The budgerigar is a popular cage bird. It is endemic to the outback regions of Australia but can now be found all over the world.

It is relatively hardy and not as noisy as some of the bigger cage birds such as the Indian ring-neck parrot or Major Mitchell cockatoo. Good husbandry will help prevent any disease problems.

It is quite easy to breed a few pet budgies. Breeding budgies has been covered in a separate article. This article deals with what to expect once the clutch hatches. After the chicks hatch, they will rapidly gain weight and the parents will start to consume large amounts of food. Be sure to have soft food available each day as well as a generous supply of greens and some live food (or protein supplement).

Budgerigar - 11 daysCredit: Wikimedia

Chicks are born without feathers but start to get their plumage over the first two weeks. At first the hen feeds the chicks with predigested seed and crop milk. Once they begin to feather, the cock will also feed them. To feed baby budgies, the parents push the food into the mouths of the chicks. When inspecting the nest, remove any excreta that may have built up on the chicks' feet or any food stuck to their beaks. Dab at the secretions with a cloth dampened with lukewarm water and remove it a bit at a time.

Three Week Old Baby BudgerigarCredit: Wikimedia

At around 3 to 4 weeks, the chicks will be ready to leave the nest. They will return to the nest at night for another week or two, more providing the hen will allow it. She may already be trying to incubate her second clutch. Occasionally a strong chick will fall out of the nest. Place it back in the nest but if it continues to escape, you may need to place your trust in the cock bird to feed it.

When you are sure the youngsters are feeding themselves, they can be caged separately with others of a similar age. Scatter seed on the aviary floor to begin with and only cease doing this when you are sure all the chicks are feeding from hoppers. Feed them a varied diet so they don't become fussy eaters. Get them used to sitting on your finger before they become old enough to be frightened. This will stand the chicks in good stead if they are to be sold as cage birds or pets.

Budgerigar(52977)Credit: Wikimedia

You may want to ring your budgie chicks to identify one from another. There are two basic types of leg rings. Split rings may be made of metal or plastic and come numbered. They can be purchased from specialist suppliers or from national budgerigar societies. The latter are permanent proof of age as they are issued during each breeding season. Split rings serve as temporary identification markers and are easily removed. Keeping records of ring numbers allows easier identification of breeding stock.

Ringing is usually done with the chicks are 7 to 10 days old. If the ring slips off after being placed on the leg, try again in a couple of days. Check that no food or waste matter is clogging the ring. A too tight ring can stop the blood flow to the toes. Always purchase rings specifically for budgerigars so that they will be the correct size.