What is a Budgerigar Parakeet?

These lovely birds are known by several names. In many places they are called budgies, however, they can also be called budgerigar parakeets, just parakeets, grass parakeets or budgerigars! Budgerigar is the most accurate name for these lovely little parrots, with budgie being the more relaxed, familiar name. And for those who are interested in such things, their scientific name is Melopsittacus undulates.

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What is a parakeet?

The name parakeet is applied to more than 100 species of small to medium sized parrots that have a long tapering tail. These species are from many countries, come in many sizes and shapes and are not all related; therefore the label of parakeet is really just a descriptive term. Other parrots called parakeets include the Rosella, the Alexandrine and the Bourke. So whilst parakeet is a common name for budgies in some countries, it can be a little confusing and is not entirely accurate.

Regardless of the name you use, all budgies are the same species and came from the small wild budgie from Australia.

What are wild budgies like?

Wild budgies are small parrots, seven inches or 18cm long and weighing 30-40 grams. In the photo you can see they have a light green body, yellow head, back and wings with black markings from the forehead down their wings. The long tail feathers are a lovely blue. There is a patch of dark purple on each side of the face called a cheek patch, and several small black spots on the lower edge of the face. The skin around the nostrils of adult males is blue and smooth (as seen in the photo), whilst females are whitish or brown and rough looking.

The pet budgie has been bred to be larger and in many different colours, by combining these it is possible to breed hundreds of different varieties. This adds to their already great appeal. They are still the same species even though they often look very different from the wild type of budgie. In the wild some of these colours do appear, but do not become common in the wild populations. It is likely that a different coloured budgie would be less camouflaged in the trees and grass and therefore more easily picked out by predators. It is also known that they prefer light green mates so other colours are selected against through breeding also.

American or english budgies?

english budgerigar, show budgie

These are still the same species but have been bred as show birds for many generations. This name seems to cause quite a bit of confusion, with people thinking that they have an english budgie because it has a 'poofy' head.

The name came about because the exhibition budgerigars in England were far ahead of other countries, so they were being exported all around the world. So people were able to get show budgie from England, and called them english budgies, to distinguish them from locally bred ones.

The 'ideal' for show budgies has led to them being bred to look quite different from wild ones. They are much bigger and have larger feathers which puff out to make them look even bigger and a different shape. In many places the label of english budgie has simply become the name for good quality show birds. However, that is only really an accurate label if the bird came from England, or maybe if it was bred 100% from birds from there.

As the name english budgie became more common people started calling the pet type bird an american budgie. Again, it is really just a way of saying the budgie is not a show quality bird rather than it actually being a different species.

There is really no difference between these budgies other than how they look, in the same way that a normal and a spangle are both still just budgies. Humans just like to name things and sometimes this leads to a confusion of names for the same animal.

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