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Budgie's (Latin name: Melopsittacus undulatus) native country is the Australian continent. You can find these birds in the dry and arid areas on the whole continent. The wild budgie is about 18 centimetres long and it is very tiny in comparison to our favourite pet or show budgies. Today, show budgies (sometimes also-called English budgies) are 22 to 24 centimetres long. They have a much bigger head than the native budgie from Australia, and more than 100 mutations in colour have been named by budgerigar societies worldwide. These societies also apply rigid competition standards to show budgerigars. The native budgerigar from Down Under wears a green plumage with a yellow face and black drawings on the head, back and wings. The picture on the right shows wild budgerigars in their natural habitat. Ingrid
Schäfer gave us the photograph from her journey across Australia at our disposal.
Budgerigars nest in cavities and hollow tree trunks. They prefer eucalyptus trees that grow for example near the dried up rivers or so-called Billabongs. In these eucalyptus trees there are cavities in different sizes. Smaller ones are chosen by budgies; larger cavities are occupied by another famous pet bird species: the Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus). Also some other bird species need these cavities in eucalyptus tress as their nesting holes. Photos below: Darling River in Australia; budgies nest at these river banks.
Like seagulls and cormorants, budgies are colonial birds. You can often see two or three couples of budgerigars bringing up their chicks in different cavities in the same eucalyptus tree. Nesting in colonies is an effective way of protection against predators. In a large flock, many birds and a lot of eyes are watching the surrounding area at the same time. This way of living guaranties a maximum of safety for each flock member. Certainly the budgerigars have to have a unified "language" to be able to warn one another in the case of danger. The budgerigar has a very various voice repertoire which every other conspecific can understand. Also in domesticated birds in an aviary or in a cage one can observe these acoustic communication and typical way of behaviour.
If the breeding cavity is too small and needs to be expanded, the female budgie will enlarge it with the aid of her beak. It is no rumour that female budgies have a harder bite then male ones. The reason for this is that their jaw muscles are stronger. Only female budgies incubate the eggs while their mates are responsible for foraging. If the chicks are about one week old, the female bird leaves the nest and looks for seeds as well. Male and female have much to do to take care of their chicks who are always hungry.
Spinifex, Mitchell's and Tussock grasses are part of the natural diet of the wild budgerigars. Sometimes they also eat wheat from the farmer's fields and some wild millet, see photo on the right. In the early morning the birds are gathering in huge flocks (sometimes a few hundreds to thousands of individuals) and they are drinking dew or taking a bath in the dewdrops which got stuck on the leaves of the grasses. To get nourishing food the budgerigars have to travel long distances. Their feeding grounds are often situated more than 50 kilometres away from their breeding areas. As there is a very hot and dry climate, the budgerigars migrate across open plains (the so-called outback) and look for place where some fresh green tufts carry half-ripe seeds after a rainfall. There is only little precipitation in most parts of the Australian continent and therefore the feedings grounds are widespread over the country. The birds needed to adapt to these hard environmental conditions; that's why the budgerigars lead their lives as nomadic birds. (Photograph of the wild millet © Amazing Australia)
Some nice photographs of these restless birds and other Australian parakeets in their native areas are presented on the Ingrid Schäfer's web site .
The following photos have been taken by Jana who is the webmaster of NymphensittichLexikon.de . She has been to Australia in November 2006 when she encountered the wild budgerigars there.
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