Kelly goes AWOL from the cage in a daring bid to reunite with the love of her life

For several months Kelly has been having a love affair with the dining room table; more specifically, a love affair that involves trying to chew it to bits.  In a bid to protect the table from Kelly AND Kelly from the table I have draped the edges in paper towel, then bought a tablecloth, and THEN had to put paper cage liners underneath the tablecloth.

At any rate, aside from a few episodes of intensely trying to get back to the table’s edge I thought Kelly was pretty much over the relationship, until the day I accidentally left one of their food bowl access doors open….

Every morning when I wake up one of my first tasks is to refresh the parakeets’ food and water; sometimes I swap the bowls around in the 3 available holders, just to keep life interesting.  That morning was such a time; I removed the top food bowl, dumped it and refilled, and then put it back in a lower slot.  Unwittingly, I also left the top door unlatched and merely pushed close to the cage.

Fast forward to the early afternoon, I frequently check in on the birds during the day using my security camera (MiSafes 1280x720p HD C303-1 Mini Wireless Surveillance Camera with Microphone Speaker with 2 Way Talk Remote Monitoring Motion Alert for iOS & Andriod App, Black).  If I’m feeling stressed out I find it calming to listen to them singing along with music or even yelling at each other; sometimes I just take a peek very quickly to make sure they are both doing okay.  I’m only about 20 minutes away from home during the day, so if I saw that one of them was stuck on a toy or otherwise distressed I could get to them pretty quickly.

So, I opened my camera app, and noticed Toby right away, which is almost always the case since blue is much easier to spot than off-white. But, I couldn’t find Kelly for the life of me. I zoomed in as much as possible on the feed and searched every corner of the cage and she was invisible.  After a few minutes I decided she must be behind a toy taking a nap. I closed the camera app and promptly forgot about it until I got home.

As I approached the cage I realized the food door was ajar by quite a bit, and immediately realized what I had done. But I knew the door hadn’t been open by that much, I would certainly have noticed that and if I missed it my husband would have before he left for work.

The door ajar – and the guilty party in the background

I saw both budgies were in the cage and began praising them lavishly and at great length for being such good girls and staying in the cage when I wasn’t home.  I noticed that Kelly was being more standoffish than usual and Toby was acting a bit odd too, she came to the open food door to greet me but acted very cute and sheepish and didn’t come out of the cage. I thought maybe they were just freaked out that the door had been open all day; you never can tell what’s going to throw a parakeet into an emotional crisis!

Then I happened to glance down at the floor and saw this pile of table edge scraps


And I knew at once that Kelly had left the cage, spent some quality time with her true love, the table edge, and then put herself back home.  The tablecloth doesn’t have any damage at all, so I have to assume that she crawled up under it and hung on while chewing.

My guess is that she either went back to the cage when the robot vacuum came out at 2pm, because neither budgie likes him whatsoever.  Alternately, their avian lamp is on a timer to go off at 3pm, so she may have made a connection that I come home after that light goes off.  Or possibly she just tired out and got hungry for actual food.

Regardless, it’s another huge warning to me that these guys are smart and I need to be on my game!  I’m so relieved that they didn’t get up to anything dangerous, I’m pretty sure that Toby didn’t even leave the cage, but next time we probably wouldn’t be that lucky.


Encouraging your budgie to work for her food by foraging

I read an article recently called “Are we killing the natural instincts of the budgerigar” which put me on notice that no matter how many stimulating toys I provide, or flight time, or any material object, I have been ignoring a major component of my parakeet’s mental and physical health. That component is foraging for food.

I recommend reading the whole article, but to condense, the experiment they are conducting in an aviary setting changed the budgies over from eating readily available seeds in shallow bowls that are refreshed every day, to serving food in deep bowls and not refreshing constantly, so the budgies would have to dig for their food. It also involved spreading the remaining seed on the aviary floor at the end of the cycle, instead of throwing it out, so that the budgies could sift through it again, simulating the ground foraging their wild cousins do, as well as getting much more use out of the provided seed.

The article inspired me to make some changes, because I am of course one of those people who feeds every day and discards every day, meaning the chances for foraging are extremely limited.

My big change was to take out the grate at the bottom of the cage. It took a couple of days, but the budgies love going down there and hunting through the seed hulls that fall out of their bowls. This also means that when I serve them vegetables they can go down to the cage floor and “forage” around in them. Like the green pepper shown above. They love ripping off all the seeds and then coming back to go through them all over again.  Right now they have a cup of torn romaine lettuce that they are digging through and throwing all over, and then going back to forage around in the lettuce leaves.

I also tried scattering what was left of their seed bowls on the ground of the cage, which would be okay a couple of times a week but really caused a mess explosion, due to the dramatically increased likelihood of hulls being blown out of the cage.

My next steps are to create more foraging opportunities. I always see foraging toys for big parrots, but I think for the little guys it may have to be a little more DIY.  Here’s a great idea for a foraging mat just made out of a doormat, and here’s another post about making a bunch of different foraging toys – some seem to be for bigger parrots, but there are some awesome easy things the the blogger suggests, even something as simple as covering the food bowl with a paper towel that the parrot has to remove before eating.

Foraging 101

For higher up foraging, we are going to get back into using our Creative Foraging Systems Ball and Kabob Pet Feeder. If we put some shredded veggies in the ball the budgies will spend the bulk of their day pulling them out, whether they eat them or not, so at least mentally there’s the simulation of a job well done.


The importance of foraging and digging through food also reinforces my decision to switch to a mostly seed diet, with pelleted diets a budgie would have even less opportunities for foraging.  And with Volkman Avian Science Super Parakeet there are a lot of different items in the blend to be foraged through and pushed aside to find the favorite morsels, and then throughout the day more and more of the less desirable items are consumed.

Overall, I want to be more cognizant of how I could be making it harder and more rewarding for Toby and Kelly to find food, after reading that article I’m certain I can do better at meeting their need to forage.

Foraging for the wild cucumber

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Video – could you listen to this flock calling parakeet for 2 hours straight?

We had a little warm spell recently and it brought a lot of outdoor birds out of their hiding spots to chirp and enjoy the nice days.  It has also made Kelly want to communicate with them desperately, so she’s been flock calling to them every morning for hours straight. I know that in a week or so she would realize they aren’t going to talk back and stop trying, but in the interim we have this incessant yelling.

Before getting a budgie (or any bird), listen to this on a loop for 2 hours and decide if you can take the noise!  Please excuse the weirdly-sized video and the water noise in the background, she stopped yelling as soon as she saw the camera so I had to run the water to get her going again!