Ian’s Bird of the Week – Budgerigar

PSI-Psit Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) by Ian
Ian’s Bird of the Week – Budgerigar ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 3/3/15

Judging by the number of emails that I received about Pied Butcherbirds, iconic species are popular and there were many interesting stories about experiences with them. So here is another, perhaps globally the most familiar Australian bird. Although it’s quite common and sometimes very abundant after good rains in the drier parts of Australia, you have to go out of your way to find it. So it it’s much less well-known as a wild bird than say other iconic species like Australian Magpie and Laughing Kookaburras that turn up in backyards.

It wasn’t until after I moved to North Queensland in 2002 that I first saw them in the wild, and that was on a trip to Moorrinya National Park between Torrens Creek and Aramac, 370km southwest of Townsville. In places like that you usually see them in small flocks of maybe 10-20 in rapid undulating flight. These make sudden turns in the sunlight showing alternately green and yellow in a characteristic and delightful display of vivid, fluorescent colour.

PSI-Psit Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) by Ian

The sexes can be distinguished either by differences in behaviour, sometimes subtle as in the first photo with an attentive male and a bored or playing hard to get female, or less subtly as in the second photo. Her the male is concentrating seriously, and the female is rather inscrutably either in a state of bliss or thinking of the motherland. An easier way though is by the colour of the cere – the tissue surrounding the nostrils – blue in adult males, and brown in females. Juveniles have duller plumages, barred foreheads and lack the black spots on the neck.

PSI-Psit Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) by IanAfter good inland rains, the population can explode and Budgerigars may be seen in flocks of thousands. When dry conditions return and seeds become scare, flocks wander far and wide in search of food. They move into areas beyond their normal range and can turn up in coastal areas such as near Townsville. The birds in the third photo were near Woodstock just south of Townsville on the way to Charters Towers and I have seen them near Bluewater.

Sometimes escaped cage birds turn up in odd places in strange colours, such as this almost completely white one near the Strand in Townsville. I don’t know about you, but I prefer the natural colours. I was in Ireland once for a family funeral in February and was birding on Dun Laoghaire pier in Dublin Bay on a very cold, dull winter’s day, when I spotted a bright yellow budgie looking very out-of-place among some roosting waders. It was a moment of great empathy and I thought ‘you and I should be back in sunny Australia’.

PSI-Psit Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) by IanI’m in Melbourne at the moment to visit East Gippsland next weekend with my Victorian birding pals who know of a good site for both Greater Sooty Owls and Masked Owls (both cousins of Barn Owls) near Orbost. I haven’t seen or photographed either of these, so may I request your customary friendly support and spiritual goodwill to help us find them? It would be lovely to be able to bring at least one of them to you as the next bird of the week.


Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Check the latest website updates:

Lee’s Addition:

Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. (Psalms 96:3 NKJV)

Ian is correct, at least for me. The Budgerigar or “Budgie” as I was taught, was one of the first bird names I ever knew. Almost everyone I have ever seen was in a cage or aviary. Few have been pets and one was sitting on someone glasses look down into their lens. But, to see them in the wild where they live would be a great experience.

Thanks, Ian, for again sharing your adventures with us. The most I have ever seen at one time has been at Lowry Park Zoo. I’ll also be praying that Ian finds those Greater Sooty Owls and Masked Owls so that he will share them with us on another Bird of the Week.

Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) by Lee LPZ

Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) by Lee LPZ

Ian’s Birds of the Week

Ian’s Budgerigar Photos

Ian’s Psittacidae Family

Psittacidae – Parrots Family



Birds Vol 1 #1 – The Australian Grass Parrakeet(Parakeet)

Elegant Parrot (Neophema petrophila) aka Australian Grass Parakeet

Elegant Parrot (Neophema petrophila) aka Australian Grass Parakeet

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

Vol 1. January, 1897 No. 1



I am a Parrakeet. I belong to the Parrot family. A man bought me and brought me here. It is not warm here, as it was where I came from. I almost froze coming over here. I am not kept in a cage. I stay in the house and go about as I please. There is a Kitty Cat in the house. Sometimes I ride on her back. I like that. I used to live in the grass lands. It was very warm there. I ran among the thick grass blades, and sat on the stems and ate seeds. I had a wife then. Her feathers were almost like mine. We never made nests. When we wanted a nest, we found a hole in a gum tree. I used to sing to my wife while she sat on the nest. I can mock other birds. Sometimes I warble and chirp at the same time. Then it sounds like two birds singing. My tongue is short and thick, and this helps me to talk. But I have been talking too much. My tongue is getting tired. I think I’ll have a ride on Kitty’s back. Good bye.

