The budgies have their own room – finally!

Quite a while ago I started thinking seriously about moving the budgies into their own room. I did some crowd-sourcing and readers were split on whether it was a great idea or would be a total disaster. I got hung up and probably too concerned about the outcome, considering it wouldn’t have to be a permanent situation! Toby’s continuing obsession with her “papa” pushed the issue and we finally decided that we all needed a bit of space. At long last the budgies have had their own room for several weeks now.

In their new room, Toby, Kelly and Kevin have their cages, and they also have a fun play zone with the Java tree and a hanging Boing.

after waffling about it for ages the budgies have their own room!java tree in the budgies new room

Hanging boing in the budgies new roomThey really enjoy all of the added play space. I’m working on a way to get them better window access, but we’re not all the way there yet.

I was worried that this would keep them separate from the humans and they would be isolated, but in practice it’s expanded their territory, which is awesome!  After a few days they were very comfortable flying back and forth from their room to their play area with Playstand where the cages used to be in the dining room.

playstand where the cages used to beThey will spend literally all day chilling out on the Playstand, and at their window perches in the kitchen and living room. I keep the food cups full and it’s convenient having the table right there to put fruits and vegetables out and water so they don’t get thirsty.

So, the budgies are definitely not isolated and in fact they get even more time out of their cages then they used to. Having their cage space separate from the play zone made for an unexpected expansion of “neutral territory” so there’s been a reduction in knock down drag-out fights between the girls. We are still struggling with Toby being unable to leave Patrick alone and she will defend him like he’s her property, but we are now well into springtime so I am sure hormones are a factor.

As I had hoped, they are getting a lot better sleep now too. We are able to put them to bed between 6:30pm and 7pm and since they are farther away from the kitchen and living room I don’t have to worry as much about keeping them up cooking or watching television. It’s also nice that on the rare occasion we burn something in the toaster over I don’t have to fret about smoke inhalation.

Patrick’s allergies have been easier to manage since the move, but I do have to admit that I feel like I’ve got a lot more to clean up after, since they have increased their territory and mess zone. Toby has had one night terror since the move and I was able to hear it and respond really quickly, so that’s not much different either.

So far so good! The positives of much better sleep for the budgies and being able to make an ice cream sundae after 7:30pm for the humans are worth the increased cleaning for sure! Sometimes it does feel like it’s the budgies’ house and we are just living in it, but I suppose that was inevitable once they outnumbered the humans.

My budgies use as much electricity as a bunch of teenagers

I’ve been waffling back and forth for ages now about whether to move the budgies into their own room. The bulk of what’s stopping me are random emotion-based concerns, but I do also have some logistical issues. One is that even though it’s not ideal to have the cages so close to the kitchen, it is really convenient to wash food bowls and refill waters so close to the sink and refrigerator. Another issue is availability of power outlets; once I started counting up all of the budgie-gear that requires electricity I realized that the flock is a bunch of electricity hogs! Here’s a run-down of how they are impacting my utility bill.

  1. AvianSun Lamp and Timer. Budgies need a few hours of full spectrum lighting every day to assist with Vitamin D production and absorption. Just having them near a sun-soaked window does not work for this as glass blocks the essentials rays of light. On the flip side, this isn’t a lamp that I can leave on all day because they really only need 3-4 hours per day and more than that is overkill. So, the avian lamp is on a timer that goes on every day from 12pm – 3pm and takes up two electrical outlets because the timer covers both.
  2. Night Light(s). Toby is an infrequent night terror sufferer who refuses to be covered at night. She needs ample lighting overnight so when she wakes up and sees a scary shadow she can see well enough to know it’s not a murderous night predator.
  3. Thermo-Perch. Even though the budgies are in a draft free zone and we keep the house at a steady 69 (Fahrenheit) in winter I have a thermo perch in Toby and Kevin’s cage to warm up their feet. Kevin loves that perch and naps there every afternoon.
  4. Air Purifier. This is for both humans and budgies, I suppose. They have a dedicated purifier that helps clear the air of their dander and dust. It also helps clear out cooking smells and generally keeps the air fresh for them. It’s nice, even in the deep of winter, to have some air movement too so it doesn’t feel stagnant.
  5. Amazon Echo Dot . The budgies have their very own Amazon Echo so they can listen to music during the day. I love that I can just pick a type of music and it will play for hours on end. It can also be turned on and off by using the app. If they are super agitated I play the lullabies channel to set a nice relaxed tone.
  6. Night Lamp. Totally distinct from the night lights, this is just a tiny little table lamp that I use to help signal night time. The first stage of my process is to start dimming their ceiling light and turn on the little light so they know that bed time is approaching. I leave this on in addition to the night lights. It doesn’t give off much light but it’s a nice way to help them know that bedtime is coming, and that when I turn it off in the morning it’s time to start the day.
  7. Vacuum. We have a Roomba and a Shark Vacuum for the whole house, but the budgies have a dedicated stick vacuum. It’s small enough to fit in a corner unobtrusively and light enough that I don’t mind dragging it out every day (or multiple times a day during molting!).

