It takes a budgie time to adapt to handling and accept life as a beloved family pet.
Bringing a budgie into a new home requires a period of adaptation. Budgies are small and skittish, especially when new to a home, and must be looked after with due care and consideration.
As budgies are prey animals, they’re instinctively cautious. Until you gain the trust of a budgie, it’ll be afraid of every sight, sudden movement, sound, and scent in your home.
Over time, budgies grow more comfortable in their surroundings and become less skittish. This ensures that budgies are less likely to react poorly to stimuli. Slow and steady exposure therapy to potential triggers helps convince a budgie a home isn’t frightening.
Some budgies have memories of trauma, while others are nervous by nature. However, if your budgie remains jumpy after several months, you’ll need to manage exposure to fear triggers.
Why Do Budgies Get Scared?
The main fear budgies experience surrounds threats to their life and safety. Captive budgies face few threats and dangers, but an instinctive sense of fear remains.
It’s natural for a budgie to be nervous and skittish when entering your home. Even if the budgie was raised in captivity, it finds itself in an unfamiliar environment, surrounded by new sights, sounds, and scents – and, likely, has a completely new routine.
Many budgies adapt before long, growing more confident in their surroundings and less frightened. Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to all birds. Some budgies are nervous by nature, while others have been subjected to trauma and remain timid.
Budgies loathe change. Adjusting a budgie’s surroundings, such as changing the color of the walls in a room or spending less time with your budgie, will trigger stress and fear.
Can a Budgie be Scared to Death?
Wild birds live in a constant state of alertness. Predators are all around, so budgies need to be prepared to escape at a moment’s notice.
According to Veterinary Clinics: Exotic Animal Practice, the cardiology of a budgie is designed to accommodate the movement needs of budgies.
A bird’s heart can suffer calcification over time, leading to cardiac disease.
A healthy, young budgie is unlikely to enter cardiac arrest when subjected to a sudden shock, such as a loud bang from outside. A pet budgie must experience a prolonged, terrifying experience.
This doesn’t mean that captive budgies can’t be frightened to death. If you have a cat or dog, keep these animals away from your budgie’s cage.
What Does a Scared Budgie Look Like?
Common signs of a scared budgie include:
- Staring with wide eyes
- Fluffing and puffing the feathers in an attempt to look larger
- Excessive plucking, typically becoming feather plucking and self-mutilation
- Refusing to eat or drink
- Uncharacteristic aggression
- Squawking, screaming, or falling silent
- Physically shaking
- Stress bars (small horizontal lines) on the feathers
- Pacing around a cage
- Toe-tapping or nodding the head to excess
- Watery droppings
If you recognize these sights and behaviors, take the time to soothe and calm them down. If your budgie seems to be constantly afraid, seek the advice of an avian vet.
If necessary, your budgie may be prescribed an anti-anxiety medication. As per Naunyn-Schmiedeberg’s Archives of Pharmacology, this will usually involve clonidine, a drug that lowers blood pressure.
What are Budgies Most Afraid Of?
As they are governed by survival instincts, budgies can be afraid of almost anything. Any unique experience, from new toys or decorations placed within a cage to a different human approaching a cage, can frighten these small birds.
Other things that have a universally frightening impact on budgies include:
- Other pets in the home, especially natural predators like cats
- Constant change and unreliable routine
- Loud noises
- Human hands, especially if the budgie was previously mistreated
- Loneliness. Budgies grow very stressed and afraid if left alone for too long
While all budgies will likely be nervous and frightened when they first enter a home, your budgie should grow more comfortable after a few months.
Why is My Budgie Scared of Me?
We must consider the relative size of a budgie. Through the eyes of a budgie, humans are large, noisy, and dangerous. We could easily harm a budgie if we were so inclined.
If a budgie was unfortunate enough to be mistreated in the past, it’ll likely retain a phobia of people. Budgies are believed to have good memories, especially concerning matters of personal safety.
Even if your budgie wasn’t abused, it’ll require taming before you can comfortably handle them. Some budgies never grow accustomed to human hands and will always avoid contact.
If your budgie seems afraid of you, no matter what you do, consider stick training. This involves coaching a budgie to hop onto a stick or perch when summoned instead of using your hands.
This can make a budgie more confident. Over time, you may be able to bring your hands closer to the stick and convince your budgie to permit handling.
Never rush a budgie that is afraid of humans. The bird will come around and show comfort in your presence over time. Always display patience and use a soft, singsong voice.
It may take several months, but most budgies will eventually grow accustomed to human contact.
Why is My Budgie Afraid of its Cage Mate?
Budgies can adapt to living with conspecifics. As per Applied Animal Behavior Science, you’ll need to offer sufficient space for all budgies to enjoy their own territory. Shared accommodation can result in the budgies bonding and providing company.
Alas, not all budgies will get along. If you have one budgie with a territorial nature, this can spill over into aggression. The budgie may chase and bully another budgie or refuse to allow it to eat or drink.
Don’t assume that a larger budgie will always be an aggressor. English budgies boast more significant mass than American budgies but are often more docile and likelier to be bullied. Equally, female budgies tend to be more territorial than males.
If two budgies can’t coexist in the same cage, they’ll need to be separated, at least temporarily. Life for the bullied budgie will be miserable, and it’ll progressively grow more frightened each day.
Why Can My Budgie Not be Alone?
As social birds, budgies don’t enjoy solitude. If you can’t house your budgie with a conspecific, you’ll need to spend time with it. This can involve time interacting with the budgie within its cage and letting it free for exercise and socialization around the home.
If you enjoy a consistent, reliable schedule, your budgie will wait patiently for its opportunities to interact with you. If you’re haphazard with this or prone to leaving the budgie alone for days at a time, it’ll grow frightened and stressed by solitude.
This can result in a budgie growing increasingly clingy. The bird will likely experience significant episodes of fear when left alone due to insecure attachment.
Manage this by ensuring that your budgie enjoys a reliable schedule of company. Ask friends or neighbors to visit the budgie at set times each day so it does not feel so lonely.
Why Is My Budgie Scared of The Dark?
Like mammals, a budgie’s sleep cycles are managed by circadian rhythms. This means that your budgie must spend half its day in daylight and the other half in darkness. Some budgies are afraid of the dark and will react poorly to having a cage covered.
The budgie is not necessarily afraid of the dark. It is scared by what it can smell and hear but can’t see. If you have other pets, the budgie will know they are around but not place them. If you live in a noisy city, your budgie will hear ambient noise it can’t identify.
When putting a budgie to bed for the night, use a room that’s closed off to other pets. Hang the cage from a window so wild animals won’t spook your budgie.
How To Calm A Scared Budgie
If your budgie is afraid, you’ll need to manage its immediate stress. Budgies are empathetic by nature, so the calmer you are, the likelier the bird is to calm down.
To help a budgie calm down, follow these steps:
- Remove any stressors from the budgie’s presence, such as moving a predatory pet to another room or silencing loud noise.
- Speak to your bird in a light, low, and reassuring voice. Never raise your voice or yell – this will magnify the bird’s terror.
- If your budgie responds well to tactile soothing, such as stroking, approach its cage very slowly. Never place your hand near the budgie without permission.
- Distract the budgie with a snack, a new toy, or some other form of stimulation. If applicable, offer to play with the budgie.
- Once the budgie has been soothed, allow it out of the cage. Permit the bird to fly off any excess adrenaline.
The good news is that budgies can be calmed almost as quickly and frequently as they frighten themselves. If you have forged a strong bond with your budgie, it’ll cool off quickly.