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Why Are Some Budgies Bigger Than Others?

Budgies are among the smallest companion birds, with many cages hosting more than one bird.

English budgies are always bigger than American budgies. The former will be around 12 inches tall compared to an American budgie’s 8-9 inches and weigh up to 20 grams more.

However, if you place the two American budgies side-by-side, you shouldn’t notice a prominent size difference. A male budgie may be slightly bigger than a female budgie, but not by much.

Check that the budgie isn’t puffing its feathers to intimidate a perceived threat or increase its body temperature. If not, your budgie may be gaining weight due to an inappropriate diet.

Are Budgies Different Sizes?

While English and American budgies are different sizes, two budgies of the same family should be more or less identical in size. Budgies have the same skeletal structure, leading to a consistent size and shape.

Be mindful of a budgie undergoing a sudden change in body shape after eight months of age. At this point, a budgie has reached full maturity and shouldn’t experience any further growth spurts. For example, your budgie may have a big chest.

It’s less of a concern if two budgies have always been slightly different sizes. The most likely explanation for this lies in the parentage of the larger budgie.

English Budgie vs. Normal Budgie

If you have an English budgie, it’ll be much larger than an American budgie.

English budgies usually stand at around 12 inches, which is up to 3 inches taller than an American budgie. English budgies are also heavier, possibly carrying an extra 20 grams of weight.

English and American budgies can live together, so they can also breed. If you have a budgie that’s slightly larger than its cagemates but not large enough to be a pure English budgie, check its parentage. One parent of each type may have sired the budgie.

If it carries some of the physical traits commonly associated with English budgies, such as more feathers on the head covering the eyes and pronounced markings on the feathers, this is increasingly likely.

Are male Budgies Bigger Than Females?

Male budgies are very slightly larger than females. You may be unable to tell the difference unless the two budgies stand side-by-side on a perch. Gender is unlikely to account for a significant size difference.

Why is My Budgie So Big?

If your budgie seems unnaturally large, and this can’t be attributed to the genetic traits of an English budgie, you’ll understandably be concerned.

Potential explanations for a budgie’s size difference include:

Puffed Feathers

You need to assess whether your budgie is big or if it’s attempting to make itself appear so.

If your budgie doesn’t feel safe around you or others, it’ll do its utmost to look intimidating. This could include puffing up the feathers and opening the wings a little.

Watch your budgie from across a room without it realizing it’s being observed. You’ll have your answer if the feathers and wings return to a standard size.

Budgies also puff up feathers to stay warm if the ambient temperature is too low. Check that the cage isn’t facing any unwelcome draughts and that the room temperature doesn’t drop below 70OF.

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Weight Concerns

You’ll never see an overweight budgie in the wild. Budgies have a speedy metabolism, often burning calories as quickly as they’re ingested.

This is a by-product of the dangerous lifestyle of wild budgies, where they must constantly remain on the move to avoid dangerous predators and adverse weather conditions.

Captive budgies have no such concerns, and while you’ll invariably allow your budgie to exercise outside the cage at least once a day, this doesn’t compare to living in the wild.

A healthy weight for an American budgie is 30-40 grams, while an English budgie weighs 45–65 grams.

Anything outside of this range puts your budgie’s health at risk. As per the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, budgies are prone to heart disease and diabetes.

If your budgie seems to be growing larger, consider its diet. Many owners feed their budgies an excess of seeds, which are high in fat. Switch your budgie to a pellet-based diet and encourage more exercise.

Pregnancy (Gravid)

Is there a chance that your budgie could be gravid? This is always possible if your female budgie shares her cage with a male budgie. A larger, swollen abdomen is one of the signs of pregnancy in budgies.

Other signs to look out for include the following:

  • Reduced frequency in pooping, but leaving larger droppings.
  • Solid lumps around the vent opening to the cloaca).
  • Loss of feathers around the vent, which is known as the brood patch.
  • Cere changing color, usually darkening or even turning brown.
  • Feathering a nest.
  • Growing uncharacteristically aggressive or defensive.

Your budgie will likely lay eggs, so any prolonged increase in size can’t be attributed to pregnancy. It could explain a sudden increase in mass, especially if accompanied by changes in behavior.


If you can’t find any explanation for a budgie looking larger than usual, it may be time to consider calling a vet. Your budgie may be unwell or injured, experiencing swelling as a consequence.

Think about how your budgie may have hurt itself. If you have a ceiling fan, your budgie may have flown into this or had its wing clipped by the rotating blades. Alternatively, if your budgie likes to climb, it may have fallen and hurt itself.

Budgies are comparatively frail, so these impact injuries may have led to significant bruising or swelling. Your budgie may even have fractured or broken one of its delicate bones.

Also, be mindful of the risk of tumors. As per BSAVA Congress Proceedings, male budgies can be prone to developing seminomas and Sertoli cell tumors.

Budgies are adept at masking pain, so don’t wait for them to ask for assistance. If your budgie looks bigger than usual and you consider this a consequence of swelling, seek veterinary advice.

English and American budgies have a prominent size difference, but beyond this, all budgies should look broadly similar. If your budgie looks bulkier than usual, this points to a dietary issue or health complaint.