Breeding Bush Budgerigars

how to breed Bush Budgerigars


Male and female native Budgerigars are similar in colour, with the exception of a blue cere (nose) on the male and very pale blue-white or light flesh-coloured cere on the female. Their main body colour, including the front, rump, flank, undertail coverts and underwing, is bright green. Both sexes have a series of coloured blotches, ranging from a vibrant blue stripe to lavender on the cheek. The forehead, lores, throat and around the bill are completely yellow. Random black spot markings are seen on mature birds around the yellow collar edge. The male’s markings are more noticeable, while some females have only two spot markings on the lower cheek below the vibrant blue stripe.

From the crown and over the remainder of the head, including the nape, ear coverts and cheeks, down onto the mantle, the yellow feathers are scalloped with black, merging with the upper back and wings. Both sexes have dark grey/black wing feathers edged with pastel yellow scalloping. Their tails are dark turquoiseblue.

They measure 18–20cm in length and weigh 30–40g.


Bush Budgies are nomadic and inhabit large arid areas west of the Great Dividing Range. They are not found in Cape York, in northern or southern parts of Western Australia or Tasmania. Rainfall has a big influence on their migration, encouraging them to fly hundreds of kilometres to reap the benefits of seeding grasses and native herbs that stimulate them into a breeding frenzy. Within days of several hundred birds arriving, eggs are laid.

Budgerigars are very opportunistic nesters as it takes only 18 days for seed to appear on grasses after good rain, coinciding with the 18 days it takes for eggs to hatch. In 6–8 weeks the flock can swell to thousands. If weather and feed stays favourable, birds will nest again, making flocks swarm like clouds. Their preferred habitat consists of open grasslands, grassy forests and open woodlands.

Waterholes play a big part in the Budgies’ survival, as it can be very hot throughout their range. However, they can also pose a danger as predators know there is no other option in dry times for a drink, and are waiting to pounce on their next meal. Bush Budgies have been seen drinking water droplets of dew from the grass in the early mornings. This is only a small amount of their requirements, considering they can drink up to 5% of their body weight. Budgies will venture many kilometres from water to feed when they are not nesting.


Feeding: Bush Budgerigars

how to feed Bush Budgerigars
how to feed Bush Budgerigars

Bush Budgies will mostly eat small seed, often without dehusking it. In captivity, a good quality Budgie seed mix should be made available at all times. Greens are very important during the breeding season, especially when there are young in the nest. During the latter part of winter and early spring, when chickweed is available, Bush Budgies will gorge on it to keep the chicks’ crops full. Feeding chickweed increases the survival rate. Chickweed is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals that encourages breeding. They will continuously breed with every chick fledging while chickweed is available.

When chickweed wasn’t available, we provided lettuce and celery, but found when some young birds fledged they were very poor flyers.

This possibly resulted from feeding too much lettuce that contains a large concentration of Vitamin B6–causing a loss of balance and subsequent injuries affecting their ability to fly and perch. To rectify this problem, we substituted diced cucumber and apple for the lettuce.

Housing: Bush Budgerigars

Aviary size requirements to house this small parrot depend on the colony size.

We keep our five breeding pairs in a small conventional aviary, measuring 3m x 1.2m x 2m high. The roof area is fully covered to protect the nest boxes. Only the front of the flight is entirely open.

Numerous small branches and perches, positioned at different heights throughout the aviary, allow exercise and sufficient perching space. Small rectangle nest boxes, measuring 25cm x 12.5cm x 12.5cm, with an inspection door/lid on the top, are positioned on both ends of the flight.

Wood shavings used as nesting material need to be replaced at the end of the breeding season. Despite their size, Bush Budgerigars are aggressive and possessive of nest boxes if housed with other species.

How to Breed Bush Budgerigars

Sourcing Bush Budgies for breeding is relatively easy these days compared with the mid-1990s when it was common for pairs to fetch over $170. Sexing can be done visually by the nose colour when they are only a couple months old. Budgerigars are sexually mature at just three months of age and pair for life.

The best way to breed them in captivity is in a colony consisting of an equal number of unrelated young females and males.

Rule No.1 is always provide a couple more nests than pairs in the flight to eradicate squabbling between males. It doesn’t seem to matter if nest boxes are only 5cm apart, the pairs tolerate each other.

When Bush Budgies are in captivity on a good diet, they will breed at any time of the year but more so from August– December. In the wild, breeding depends solely on rainfall events and availability of seeded grasses. Four to six eggs are laid in a little over a week and incubated by the female for 18 days. Both parents share the duty of feeding their young. Chicks fl edge at 35 days and within a few days learn to fend for themselves. Bush Budgies are not common as pets but if the young can be taken for handrearing two weeks prior to fledging, they make good pets and mimic different sounds and voices.


Bush Budgerigars are the most endearing of Australian parrot species.

When they were exported to the UK many years ago, they were developed into mutations, some far away from the diminutive original gene.

In the wild, this true bush dweller makes the most of favourable weather conditions. Survival depends solely on rainfall events in arid parts of Australia, with a short window of opportunity to breed. The results of drought conditions are a breeding failure. As a pet, it is a relatively easy to keep small parrot, providing it is not housed in the same aviary with other parrot species.

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