Thinking about adopting a parakeet? Here's what you need to know to care for your new pet.
One type of parakeet often kept as a pet is the budgerigar. Colorful and cheerful, it derives its name from an Australian aboriginal word that, roughly translated, means "pretty good eating."
Our own palates may not agree with that assessment, but budgies and other strains of parakeets can make enchanting pets that live for up to 15 years. The best time to get a parakeet is when the bird is about 6 weeks old -- when the relationship between the owner and parakeet is established. At this point, the bird should have its wings trimmed, which will keep it from flying and force it to perch on your finger when removed from its cage. Repeat this routine to teach your parakeet that you can be trusted; if its wings are left intact, it will fly away each time it leaves the cage.
Give your parakeet the largest cage possible, with a grill on the bottom to separate it from its droppings. The bird will also need a concrete perch to help keep its nails trimmed, a cuttlebone, additional perches, and a few toys. Diet is probably the most important consideration in your bird's health; your parakeet should get a mix made from equal parts seeds and pellets, with supplements of spray millet and leafy greens. An occasional treat of table food is okay, too: One rule of thumb is that if it's good for you, it's good for your parakeet.
A clean water source is also essential; in fact, more parakeets get sick and die from ingesting bacteria in dirty water than from any other cause. Wash out your bird's drinking container daily with soap and water, refill it, and add a vitamin supplement. You should also mist the bird with warm water each day to keep its feathers clean and attractive.