Adding a new budgie to the flock is always exciting! But introducing a new budgie to your flock can also be very stressful, for both the newcomer budgie and the existing flock.
If you have just one budgie that you think needs a new friend, or you have dozens of birds and are introducing a new budgie to the flock for breeding stock. You will want to be sure the new bird is not stressed out and is welcomed by the flock. In my opinion, the process of introducing budgies is the same for 2 birds as it is for placing a budgie into a flock of 100.
Luckily budgies are extremely social animals and love interacting with each other, making our job much easier. But even budgies get nervous when they are in unfamiliar surroundings or when a stranger is added into the mix. In the coming article, I will give my suggestions on making the introduction of the new budgie as stress-free as possible, for the budgies and you.
Please take this information as a guide, a reference to good practice. In reality, each time you introduce a new budgie to the cage, the process will change slightly, because every budgie is different. But if you refer to these steps as a guide, adapting them each time for your bird’s needs, you should have no problems introducing new budgies to the cage every time.
Thankfully, budgies don’t tend to be overly aggressive, but they will bicker and fight, especially with a newly introduced bird. It’s nothing to worry about, just like you and me, every bird has a unique personality and character. And when you introduce a new budgie to the flock the dynamic of the flock will change. That means there will be a shuffle in the pecking order so to speak.
The key to stress-free introductions is being patient!
Just be sure to give the birds time to adjust and help them adapt to the change in living circumstances. And show them that the new addition is not a threat, allow time for them to get to know each other before you add the new budgie to the cage. After this, you can begin out of cage introductions and flight time together.
Sounds simple, right? It is, but there are a few things to consider if you want to do it right. So let’s have a look at a few simple things you can do to make sure when you introduce a new budgie to the flock you have happy little budgies.
Step 1. Does your new budgie need to be quarantined before introducing it to the flock?
Before you even consider introducing your new budgie to the flock, firstly think about where you got your new budgie from. Beacause there is a chance of this new budgie bringing sickness or parasites with them.
If your new budgie comes from a reputable breeder then it is unlikely that your new budgie will have any disease. Breeders of budgies are meticulous when it comes to the health of their flocks.
If you are getting your new budgie from someone you do not know. Someone selling through Facebook or other classified, if you have found/rescued it from somewhere or even picked it up from a pet shop. Then your new addition could well have unwanted parasites or diseases.
This is when it is a good idea to quarantine the new bird for a week or even two depending on the circumstances. This is just a precautionary step to prevent the new bird from making your entire flock of budgies sick with disease or infested with mites and parasites.
Recommended Medications when in quarantine
You might as well use this time in “quarantine” to give the new bird a precautionary dose of Ivermectin, this will kill off any nasty parasites or mites that the newcomer may be harbouring.
In addition to the Ivermectin, I suggest that you give them a course of Vetafarm Triple C antibiotic. This will clear up any nasty bacterial infections.
Unfortunately, using antibiotics is like using a hand grenade, very effective but not very selective. They will kill all the good bugs living in the bird’s stomach too. So follow it up with a course of Vetafarm probiotics, or Thomas Labs make a good bird specific probiotic too.
I know some breeders who swear by fresh Sauerkraut as a boost to a budgies natural immune system after a dose of antibiotics.
Step 2. Give all of the budgies plenty of fresh food and water.
This might sound a little common sense, but the last thing we want is for our flock to feel threatened by the new budgie. If food and water are scarce, the addition of another mouth/beak is seen as a threat. But if it is abundant then a new bird will not seem as much of a threat to the flock.
I am sure that you always make sure there is plenty of food and water but when you decide to introduce a new budgie to the flock it is a good idea to double rations, so to speak.
You want to make your birds as happy as possible during the introduction period. So give your budgies a special treat of foods they do not normally get, some fresh fruit or leaves. Pretty much anything that you know your budgies go crazy for.
I might sound a little crazy, but I believe your budgies should be feeling excited and happy about the newcomer’s arrival. By associating the new bird with their favourite foods just might trick the little guys into liking it even more.
Step 3. Don’t immediately introduce your new budgie into the same cage as the existing flock.
After your bird has finished with their time in “quarantine” (if you decided that was needed) you can begin the process of introduction. You mustn’t just put the new bird into the cage with the flock. If you do this it will be too stressful for the new budgie.
