Budgies are small birds, but this doesn’t mean they’re not smart.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society claims that birds have brains of proportionate size to apes, and budgies are held in high regard when it comes to avian intelligence.
It’s believed that budgies retain memories for a long time, potentially their entire lifespan, if the information is deemed sufficiently important to their survival.
Budgies repeat and imitate sounds, including the calls of conspecifics and words used by human owners. Also, budgies like disentangling puzzles in a cage, using their memory for problem-solving.
Their memory ensures that budgies recognize and remember their owners by face and voice.
How Long Is A Budgie’s Memory?
The exact memory span of budgies hasn’t been scientifically proven.
However, the study of wild budgies and anecdotal evidence of owners means the answer to the question, “do budgies have a short-term memory” is answered by their behavior.
One example of a budgie retaining memory is during the breeding season.
Budgies are natural mimics, and this is helpful when seeking a mate. As per Animal Behavior, aspiring suitors impress female budgies by imitating their birdsong.
Budgies don’t just imitate each other; they demonstrate memory recall by repeating words they hear human owners use in the home and on TV.
This makes it easier for a budgie to imprint upon a human and gain trust. However, if you hurt or upset a budgie somehow, it’ll recall the negative experience.
What Do Budgies Remember?
Budgies are prey animals, so they instinctively remember anything important to their survival.
Examples of things that a budgie will memorize include:
- Safe, warm, and dry nesting locations in hollow tree trunks and wall cavities.
- Areas populated by predators and when they’re most active.
- Where they can find reliable sources of food and water.
- Negative experiences, such as mistreatment and physical accidents.
- Sounds, songs, and words that they regularly hear.
Anything deemed important to a budgie’s life, positive or negative, will be memorized.
Do Budgies Remember Each Other?
Budgies that cross paths often remember each other. As per the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, these memories are linked to shared contact calls.
Remembering and identifying another budgie’s song helps them locate flock members if they get lost.
A budgie will also remember a conspecific that it disliked. If one budgie bullies another, the victim will remember to keep a safe distance.
Sibling budgies will often bond and remember each other. Unfortunately, when both budgies achieve sexual maturity, human taboos surrounding sibling mating will cease.
When it comes to a budgie’s parents, this bonding is known as imprinting.
According to the Frontiers in Physiology, young budgies imprint upon somebody or something it considers vital for survival. If the budgie is separated too soon, this could be a parent or human owner.
Budgies also remember conspecifics that leave their side. If your bonded budgies share a cage, expect a period of mourning if one of them dies or is rehomed.
Do Budgies Remember Owners?
Budgies have an instinctive fear of unfamiliar humans, which will change once you develop a bond with a budgie. This will remember which humans are sources of pleasure and safety.
You don’t need to live with a budgie, or be by its side 24/7, to be remembered. Budgies remember any human that had an impact on them. You’ll know if a budgie remembers you by its body language.
If the budgie is excited to see you, it’ll hop from foot to foot, chirp, flap its wings, and wag its tail feathers. If the budgie carries negative memories of you, it’s more likely to hide or turn its back on you.
This means budgies miss favored humans that stay away for prolonged periods.
Do Budgies Recognize Human Faces?
Budgies remember human faces, scents, and mannerisms, so they won’t be confused by changes in your appearance. Dying your hair, or growing or shaving off facial hair, won’t impact a budgie’s recognition.
Changing your clothes won’t impact a budgie’s memory of you, but they can be sensitive to some colors.
If you have a good relationship with a budgie, it may verbalize in your presence.
Try to teach a budgie your name, and it may repeat it when you enter a room. Keep the name to one syllable if possible, as budgies struggle with long, complex words or sentences.
Do Budgies Recognize Human Voices?
Budgies remember the voice of an owner and other residents of a home. Budgies constantly listen to everything around them, taking in and memorizing the sound of human words and language.
Budgies occasionally repeat words used by human owners. This suggests they remember words, even if they don’t understand the meaning.
With training and patience, budgies can be taught to respond to commands. For example, you’ll be able to toilet train a budgie using trigger words.
As P and T are hard consonants, budgies will find it easier to remember any word that contains these sounds. That’s handy, as it makes “PoTTy” a clear command.
You could make it easier for your budgie to understand you by repeating the word rhythmically. “Potty” could become “pot-pot-pot.” Clicker training alongside vocal commands also works for the same reason.
It’s not necessarily the word itself that budgies remember. Instead, it’ll recall the series of sounds used in conjunction. Budgies find hard consonant sounds easiest to differentiate, remember, and repeat.
As per the Journal of the Phonetic Society of Japan, budgies find it easier to learn and remember rhythmic, repetitive sounds, including human speech.
Combining these approaches gives your budgie the best chance to remember and learn new words.
How Many Words Can Budgies Learn?
A budgie named Puck holds the world record for the largest vocabulary in a bird, as Puck enunciated 1,728 unique words. The average captive budgie can learn around 100 words. If a budgie isn’t taught words, it won’t remember any.
If the bird finds the word interesting or pleasing to the ear, it’ll be memorized for imitation and future use. Budgies don’t use human words to make conversation – they just repeat.
Your facial expressions while using certain words will likely affect how a budgie remembers them. The budgie associates the sound with pleasure and joy if you smile while you use a word or offer a treat.
Be mindful of what you say around a budgie. You don’t get to pick and choose the words that your budgie decides to imitate. If your budgie finds profanity fun, it could be very embarrassing.
Never underestimate the memory span of a budgie. These are intelligent birds, governed by survival instinct and capable of forming complex emotional bonds with other budgies and humans.