There are toys with reflective surfaces, perches attached to mirrors, and mirrors fastened to the bars of the cage. Unfortunately, some budgies become obsessed with mirrors.
Wild budgies live in large colonies, so giving your pet budgie a mirror can create the illusion of companionship, alleviating feelings of loneliness.
However, mirrors can lead to unhealthy behaviors in budgies, such as territoriality and aggression. So, if that happens, you should remove the mirror.
You can leave the mirror inside the cage if your budgie doesn’t appear stressed, angry, or jealous.
Do Budgies Pass The Mirror Test?
The mirror test is a way to assess whether an animal can recognize its reflection. It measures self-awareness, providing clues regarding a species’s cognitive and physiological abilities.
How does the mirror test work? Under anesthetics, an animal is given a red mark on its body where it cannot normally see. Then, the animal is presented with a mirror. If it interacts with the mark on its body, it has passed the mirror test.
Few species have passed the mirror test. It’s believed that only animals with significant cognitive capabilities can pass this experiment, such as apes, dolphins, and elephants. Even then, not all members of the species pass.
According to PLoS Biology, magpies are believed to pass the mirror test. However, budgies have yet to recognize the bird in the mirror as themselves and not a second bird.
Why Do Budgies Have Mirrors?
Their inability to pass the mirror test is why placing mirrors in a budgie’s cage works.
Because budgies don’t understand that the mirror is just a reflection of themselves, they believe that the mirror is another budgie. With a mirror in a cage, a budgie often feels less alone.
Many people recommend getting at least two budgies. However, there are many reasons why a budgie may be kept alone in its cage.
You may not have the time, money, space, or resources to care for another budgie. Maybe your pair was recently split up because they were quarreling.
When that’s the case, many owners turn to mirrors. Some believe that seeing another budgie in the cage makes them feel less alone, but complications and problems can sometimes arise.
Is A Mirror Bad For Budgies?
Owners are discouraged from adding a mirror to their budgie’s cage for the following reasons:
A budgie’s sharp beak or an item falling against a mirror could cause breakage. If that happens, shards of glass or sharp plastic can fall into the cage, making each piece a source of danger.
Shards of glass can land in food or water bowls. If ingested, it could cause significant internal damage. Also, they can attach to perches and toys, injuring a budgie’s feet.
Budgies can get into disagreements with other birds, and this can happen when they confuse their reflection in a mirror with a real budgie.
Small disagreements throughout the day are normal and to be expected. However, if you notice that your budgie constantly attacks its mirror, to the point that you’re worried it’ll break, that’s a problem.
Constant fights are a sign of increased aggression, which is usually how budgies express stress and boredom. This aggression could lead to other harmful behaviors, like feather plucking.
If you believe this is the reason for your budgie’s hostility, remove the mirror and consider getting them a companion. At the very least, ensure that your budgie gets more playtime and interaction from you.
Budgies can grow obsessed with their mirror friends and try to court them, so they feed the mirror.
While this may seem harmless, feeding each other is an advanced stage in a budgie’s mating ritual. With the other budgie mirroring all of its actions, reciprocating perfectly, this can advance quickly.
Once the budgie can’t mate with its reflection, it can grow frustrated or feel rejected. This can lead to other behavioral problems as the budgie acts out.
Your budgie will usually stop after attempting to feed its mate once or twice. After all, a mirror can’t eat its food, and your budgie will take this as a sign of rejection.
However, if your budgie continues feeding the mirror, you may have problems. This is especially true if your budgie continually regurgitates food for its mirror.
Do Budgies Need A Mirror?
It’s much better to give your budgie the interaction it needs. Ideally, your budgie should have another budgie in its cage to interact with and play together.
Should I Remove My Budgie’s Mirror?
Some budgies are perfectly fine with a mirror in their cage. If your budgie currently has a mirror, there’s no immediate need to remove it.
However, if your budgie is exhibiting the following behaviors, remove it from the cage:
- Fighting with the mirror
- Feeding the mirror
- Symptoms of stress
Usually, it’s a good idea to remove the mirror from the cage.
So, you’ve chosen to remove your budgie’s mirror. It may be the right thing to do, but now your budgie is sad and friendless. What do you do?
Here are some alternatives to mirrors for budgies:
Your budgie is sad that it’s lost a friend, but it can count on you. Spend time with your budgie. Vets recommend at least 15 minutes of playtime with your budgie 2-3 times a day.
Foraging toys, perches, and playgrounds are ideal, as they keep your budgie mentally stimulated and physically active. Get a few toys of each type, and put them on rotation.
Allow your budgie to listen to or watch things in its environment.
Allow it to watch TV with you or listen to the radio. You can also do your work beside your budgie while it interacts with the things in its environment.
While another budgie is the best solution to your budgie’s problems, not everyone can care for two budgies. However, it’s the most effective solution to boredom and loneliness.
How To Remove Mirrors
It is safe to remove mirrors. However, if your budgie is going through some other change, like moving house or bereavement, allow it to deal with the stress of this change first.
Removing a budgie’s mirror involves taking away your budgie’s friend. If your budgie is more somber than usual, it’s going through a grieving phase, but this will diminish over the coming weeks.