Elegant Parrot (Neophema elegans) WikiC

Elegant Parrot (Neophema elegans) WikiC


ARRAKEETS have a great fondness for the grass lands, where they may be seen in great numbers, running amid the thick grass blades, clinging to their stems, or feeding on their seeds. Grass seed is their constant food in their native country. In captivity they take well to canary seed, and what is remarkable, never pick food with their feet, as do other species of parrots, but always use their beaks. “They do not build a nest, but must be given a piece of wood with a rough hole in the middle, which they will fill to their liking, rejecting all soft lining of wool or cotton that you may furnish them.” Only the male sings, warbling nearly all day long, pushing his beak at times into his mate’s ear as though to give her the full benefit of his song. The lady, however, does not seem to appreciate his efforts, but generally pecks him sharply in return. A gentleman who brought a Parrakeet from Australia to England, says it suffered greatly from the cold and change of climate and was kept alive by a kind-hearted weather-beaten sailor, who kept it warm and comfortable in his bosom. It was not kept in a cage, but roamed at will about the room, enjoying greatly at times, a ride on the cat’s back. At meals he perched upon his master’s shoulder, picking the bits he liked from a plate set before him. If the weather was cold or chilly, he would pull himself up by his master’s whiskers and warm his feet by standing on his bald head. He always announced his master’s coming by a shrill call, and no matter what the hour of night, never failed to utter a note of welcome, although apparently asleep with his head tucked under his wing.

Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) by Lee LPZ

Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) by Lee LPZ

Lee’s Addition:

I am not really sure which Parakeet they are referring to in this article. Today their is not really an Australian Grass Parakeet, but the Elegant Parakeet favors the photo-drawing, but also Budgerigars also favor that drawing. At any rate, they are neat little birds and both can talk as mentioned.

Wikipedia says this about Grass Parakeets:  “Its common name is Elegant Parrot, but has also been called Elegant Parakeet, Elegant Grass Parakeet, and Grass Parrot in the past. The Elegant Parrot is 23 cm (9 in) long and predominantly golden olive in colour with a dark blue frontal band line above with lighter blue. while abdomen and vent are yellow. The female is a duller shade of olive all over and has a narrower blue frontal band. The wings are predominantly olive with outer flight feathers dark blue. The yellow edged tail has shades of olive and blue. The bill and legs are grey and the eyes dark brown. Juveniles are duller and lack the frontal bands.”

“The Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus), also known as common pet parakeet or shell parakeet informally nicknamed the budgie, is a small, long-tailed, seed-eating parrot, and the only species in the Australian genus Melopsittacus. Wild budgerigars are found throughout the drier parts of Australia, where the species has survived harsh inland conditions. Naturally green and yellow with black, scalloped markings on the nape, back, and wings, breeders have created a rainbow of blues, whites, and yellows, greys, and even forms with small crests. Budgerigars are popular pets around the world due to their small size, low cost, ability to mimic human speech and playful nature.
The budgerigar is closely related to the lories and the fig parrots. Although budgerigars are often, especially in American English, called “parakeets“, this term refers to any of a number of small parrots with long, flat tails.

Alternative common names include shell parrot, warbling grass parakeet, canary parrot, zebra parrot, flight bird, scallop parrot and the alternate spellings budgerygah and betcherrygah.” (Wikipedia)

Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) WikiC

Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) WikiC

Both the Elegant Parrot (Neophema elegans) and the Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) are in the Psittacidae – Parrots Family. I lean toward the Budgerigar, but take your choice. Whatever, they are very colorful and a delight to watch and observe. The Lord put lots of color potential in the parakeet family.

Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number. (Job 9:10 KJV)

Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 January 1897 No 1 - Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited – Introduction The above article is the fifth article in the monthly serial that was started in January 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited* (Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Cock-Of-The-Rock

Previous Article – The Golden Pheasant


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