Often called parakeets, budgies are small, parrot-like birds with long tails. The word "budgie" is derived from the word "budgerigar" based on an Australian aborigine phrase meaning "good eating." The scientific name for the species is Melopsittacus undulatus. The birds are native to Australia, where they have lived for more than 5 million years. They were imported to England in the 1800s and quickly became popular as pets. Budgies are available in two types.
English budgies are larger than their Australian ancestors and were bred to enhance colouration and bloodlines. They are identified by their circular throat spots and vibrant colours and markings. They were bred to be show birds and are also known as Exhibition budgies.
American budgies are closer in size to their Australian ancestors, approximately 7 inches long from beak to tail. They are more active than English budgies and are commonly sold in the United States. Considered more of a pet than a show-quality bird, American budgies are also called "standard" budgies.
Native Australian budgies are green with black markings. Once the birds were imported to England, breeders began developing new colours. English and American budgies are now available in a variety of colours and markings including pied, albino, lutino, fallow and pastel.
Budgies are known for being highly vocal, playful and friendly. They are considered relatively easy to train and can be taught to recite words, phrases and songs. Budgies love toys, and need new ones often to avoid boredom. They live two to seven years on average. The smart, curious little birds enjoy interacting with people which makes them popular pets.