Budgie cage placement – separate room or middle of the action?

A couple of years ago we decided to move the parakeets’ cages into what is intended to be the master bedroom in our house. We decided to change our budgie cage placement for a couple of primary reasons.

The first was that our oldest girl, Toby, had become really fixated on my husband. She was territorial about him and loved nothing more than to sit on his shoulder, scream in his ear and fight anyone who came near him. The second was that our “middle child”, Kelly, had developed a habit of chewing her cage bars and making a horrific clanging noise. We were working on redirection, but honestly given the two lady budgies’ issues it seemed like a good time to take a break and hopefully hit reset on some behaviors.

We lasted a bit over a year and now the budgies are all back in the dining area between our kitchen and living room. Our house has an open floor plan so they are in the middle of the action with a good view on all human activity except work and sleep time.

Our cage set up
Our two current cage set up

Here are my pros and cons for budgies having a separate room.

Pros

    • In their own room the parakeets could be guaranteed ten to twelve hours of solid quiet, dark sleep time. This helps to keep them out breeding condition and is good for their health in general. With budgie cage placement in the common area they are much more likely to stay up later while we are cooking dinner, watching television in the evenings, or grabbing a late night snack. If you have night owls in your family this can cause disturbed sleep until the wee hours of the night.
    • Speaking of cooking, being removed from the kitchen in their own room meant we didn’t have to worry as much about accidental smoke or other dangers from the kitchen.  We only cook using stainless steel pans, and would never take the risk of non-stick/Teflon cookware, but I still worry about accidentally burning toast someday and risking their lives.
    • The budgies had a place to remove themselves if they were feeling overstimulated. If we were watching a loud movie or playing music the budgies could remove themselves any time they wished to a nice quiet place and take a break. Granted, I’m not sure how legitimate this one is, since they seem to enjoy loudness in general!
    • It was much easier to corral them all into one place at a moment’s notice so we could open the front door. With the budgies in the main section of our house we eliminate the ability to open our front door during the day. This makes signing for packages or just going in and out of the house a very difficult task requiring bribery to get them all into cages. With their home base in a room with a door it was much easier to shoo them all in and shut it quickly.

Cons

    • It was harder to clean up after the flock and service their cages. They weren’t near the kitchen anymore so getting water every day was a nuisance. It felt like more of a pain cleaning up after them overall, the mess was spread out all across the house and, if I’m being honest, it was easier to ignore messy cages when they weren’t in front of me all the time. Similarly, I found myself forgetting to swap out toys and perches routinely to keep their cages enriching.
    • The bedroom didn’t offer them any opportunities to look out a window. Unfortunately all of the windows have a view of a busy street. During the day the sun glints off cars whizzing by and at night it’s all headlights. The few times I tried leaving a curtain open I could tell the flock was constantly startled by traffic. With their dining area placement they can look out into the backyard and watch bunnies, squirrels and of course outside birds. This is definitely a source of entertainment.
    • Their separate room was also the hardest of our house to heat and cool. In the summer it gets direct sunlight all afternoon until sunset and heats up pretty fast. In the winter, as the largest room in the house it’s also the hardest to keep heated. So, even if I had less worries about kitchen smoke and disturbed sleep I replaced them with different concerns about overheating and chilling.
    • It set us back severely in taming Kevin. Kevin was totally miserable the entire time he was in quarantine and desperate for parakeet company. Shortly after he integrated into the flock we moved them all to the bedroom. The fact that he had 24/7 budgie company coupled with becoming even less familiar with us resulted in him viewing humans as an inconvenient necessity and nothing more. We certainly were not part of his flock. I now believe that parakeets being able to view human activity from a safe distance is a critical part of taming. Shortly after they moved out to the common area and he could watch us go about our business I saw a shift in his behavior. It clicked for him pretty quickly that we were not, in fact, scary monsters, but part of his larger flock. Kevin can still be pretty shy around us, but he’s much more likely to choose interacting now and it’s so gratifying just to not have him react to us with fear. I don’t think we would have gotten past that without his being immersed in our daily lives.
    • This brings me to my biggest con. The parakeets being separate from us in their own room enabled them to create their own little subculture. Across the board they didn’t choose to interact with us as much as they had. It started to feel less like a human/pet relationship and more like I had rented out a room to a small family that didn’t speak the same language as I did. They were living their separate lives and happy without integrating too much. It was painful to feel that Toby and Kelly, who are typically way interested in humans and their activities, were totally fine with limited interaction.

Although almost any of the cons would have been enough to convince me to put our budgies back in a common area it’s the last one that really did it. It was so sad not having them as a major part of our daily lives and I think we’ve all been happier now that they are part of all the action again. So, my final recommendation on budgie cage placement is in the middle of the action 100 percent! Even though it takes more care not to open doors and increased safety in the kitchen it is absolutely worth it to feel like we are all part of one flock.

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Photo tour of our parakeet cage set up and play areas

As you embark on your journey of parakeet keeping you may find that your flock’s territory expands further and further throughout your home. We welcome the flock into most rooms of our house and have employed various methods to help them feel like they have a space just for them. Hopefully this photo tour of our parakeet cage set up and play areas will help provide some ideas for your home!

First, here are our cages:

Our cage set up
Our current cage set up

I have already done a full review of all our cages so I won’t go too much into these except to say we are happy with both. When setting up a cage for a parakeet make sure to have a variety of perches and toys. Also watch out for putting perches and toys directly above water and food bowls to reduce to amount of poop you can expect in either.

