Realistic start up costs for a budgie

In my first post on this blog I made a bit of a wild claim as to how much I felt start-up budgie costs would be.  Recently I’ve been wondering whether I was close at all and decided to do a bit of research and some basic addition. This post assumes you are purchasing nothing secondhand and you don’t have any existing supplies.

  • First and most important is cage selection, I have heard a lot of good reviews of Vision brand cages and I would always endorse getting the largest cage possible, so I’m picking the Vision Bird Cage Model L01 – Large for my scenario (this cage is approx. $85). I have the HQ Victorian top bird cage with cart stand (approx. $200). So clearly there is a big range here, and of course I’ve chosen higher end cages, which may not be in everyone’s budgie budget.  In this instance I will say you need to anticipate a minimum spend of $70.
  • Next up is food. You’ll want to get some of whatever your budge is accustomed to eating, let’s assume he has been on a seed-based diet because that’s very common, especially for a pet store. An example would be Volkman Avian Science Super Parakeet Bird Seed 4 Lb, and that’s about $11 for 4 pounds. You might as well get Kaytee Spray Millet for Birds, 12-Count while you’re at it because you’ll need it for treats and to help you in taming your budgie (if feral).  The millet is approximately $7. Most bird owners these days also offer their parakeets pelleted food, and a very common brand is ZuPreem. I don’t recommend feeding anything with unnatural color and so I’ll start with the ZuPreem Natural with Added Vitamins, Minerals, Amino Acids Small Bird Food, 2.25 lb and get a 2.25 pound bag for $13. Total food spend is $31
  • On to perches – your cage will probably come with one or two, but they will undoubtedly be either round plastic or smooth doweled wood. You can leave them in if you like, but parakeets need a lot more variety in perch size and material. This is for foot exercise and nail maintenance, and also for chewing and mental stimulation. Perches should not exceed ½ inch in diameter, or your budgie will have trouble getting comfortable. You are going to buy the Alfie Pet by Petoga Couture – Iona Natural Wood Y-Rack 2-Piece Set for Birds for $10, the Living World Pedi-Perch, Small for $11.50 and the Living World Nature’s Perch, Small for $15.20. There are a million different kinds of perches, fun chewy perches and mineral perches, with all sorts of shapes and sizes. And these should be rotated fairly regularly so your initial spend should by no means be considered your lifetime spend. Total start up is approximately $36
  • Toys are another extremely important facet of initial cage set up. Every parakeet needs them, and especially those who may need taming. If a parakeet is confined to his cage for the bulk of his time he absolutely needs an outlet for physical activity, mental stimulation, and destructive chewing. Much like with perches the toy options are almost limitless. Let’s assume that you need a minimum of three toys to start with.  First I recommend the BIRD KABOB Bird Toy, Mini Max ($7) which provides hours of chewing fun. Next something like the JW Pet Company Activitoy Olympia Rings Small Bird Toy, Colors Vary for about $5; this toy is deceptively simple, being just a series of interlocked rings, my parakeets adore this and like going through the rings acrobatically or just chewing them and ringing the bell repetitively.  Super Bird Creations Wind Chimes Toy for Birds coming in at $12.50 which I’ve written a whole separate review about because my budgies are obsessed with it.  Much like the perches, toy options are vast and start-up cost is just the beginning of spending!  Total is $24.50
  • This item is completely optional – there are a lot of different ways to handle the bottom of the cage lining material. Many people use newspaper (black ink pages only) or even paper towel. I like to use Bird Cage Liners – Small Cages – Pick-Your-Size – 150 Count – 40 Pound Paper. Not only does it allow me to easily assess my budgies’ poop condition (and therefore their health) but it also resists absorbing water spills and makes clean up a total snap. I can’t imagine not having them. Cost depends on cage size approx. $35
  • Another semi-optional starter item is the Lixit Bird Waterer – 5 oz. I can practically guarantee that within a few days of parakeet-ownership you will realize that it is nearly impossible to keep their water from being contaminated by poop, food, and/or bathing. You should still maintain the traditional water bowl, but having the lixit bird waterer means that you do not have to worry about a clean supply of drinking water. You should buy as many of these as you have budgies so they don’t fight over it (in theory!). Minimum cost $12.50
  • Living World Cuttlebone, Large, Twin Pack provides absolutely essential calcium and minerals and is very inexpensive to boot! Cost $3.50
  • And finally – the budgies!! I’m hoping you’re starting with two so that they feel less afraid and have a pal, I know it will be harder to tame them, but I don’t think you’ll regret it.  Depending on where you get your parakeets they are either a small donation to a rescue, or up to $50 each for a handfed baby. I will hit sort of in the middle and say that you spent $40 for your two parakeets.  $40

