Vydex on 02920 578578 International : +44 2920 578578. You can also track these formulas
down through the magazines of the bird fancy, or possibly
through your vet or a specialist pet shop. I should point
out that I have not used them myself, nor have I ever
bought anything from Vydex - so this is not an
endorsement! I am including this link simply because
specific information is a lot more useful than vague
information! In theory, these products should be easy to
use and highly effective.
Don't Chill Me!
As mentioned briefly, the other special need of some
older budgies - (and less robust younger budgies too) -
is for a fairly even room temperature day and night. This
takes the strain out of life. If your bird has been
looking chilled of a morning, or has been producing wet
droppings overnight, it would certainly be wise to
provide a constant temperature if you do not already do
so. The same goes for a budgie who has recently suffered
an illness. Unfortunately, many central heating systems
are programmed to switch off at night and other times, to
save fuel. You may have to use ingenuity to find a way of
meeting your bird's need! Possibly you may have a small
room that would cost little to heat constantly during the
colder months, and you could consider keeping your
budgerigar there at times when the house is cold.
I have found that budgies tend to stop feeling gorgeously
young at about 7 years of age. They slow down a bit, and moulting
becomes more of a challenge, which is where the bit of complete
protein comes in. With a bit of extra help, budgerigars can often
keep going, with good quality of life, to the ripe old age of,
say, 9 to 11 years. Unlike dogs, they don't show their age much,
and are likely to stay beautiful. Eventually, they may get a bit
stiff and bent-looking - just like old people really - and their
tails may become tatty. Having said that, I have never seen a
really ancient budgie like the one in the World Longevity Record
Average Life Span
If you are interested to know the average life span of a pet
budgie, I have been able to find two figures obtained from actual
surveys, though they are a bit old. The Budgerigar Society
published a figure of 8 years in their Research Digest of 1979 -
1981. A lower average of 6½ years was published in 'Which?'
magazine in 1976 or '77, and here mention was made that the top
age found was 14 years. However, these figures will include
individuals who died young because of inherent weakness, or
because of some error on the part of an inexperienced owner. For
a budgie already enjoying a healthy middle age, there is every
reason to anticipate a longer than average life span.
The World Longevity Record
According to The Guinness Book of Records, 1995, the oldest budgerigar on record is Charlie, who lived from April 1948 to June 20th 1977 - a total of 29 years, 2 months. He
was owned by J. Dinsey of Stonebridge, London, UK.
The New Guinness Book of Records 1995, Guinness Publishing
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© Copyright Helen Day, first published in October 2000.