Breed: Exhibition Budgerigar
Lifespan: 9-10 years
Recommended for: Enthusiasts, children
Comparing the exhibition budgerigar with most pet budgies is like comparing a Cessna with the Space Shuttle – the origins are the same but a huge degree of development separates them.
Appearance: There are potentially more than 20 million different colour combinations in the modern exhibition budgerigar. As generation duration is one year, so every year produces another generation with all it’s potential for development and genetic know-how.
Compare this to the high-profile horse racing industry – which registers about 18,000 racehorses a year – more than 300,000 exhibition budgerigars are bred in Australia annually. It’s the world’s most competitive animal.
Typically, exhibition budgerigars are much bigger than pet birds, with large, fluffed-up heads, wider faces and large, distinctive spots on the cheeks. Breeders aim to have six spots, the larger and rounder the better for show purposes. Exhibition budgies are larger than pet birds, reaching about 18cm (7″).
Temperament: As the world’s most popular caged-bird, both pet and exhibition budgies are outgoing, bright birds, which can become very affectionate to their owners. Most are gregarious although individuals can become aggressive if nesting.
Hygiene maintenance is essential to preventing disease. Ensure there is clean drinking water and fresh seed available at all times.
Chlamydiosis (also known as psittacosis) is a parrot disease that can be transmitted to humans. If you are exposed to budgies and have persistent flu-like symptoms such as sore eyes, sore throat, fever, see your doctor and tell them you have birds. It can be treated with antibiotics;
French moult, is a disease where the bird’s feathers don’t form properly, also known as beak and feather disease. It cannot be cured and is contagious to other birds;
Hens can become egg bound (egg stuck in vent) when nesting and this requires veterinary attention.
Scaley face mite causes problems around the face and eyes. Treatments are available from your vet.
Feeding: Breeders we spoke to recommended a mix of canary seed, Japanese millet, and white paint millet, as well as gyprock and cuttlefish. Commercial mixes start from about $2 for a 1kg bag.
Breeding: Exhibition budgies are true show ponies with pedigrees carefully documented to help the breeder to plot his program. Most pairs can raise their own babies, usually four chicks. Normal breeding season is June to January. At seven to ten days of age, young birds are ringed with a leg band which is encoded with details of the year it was born and the nest they came from.
Space: Longer rather than higher cages are recommended for budgies. Show cages are quite small and are used to train the birds to sit upright on the perches when left overnight.
Breeding pairs will have a breeding box attached to the outside of the cage, usually with a hinged lid to allow the owner to check its contents. Pairs are separated from other birds to ensure pedigrees are not mixed up.
Ideal owner: Don recommends keeping budgies as an ideal introduction to applied science and basic animal husbandry for children. If hooked, the interest can expand indefinitely. Exhibition budgies can be an absorbing introduction to basic genetics.
We filmed our segment with:
Lester Hill of the South West NSW Budgerigar Club
Phone: (02) 6959 2019
Budgerigar Society of NSW
Phone: (02) 9671 5380
Brisbane and Northern Suburbs Budgerigar Society
Phone: (07) 3261 2205
Budgerigar Society of SA
Phone: (08) 8271 2613
Tasmanian Budgerigar Society
Phone: (03) 6248 1133
Trill Budgie Hotline
Phone: (03) 9850 2664