Breeding budgies takes care and patience, and it’s important to know what you can and cannot do. For example, you’ll need to know which birds can breed with each other and which can’t.
That brings us to our question: can budgies breed with other birds?
Budgies can’t breed with other birds because they don’t share enough genetic similarities with any other species. They belong to the genus Melopsittacus and are the only species within it. Breeding a budgie with other birds can be dangerous, leading to genetic deformities or infertile offspring.
Why Budgies Can’t Breed With Other Birds
To breed with each other, birds need to share a certain amount of genetic similarity.
Typically, species that can breed with each other share a genus, but budgies are the only species in their genus, meaning that they don’t have any close relatives.
For this reason, breeding budgies with any other bird could be a dangerous thing to do and could result in genetic deformities or infertile offspring.
Even other parakeets have significant enough genetic differences to make crossbreeding risky.
Budgies Taxonomy and Genetics
Budgies, or budgerigars, belong to the species Melopsittacus undulatus and are one of 115 species of parakeet, a parrot subgroup.
Budgies are the only species in the genus Melopsittacus, meaning that they don’t have any close relatives in the parrot family, at least compared to the closeness in genetics that other parakeets share.
That said, there’s a lot of genetic diversity within the undulatus species. Budgies usually have a yellow head and throat, with a green chest and white stripes; however, they can also be blue, purple, or white.
Parrots and Crossbreeding
Budgies are one of 393 species of parrot, some of which can breed with each other and some can’t. It depends on how similar the genetics of the two different species are.
Species that can crossbreed with each other typically share a genus and can create a new hybrid species. However, hybridizing parrots must be done very carefully, or else it can result in defects.
In the wild, parrots do mate with others of different species but are more likely to produce fertile offspring when they choose a mate within the same species.
Crossbreeding can bring together the best of two different species, resulting in what’s known as hybrid vigor.
Hybrid vigor results in stronger, longer-living offspring and can create a way for endangered species to pass on their traits to the next generation.
In the best cases, crossbreeding also eliminates the presence of some diseases.
A few well-known species of parrots are actually crossbred. These include:
- Camelot macaws: A crossbreed of Catalonia macaws and scarlet macaws
- Harlequin macaws: A mixture of the blue-and-gold macaw and the green wing macaw
- Catalina macaws: A combination of blue-and-gold and scarlet macaws
Dangers of Crossbreeding
Crossbreeding creates one species out of two and results in a less diverse gene pool in the long run.
This makes the entire population more likely to be wiped out in the presence of disease because they’ll share the same vulnerabilities.
Crossbreeding can also result in offspring with a negative combination of traits. When a breeder selects for one trait, they might accidentally wipe out other traits essential to that species’ survival.
Crossbreeding without enough background knowledge and expertise is extremely dangerous to do as an amateur.
Will Budgies Breed With Other Birds in the Same Cage?
Accidental crossbreeding could create genetic deformities just as easily as purposeful crossbreeding, so it’s essential to know whether your birds are at risk of crossbreeding if you put them together in the same cage.
Budgies are very social birds and bond easily with others, even birds of different species.
While this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll become mates with birds of other species, it’s possible, and there are things you can do to prevent accidental crossbreeding.
The simplest way to discourage crossbreeding is to adopt birds of the same sex. It’s entirely possible for birds of the same sex to bond with each other and become friends, even though they might be competitors in the wild.
Spaying a bird is not a simple procedure and isn’t really an option. However, there are several environmental changes that you can make to discourage breeding behavior. These include:
- Putting your bird to bed by 6 pm
- Keeping your bird away from potential nesting sites (dark, enclosed spaces)
- Discourage behaviors like tail lifting or regurgitating food (mating behaviors)
- Changing the placement and arrangement of the cage
- Asking a veterinarian about hormone injections or other medical treatments
How To Breed Budgies the Right Way
There are multiple ways to breed budgies, and each takes care and patience. Basically, you can select a pair of budgies to breed together, or you can create a budgie colony and allow them to breed.
Selecting a pair is risky because there’s a chance that your birds won’t bond or mate, but colony breeding is risky because it introduces competition and the potential for fighting.
Either way, there are a few steps that you can take to encourage your budgies to breed with each other. Here’s what you should do:
- Wait to encourage breeding behaviors until your budgies are at least one year old.
- Provide a large cage with a height of about 18 inches (45.72 cm).
- Provide a nest box, ideally a wooden-floored box with a hinged lid or no lid at all, like the Petmate Precision Pet Nesting Box.
- Make sure that your budgies have plenty of food, water, and fresh vegetables throughout the mating period, as well as multiple perches, a mineral block, and a cuttlefish.
- If you want to encourage breeding, lightly spray your birds with water; budgies tend to mate during the rainy season.
How To Recognize Signs of Successful Mating
There are many signs that your budgies have started the mating process. For example, a female budgie that’s ready to breed will develop thick, crusted over nostrils.
She’ll then start nesting, rearranging wood chips in the nesting box to prepare the area for eggs.
Once fertilization has happened, an egg will follow within about ten days, one every other day. Throughout this period, the hen will typically spend most of her time sitting on the nest, and it’s best to leave her undisturbed.
How To Look After Newborn Budgie Chicks
Looking after newborn chicks starts with looking after the hen because a hen that’s not well cared for will sometimes take her distress out on her chicks.
Pay attention to whether her nostrils turn blue, a sign that she’s in poor health and needs extra care and possibly veterinary assistance.
Ensure that your hen is feeding the chicks and that the siblings don’t smother each other. They may vary in size, which is completely fine, but they should develop feathers within 10 to 15 days.
When this happens, you should change the bedding and make sure that their limbs are developing properly, too.
To check their limbs and other signs of health, remove the chick from the box gently, and place them in a soft towel inside a bowl.
Once the chicks begin moving out of the nest, start providing them with more food and water to encourage them to wean off their mother. At six weeks, you can move the new birds into larger cages, either independently or together.
Budgies can’t breed with other birds because they aren’t closely related enough to any other birds. However, you can breed different varieties of budgies that vary in color because budgies have diverse genes and traits.
If you do so, make sure that you provide adequate nesting space and do what you can to encourage healthy breeding.