Done conservatively, that comes to about $250 dollars.  That is far less than my original estimate of $400, but still a pretty substantial chunk of change.

Of course, that does not include everything that you will either find is a necessity down the road (like a 1st aid kit) or replacement toys and perches.  Also, almost every bird owner discovers they need a dedicated vacuum or some type for budgie mess.  You will probably also end up buying an air purifier (we have the Winix WAC9500 Ultimate Pet True HEPA Air Cleaner with PlasmaWave Technology), both for your budgie’s health and for yours once you realize the amount of dust and other air contaminants that come with birds.

Also not accounted for is an Zoo Med AvianSun Deluxe Floor Pet Lamp, and Zoo Med 24975 Avian Sun 5.0 Uvb Compact Fluorescent Lamp, 26W these provide full spectrum UVB and UVA lighting which parrots need to synthesize vitamin D3.  They cannot get these types of light through windows – so even if you think your budgie is technically getting “enough light” because they are near a big window, they are not getting the full spectrum which they need for physical and mental health.  Buying the lamp and bulb at Amazon will run you another $65.

For such a small thing budgies need a lot of gear for optimal physical and mental health. Far from being just an ornamental pet to keep in a cage, budgies are complex and extremely intelligent creatures and they deserve to have their basic needs met, or hopefully exceeded.

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Hari Rustic Treasures toy line at Drs. Foster & Smith

Whenever we get a new Doctors Foster & Smith catalog in the mail I’m excited to see what’s new and also filled with a small amount of dread, knowing I’m about to part with a pretty good chunk of change!

They always have a ton of great toys for birds of all sizes, and a line that was featured in their recent catalog, Hari Rustic Treasures, has an array of toys that range in price from approximately $4 to $19.

What attracted me to this line was not just that they look like tons of fun for our budgies, but also that they are made of natural and eco-friendly materials, feature lead/zinc free chains and are certified fair trade.  They also have a really unique and, indeed, rustic handmade look to them, while also being brightly colored and eye-catching.

I bought the:
Silk Cascade bird toy
Grass Bundles bird toy
T-Swing

They are all a bit big for budgies, but I like that, since I know they will take some effort before they are fully destroyed!

So, if you’re looking for a new toy for your parrots that you can feel good about buying I definitely recommend checking out Hari Rustic Treasures at Drs. Foster & Smith.

Review of the Bonka Bird Toys 1925 Cake Bird Toy

At first glance the Bonka Bird Cake Foraging Toy looks a bit cheap, I was sort of skeptical of the foam pieces, and it just overall looked a bit too thrown together and sort of unnatural for my tastes.  But, I was adding stuff to my cart at Amazon so this got thrown in too!

Once it arrived I was even more turned off, the solla wood that makes up the “cupcake” is extremely lightweight, and it generally looked just as insubstantial in person.

I stowed it away in our toy cabinet and basically forgot about it until this weekend when I was swapping out some things, and decided to use it on our play gym.

Kelly made a beeline to the Bonka Bird Cake Foraging Toy, and played with that toy for the entire day virtually non-stop.  She did make a huge mess and totally tore apart the wood piece in one day, but it was well worth it to watch her enjoy herself and just chew away.

It wouldn’t make a ton of economic sense to provide her with one daily, but I think she can be sure to have one of these as a treat every so often.  And I’m definitely going to seek out more solla wood toys!

I did slide a wood block on the post after the cupcake was murdered and she enjoys that as well, the cupcake wrappers seem fun to nibble at and she likes the sound it makes.  I think the fact that she could hear the bell jingling but not actually see it was fun for her too.

The whole thing put her into a frenzy in the best possible way!

