Budgies convey their emotions through vocalizations and body language cues. So, you may have seen your budgie puff up its feathers, which is an action that has various meanings.
To maintain their body temperature, budgies puff their feathers up. Fluffy, full-looking feathers trap warm air, preventing heat loss in cold environments.
Sometimes, budgies may be expressing happiness, preening their feathers, attempting to impress a mate, showing fear, feeling anxious, or sick.
If a budgie is shivering while puffed up, increase the room’s temperature. Budgies that puff up, scream, and pace may be upset, while those who puff up and chirp seek to look more impressive.
Reasons Why Budgies Fluff Their Feathers
There are positive and negative reasons for puffed-up feathers, including:
Body Temperature Regulation
Budgies fluff their feathers when they feel hot or cold.
Their feathers act as a special warming layer that’s not dissimilar from fur. However, feathers stand out because budgies can fluff them up to trap air pockets in-between. The budgie’s body heat warms up this air and keeps it feeling warm and comfortable.
Conversely, a budgie may shake and fluff its feathers to cool down. This behavior dissipates the warm air pockets, allowing cooler air to take its place. Think of it like repeatedly tugging at the front of your shirt on a hot day to create airflow and cool down your skin.
Check the ambient temperature if you suspect your budgie is fluffing its feathers for either reason. Budgies are most comfortable at 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperatures approaching 85 degrees may cause your budgie to feel overheated, while temperatures dropping down to 60 degrees will make a budgie feel chilly.
Budgies are very social birds that enjoy spreading their joy to others. So, they may express their joy by puffing up their feathers.
This can be heartwarming if your budgie puffs up once you enter the room. Other body language cues usually accompany this behavior, such as tail wagging and chirping.
Young budgies may have difficulty expressing themselves compared to adults.
They may engage in certain behaviors without realizing it. Many owners have noted that young budgies twitch their wings and puff out their feathers when hungry or anticipating food.
Budgies engage in frequent preening, which involves tidying and cleaning their feathers using their beak. Budgies coat part of their beak in special oil secreted by a gland near the base of their tail, which they spread across each feather individually.
A budgie will likely puff up its feathers at some point to preen all of the layers evenly. You can tell if your budgie is preening itself by observing whether it’s handling its feathers using its beak.
Budgies will puff up their feathers in a show of aggression, as it makes them look larger.
This is unlike affectionate puffing, which is visible all over the body. Instead, aggression-related puffing is more localized. An angry budgie may puff up the feathers under its neck and the area between its wings, but not elsewhere.
In addition, the budgie may ruffle the feathers on its head and make screeching noises when it feels threatened. If your budgie does this when you enter the room, it may be scared by your presence.
Budgies may get into fights with other birds they are housed with. Owners should check if their budgie feels threatened by any other cage mates or birds in their vicinity.
Separate them if they display this behavior frequently.
In some cases, illness can leave a budgie unable to groom and preen itself properly.
This can give its feathers a ruffled and untidy appearance that could be mistaken for puffing. According to Pet Bird Diseases and Care, ruffled feathers are common among sick birds.
If you suspect your budgie is ruffling its feathers because it’s sick, look for these symptoms:
- Trouble balancing on its perch
- Audible breathing
- Decreased appetite
- Staying at the bottom of its cage
- Unusual mucus discharge from nostrils
- Stool color and texture changes
If you suspect your budgie is ill, take it to a veterinarian.
Do Budgies Puff Up When Molting?
Aside from preening, budgies go through a molting process.
Molting takes 2-3 weeks and happens about 1-3 times a year. During a molt, budgies will lose their feathers in sequence and regrow them as a healthier, more vibrant plumage.
A budgie isn’t likely to puff up its feathers during the molting process. The rare exception may occur if the budgie is trying to compensate for a bare patch.
It’ll do this by puffing up feathers in the surrounding area. However, most budgies have no issue displaying a bare or spiky feather during a molt.
Why Does My Budgie Fluff up and Shake?
If your budgie fluffs up and shakes, it may be attempting to regulate its internal body temperature.
Budgies often use fluffing to trap air pockets between the feathers to stay warm. Similarly, a budgie that fluffs and shakes may be attempting to dissipate these air pockets to cool down.
Owners should note that a budgie that frequently puffs up and shivers may be unwell.
Budgie Fluffed Up And Sleeping
If you see a budgie sleeping with its feathers puffed up, it may just be trying to get comfortable.
During cooler nights, it’ll also be regulating its body temperature. Budgies sleep for 10-12 hours a day, so it’s normal for them to adopt a position that provides more restful sleep.
Budgie Keeps Ruffling Feathers
A budgie that keeps ruffling its feathers means there’s a persistent issue. This may be with the budgie itself or its living environment.
For example, the budgie may be attempting to warm up or cool off. Check that the room temperature is comfortable. There may be drafts cutting through, or the budgie may be too close to a sunny window.
A budgie could have something wrong with its feathers, such as a mite infestation. You can identify mite problems by looking for crusty patches on the beak, legs, and feet.
Why Do Budgies Puff up Their Head Feathers?
Budgies usually puff up their head feathers to intimidate rival birds. Also, aggression-related puffing is accompanied by screeching and side-to-side pacing.
Budgies that puff up their head feathers could also be attempting to impress another budgie. If so, this behavior will be accompanied by tail wagging and chirping.
Look for the accompanying signs to determine why your budgie’s feathers are puffed up. If there are signs of illness, chills or overheating, and aggression, you’ll need to intervene.
Usually, a budgie preening its feathers is happy, seeking to stay warm, or wants to impress a mate.