HQ Victorian flight cage for parakeets
This was our first “big” cage purchased, still loving it 4 years later.
Flight cage for budgies with toys and perches in it
The A&E flight cage is a great value for a solid, well-made cage

Above are some close up shots so you can see the set up in each cage. They are tailored to the needs of the parakeets that live in them. Kelly (HQ Victorian) has a lot of shredding toys because she loves to chew all day. Toby (A&E cage) has to have all of the toys dropped below the top perches or she’ll try to sleep on whatever is the highest thing in the cage.

Our first play area is a Java Wood Table Top Play Stand . You’ll probably notice a theme between this and our floor-standing play gym, they are too large for parakeets but with adjustments we make it work. For both stands we use a lot of Comfy Perch For Birds to make usable space for budgies. The flexibility of these perches is a huge bonus.

Java tree stand for parakeets
The java tree is  technically too big for parakeets but we make it work

My favorite play stand is the Prevue Pet Products Small Parrot Playstand because I can move it around the house with me. This play stand has also been modified to be useful for parakeets.

A standing play gym for parakeets
All the parakeets feel like this is their home away from home

Next up is the Polly’s Sandy Window and Shower Bird Perch, Large. This perch is technically slightly too large for parakeets. They like to sit here and look out the back window, but not for extended periods of time. I wouldn’t encourage them to sit there for ages due to the large width of the perch as well as the fact that it’s a sand perch, which can be tough on feet.

A perch for parakeets that sticks to a window
I think this is really intended for a shower perch, but it sticks well to the window.

In the front window we use a Triangle Perch, some Plastic Chain and a Command Hook to rig this up. All three of our budgies love sitting here and looking out the window. It does also draw them upward to the curtain rod, so if you’re not looking to encourage that behavior then I don’t recommend doing this. We took those plastic balls from another toy to create “bumpers” on the triangle so it doesn’t smack into the glass too hard.

Hanging perch for parakeets near a window
Everyone enjoys looking out the front window from this perch.

Last but not least I have a hanging area for them in my home office space. This is made from a comfy perch, a command hook and a swing from a company called Hari Rustic Treasures. Hari Rustic Treasures used to be available at Dr. Foster & Smith, which is no longer operating. I’m not sure where (if anywhere) that particular swing is available any more. This Yosoo Bird Swing looks like it would be pretty fun though, if you’re looking for another idea.

A picture showing a hanging play gym for parakeets
This hangs near my home-based office space – a command hook holds it all up.

That’s it (so far!) for our parakeet cage set up and play areas. About half the rooms in our house are parakeet-welcoming. They are not invited to hang out in our bedroom, bathroom and my husband’s office. If you have any questions about our set up or would like more detailed pictures feel free to let me know by dropping a comment on this post.

Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you click them and make a purchase I will earn a small commission.

 

Working from home with parakeet colleagues

Working from home is a great perk that’s increasingly available to employees. Creating a good environment for a full workday can be challenging in any situation, but when you throw in a flock of noisy budgies there’s a whole extra layer of careful planning to make. I only work from home occasionally, but my husband has a dedicated home office that he uses three days a week, most of these tips come right from him after a few years of experience. Here are some tips for working from home with parakeets.

  1. If at all possible, get a door (or a floor!) between you and your budgies. We have a single-floor and relatively small home, so my husband’s office is right next to the bird’s room. Even so, he does have two doors that he can close between him and the budgies, which helps dampen sound.
  2. Speaking of dampening sound, if you’ve got particularly bad spots you can buy or make sound panels to absorb some of the screeching.
  3. Use in-ear headphones for calls, particularly with an inline microphone that has a small range. This tip is mine! I have an inexpensive set of headphones that I’m absolutely in love with. They work with both my laptop and my cell phone, the in-ear speakers help me tune out parakeet noise and the inline microphone picks up my voice really well but isn’t strong enough to get a lot of noise outside of me.

If those aren’t an option and you have to use a regular headset with a more powerful microphone then try not to worry about it too much. I mean really, how many conference calls have you been on where someone’s dogs or kids created a ruckus?  Parakeet coworkers may be more unusual, but they are certainly not the only uninvited guests at the meeting! My husband has had people comment along the lines of, “oh, you’ve got birds”, but then they usually launch into their own story of bird parenting, or reminisce about the cockatiel their parents had.

  1. Play soft pleasant music for your parakeets. This may seem counterintuitive because of course they are compelled to sing along, but, fairly continuous pleasant singing is better than intermittent screaming. Especially if you’ve been quiet for a long time and then pick up a call, the budgies are likely to be reminded that you’re home and start desperately flock calling.
  2. I suggest resisting the urge to cover them routinely during the day. If you’re attending a Board meeting via conference call and absolutely have to be sure of silence then that’s one thing, but for daily routine, I don’t think it’s quite fair to take away their daytime. I’m sure not everyone will agree with me on that one, but I feel like they deserve to have their day as well, and it’s not their fault there’s so much to sing about!
  3. Listen to your own music or white noise when you need to focus. There are tons of white noise options or music to help you concentrate options on YouTube. My personal favorite is wind through bamboo. If you put on a pair of Noise Cancelling Headphones and some good masking noise it may help you concentrate and not get distracted thinking of all the fun you could be having with your parakeets.
  4. Make sure your budgies have ample things to occupy themselves with! A bored budgie can be an exponentially noisy budgie. Add in and regularly rotate a variety of engaging toys and items for destruction to keep those beaks and brains busy.

Although working from home with parakeets can be an adjustment, there are ways to help you get your work done while your budgies have a nice day at home in their cage. If you’ve got any tips to share that I missed, please drop a comment below!

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!