Review of the Wesco Bird Kabob Carnival Swing Bird Toy

I’ve bought a few of the Wesco kabob toys before, usually the single strand version(Wesco Pet Mini Bird Kabob Shreddable Bird Toy) and the budgies love them.  They spend the bulk of their play time focused on destruction, and this style of toy must be very satisfying to destroy.

The Wesco kabobs are sustainable, earth friendly and 100% biodegradable – which is a nice change from plastic toys. Per the www.birdkabob.com website they are also the #1 selling bird toy of all time.

They come in a wide range of sizes, I know I’ve mentioned before how important it is to watch the sizes on toys for parakeets because just looking at an image of a toy with no reference point for size can be very misleading.  That totally happened to me on this one, I didn’t take my own advice, so I ended up with the Bird Kabob 8-1/2-Inch Carnival Chewable Perch, which is 8.5 x 2 x 12 inches.

When I unboxed the Bird Kabob 8-1/2-Inch Carnival Chewable Perch both Patrick and I thought I had just wasted some money and I clearly should have gotten the 4.5 inch Bird Kabob 4-1/2-Inch Favorito Chewable Perch.  I put it away in the toy cabinet, thinking that at some point we could pull it apart and build smaller toys out of it.

Recently while re-arranging our play gym I thought I might as well try putting the swing out there, and after a few days of avoiding it, Kelly became quite enamored of the swing. She does look very small when sitting on it, but she will spend easily an hour or more just hanging out on that swing and chewing away.

Some parakeets might be too intimidated by the size of this perch and I’m sure the smaller version would be a huge hit as well, but if you’ve got a parakeet that really likes to chew, this size is perfect.  I’m sure Kelly would have already decimated the smaller version, but this will keep her occupied for months, so it’s well-worth the price for me. The bigger size also means that Kelly and Toby can chew at opposite ends of the toy without having territory disputes, which is a huge plus!

Choosing a budgie-safe Christmas tree

For the past several years before bringing Toby home we had not put up a traditional Christmas tree, either real or artificial. Some years it seemed like too much hassle and others I guess we just didn’t have the holiday spirit.

Once we had Toby though it somehow made me feel more of the holiday vibe, so I wanted to put a little more effort into decorating. Which is a terrible idea by the way, since parakeets just want to chew everything.  I should have spent our intervening pet-less years decking the halls till they burst.

Last Christmas we bought a teeny tiny little tree made out of tinsel and only put it out on Christmas day, which provided some small  festivity for a couple of hours, and then Toby stopped being afraid of it and did this

prompting the tree to be taken away immediately.

This year I wanted to try again, and started looking into which trees are safe for companion parrots. Some real trees are, but even if they are the safe kind the sap is still dangerous, and beyond that, if you don’t know how the tree was grown there can be issues with pesticides and whatever chemicals they use to make the trees last for so long.

It seems like fake is the way to go (although clearly, not made out of tinsel!), so I looked at that, and then thought about the constant battle it would be to make sure they weren’t eating the tree, or eating paint off of ornaments, or fabric, or chewing the strands of lights!  Now, don’t get me wrong, a year or two down the road I might be up for the challenge, but this year it seemed right to get ourselves a A&E CAGE COMPANY AE500M Java Wood Table Top Play Stand and a bunch of Christmas toys from Drs. Foster & Smith and enjoy the season worry-free.

What’s even better is that the tree can be in use year-round, so far the parakeets are a little wary of it, but I’m guessing in a few days it will be the most popular new hangout.

The A&E Java trees are very good quality and sourced from wood that would otherwise be discarded. As I’ve mentioned, Patrick has allergies/chemical sensitivities that frequently make it difficult to buy new furniture or anything really, but we were able to use this pretty much right out of the box, the only issue were the rubber feet had a fairly strong “new” smell, which dissipated over a few days. I know this tree may be a bit big for the budgies to be comfortable on but we’ll be making some modifications over time for better accessibility if they are needed.

What’s even better is that A&E CAGE COMPANY AE500M Java Wood Table Top Play Stand is available on Amazon Prime, and with 2 day shipping there’s still time if you want to give your parakeets a tree of their own this year!