Parent budgies meet the day-to-day care needs of their chicks during the 5 stages of development: neonate, nestling, fledgling, weanling, and juvenile.
Budgie chicks normally leave the nest after 30 to 40 days, but some baby budgies take longer to wean than others, needing to spend longer with their parents to thrive as adults.
In captivity, some owners wait 12 weeks before separating baby budgies from their parents. The budgies will still be juveniles, as they don’t reach adulthood until they’re 8 months old.
Baby Budgie Growth Stages
Budgies go through 5 growth and development stages:
Stage 1 – Neonate
Neonate budgies have just hatched from the egg, so they’re blind, deaf, and featherless. The neonate will also be incapable of eating solid food.
The mother will remain in the nest, ensuring the hatchlings are protected. The father will protect the nest from predatory threats and provide the mother and chicks with nutritious food.
How Do Budgies Keep Their Babies Warm?
As baby budgies aren’t born with feathers, they rely upon the body temperature of their mother for warmth. The mother won’t leave her young, so you’ll find them huddled together.
If you find a featherless budgie that has fallen from its nest, or you’re raising a budgie in captivity that the mother has rejected, provide an ambient temperature of 98OF with no draughts.
How Do Budgies Feed Their Babies?
As the mother stays with the chicks, she relies upon her mate to bring food to the nest. The male budgie will return with enough food to feed the mother, which she uses to nourish her young.
Budgie neonates feed on an equivalent of milk from their mother, but unlike mammals, this milk isn’t released from a teat. Instead, it’s a liquidated form of food regurgitated from the crop.
Stage 2 – Nestling
At this point, this budgie is slightly more aware of its surroundings. Around day 7 of its life, a nestling can lift its head independently. Nestlings also open their eyes and start to see the world around them.
Nestlings don’t yet have feathers, but they start to show a thin coating of hair, which means that they’ll soon begin to sprout. A nestling may waddle and walk around a nest, but it’s not yet ready to take flight.
Budgies imprint during the nestling stage. Ordinarily, a nestling will imprint upon its mother, understanding that this adult bird will provide food, protection, and warmth.
If the nestling has been rejected by its mother or removed too soon, it may imprint upon a human carer.
AFA Watchbird warns that nestlings that imprint upon humans can exhibit problematic behaviors later in life. They have an insecure attachment and have not learned essential life skills.
Stage 3 – Fledgling
If you’re wondering, “when do baby budgies get their feathers?” it’s during the fledgling stage. While these feathers start off stubby, they grow into down and plumage.
Fledglings are more socially active, looking to initiate play and social contact with siblings and parents. Animal Behavior explains that this is a critical stage in a budgie’s development.
Fledglings are mobile, so they hop, skip, and flutter on the edge of the nest. The fledgling isn’t quite ready to take to the skies and fly, but that comes next. As the fledgling is more interested in movement, it may eat less. Monitor the budgie’s weight, ensuring it doesn’t grow too skinny.
As fledglings are more explorative and playful, they also place themselves in unwitting danger. A fledgling could fall from a nest while attempting to learn how to fly.
Can I Help a Baby Budgie That Fell Out of a Nest?
If you find a budgie that has fallen from a nest, the best course of action is to return it.
Avoid touching the budgie with your bare hands if you can. An unfamiliar scent may cause the hen to panic, fearing that a predator has uncovered her nest.
If you can’t find the nest, you may wish to consider raising the budgie by hand. This should only be considered an emergency measure, as budgies are always better off being raised by their mothers.
Stage 4 – Weanling
The next question to ask in raising baby budgies is, “when are baby budgies weaned?” This is stage 4 of the baby budgie growth stage when the budgie becomes a weanling.
Budgies become weanlings 3-4 weeks after hatching, which is when the budgie no longer relies on its mother to feed it from the crop. It can move freely around the nest, remaining independently warm, and seek and consume solid food.
As a weanling can leave the nest for a short time, it’ll seek out and forage for food. Siblings enjoying a similar growth cycle may forage together.
According to The Auk, budgies often seek food in a group but rarely communicate a source to rival flocks.
Stage 5 – Juvenile
The budgie isn’t yet sexually mature but will likely leave the nest to find a new home and flock. The juvenile’s mother and father will have ceased parental responsibilities.
Juvenile budgies are usually ready to be separated from their mothers when raised in captivity. As the maternal instincts of a budgie start to dissipate, offspring will instead be seen as rivals or potential mates. Inbreeding can arise in mixed-sex captive budgies that share a cage.
In the wild, juveniles that fly the nest are unlikely to see their parents again. As budgie nests are transient, the next set of eggs will likely be laid in a different location. Additionally, female budgies often fly to a new location between mating seasons to reduce the risk of inbreeding.
How Do Budgies Take Care of Their Babies?
Mother and father budgies usually have innate instincts to care for their young.
Even though budgies don’t necessarily mate for life, they’re monogamous when raising hatchlings. A male that sires offspring will play his part in their upbringing.
Whether in the wild or captivity, mother budgies will take care of their young until it is time to fly the next. After this point, the relationship can change from familial to rivalry.
Do Mother Budgies Reject Their Babies?
It is rare, but sometimes a mother budgie will reject her offspring and refuse to raise them. This may occur in a young budgie who lacks the maturity to understand she has given birth.
A more mature budgie may be selective about which chicks she feeds and nurtures. If a budgie has five hatchlings and only feeds four, the missing bird has been identified as a weak link. The budgie is considered unlikely to survive, so the mother focuses her attention on the stronger babies.
In these cases, you may need to step in and raise the rejected budgie. Baby budgies can be fed formula instead of regurgitated food from a mother’s crop and steadily weaned onto solid food.
What Happens if a Mother Budgie is Not Feeding a Baby?
As discussed, a mother budgie may neglect to feed a baby.
Before making any judgments, ensure this isn’t an error. Place the neglected chick at the front of a line of hatchlings waiting to be fed, as an exhausted and confused mother may have missed it.
If this isn’t the case, consider feeding the baby budgie by hand. You can create a formula that imitates the milk a budgie would be provided from its mother’s crop. This should comprise of:
- 50% dry cereal designed for human infants.
- 25% skinned and pureed soft fruit. Start with banana before introducing other soft fruits, including pomegranate, grapes, or figs.
- 25% yolk of a boiled egg.
Dilute this mixture, potentially using fruit juice for taste. You can hand-feed the baby budgie with a syringe according to this timetable:
|0–1 week||2ml of formula, 8–9 times per day|
|1–2 weeks||5ml of formula, 7–8 times per day|
|2–3 weeks||10ml of formula, 5–7 times per day|
|3–4 weeks||15ml of formula, 5–6 times per day|
After around 30 days, the budgie is ready to start eating solids.
Don’t move it straight into pellets and seeds. Start with soft, mashed foods and steadily increase the solidity of the food around week six. The timetable for feeding here is:
|4–5 weeks||5 x 20ml feedings per day|
|5–6 weeks||4–5 x 30ml feedings per day|
|6–7 weeks||4–5 x 50ml feedings per day. Add more solids, such as ground seeds.|
By the age of 8 weeks, the budgie should be completely weaned and ready to eat solid foods and forage for its own nourishment.
Baby budgies start to leave the nest around 30–40 days old, but they don’t necessarily avoid returning at this age. Most baby budgies don’t leave their parents until they’re 8-10 weeks old.
This timeframe allows a young budgie to learn sufficient life skills to keep itself alive.