Caring for Your New Parakeet
The inside scoop from Aqualand on Keets

 
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Parakeet Factoids

Origin

Australia

Life Span

15 years +

Sexing

Blue cere on male.  Brown on female. 

Location

Avoid drafts.

Water

Use a water bottle 

Attitude

Perky and unafraid

Perches

Provide a variety of sizes

Humidity

Loves misting

Foods

Seeds and/or pellets

Supplements

Germinated seeds, fruits

Lighting

Full-spectrum

Threat Starving due to empty husks in food dish

Breeding

Easiest in March/May. 

Breeder Age

9 to 10 months

Nest

Provide nesting box


LA Pic
Parakeets come in a variety of colors (and sizes, too).

Most Parakeets Start Wild.  When you first take your new parakeet home, expect him to be terrified of you.  This fear, anxiety, and stress make him bite and attempt to fly away.  You need to earn his trust before he will accept you.

LA Pic
Blue cere atop beak of male parakeet.  Brown on female.

Reassure your parakeet in a calm voice and with slow movements.  Talk to him and he’ll soon talk back to you.  As his trust in you grows, he’ll even learn to talk your language.

Short training sessions every day work best.  Say the same phrase over and over and over and...  Stick with one phrase until he’s got it down pat.  Then add a new one.

Keets learn best from women and children.  Parakeets find it easier to imitate the pitch of their voices.  In addition to talking, keets learn to hop from finger to finger, kiss and nibble, flex their wings on command, pull a wagon, lift “barbells,” lie on their back in your hand, and climb ladders to ring bells.

 

All it takes is patience and the use of their natural hunger and rewards.  During training sessions, remove all distracting toys, ladders, perches, feeders, and mirrors.  Once you convince your parakeet, you’re on his side he turns into a much nicer companion.  Expect:

Excited Chirping.  Whenever you return home, your parakeet starts jumping around and chattering at you.  He’s glad his buddy’s back to play with him for a while.

Closeness.  When you come near the cage, he struts his stuff as close to your side of the cage as possible.

Showing off.  He goes through all sorts of attention-getting antics in hopes that you’ll let him come out to play with you.

Cuddling.  When you take him out, he nuzzles your hand.  He walks up your arm, and chews on your ear, and nuzzles your neck.  He likes you and shows it.

Contentment.  After his initial excitement and exercise, he’s happy to just perch on your shoulder and watch the world go by.  He trusts you.  You’re his friend, companion, and protector.

Why We Like Parakeets.  We like keets because they are:

LA Pic
Parakeets bond more easily with each other.  If you want a real buddy, get just one.

Friendly.  Once your parakeet gets to know you, he watches you as you approach his cage.  He tilts his head and saunters over to the bars to see what you’re up to this time.

Communicative.  He chirps and chatters when you enter the room.  He says, “Hey, look at me” when you come home from work.

LA Pic
All the colors get along together.  They enjoy company.

Beautiful.  Parakeets come in a veritable rainbow of colors – and combinations of colors – all of which are appealing to the eye.

Long-Lived.  Properly cared for parakeets live 15 years or longer.

Easily Cared For.  You never have to brush or wash your parakeet.  He carefully preens every feather himself every day.  Mist him occasionally to bring out his brightest colors.

Economical.  You measure your parakeet’s food in tablespoons – two a day more than “fills the bill.”  Cages cost very little and last for years.  If you need a new cage, get one as large as your wallet can tote.

Entertaining.  See how long it takes him to train you to whistle at him.  He knows other tricks, too.  He’s one of the world’s greatest acrobats.  His hooked bill gives him “one leg up” on the competition.

Convenient.  Parakeets take very little space and readily adjust to your schedule.  An occasional cage cleaning takes less than 10 minutes.

Recreational.  After a hard day at the Salt Mines you deserve to come home to someone who looks forward to spending some time with you – your parakeet.

Affectionate.  Once you befriend him, he willingly hops onto your finger, rides on your shoulder, nibbles your ear, eats from your hand, and enjoys himself when he’s with you.

Beware of Threats.  Certain common household items cause real problems and even threaten the life of your parakeet.  Beware, of these specific threats:  Windows, spoiled food, string, threads, loud noises, hot water, tropical plants, fans, Teflon pans, pest strips, flea killers, insecticides, and other pets.

LA Pic
We dislike the little starter kits.  Most seem way too small for parakeets.

