Budgies use their wings to fly, exercise, stretch and communicate emotions. So, it’s natural to see some fluttering and flapping as your budgie experiences various emotions throughout the day.
However, if your budgie is flapping its wings repeatedly, it could be its way of communicating something with you or its cage mates.
A budgie flapping its wings but not flying can signify frustration, boredom, discomfort, or aggression.
Flapping has practical benefits, such as getting exercise, gaining attention, and cooling off. It can also warn other budgies away and be a way of expressing feelings, such as exuberance and excitement.
You can assess the context of wing-flapping to determine if your budgie is happy, bored, annoyed, or exercising. Budgies also show a range of other contextual body language and behavior.
Why Do Budgies Flap Their Wings?
Budgies flap their wings for the following reasons:
- Cooling off
- Improving circulation
- Warning off other budgies
- Communicating excitement or displeasure
- Night frights or nightmares
A twitch of the wing, definite and repeated flapping, or a single, aggressive flap with tail movement can all mean something entirely different. Learning to decipher the meanings requires the consideration of their whole body.
Beware if the budgie is holding its wings out from its body, puffing up its feathers, and hissing or screeching. This is an aggressive display that says, “back off!”
By contrast, holding the wings away from the body and flapping once or twice in a relaxed way is fine as it’s an attempt to cool off on hot days.
Budgies Flapping Their Wings At Night
If your budgies are flapping their wings through the night, it could be a sign of agitation and frustration. The most likely reason for this is that something is preventing them from sleeping.
If the cage is uncovered, you should cover it to ensure they have the most restful night possible. If, however, the cage is already covered, you could use a heavier blanket.
Alternatively, you should check for other disruptions. You could move the cage to a room at the back of the house if there’s a nearby busy road as the traffic noise may be disrupting its sleep.
Likewise, you could try putting them in a darker or warmer room at night. Experiment with environments until your budgie sleeps through the night with few or no interruptions.
Budgies Flapping Their Wings But Not Flying
When we think of a bird flapping its wings, most of us think of birds taking off or flying.
While flying is the main reason a budgie might flap its wings, it is not the only one. Your budgie might be flapping its wings without flying for exercise. Biological Studies found that birds burn far more energy flapping their wings to fly than they do during terrestrial locomotion.
Budgerigars are intelligent, need enrichment, and enjoy routine. If your budgie flaps its wings repeatedly at the same time most days (first thing in the morning, for example), it may have established a routine and is stretching its wings.
Flapping like this could expend some energy and get its blood circulating. This is just like people stretching their arms or back first thing in the morning.
This could also be a sign that your budgie needs more exercise. While budgies are small animals, they still require space to move, play, and exert themselves.
If the cage you provide is too small or lacks proper enrichment, your budgie may start to get stressed and frustrated.
Budgies Flapping Their Wings At Each Other
Budgies socializing in a relaxed, normal manner will sit close together, bob, chatter, and sing. They may also groom or preen each other or regurgitate seeds into each other’s mouths. These interactions are calm, relaxed, and gentle, and they shouldn’t feature too much wing movement.
Frenetic or repeated wing twitching or flapping is most likely a sign of irritation, agitation, or outright aggression. Telling the difference between a minor dispute and a disagreement that’s about to turn into a fight is a matter of reading your budgie’s body language. You should also understand what the vocalizations mean.
The most common aggressive behaviors exhibited by budgerigars (not to include actual fighting) are:
- Guarding food and water
- Defending a perch
- Pecking (particularly at other bird’s feet)
If you see these behaviors, you should take action to make your birds more comfortable. Most aggressive behaviors and disagreements stem from fundamental issues in their living conditions.
This could be due to the following:
- The cage may be too small for the number of budgies living in it
- Insufficient toys
- Poor sleeping and eating habits
- Natural stressors like molting or sickness.
Budgerigars are highly social animals, and Animal Welfare found that they benefit greatly from the company of others when kept in a domestic setting.
That doesn’t mean that your budgies will always get along. Budgies can have huge personalities and sometimes clash with other birds, especially new ones.
Getting to know other budgies can be fraught when there’s more than one big personality in the cage.
Budgies Flapping Their Wings And Screaming
If your budgies are flapping their wings, screeching, hissing, or harassing each other, there’s likely an environmental problem. You should start by improving any noticeable deficiencies in their cage, providing more food of a greater variety, and changing up toys.
The minimum size of a cage for a single budgie is 12 x 18 x 18 inches in size. However, that’s only true if the budgies are allowed outside of their cage to exercise regularly. You should get a cage twice this size for more than one budgie or a budgie that cannot get out to fly.
If this still does not work, you may need to separate the bickering budgies until you figure out what’s causing the tension and aggression. It is possible that one or more of your budgies may be molting, for example. Alternatively, one of your budgies may be sick or in pain.
If there is no obvious cause, it might be best to contact a vet and have them assess your budgie for injuries or sickness. Ensuring health and comfort is the best way to avoid aggression.