Avian Expert Articles

Budgies, Cockatiels & Lovebirds Are Parrots Too!

Small Birds Myths Vs. Facts

cockatiel, 'tielMost people recognize a budgie, cockatiel or lovebird when they see one (although a budgie is often referred to by its more generic name “parakeet”). What people might not realize is that these small birds are parrots, just like their bigger, sometimes flashier relatives like Amazons, African greys, cockatoos and macaws. Following are some myths and facts as they pertain to the smaller species of parrot.

Myth 1: Small Birds Don’t Talk

It’s true that many small birds typically do not amass large vocabularies compared to top talkers like Amazons and African grey parrots, but that doesn’t mean all small birds are non talkers. Many of the smaller species of parrot, especially males, can, and often do, learn to mimic a few words like, “Hello.” And budgies, in fact, can become great talkers. How great? A budgie was once listed in the “Guinness Book of World Records” for largest vocabulary. People might not recognize that a budgie is talking at first, because of the budgie’s tendency to “chatter talk”, that is, you have to listen for the words/phrases mixed in with the budgie’s chattering vocalizations. Similarly, Quaker parrots, while more on the small/medium size of the parrot-sizing chart, can often hold their own when it comes to the talking/mimicking abilities of larger parrots, including that of the African grey parrot.

Myth 2: Small Birds Need Small Cages

Don’t even think about housing a small bird in a small cage devoid of toys and other enrichment opportunities. The fact is, small birds can be real busy bodies. They need room to roam and/or to flitter back and forth in the cage, which means a cage big enough to accommodate multiple perches. A cage marketed for small birds might be better suited as a travel cage than its main cage. When cage shopping for a small bird, consider going a size or two up, but pay attention to the bar spacing to make sure the gaps aren’t too wide to allow the bird to stick his/her head through.

lovebirdMyth 3: Small Birds Only Like Seeds To Eat

A small bird’s diet can be supplemented with good-quality seed, but that shouldn’t be the only item on the menu. Not only is a seed-only diet void of important nutrients and high in fat, it is also bland. Small birds like budgies, cockatiels and lovebirds can have a love of food that matches those of large parrots. Healthy people foods like whole-wheat pasta (sans sauce), brown rice and steamed vegetables can all be downsized to fit a small bird’s portion size. There’s a reason why Lafeber offers a small-bird line of its most popular nutritious foods — small birds appreciate fun-to-eat foods as much as big birds.

close up of budgie / parakeet on finger in front of windowMyth 4: Small Birds Are Hands Off

Small birds deserve daily out-of-cage time and one-on-one interaction as much as larger parrots do. If the concern is keeping a fully-flighted small bird safe or more manageable (some can be a bit flighty), use a small, enclosed space, such as a bathroom (toilet lid down) for his/her out of cage time. Moreover, small birds can learn to step up onto a finger or perch on request, and small birds can be among the cuddliest of feathered companions.


One thought on “Budgies, Cockatiels & Lovebirds Are Parrots Too!

  1. I have 2 little cockatiels, Baby who is 19 years old and Beenie who is almost 12 years old. They are both very demanding and in need of attention and love to fly a little. In my bedroom of course and sometimes in the living room. No doors or windows are open. They were depressed part of their lives when I use to trim their flight feathers. They hated it. They are much happier flying around a bit and stronger with a better appetite. I let them sit on my lap on a flannel blanket when I am working on the computer. They love to be petted and have their head massaged and massaged around the beak and back of neck. They are very loving creatures and need love back. They are everything to me and deserve as much as I can give back to them.

    They need to eat pellets which are much more well rounded in diet than seed. A bird can die from a seed only diet. I didn’t know but only fed Baby seed for 7 years and he started to get health problems. Now I feed him and Beenie all kinds of food. I mix 3 kinds of pellets together, they get a little seed treat 2 times a day and they get birdie bread I bake with cold pressed flax seed oil on it for Baby’s joints especially. He has arthritis in his feet from the poor 7 year diet. And they get veggies, fruit, quinoa, brown rice, spelt bread toast, brown rice bread toast or anything I eat that is healthy and safe for them.

    They deserve the best!!! They are my little guardian angels.

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