Think of his cage as his haven from all these threats.  Tame birds always enjoy sessions outside their cage.  It expands their interactions with you.  But make sure you protect your parakeet against all the above threats first.

Turn Your Parakeet into a Friend.

Picture big, monstrous fingers suddenly coming in your front door, grasping at you, capturing you, and pulling you from your home.

LA Pic
Take away his pilot's license.  Cut off all but the last two flight feathers.  One side only.

Your parakeet feels the same way – probably more so.  Birds are lovers, not fighters.  When anything big comes near, they take to the sky.  Their philosophy – better safe than sorry.  Once you overcome his initial natural fear of you, your pet bird’s ready to be your buddy.  And when you clip his wing, you take away his main means of escape.

 

LA Pic
Once you trim his wing.  He'll sit on your finger.  Total elapsed time -- five minutes.

Encourage Trust.  Act Friendly.  Talk to your parakeet.  Avoid sudden, threatening movements.  Encourage feeding and playing outside the cage.

Feed a Sound Diet.  When you fill their food cup to overflowing, you encourage waste.  Parakeets love to play with excess food.  They compete with each other to see who can throw their seeds the farthest.  They also pick out only their favorite seeds.

LA Pic
Note the huge front door on this cage.  It provides easy access to all the parakeets.

Provide Security.  His cage protects him from threats.  It’s his home.  His security blanket.  Give him plenty of room.  Nice roosts, toys, and a good location – away from drafts, too much sunlight, bright lights loud radios, and MTV.  A cage cover also adds to his nighttime security.

Encourage Exercise.  Parakeets love to play.  In the wild they erupt in fights of fancy for no apparent purpose other than just going along with the crowd.  You’re now all the flock he knows.  Provide toys and other materials that encourage grooming, chewing, food gathering, playing, and exercising.  Rotate his toys every week of so.  They love variety.

Limit Certain Foods.  When it comes to diet, parakeets are real bird brains.  They pick up bad habits fast.  After a couple years in a cage, it is really tough to break any of their bad habits – tough, but not impossible.  Take charge.

LA Pic
Parakeet food contains a variety of seeds plus vitaminized pellets.

Birds like to sort through their food and eat just certain seeds.  They’ll ignore or trash the rest.  Don’t let that little one-ounce bully push you around.  You know what’s best.  He has absolutely no idea.

Jeffrey Hill, December 3, 2006
Just a little info about feeding parakeets. Feeding vegetables, fruits and greens doesn't cause diarrhea. The food just causes their feces to change color and maybe become watery. People need to feed their pet birds these things along with pellets so the bird stays healthy.

A:  I'll add your comments to my parakeet info.  LA

Parakeets love millet spray, honey sticks, and egg biscuits.  Use them as rewards – not staple foods.  None are a balanced diet.  Just because he loves a particular food, doesn’t mean he should stuff his gullet with it.

Give him a little bit for a treat, then take the remainder away from him until his next meal.  He stuffs his craw in the morning and in the evening.  The rest of the time he loafs.  At mealtime (twice a day), make sure he gets a complete diet and eats it all.

Seed Test.  Parakeets hull their seeds and leave the empty husks in their seed dish.  Blow on his seeds and watch the hulls fly.  If you just add seeds when his cup runneth dry, you will starve your keet.  After a hard day at the trough, his cup usually looks full (of husks).  Check and refill his food daily.  And if you use one of those tubular gravity feeders, make sure a cross-wise seed does not plug it up.  Those tubes make fairly good waterers but not very good feeders.

Recognize Problems Early.  Know the early signs of disease.  Parakeets that get a frequent physical live longer.  See your vet at the first sign of disease – even a decrease in appetite or activity.

LA Pic
Two hand-fed birds getting along.  We do not recommend mixing species.

In the wild, sick birds get driven from the flock.  That’s nature’s way of keeping the flock healthy.  Away from the flock, the sick bird quickly falls prey to sickness or a predator.  By the time they look really sick, it’s usually too late to save them.  Look for these early warning signs:

Poor Appetite.  Keep track of how much your parakeet eats.  If he’s “off his feed” even one day, it could indicate a problem.

Weird Droppings.  More?  Less?  Watery?  Funny color?  If you see changes in his droppings, beware.  Changes in his food can also trigger strange droppings.

Less Activity.  Sick parakeets decrease their activities.  They chatter and sing less.

