As with any pet, you need to do your research before buying. The first investigations are more to do with you than the budgerigar itself. Why do you want the budgerigar? Who will look after it, clean it, and talk to it? Have you kept a pet budgerigar before? Do you have a suitable location for it, away from direct sunlight, draughts and steamy kitchens?
Once you’ve sorted this out, you can start thinking about the budgerigar itself. Read a good guide and, if you can, talk to other owners or breeders first, in person or in online forums. Build up a bit of expertise before choosing your budgerigar.
When making your choice, don’t be dazzled by colour. It’s all too easy to find one particular budgerigar more attractive than the others based on its plumage, but there are far more important things to base your choice on, including age, personality and gender. A budgerigar with the ‘perfect plumage’ who happens to be old, shy and female, isn’t going to be that extrovert, talkative, adaptable budgerigar you were hoping for.
If you’re buying from a breeder you may have to wait for the budgies to be old enough to live away from their parents. They are weaned and sufficiently independent between 8 and 10 weeks after hatching. A young budgerigar will have horizontal bar-markings across its entire head, including the crown (the forehead area). The frontal stripes disappear when the budgie moults for the first time, after three to four months. So, any budgerigar without these bars will be older than 12 weeks.
There are a number of things to look out for if you want to take home a budgie that will be both happy and healthy: