Back to Basics

All newcomers to the fancy are anxious to “do things right”. They read everything in sight, and whenever the opportunity avails itself they listen to the experts expounding on “the right way to do it”. There are as many expert opinions as there are fanciers. No wonder beginners end up confused. We did!.

Lets work our way through the maze and get back to basics.


Budgerigars can be kept successfully almost anywhere. They will live happily in cellars, garages, spare rooms, garden sheds and have even been known to breed successfully in purpose-built birdrooms. The important thing is, that whatever is available will suffice, providing it is reasonably dry and draught-proof with some means of ventilation. Electricity is desirable but not essential as long as you have daylight. Likewise daylight is desirable but not essential as long as you have electricity. If you are breeding in winter then some form of frost protection is required. But never use oil heaters, if you do you will live to regret it.


Many fanciers believe that flights are extremely beneficial, but they are by no means essential, providing that flight cages are of a reasonable size. It does not matter whether they are indoor or outdoor. Healthy budgerigars will thrive in either.

Breeding Cages

Again, anything available would be suitable providing that it is big enough. The minimum size should be around 24″ 15″ 18″ high. Boxes, tea chests, wire cages, converted chests of drawers and wardrobes have all been used successfully. Purpose-built cages are of course much tidier and the choice of materials is endless, but again not essential.


It all depends on what your ambitions are. If you just want to breed these fascinating birds in all their glorious colours, then again anything will do, as long as they are healthy and relatively young. It does not matter from where you buy your stock, but it must be clean, active and alert with a bright eye and an unsoiled back-end. Unless you know your source well, it would be advisable to buy birds rung with 1997 or better still 1998 rings. If you aspire to the show bench, then it is advisable to spend longer on looking around before you buy. A little patience at this stage will generally be well rewarded.


All fanciers have their favourite mixtures and suppliers, but it generally makes little difference to the birds. As long as the seed has a good mixture, is clean and dust free, they will thrive on it. The same goes for soft foods, any of the well-known brands will do. It may take them a while to become used to a new mixture brand, but in general there is little between them.

Nest Boxes

Once again anything goes. Some boxes are more convenient than others, some look better than others, but in general, any box with internal measurements of over 8″ 5″ 5″ will suffice. The thicker the wood, the cosier it will be in cold weather. The hole may be in the top or the side and should be around 2″ in diameter. The contents must of course be easily accessible to you. Each box should filled with a few handfuls of clean sawdust.


Birds should be fit and active before putting down to breed. Any that look out of sorts should be left to a later date. There are lots of theories about pairing, but the simple method is to place both birds together in the prepared cage with the nest box in place. In our experience, no one system is measurably superior to any other.

All fanciers are well advised to join a local budgerigar society here they will usually find plenty of advice and fellowship. Local libraries usually have the relevant details about local clubs, as does the “Meetings Page” of Cage and Aviary Birds.

Original text Copyright 1998, Gordon and Sylvia Hallam

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