You don’t have to know a budgie — or “parakeet” as it is widely known in the U.S. — for long to know that it’s a bundle of energy. Give your budgie some toys! You will be wildly entertained as your budgie plays, and your budgie will stay active and engaged without getting into any mischief from boredom.
When choosing toys for your budgie, consider how a budgie likes to play. Budgies are very social birds. They do well in small flocks. If you have a single budgie, give it a friend with a mirror. A budgie will talk to a mirror, chortle at it, and check up on it frequently. Lori Hughes-Begley posted on Facebook that she believes her Gizmo thought he had two friends in the cage with him, since he had a double-sided mirror. You might have to clean a budgie’s mirror occasionally, as many budgies will “feed” the bird in the mirror, they like it so much.
Another toy based on a budgie’s social nature are the plastic budgies that clip on to the cage or a perch. Budgies bonk each other with their beaks, and will often do the same to artificial budgie friends. That’s why sometimes these toys only feature a budgie face. The other traditional budgie go-to bonk toy is a penguin on wheels that responds to the bonking by falling back, then bounces right up for more. Hours of entertainment for you and your little feathered friend!
Budgies like to climb on toys. For this activity, a round, hollow plastic ball is a favorite of budgies Yin and Yang in my household. They perch on it and climb around. There are other round-shaped climbing toys made of rope or wood.
For climbing fun, consider a rope spiral or a wooden or plastic ladder. Wooden ladders offer the additional entertainment value of wood that a budgie can chew on. Plastic ladders sometimes make up for that by coming outfitted by colored beads that a bird can jiggle and move.
Unlike dogs and cats, birds see the full spectrum of colors (and beyond what people can see!) Their favorite toys are often those that are brightly colored and have movable or chewable parts to keep budgies’ beaks busy.
Parakeets Love Noise Toys
Budgies talk and chatter a lot. They like toys that add to their repertoire. Toys that feature numerous bells get chimed and clinked. Susan Kitz commented on her Facebook post that there used to be a windup musical toy for budgies. When the bird hopped on the perch music would play. If you can find a similar, interactive toy for your budgie, it will enjoy making the music play and may even learn to imitate the music.
Budgies enjoy learning tricks. The only reason that they aren’t featured as performers at theme parks is because of their size. They don’t show up too well on a stage. But they’re fine on your coffee table or dining table. You can order budgie-sized trick-training props like pegs and colored rings to put on them. The sky is the limit for budgies, which love to learn and respond to your attention. They can walk a tightrope or dunk a basketball in a hoop.
Let Your Parakeet Swing
A simple but much-appreciated budgie toy is a swing. These come in many styles. Once your budgie figures how to get on a swing, it will also learn to make it swing and how to just sleep quietly on it. Some swings have chewable or movable parts, but a basic swing can be very entertaining for our busy little friends.
A friend of mine used to clip a dripping wet piece of romaine lettuce onto her budgie’s cage. Her budgie would surf the piece of lettuce, stand on it and bath in the water on it, going through contortions that made it look like the budgie was surfing a wave. Ginny Tata-Phillips wrote in from Facebook that she offers wet parsley for a similar effect. As Phillips says, “It is ok to play with food!” That includes large items that a budgie can tear apart, such as a chunk of celery with leaves, corn on the cob, a carrot stick or a Lafeber Avi-Cake, a large chunk that can be torn apart.
Don’t Forget Foraging!
Like other parrots, budgies benefit from foraging for at least some of their food. This is an activity that simulates natural budgie behavior. There are a variety of foraging toys available with parts a budgie can pull or turn to get at a treat or food. Nutri-Berries is a food that encourages foraging behavior.
Create a Parakeet Playground
It can be handy to have a portable playgym for your budgie. If it learns to stay on the playground, you can take it with you as you move from room to room. Many of these playgrounds combine favorite budgie elements: rope perches, a bell, colorful toys, wooden parts and ladders. Maybe even a treat bowl. The main thing to consider about a playgym is how easy it is to clean. Can it be run through the dishwasher, or can you scrub the base and keep it clean and disinfected? By putting a portable perch or stand over a piece of newspaper, you can have an easily cleaned and portable perch for your bird.
Variety is the Spice of Life
The key to keeping a budgie engaged with its toys isn’t the number of toys it has, but variety. You can change out toys occasionally, rotating in your set of toys one by one on a weekly basis. By the time a toy is back in your pet bird’s cage, it will seem like new again and be entertaining to your budgie.
Parakeet Play Styles
“I have not had a budgie for a long time, but when I was growing up the pet stores sold a windup music box that you could put in the birdcage. It looked like a little bird house with a mirror and a perch. When the bird hopped on the perch music would play. Usually Rock-a-bye Baby or Bhram’s “Lullaby.” Our budgie, Pepper, would learn to sing the entire song and wore out the music box so we bought him another. This one played Bhram’s, poor Pepper was speechless, or rather song less for days and then began singing the new song. We also had a really smart budgie, Mickey, who would fetch his ball like a dog.” — Susan Kitz
“Mine loved a mirror with beads in front of it and a wheel with a bell … we always said he was spinning his wheel of fortune and solving the puzzles! Lol.” — Pat Woessner
“Mine like to play with their food! A piece of celery with all the leaves; half a piece of whole-grain bread with seeds; parsley misted with water. So long as they eat some too it is ok to play with food!” — Ginny Tata-Phillips
“(1) Pop-up penguin (2) open-weave ball he could toss.” — Kathy Heaton
“Gizmo (R.I.P.) absolutely LOVED a two-sided mirror hanging from the top of the cage. There was just enough room between the roof of the cage and the top of the mirror for him to shimmy onto the top of the mirror and look at himself upside down on the other side. Hours of entertainment. I think he thought he had TWO roommates — one on each side!” — Lori Hughes-Begley