Mood Change.  Formerly friendly fellows grow nervous, defensive, fearful, grouchy.

Change in Appearance.  Look for ruffled feathers.  Poor posture.  Sleepy eyes.  Droopy perching.  Overgrown beak or toenails.

Strange Breathing.  Noticeable and/or fast breathing.  Voice change or strange sounds – sneezes or wheezes.  Sores.  Unusual crustiness of face, beak, legs or toes.  Or discoloration or inflammation.

Any Lumps.  Any abnormal growth presents a problem.  See your vet.  Not just any vet -- a bird vet.

Any Discharge.  Any strange liquid oozing from his eyes or nostrils means he needs a vet fast.  This is not a time for home remedies.

How to Train Your Parakeet.  Let’s say you’re trapped in a nice house.  Every so often fresh food and water appear.  And great big giants keep going past your windows.  Occasionally, they stop and pester you.  You just wish they’d go away and leave you alone.

Once your parakeet realizes that you (the friendly giant) provide food, water, treats, entertainment, playtime, protective shelter, and friendship, your former wild bird turns into a friendly companion. 

LA Pic
Parakeets climb all over their cage like little acrobats

The Secret Tip.  In nature, birds eat two times a day – morning and late afternoons.  They fill their crops twice a day and spend the hottest time of the day loafing.

Use their natural behavior to your advantage.  Feed your parakeet in the morning and remove his food dish.  Feed him again when you return from work.  He’ll be very glad to see you come home.  In only a few days, he’ll be “eating out of your hand.”

LA Pic
Crowded parakeets.

LA Pic
Way too crowded parakeets.

Other Plusses.  When you feed according to your parakeet’s natural feeding schedule, you get more than just a tame bird.  You get a healthier and more active bird – a happier bird and a happier you.

His crop empties in six to nine hours.  Hunger is a sign of health.  It tells the bird to start looking for food.  As hunger increases, food (any food) starts looking better and better.  Picky eater?  No more. 

He cleans his plate when you put him on the correct schedule.  He eats all his seeds, not just his favorites.  You decide his menu for the day not him.  Your parakeet gets the complete and healthy diet he needs.

Once he’s on a regular schedule, he welcomes treats more than ever.  He enjoys the extra fun and extra attention.  Feed him human food occasionally.  He eats nearly anything you eat – in small amounts, of course. 

LA Pic
English parakeets grow  larger.  Their feathers also grow longer.  They also cost more.

LA Pic
Another English keet.  These guys (actually a girl here) have a large head crest.

LA Pic
Her mate's not quite as happy.

Easily the most popular bird in the world, your parakeet will reward you with many years of companionship and friendship.  The information on this page covers what you need to guarantee your success with YOUR parakeet.

LA Pic
Parakeets climb all over the wire sides of their cage -- great exercise.

Basic Facts about Parakeets

Parakeet beaks grow three inches per year.  Make sure you provide cuttlebones and other chew toys to keep his beak well trimmed.  

Parakeets love toys.  Rotate them two or three at a time.  He’ll love the change.  

Misting brings out their colors.  Parakeets preen daily.  A daily misting encourages this healthful behavior and adds a special sheen to his feathers.  

Parakeets starve after 48 hours without food.  His hooked beak serves as a third arm (with a crowbar on the end).  Parakeets now live 15 years.  Unfortunately, most die in 2-6 years due to improper diet an/or care.  

Keets dislike being looked at from above.  Place their cages at least five feet off the ground.  Twigs and branches make the best perches.  They offer a variety of toeholds and a good chewing toy.  

Your keet loves to eat the same foods you eat.  Avoid too many fruits, vegetables, and greens.  They tend to cause diarrhea.  Keets need foods that are more energy packed.  Keets love “work and chew foods.”  

If you ever put oil or salve on a keet, he’ll mess up his feathers unmercifully and clog his pores.  

LA Pic
Movie extra parakeets waiting to try out for a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds."

Last Word.  Parakeets with a clipped wing learn faster.  LA

Joanna Harrington, Australia, September 23, 2007
Is that your page on Parakeets? The only thing to say there is that they're called budgies here, and the ones in the wild are green and yellow, all the other colours like white, blue, yellow, etc are mutations. Also the Rose Cockatoo is called a Galah here. That's where the phrase "you silly galah" comes from! =P

A:  I thought they were called budgerigars.  I'll add the parakeet and Galah info also.  LA 

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