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Australian, American, and English Budgies! Whats the Difference?

 January 24th, 2014

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Left to right: English Budgie, American Budgie & Australian Budgie. Budgies, Parakeets, Budgerigar, or as they are most often referred to in my house Beanies or Beanie Bits, are one of my all-time favorite species of parrot. And, if you read my “Meet My Fiddos” blog, you will know were responsible for instigating my absolute obsession with all things feathered. They are not only cute, pocket sized parrots, but a very tiny package bursting with personality and talent. Most parrots are well known and sought after for specific traits that they naturally seem to exhibit. For example Cockatoos are known as the best snugglers, African Greys the best talkers, and Conures the jokers and most playful, etc…. What most don’t know is that Budgies have the personality and skill set to rival even the best of these species. It’s true! I experience it  daily with my own little flock of seven. And with the technology age booming countless examples of my claims can be seen on sites like Youtube and Facebook. Example… Disco the Parakeet, and Puck, a male budgie who holds the world record for largest vocabulary of any bird at 1,728 words. (Definitely worth a Google if you don’t already know of these two!) Sadly they are very often overlooked as companions or considered “Starter Birds” rather than idolized for what could be one of the best companion parrots you will ever own. But my intention with this blog was not to convince you all of what I have already come to know as a Beanie mum. But rather to answer a question that was recently posed to the folks at Birdtricks. Which was “What is the difference between a traditional Budgie and an English Budgie?” (Meet Beautiful! Per his mum Jennifer Sofjan, this is how he calls the dog over. :) ) Desmond & Tika, 2 & 1, Christie Sonner Left to Right: Desmond (EB) and Tika (AB). Desmon is 2 and Tika is 1. Photo by owner Christie Sonner. Well there are actually three types of budgies in the world. There’s the original model, the Australian Budgie, and two “subspecies” or “variations”, the American Budgie and the English Budgie. I quote “variations” and “subspecies” as there are some who will argue that there is really only one type of budgie, scientifically speaking, in the world. And scientifically speaking they would be right. All Budgies belong to the species Melopsittacus Undulatus and they are solely different concerning the color of their plumage, length of their plumage, and their body size. But for the sake of this blog and in an attempt to explain the physical differences I am going to use common naming classifications that most of the general population recognize. So all you scientist and purists please forgive me! Wild Australian Budgie Wild Australian Budgie The originals, as you may have guessed are native to Australia. They can be found in huge flocks throughout Australia dodging in and out of scrublands, woodlands, and grasslands. However if you were to see them in their natural environment you may notice something a bit different about these Aussie natives. In fact a couple of things. One being their size and the other being their color. Australian Budgies are noticeably smaller than American and English budgies and only come in one color mutation. Used as a natural camouflage to disguise them from predators, their abdomen and rumps are light green in color, their head and faces yellow, and their neck wings and backs display dark black scalloped markings edged in yellow as well. IMG_7379 One of my American Budgies name Digit Then there are American Budgies. More commonly known as a parakeet in the US. (Which can again be argued as an incorrect naming variation as the name Parakeet refers to a species of parrot which not only includes budgies but also parrots such as Ringnecks and Rosellas… but just go with me here!)  American Budgies are not only found in America, but probably the most well-known type of budgie and most often the ones that you will encounter in pet stores, people’s homes, and being sold by breeders. This domestic version is larger than their Australian relatives, although not grossly, bred only in captivity, and come in more color variations than could be counted. Including the original lemon lime coloration of the Australian Budgie. Now this does not mean that if you have a green and yellow budgie that you have an Australian Budgie. In fact it’s highly unlikely unless you live in Australia. Due the life expectancy of budgies and the ban on the exportation of Budgies from Australia in 1894 (imposed to help conserve the species and discourage over trapping and exportation) this means that there are likely no Australian Budgies left outside of their native country today. Super Grey, 3, Barrie Shutt This is Super Grey, a 3 year old English Budgie. Photo by owner Barrie Shutt And last but certainly not least we have the English Budgie. Also commonly referred to as a “show budgie”. After naturalist John Gould brought two Australian Budgies back home with him to England in 1838 and realized how social and easy to breed they were, the budgie craze in Europe began to boom. In a few short years there were thousands of budgies all over Europe and breeders were able to not only breed varied colors but also a larger size of budgie that became affectionate known as an English Budgie. Quite easy to differentiate from their relatives, English Budgies are two to three time larger than their counterparts and display a more pronounced brow which they are prized for. (I don’t know about everyone else but I always tell folks they look like a bird straight out of the movie “The Godfather” to me) They also are bred only in captivity, just like their smaller American Budgie counterparts, but are considered to have a more docile demeanor then their smaller, more hyper active relatives, which along with their regal look makes them ideal show birds. Ares, Unknown, Kat Waterhouse Ares was a prize winning English Budgie who was adopted by Kat Waterhouse when he retired. Photo credit to Feline Ferocity Images and owner Kat Waterhouse I hope this has answered everyone’s questions and perhaps provided a little bit of information that you may not have known previously. And I want to thanks everyone who submitted photos to assist me with finding photos of English Budgies. The response was wonderful and overwhelming (in a good way) at the same time! (To be honest I just couldn’t chose so i made a friend do it!)  May just have to do an all about English Budgies post in the future to use the ones i didnt this time! All of your fids are absolutely adorable and I did my best to include as many of them as I could. Please post more pics of them more often to the Birdtricks page as I think the little guys sometimes have far too little visibility and so, as I don’t have any of my own, I can live vicariously through you. ;)