Companion birds are very popular, with Society and Animals declaring them the third most popular pet in America. This is due, at least in part, to the way birds forge close bonds with owners.
Wild budgies live in flocks, and this instinctual behavior has carried over to life in captivity. Budgies love to be around conspecifics, and if this is not an option, they seek the company of favored humans.
A budgie separated from its mother too early in life may even imprint upon a human owner. Imprinting is a special bond where a budgie considers an owner essential to its survival.
However, budgies don’t need to imprint to bond with humans. Once a budgie overcomes its initial shyness and anxiety about living in a new home, it’ll begin showing affection to its owner, such as chirping excitedly, singing happily, preening your hair, and rubbing its head against you.
Forming a bond with a budgie creates a long-lasting friendship based on mutual adoration and companionship. If you care for a budgie and spend time together, it’ll feel close to you.
Do Budgies Recognize Their Owners?
The first step to budgies forming a bond with owners is learning to differentiate one human from another. Avian Biology Research confirms that pigeons recognize and remember human faces; there’s no reason to believe budgies can’t perform the same trick.
Budgies also likely recognize humans by their tone of voice. Budgies are natural mimics; in the wild, males court females by performing note-perfect impersonations of their unique birdsong. This memory for vocalization will also help determine which human is nearby.
These two factors, coupled with the anecdotal evidence supplied by countless owners on how their budgie reacts when they enter a room, suggest that budgies recognize their owners, telling them apart from other humans.
Do Budgies Get Attached To Their Owners?
Budgies are more than capable of growing attached to their owners. Happily, a budgie will make its feelings known when a preferred human enters a room.
To an extent, allowing handling and not hiding from a human is a sign of affection from a budgie. There are more pronounced ways these birds show appreciation.
Signs that a budgie has successfully bonded with a human include:
- Flapping wings and flying to the top of the cage.
- Hanging upside down from the cage ceiling.
- Singing and chirping when you are in the room, especially when you speak.
- Memorizing and repeating words and phrases.
- Landing on your shoulder while exercising.
- Nuzzling your neck and preening you.
If your budgie demonstrates these behaviors, you’ve made it feel safe and secure. However, the special bond between budgie and human can be broken if you betray its trust.
Do Budgies Bond to One Person?
Many budgies have a favorite person they value over anybody else, especially if one person takes care of most of the budgie’s needs, such as feeding and playing together.
If you live with a single budgie in a multi-person household, delegate all tasks surrounding the budgie evenly. If a budgie becomes too reliant on one person, it can shun others.
Fortunately, as budgies are flock animals, they often take a “more the merrier” approach to human relationships. If multiple people share a home, budgies can show affection to all of them to greater or lesser extents, provided that each human also makes an effort.
Be aware that a budgie having a preferred human isn’t the same as imprinting. When a budgie has a favorite person, it grows excited to see them, demonstrating love and affection, but carries on with its life as normal when separated for short periods.
Even the briefest separation can cause significant anxiety and distress if the budgie has imprinted upon a human. This is one of many reasons why budgies shouldn’t be adopted before they’re ready to leave their mothers, which is usually 8–12 weeks after hatching.
Can You Bond with Two Budgies?
Bonding with two budgies is tougher than forming a connection with just one. The main problem you’ll face is that the budgies prefer the company of each other, as they’re the same species.
While budgies don’t always get along when sharing a cage, especially if one is territorial over mutual space, most budgies will welcome the company of a conspecific.
Another note of caution when attempting to bond with two budgies is ensuring both are treated equally. The emotional spectrum of a budgie can include jealousy, and if one budgie is seen to be receiving preferential treatment, the other may react poorly.
If you keep two budgies and wish to remain on friendly terms with both, always offer the same quantities of food, equal levels of petting and grooming, and speak to both in an identical tone.
Do Budgies Miss Their Owners?
Having established that budgies love and bond with their owners, we also need to consider the darker side of this equation. Budgies are social and loathe being alone for long periods, so the absence of a favored human can be keenly felt.
