Pet budgies have an average lifespan of 5-8 years. That seems like a long time, but once you’ve grown fond of a pet bird, it’ll feel like the blink of an eye.
Adopt a budgie that’s aged 8–12 weeks old. Before this, it won’t be weaned or equipped to leave its mother. A budgie adopted before this age is likely to experience behavioral problems.
Most budgies sold in major pet store chains fulfill this requirement. You can ask for proof of the budgie’s age, although stores aren’t obligated to provide this information.
If you buy a budgie from a private seller or a smaller, independent pet store, there’s a chance it’ll be older. Older budgies need a loving family, but they’ll be harder to tame.
How Old Should A Budgie Be When You Buy it?
Never buy a budgie younger than 8 weeks old; this is about the age that a budgie would fly the nest in the wild. However, the budgie will still be young enough to be socialized and trained.
If you want a budgie, find one that’s 8–12 weeks. This is the ideal time that a budgie is weaned and ready to leave its mother and siblings, but young and pliable enough to accept training.
Your young budgie will be scared and nervous when you bring it home. This is expected and will be the same at any age, as budgies need time to adapt to life in a human home.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that older budgies are more resilient.
Why Can’t I Buy a Newborn Budgie?
An irresponsible breeder or pet store may try to sell you a budgie younger than eight weeks old.
If budgies are separated from their mother too soon, they often become anxious and nervous adults. It’ll lack essential life skills and confidence. Also, it’ll likely struggle with sharing space with other budgies.
If a young budgie hasn’t finished weaning, you’ll need to meet its unique feeding needs. Budgies aged below 8 weeks aren’t ready for solid food.
They need to be hand-fed formula every 3 – 4 hours for 4 weeks, then every 5 hours until 8 weeks.
Can I Purchase an Older Budgie?
You’ll likely struggle to find a senior budgie at a store like PetSmart.
These large, national chains get new budgies from preferred breeders and understand that most customers want a younger budgie.
You may find older budgies for sale in independent pet shops, which are usually labeled as several years old. Alternatively, you’ll likely find older budgies for free adoption at animal shelters.
It’s admirable to take on the care of an older budgie but be aware that it’ll come with challenges.
Older budgies are set in their ways and less pliable regarding training. If the budgie dislikes handling, it’s unlikely to change under your care, and a budgie accustomed to living alone may not want a shared cage.
Older budgies may also carry trauma from their past. Budgies have an impressive memory and can recall mistreatment from a previous owner. If a former owner treated the budgie well, it may miss them and grow depressed, rejecting new human companions.
How Old Are Budgies in Pet Stores?
Budgies available for sale in major pet store chains are 8-12 weeks old. You may find younger budgies in these stores, but they won’t be for sale. Usually, a sign will explain when they’ll be ready for rehoming.
Once budgies grow older than, say, six months, most pet stores cut their losses and move them on. The budgies may be sold to private breeders at a reduced rate, redistributed to stores that can still sell older birds, or donated to wildlife centers.
If shopping at an independent pet store, the age ranges of the budgies can vary more. A smaller, family-run enterprise will not have as many breeder contacts as a national chain. They may only order additional budgies when an entire family has sold.
If a budgie is a mother to chicks in a store, it’ll be older than 1 year. Female budgies take this long to become ready for mating and breeding.
How To Age A Budgie
If you’re dubious about the age of a budge given by a breeder or pet shop, or you have adopted a bird from a shelter and want an approximate idea of its age, there are ways to age budgies.
If you buy a budgie from a breeder who is a member of the American Budgerigar Society (ABS), look for a band on the budgie’s left leg. This color will inform you of the year the budgie was hatched, but not the month.
The band colors relate to the following years:
|Year of Hatching||Color of Band|
If your budgie doesn’t have a band on its leg, or it’s dated to the current year, but you’d like exact birth date, you can estimate a budgie’s age based on certain physical characteristics.
While it’s easy to assume that an active budgie is young and a lethargic budgie is older, that’s not necessarily the case. You may be catching a hyperactive baby budgie in a rare moment of post-exercise downtime, or the bird could be depressed by its surroundings.
Instead of making snap judgments, investigate these three physical traits. These aren’t an exact science but will indicate a budgie’s age in months and weeks instead of years.
Forehead (Cap) Feathers
Peek at the forehead of a budgie, also known as the cap. If the budgie is younger than 16 weeks old, it’ll have striped feathers on the head. These could be any color but will be impossible to miss.
After 3-4 months, a budgie will experience its first molt. As part of this molt, the striped feathers will fall from the cap, becoming a smooth, singular color. You can use this to theoretically age a bird as older than 4 months.
Some budgies molt earlier, but it’s likelier than a budgie’s first molt will be halted or delayed due to stress. If the bird is struggling with life in a pet store, surrounded by constant noise and other animals, it may not have molted yet and be older than you thought.
Equally, as per Nature Communications, the temperature of the budgie’s surroundings may impact molting. If a shop is cool or fans surround the cage, the budgie will shed fewer feathers to keep warm.
Iris Ring in the Eyes
Look closely into its eyes. If these eyes are entirely black, without any sign of an iris, the budgie is almost certainly younger than 4 months.
If the budgie has the hint of an iris ring around coal-black eyes, it is likelier to be closer to 6 months old. After this point, the iris becomes clearer between 6–8 months of age.
A bright, prominent white iris ring suggests the budgie is 8 months or older.
Beak and Ceres
Does your budgie have a dark, likely black but possibly purple or red, beak?
If so, it is almost certainly younger than 12 weeks old. This coloration is caused by an excess of melanin that’s yet to be absorbed by the body.
The same applies to the cere – the fleshy part just above the beak that could be considered a bird’s nose. The cere, like the beak, starts dark and gradually fades – typically after around 4 months.
Once a budgie ages into its pigmentation, the beak and cere will considerably lighten in color. Usually, they’ll match the feathers. So, a green budgie will have a green-yellow beak and cere, but it depends upon the mutation.
If you adopt a budgie that’s too young, it’ll lack the basic skills needed to flourish, even in captivity. Wait too long, and budgies grow set in their ways and become difficult to train.
The best age to get a new budgie is when it’s 8–12 weeks old.