I think that’s about it, although if I didn’t have a light in the ceiling I would have to add at least one floor lamp. Seven outlets for 3 little budgies! If they do move into the master bedroom I will have to invest in a Power Strip in order to plug in all of their accessories.  It makes me wish that I had tracked my electricity spend before Toby, and then as we added more budgies and more gear, so see the impact on the utility bottom line. I should have also tracked keeping the house warmer in winter and cooler in summer than we used to pre birds. When we think about monthly costs of budgie ownership it’s common to factor in food, toys, perches and all the other basics, but maybe less obvious to think about increased electrical and other utilities. Possibly it’s too small an amount to worry about for your household, but I know that we’ve made changes that definitely impacted our bottom line.

Any extra spend is totally worth it, of course, for healthy happy budgies. They can have all the electronic devices they want, as far as I’m concerned, although I would probably draw the line at IPads I’m sure there are budgies out there that enjoy some screen time!

A brief review of every budgie cage we own

I know it’s completely excessive, but I own five cages (two of them flight cages) and only three birds! I swear there’s an excuse for every one. Since I’ve got a good range of parakeet cages, I thought it might help someone out to have a brief review of each one.  They all have pros, cons and some have very specific purposes. Hopefully I can justify a portion of my over-spending by helping others make informed decisions!

prevue park plaza bird cage
Prevue Pet Products Park Plaza Bird Cage, Coco Brown (on the right)
This was our very first bird cage. It met the minimum size requirement for parakeets (see size on link) and seemed to have some nice features. To be honest, before we got our first parakeet we weren’t too sure birds would be for us, and this cage could have also worked for a sugar glider.

The Park Plaza is a very good solid bird cage with nice construction. I liked that the food and water bowls swung out with the access doors, making it easy to replace food and water without letting a not yet tame bird out of the cage. There is also a double lock on the front access door. The door itself has a nice large opening which was a big help for taming.

We ended up replacing this cage because it was too low to the ground. Toby is not at all a ground bird and so ended up just using the top portion of the cage. She was fine with it, but it really wasn’t enough room to move or play. Also for a bird that spends several hours a day in their cage it just doesn’t have enough horizontal space for exercising.

Another con is that when you take the grate out at the bottom, which we like to do so our parakeets can ground forage, it leaves a huge gap at the front which must be “patched” with cardboard. Not a huge deal for our Toby, who has never tried to escape anything in her life, but for a more intrepid budgie this would be a problem.

Also, not shown are the seed catcher attachments, which we used for a while, and found that they really increased the footprint of the cage without much benefit.

parakeet cage costs

HQ Victorian Top Bird Cage with Cart Stand
This is my favorite cage out of all five. It is incredibly well-made, and really attractive. I find that our flight cages are okay looking, but this cage looks like a nice piece of furniture versus something utilitarian.

It’s not just appealing to the human eye, but also has many features that birds appreciate. The top opens for a great way to transition to the outside, there’s a wooden dowel perch included to keep the top open, otherwise it could slam shut which would be dangerous. We’ve weighted it with perches on the outside to make it heavy enough to stay open on its own.

The area above the main access door also folds out for a porch-like area. Our parakeets get a ton of use out of the indoor/outdoor features.

The food access doors on this cage are great too, you open the door and slide out the bowl, which is nestled in a “cage” of its own. It’s very easy to sneak bowls in and out of the cage without risking an escape.

