Ask Lafeber


June 7, 2021

Bonded pair fighting after 6 years

This is gonna be long, sorry. I’ve been running into some issues with my two budgies. They’ve been housed together for over 6 years now, and I’ve never had issues with serious fighting until very recently. The cage they were in when this started is smaller than the proper size for two birds, so that might have been part of the problem, but they also had kind of adjusted to it at that point, because they’d been in there for a couple months. (That was not the original plan, but it just happened… I feel guilty but there’s not much I can do now) The other day they got in quite a serious fight, ie tussling on the floor. I seperated them, and no one was seriously hurt, but I’m now in a tough spot. I have one in the small cage, and one in a large flight cage next to each other, but most of the time they try to get to each other and just sit next to the wall by each other. I attempted reintroduction, but the smaller, less dominant budgie started picking a fight and then they went at each other so I had to seperate them again. I really cannot figure this out, and I have very limited time to do so, as I’m leaving them in the care of a family member for an extended period of time soon.
Some things that possibly contributed to the fighting originally could have been cage size, limited freedom for a couple days, and the fact that it’s very hot.
Some things possibly contributing now could be the stress of moving them between cages, and they’re in a room with more people and a dog walking around.
At this point what do I do? Should I let them adjust to the new room and attempt reintroduction in a few days? Should I once again juggle them between cages and move them to a quieter room? I feel like that’s just more stress. It would require removing one budgie from the flight cage into a smaller cage, then dismantling the flight cage, moving all three cages and the birds and reassembling and putting one back in the flight cage.


Hi Tulip,

I think the original fighting probably did start because of being confined to a small cage. My guess is that you have two females. Female budgies can be very territorial. In the large flight cage, each bird likely had their space, but they also would socialize. The large cage allowed them to retreat to their corners when they needed space. Once confined together, they fought since they couldn’t distance themselves from each other. Once you had to separate them, the one in the large cage quickly decided it was her cage now. The fighting you described is very serious. It’s one thing when budgies sit on a perch and spar and fuss at each other. But any fighting on the ground is a warning, and too often you don’t even get a chance to be warned. What is going on is each bird is trying to pin the other down, and once she succeeds, she can kill the pinned bird within a minute. Given the type of fighting, I would not cage these birds together again – maybe not ever. But definitely not when you are getting ready to leave them in someone else’s care. It sounds like there have been other changes, and these birds are very stressed and upset. Moving them to a quiet room may or may not help. It could give one a chance to kill the other since they won’t be closely supervised. If the two smaller cages are large enough for each bird to be comfortable while you are gone, you might do that, and move them to a quieter room – but not one where they are entirely isolated. When you are back and things are back to normal, then you could try reintroduction. If both birds have been in smaller cages, the flight will now be neutral territory and putting them back together in there could work out. But as long as one bird is in the flight, she is going to claim it and make it harder to put the other bird back.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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