A bird’s brain is small compared to a mammal’s brain.
However, budgies are intelligent creatures, capable of imitating different sounds and words, remembering events, and planning for the future.
Budgies are among the smartest birds, able to learn their name, songs, tricks, and talk. They can form long-term memories, form strong emotional bonds, and resolve problems.
Because budgies are such vocal and talkative birds, their ability to communicate with and understand their owners is a sign of intelligence.
However, many people feel that budgies aren’t as smart as dogs or cats.
What Are the Smartest Pet Birds?
Some species of birds are more capable of retaining information than others.
The birds that consistently make the smart pet birds list include:
- African greys
African grey parrots were found to perform cognitive tasks at or beyond the level of a 5-year-old human. According to Harvard, the study consisted of picking out cups that had treat rewards hidden in them.
When presented with two separate cups and shown that one didn’t have a treat, the African grey would pick the other cup to earn the reward. Similar results were shown when additional cups were added.
Budgies are just one of many Psittacidae species that display a higher level of intelligence and innovativeness than previously thought. This is mainly due to the budgie’s forebrain, which is like the human prefrontal cortex. It’s capable of higher cognitive ability and function.
The budgie can do the following:
- Imitate others around it
- Memorize various commands
- Produce vocalizations with different meanings
- Perform complex tasks involving human grammar structure
Are Budgies Smarter than Cockatiels?
Budgies and cockatiels are about the same, intelligence-wise, and they’re capable of learning the same tricks and routines.
Animal Learning and Behavior found that four Psittacidae species could maintain object permanence at least at the same level as a 2-year-old human child. This included the African grey, Illiger mini macaw, budgie, and cockatiel.
Cockatiels and budgies are quite similar birds, with the main differences between them being their size and energy levels. Cockatiels are bigger birds and far more laid-back, whereas budgies are much smaller and more energetic.
That’s not to say that cockatiels will be too lazy to learn tricks. You need to take these birds’ inherent natures into account when you train them to do certain tricks.
Neither bird is truly smarter than the other. In practice, it mostly depends on the level of training and dedication a budgie or cockatiel owner puts into teaching their birds new tricks.
Are Budgies Smarter Than Chickens?
Chickens are often thought to be not all that bright, but this is untrue. They’re quite smart and sensitive to the world around them.
Chickens can even learn to recognize their owners and perform basic arithmetic. They’re known to show restraint and self-control when they know they can get a better food reward.
Of course, budgies are similarly attuned to their human owners and can learn other types of tricks. However, these tricks will differ from those that you might teach a chicken.
Budgies focus more on the sounds around them, differentiating between different sounds that vary in pitch and intensity. Budgies can learn to talk after hearing human words a few times or even sing notes of a song back to you.
How Clever Are Budgies?
Budgies are clever and will be able to pick up on many different sounds and commands. You may even hear your budgie mimicking noises it hears around it.
This imitation is a budgie’s way of familiarizing itself with its environment and feeling closer to its flock. Budgie flocks will often mimic one another to foster a sense of community and signal each other about possible predators nearby. They will even learn to speak if you train them enough.
Intelligence is seen as an attractive trait in mates. Science found that female budgies favored potential mates that displayed skill in problem-solving. This was conducted after the female had shown a preference for certain males.
When the non-preferred male showed he could solve a problem that the preferred male couldn’t, the female expressed more interest in the male who solved the problem instead.
Intelligence in budgies is measured through their innovativeness or problem-solving skills in many intelligence studies. Keep in mind that this is just one example of intelligence and doesn’t necessarily mean that your budgie is smarter than any other.
Are Budgies as Smart as Dogs?
Dogs are commonly thought to be fairly smart animals, given the fact that they are often taught tricks and how to perform certain chores (such as border collies helping to herd sheep). Of course, budgies are just as capable of learning tricks.
When comparing man’s best friend to your pet budgie, however, determining the smarter species solely lies in what you consider a sign of intelligence.
There are many different ways to display intelligence in animals, including:
- Pattern recognition and other memory-related tasks
- Self-awareness or emotional intelligence
Both dogs and budgies will display these skills in some form or another. However, in direct comparison, many budgies will have a slight edge over dogs.
Unlike dogs, budgies can accurately communicate what they want or need from their human owners. They can learn far more words and commands and will even talk with you to some extent.
Some dog owners might teach their pets to press buttons that say certain words to communicate with their owners. However, there are no comprehensive studies on how many words dogs can retain.
Budgies are more adept at deciphering different words. They’re even capable of talking to their owners about their needs in a basic capacity.
There’s also a measure of self-awareness that determines intelligence. When presented with a mirrored image of themselves, many animal species fail to recognize that the being in the mirror is themselves.
According to Ethology Ecology & Evolution, dogs consistently fail this test.
Are Budgies Smarter than Cats?
Though cats aren’t known for performing tricks on command, you can train them to perform certain tasks (i.e., potty-training in its litter box or scratching a post).
Cats have excellent short-term and long-term memory and can adapt to new situations. Many studies find that cats are better at problem-solving than dogs.
Like dogs, cats aren’t as adept at verbally communicating their needs to their owners as budgies. This ability to communicate with their human owners may put budgies slightly above both cats and dogs on an intelligence scale.
How Smart are Budgies Compared to Humans?
Human brains are complex organs that researchers don’t yet fully understand.
Of course, because human brains are so much larger in comparison, you might think your budgie isn’t able to form complex thoughts, plans, or learn much. However, budgies have proven themselves to be as intelligent as human toddlers.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, budgies can understand basic grammar structures and can even string together learned words in the correct order.
This learning process resembles analogical reasoning, which many researchers once thought to only belong to humans and a few other animal species. This is especially significant since only mammals such as rats or monkeys could perform that well on a grammar test of similar difficulty.
Indeed, if you compare budgies’ language intelligence to that of toddlers, budgies tend to be measurably smarter in each comparative grammar test.
It’s helpful to look at the general cognitive abilities of the average toddler, the average 5-year-old, and the average budgie.
By the age of 2, toddlers can understand and use basic words together.
You’ll also notice your toddler problem-solving on their own. They’re willing to experiment with new things more often and pick out favorite toys from others.
Human children start to gain more awareness of their surroundings and understand the difference between fiction and reality by this age.
Five-year-olds are also capable of empathizing with others and communicating their likes and dislikes. However, their vocabulary won’t be large, and they’ll not understand abstract concepts.
Trained budgies are far cleverer than the average human toddler.
Budgies can maintain object permanence and figure out complex puzzles that many human toddlers cannot reason out themselves.
While they may not be as verbal as a human 5-year-old, budgies can understand enough human grammar structure to be comfortable learning novel words and using them correctly.
Your pet budgie’s brain may be small in size, but don’t underestimate its intelligence. Budgies are smart birds, especially when compared to other common household pets.
Training your budgie to understand human language will take time and effort. However, a budgie can learn how to talk and sing with you if you provide consistent training.