If you work away from home for several hours a day or take multiple vacations per year, consider adopting a second budgie. Once these two birds have bonded, they can keep each other company.
If you’re taking on the care of a budgie whose owner has passed away, anticipate a period of mourning. The budgie may be withdrawn, lethargic, and depressed. Make the budgie as comfortable as possible and be patient while it completes the grieving process.
How To Bond with A Budgie
If you’re keen to bond with a captive budgie, you’ll need to exercise patience. Your budgie will likely fear you initially, and you can’t rush or force the bonding process.
Follow these steps to stand the best chance of forming a positive connection:
Make Your Home Welcoming
Your budgie needs to feel relaxed in your home before it can bond with any of its inhabitants. That means removing any fear triggers from your budgie’s vicinity. Avoid exposing the budgie to:
- Loud noises
- Adverse temperatures
- Other pets
- Strong odors
- Bright colors
The more comfortable your budgie feels in the home, the sooner it’ll adapt. The budgie will begin thinking of you as a source of safety and pleasure, starting the bonding process in earnest.
Budgies love to communicate, and while far from the noisiest of all captive birds, happy and healthy budgies tend to sing, trill, and chirp throughout the day. If you talk back to your budgie, it’ll be delighted. Budgies love to feel included in their owners’ lives.
Use a low, soft tone when talking to a budgie. Loud, booming voices are likely to frighten the bird. Sing if you can. According to Zoo Biology, captive birds often respond positively to music. If you enter a regular dialog with your budgie, you may find that it repeats what you say or sings along with the radio.
Snacks and Treats
Offering treats and snacks to a budgie is often a fast way to garner affection and trust.
Budgies will initially be reluctant to eat from the palm of your hand, as this involves dropping the head and taking its eyes off you. Instead, offer a budgie treats through cage bars.
Once your budgie gets used to your presence, it’ll start associating you with food and, by extension, pleasure. Try to convince a budgie to hop into the palm of your hand and eat a snack directly. Once this occurs, the budgie is well on its way to bonding with you.
Once your budgie is tame, eating together can become a social event. So, offering a snack while you eat will bolster your bond. Just be mindful that budgies can show an unhealthy interest in human food, so don’t share your meals too often.
Training and Handling
Budgies love to please their owners, so training is a win-win. If your budgie is young enough to respond to teaching, you can start potty training and stick training, showing delight when the budgie responds. Aid your bond by teaching a budgie to enjoy handling.
Stick training encourages budgies to approach you when called. The budgie hops onto a stick held against your body and is rewarded when it does so. The stick is removed when the budgie trusts you enough to land directly on your body, often a shoulder.
Earn a budgie’s trust by making it clear that you’ll only resort to handling when necessary. When you need to hold your budgie, do so gently and offer soft, gentle grooming and petting.
Your budgie will likely make it clear where it wants to be petted. Many budgies drop their heads and nuzzle into you, asking for a gentle rub.
How Long Does it Take for Budgies to Bond?
No hard-and-fast rule dictates how long it takes a budgie to warm up to humans.
Some budgies grow comfortable in their surroundings, and with their owners, within two weeks. Others may take longer to feel comfortable around humans.
If your budgie still seems afraid of you after several weeks in your home, consider if you’re inadvertently giving your budgie reasons to distrust you. Have you attempted unnecessary handing, made regular noise, or displayed erratic routines and behaviors?
The history of your budgie may also be playing a role. If a man with a beard previously mistreated a budgie, it might automatically fear all men with facial hair. Budgies have good memories and are unlikely to forget a potential threat to their safety.
If you can’t think of a reason why your budgie has yet to bond with you, remain patient. Your budgie will likely come around eventually. Then, you need to keep working to convince it that you’re not a threat but a source of pleasure.
Budgies are popular pets because they provide warm, loving, and entertaining companionship. You need to earn the affection of a budgie, but once you have done so, you’ll be amply rewarded.