Speaking of which, you can also remove the grate without having to patch a gap, because of the included metal flap covering the area.

There are a few cons to the cage – all the decorative curves make it a little harder to clean the crevices. Additionally, because of the way the top opens it can be challenging to hang toys from the top of the cage, the way you would in a flat top cage. Because it narrows at the top we found it difficult to make a good place for multiple budgies to sleep, since they all like to be high up.

For the size, this cage is also fairly expensive, $209 at the time of this posting. You can certainly get a bigger cage for a lot less money, but what you’re paying for here is the superior quality and the details. Even with the few cons, this cage edges out the A&E flight cage as my favorite.

Prevue chalk white flight cage
Prevue Pet Products Wrought Iron Flight Cage with Stand, Chalk White (on left, dimensions at link)
Out of the three largest cages we own, this is the one that I would least recommend. As soon as we took it out of the box we were disappointed by the quality. Several of the bars were bent and the finish was already nicked. The bent bars were pushed back into shape, but it was certainly telling how easy it was to do so. Also I like having a flat top to put out treats or toys, but this was so weak and bowed in it made me nervous putting anything remotely heavy up there.

I thought I would dislike the brightness of the cage, but I actually didn’t mind that at all. It makes it easy to find soiled areas and clean them up.

The size is really nice, but that’s about it. The food access doors are on spring hinges which would be dangerous for any budgie that might try to escape. Also, removing the grate at the bottom left a huge gap at the back. We used paper tape to cover it, which worked for Toby because, again, she’s never tried to escape anything in her life. But, there’s no way that Kelly could live in this cage, she’d be out in a second either through the food doors or the bottom. With Kelly’s propensity for bar-chewing she would almost certainly eat all the paint off this cage anyway.

Overall I’m pretty disappointed with this purchase, particularly since a spend of just about $30 more got me much better quality for the next cage on our list.

second flight cage A&E flight cage

A&E Cage Company Flight Bird Cage (on left, dimension at link, select color “green”)
With similar dimensions and features, for just slightly more money, this cage is FAR better than the Prevue flight cage. The bars are much sturdier and the top is rock solid. I’m not a huge fan of the food access doors on this one either, but they have a tab lock that is at least secure, if not convenient.

The space and the construction are very good, but there aren’t a lot of optional features to be found here either. Just a good solid flight cage with a lot of room. Taking out the grate does leave a gap, we were able to use the included dowel perch to fill the space and I’m still able to remove the bottom tray, so that worked out just fine.

If you want a utilitarian flight cage with loads of room and really good finish and bar quality this is the cage for you.

small Vision cage quarantine cage for our new parakeet
Vision Bird Cage Model S01 – Small
I almost forgot to include this cage because we don’t use it very often at all! I purchased the Small Vision cage for a few potential purposes.
– Hospital cage for a sick bird
– Travel cage if we needed to go to the vet
– Going outside to enjoy good weather cage

For the size, this cage was a real pain to put together! After having owned several relatively expensive cages, this is definitely a whole different animal. The bars seem very weak, everything else is made of plastic. I know a lot of people find the bottom tray very convenient for containing mess, but I can’t imagine having a bigger version of this and having to lift the whole cage top off to clean the bottom.

I don’t like that the doors just fall open if you’re not careful when unlocking them. Overall this cage is fine for what we would use it for, but based on my feelings about this one I would never get a larger Vision Cage for a main cage. I know they are very reasonably priced and a lot of people love them, so no flames please! It’s just not my cup of tea. I do like that they are tabletop though, that seems like it would be great, since all of my main cages eat a ton of floor space.

So, that’s a very brief review of our five cages. The two that we are currently using are the HQ Victorian Top and the A&E flight cage. The Park Prevue I think I’m going to donate to a bird rescue or see if there’s anyone else local who would like it. The Prevue Chalk White flight cage is currently taking up a ton of space in a spare room, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with that one!

If you have any specific questions about these cages feel free to drop a comment or reach out through my Facebook page. I’ll be happy to help!

