These two budgerigars are the same species, known by the Latin name Melopsittacus undulatus.
English and American budgies are similar in many ways, but they have differences. English budgies are larger, heavier, and more placid. Also, they have more feathers around the head, often covering the eyes.
English budgies are called exhibition budgies (or show budgies), as they enter shows and competitions. American budgies (also known as Australian budgies) are traditional family pets.
This makes American budgies significantly easier to buy, so if you find a bird for sale in a store like PetSmart, it’ll likely be an American budgie. English budgies are often the reserve of specialist breeders.
The good news is that the two birds can become friends and co-exist peacefully in the same home.
Can You Mix American Budgies and English Budgies?
American budgies and English budgies can live together in the same cage. However, you must make certain allowances for the differences between the two birds.
Factors to consider include the following:
- Cage size. As English budgies are bigger than American budgies, you’ll need to provide sufficient space for both birds to move and play freely.
- Gender. Pairing any two budgies creates certain challenges. Two females are likelier to clash over territory, while a mixed-sex pair will likely breed. Two males are the easiest to pair.
- Toys. As intelligent birds, budgies need toys and entertainment. Budgies have varying preferences, but as English budgies are larger in stature, toys should be more durable.
- Lifespan. English budgies don’t live as long as American budgies due to inbreeding. As per the Journal of Ornithology, bereavement can leave the other budgie depressed.
If you’re to house an English budgie with an American budgie, they must be introduced correctly.
Physical Differences Between English and American Budgies
If you pair up an English budgie with an American budgie, here are the size differences:
|English Budgies||American Budgies|
|Average Size:||Up to 12 inches||Up to 9 inches|
|Average Weight:||Up to 65 grams (2.2 oz)||Up to 40 grams (1.4 oz)|
|Features:||More head feathers, often covering the eyes.||Brighter plumage with fewer markings.|
Although English budgies are larger, they’re gentle giants.
English vs. American Budgie Personality Differences
It’s not just physicality that separates English budgies and American budgies.
These birds also have slightly different personalities and adapt differently to life as pets. They’ll likely co-exist peacefully, but you may need to make some allowances.
The difference is that English budgies are calmer and quieter, which is why they’re such good pets.
Ensure that the American budgie doesn’t dominate the English budgie. While English budgies are larger in stature, they can fall victim to territorial bullying.
The main difference between English and American budgies is their temperament. Both birds can be sweet and loving, but English budgies are more friendly and even-tempered.
English budgies rarely bite or nip other birds or humans. However, you’ll need to tame an American budgie before they realize you’re not a threat. Once tamed, they become more relaxed.
The main reason that English budgies are less aggressive is they’re less skittish. If your American budgie is scared of everything, it’ll react defensively to any stimuli, while English budgies are calmer birds.
If your English budgie does become more aggressive, consider why this is the case. If the English budgie is in good health, it may be learning bad habits from a conspecific.
Tolerance for Handling
English budgies welcome handling and human interaction much sooner than American budgies because it comes more naturally to them.
Take this into consideration when interacting with the two budgies. Just because an English budgie likes to be handled doesn’t mean an American budgie will welcome human interaction as soon.
You can train a budgie to accept handling with certain limitations. The important thing is allowing the bird to come to you based on its comfort level.
Both English and American budgies can talk, but English budgies are quieter. While an American budgie will squawk, chirp, and chatter all day, English budgies are likelier to speak.
This doesn’t mean that an English budgie should be mute. If your budgie once made noise, but this stopped abruptly, something is amiss, such as a respiratory infection.
Equally, don’t be surprised if your English budgie becomes noisier and more talkative once paired with an American budgie. The two birds will communicate with each other through chirping and singing.
Both budgies must be allowed out of the cage daily. How the two birds choose to exercise is likely to differ slightly. An American budgie will fly (if its wings haven’t been clipped), while an English budgie is likelier to hop and swing.
This is due to their size discrepancy. The smaller, lighter American budgie is slightly more aerodynamic. English budgies can fly but may not opt to do so upon leaving the cage.
Factor this into exercise by allowing your English budgie to hop around different, safe surfaces. Budgies are prone to conditions that affect the feet, such as bumblefoot.
Keep this movement style in mind when decorating a cage, as English budgies will benefit from a range of sturdy perches to hop and swing to and from.
Can English and American Budgies Breed?
Despite the size differences, English and American budgies can breed. You can be confident that the two budgies aren’t related by blood, so avoiding inbreeding is easier.
Spaying or neutering isn’t an option unless a bird’s health is in danger, so separating mixed-sex pairs during the summer months is the only way to stop budgies from mating.
Wild budgies mate between October and March, which is the summer season in the southern hemisphere. If you live in the United States or Europe, keep your budgies apart between March and October. Budgies are less likely to breed in cooler, darker months.
Remain watchful of your budgies if you live in a high rainfall country, as budgies are instinctively driven to mate after a rainy season because heavy rainfall suggests that food will be plentiful.
English and American budgies are of the same species, but this doesn’t make them identical. If you factor variance in size and temperament into living conditions, these budgies can get along well.