Melopsittacus undulatus (budgerigar)

Budgerigars are one of the world’s best-loved birds. They are hugely popular in captivity for their hardy nature, engaging behaviour and wide range of attractive colours.  

But behind the diversity of modern captive birds is one species of small Australian parrot, superbly adapted for life in one of the world’s toughest environments.  

The history of the discovery of the budgerigar and its development in captivity provides fascinating insights into both natural and artificial selection - a modern equivalent to Charles Darwin’s fancy pigeons.

Species detail

  • Gould 'Budjeregah'
    Taxonomy

    Find out when budgerigars were first described and how wild budgies are characterised by their plumage.

  • Wild, female budgerigar
    Distribution

    Melopsittacus undulatus is native to Australia. Find out where wild budgies live and how they have adapted to their habitat.

  • Budgerigar chick
    Biology

    The birds nest communally. Mating pairs use suitable holes in tree trunks or branches for their nest. Find out more.

  • A multi-coloured flock of captive budgerigars
    Behaviour and conservation

    Budgerigars are very sociable and in the wild they fly in large flocks. They exhibit social behaviour such as mutual preening and when kept in captivity, even preen their owners. Find out more.

  • Wild and captive budgie specimens
    Aviculture - budgerigar breeding

    Budgies were first brought to Britain in 1840. Since then they have been bred in all shades and sizes. Read on to discover how budgerigar breeding has developed in the last 170 years.

  • Budgerigar specimen
    References

    Get reference material on the budgerigar.

Images

Budgerigar chick at 11 days old

Budgerigar chick at 11 days old.

© smartneddy, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic
An early specimen of budgerigar

An early specimen of budgerigar from John Gould, labelled ‘budjeregah’.

© Harry Taylor, Natural History Museum
Flock of captive budgerigars

A multi-coloured flock of captive budgerigars.

© Anna Saccheri, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
A flock of captive budgerigars

A multi-coloured flock of captive budgerigars.

© Anna Saccheri, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
Wild and captive budgie specimens

An early wild green budgerigar compared to a ‘violet’ specimen from the 1950s.

© Harry Taylor, Natural History Museum
About the author
Hawaii 05
Dr Joanne Cooper

Senior Curator, Bird Group, Department of Life Sciences.

A word from the author

"Budgies are so familiar it’s easy to overlook them and forget how interesting they are. If Charles Darwin was working today, I like to think budgies, not pigeons, would provide his inspiration!"

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