Instead, keep the new budgie in a large cage with plenty of room to hop and fly around. Make sure the cage contains lots of perches and toys. Place the cage near but not right up against the cage or flight containing your flock of birds. This allows the new bird to become familiar with the sounds and smells of the flock from behind the safety of their cage.
This step is crucial in making sure your new budgie is comfortable when you introduce them to your flock. It is even more important if you have a new bird that has come from a home where there are no other budgies.
When you start to see the budgies coming up to the cage and talking to each other, this is a sign they are starting to feel more comfortable. Be sure to watch and see that the new bird interacting with the budgie flock you are introducing it too.
The birds will usually start to communicate with each other quite quickly, especially if the new bird has come from a large flock previously. After 24 hours if you have seen them all “chatting” and chirping away
you can start the next step in the introduction process.
Step 4. Provide plenty of stimulation for the new budgie and existing birds.
Just like the previously mentioned need for plenty of water and food, mental stimulation will help the birds adapt to each other’s company quicker.
So make sure the area where your budgies are being introduced contains plenty of toys to play with and branches to perches on. This way if they have had enough of chatting to each other they can fly off and simply amuse themselves.
Budgies, like most birds, feel safer off the ground where they are away from predators. This is why it is important to have plenty of large branches where two or more birds can perch and interact.
Placing plenty of branches and stimulation around will make the cage feel like a safe home for the birds, putting them at ease. If they feel comfortable in their surrounds they will be feeling less threatened.
Have you ever seen kids playing in the playground together? Just like young children in the playground, budgies will want to play with toys together, exploring them together, this is an important part of budgie bonding.
Step 5. Plan for attempted escapes. Hang soft drapes/curtains over glass windows.
Before we move onto the next step of introducing your new budgie to the rest of your flock, make the room safe for the new budgie, and your other birds. When you first release the new bird from its cage, its instinct will probably be to fly to the nearest opening, either window or door.
If your budgie flies into a glass window it could seriously injure, or kill itself. So make sure you take precautions to ensure the new budgie does not accidentally harm itself.
Make sure the room is secure, and to prevent glass window incidents hang curtains or soft drapes over glass windows. Even an old bed sheet will do the job. This will soften the impact and prevent the budgie from injuring itself if it flies into the glass.
Step 6. Let the new budgie explore the surroundings outside the new enclosure.
After a day or maybe two, you should notice that your new budgie’s behaviour is more relaxed. They should be chirping and “chatting” to the other budgies.
Good news, it is nearly time to introduce the new budgie to its new friends. But before you do that there is one more step that will help the transition to go smoothly for them all.
After the room is made safe and secure for the birds. Place the new bird’s cage right up against the larger enclosure and open it so that the budgie can get out when it chooses. Leave the other budgies in their cage at this stage. Just allow the new budgie to come out and explore the new surroundings.
Budgies, being such social curious birds, will more often than not fly to the enclosure and start interacting with the flock not long after the cage is opened. In some cases, they may choose to stay in the cage for a while until they are comfortable to come out and explore and that is okay too.
Once the new budgie is out of its cage just let it get familiar and comfortable with its new surrounds. Don’t forget to have different toys, food and water bowls around the place for it to explore too.
Release your flock from the cage
Okay, so I know this is kind of a step on its own making it 8 steps. But I wanted to include this as part of step 6. Because if you see the birds acting stressed or nervous when the new bird approaches the cage then leave part b of introductions for another day.
So, that being said, once you have seen the birds all interacting with each other, open the large enclosure allowing the birds can come out and socialise with each other in the open.
Just like kids in a playground, they will probably start exploring together, jumping from one perch to another. If you have a new female budgie, the male budgies may even try to feed her, this is a very good sign.
If you do not have a room where you can allow your birds to fly freely then you can alternatively place the budgie’s cage in the flight/aviary for a day or two before opening the cage door.
Step 7. Don’t overdo it in the beginning.
You may be tempted at this stage to just put the new budgie in the cage with the other budgies. But they are still just getting used to each other so you should probably give them another day to adjust before completely changing their living arrangements.
After a little while, the new budgie will probably return to the smaller cage as that is where it feels comfortable. Once you see it do this then close the cage and keep it alone for another night.
In the morning repeat the procedure of allowing the new budgie to explore again. Then let the other budgies out. This time close the small cage and remove it from the room or aviary.
Just like with people, some budgies are more social than others and will become part of the flock quicker than others. But if you follow these basic steps, adjusting them as need be depending on the individual bids. Then you will have happy and less stressed birds.