Giving the budgies their own room

I’ve always been an advocate for keeping budgies in the center of your home where they can be a full participant in your daily lives. So, it may seem odd that I’m going to try giving the budgies their own room now after years of advising otherwise! I do have some good reasons, first, here’s what’s wrong with our current set up.

My house is relatively small and only one floor. We have just under 1,000 square feet, which is perfectly fine for two adult humans. With the small size and open floor plan, the budgies’ cage set up is currently in spitting distance of both the kitchen and living room.

our current budgie set uphow close our cages are to the kitchenIt’s okay for them to be this close to the kitchen, which is typically not advisable, because we use all bird-safe cookware, and frankly don’t cook that much or elaborately anyhow!

Although their health is fine, it’s become sort of a pain over the years for we humans, and we’d like to be able to turn on the kitchen light after 7:30pm on occasion!  Also, it’s tiresome sneaking around your kitchen if you want a glass of water in the middle of the night.

In addition to our human gripes with the set up, I think the parakeets would be better off in a quiet, darker and less trafficked area for sleeping. It might also help us shake Toby and Kelly out of breeding condition if they could truly get 12 hours of darkness, which I am increasingly sure they aren’t getting with their current living arrangement.

Also, it will get them further away from doors that open to the outside world, and that’s always a good thing! I can fully bird-proof their new room, and won’t have to worry about anyone landing in a kitchen sink, or under the reclining couch.

Another factor is Toby’s continuing obsession with Patrick. Her desire to scream in his ears and preen his eyeballs can be hard for Patrick to deal with (understandably). The unhappy result is the parakeets sometimes spend more time in their cages on the weekends than I would like, so that Patrick can live his life without being harassed constantly. If they can be out with me in a separate bird-friendly space it would be a huge help.

what will be the budgie's roomThis is the room that will be theirs.  It’s actually the master bedroom in the house so lucky them!  Currently it’s my home office space and laundry line/drying rack. To prep this room we are removing the dining table and other pieces of furniture, and then we will add some window perches a new light fixture and a dimmer switch so I can keep up with their nighttime routine.

They will still be welcome in the rest of the house and I will keep their play gym in the space their cages used to be. I don’t anticipate losing any time with them after the switch. I work full time outside the home, but the proposed bird-room is where I work on the blog, and a comfortable space for humans to hang out. I could definitely see myself chilling in there with them after work every day and on the weekends.

Another bonus is that it will help contain the parakeet feathers and allergens, which have increased exponentially with the addition of Kevin.

If it doesn’t work out we can very easily reverse the change, but I think it’s worth a shot!

I’ll post an update after we make the switch.  I wanted to also thank everyone who helped me by commenting on my Facebook post when I was trying to decide what to do. There was pretty much a 50/50 split on whether it was a good idea, but I found that everyone’s input helped a lot!

Toby and Kelly’s Christmas wish list

Toby and Kelly have been working feverishly on their Christmas wish list for parakeet-Santa.  They are cutting it a little close to the wire, but here’s their parakeet gift list full of their secret and most closely held desires!

Toby really wants to try having Nutriberries as a treat! She has heard that if I crumble them up for her she will be in a heretofore unknown ecstasy of foraging.

Kelly’s wants are a bit more basic. She plows through a cuttlebone every week, so she would like a never-ending supply of essential calcium as well as beak-exercising destruction.

Kelly snuck in a second want in a row! She loves the smaller version of this toy so much that she wants to try out the one for big birds! Since the single cupcake style is destroyed in a single day, we’re hoping that Santa brings one that lasts for three days!

Both Toby and Kelly are dreaming of a new play gym. They acknowledge that they previously had a very similar gym and totally ignored it, but they feel that since they both have flat top flight cages now they will get a lot more use of out of a play gym if it’s on top of the cage.

You’re probably wondering what poor new kid Kevin would like for Christmas. He’s just dreaming of getting out of quarantine and spending some time with his “sisters”.

He has been using the java tree as his personal play stand, so we all hope he comes out of quarantine in time for us to use his play tree as our Christmas tree like we did last year!

Speaking of which, Santa better bring us some new Christmas-themed bird toys to load up our “tree”.  Seems like some human “Santas” may need to start adding things to their carts before we run out of time!  I hope everybirdy out there finds exactly what they most want and need under their trees this year!