One of 2 pet budgies died - we're worried about the other one!

by Elizabeth
(Surrey, B.C., Canada)

Four years ago we bought a pair of baby budgies, a male and female. 5 days ago, the female died and we're not exactly sure why. She displayed no symptoms of anything except a few hours before her death. I suspect she might have had lead poisoning from the toilet paper rolls I had started giving her, or perhaps she was swallowing the paper over time. I didn't realize the adhesive on the roll could contain lead. Out of the 2 birds, she was the avid chewer/ripper-upper of everything in sight. : ) I don't normally give them paper of any kind but stick to the small bird toys and the chewing options they offer. The cardboard has been a new thing I've given the past few months. She enjoyed it so much, once one was gone I replaced it with a new one.
The morning of the day she died she was energetic, chirping, eating, and on top of the cage as was her habit. After arriving home from daycare pickup and work, she appeared to be sleeping on a perch. Two hours later I noticed she hadn't moved from this position and in fact, was leaned over onto the cuttlebone attached to the side of the cage. This was unusual. It wasn't long before I realized I needed to get her to a vet hospital but it was already too late and she died shortly after arriving there. They didn't even have time to properly examine her and I didn't order her body to be examined after the fact.

We're concerned now for the remaining male budgie. Both had never been apart and were obviously bonded to one another. The first 12-24 hours he was very quiet and though we paid lots of attention to him, we also tried not to push it since it would be unusual for us to do so. When both were together, we generally left them alone except to stroke them now and then,talk to them, watch them, change their water and seed, give them fresh raw food, rotate their toys etc. To all of a sudden pay so much more attention to the now lone male would probably have stressed him out more.
Currently, it's as if he has forgotten there ever was another budgie. His usual constant chattiness is present, he moves about like he used to (in and out of the cage), preens, eats, drinks, flies occasionally down the kitchen. My 14-year-old seems to think he's not eating as much but my son never watched his behavior under the microscope he's currently looking at him through. I think otherwise and think all is normal. The male was a follower and may have eaten a bit more often with the female at the seed tray, but I still see him eat so all seems normal.
Should we, for his sake, get him another companion bird? If so, would we get one as soon as possible, or does it matter? Would we get another female, or would a male be ok too? (I've heard 2 males can get along, but better a male and female.) Would we get another baby, or an older budgie? How would we introduce the new bird?

If we left him on his own, would he adapt ok in the long term? Would we make any changes to HOW we interact with him, or HOW OFTEN? For example, would we need to pay way more attention to him and try to train him to interact with our family life? Are there any other general changes we'd need to make? Would he consider us his flock now? Will he remain happy or will this shorten his lifespan? How can you tell if a budgie is happy or not anyways???
Would you recommend we take him to a vet to determine his state of health? I will obviously not be giving him any toilet paper rolls! Should we do anything else to the cage and contents? The cage was just cleaned and the perches washed. We didn't remove the toys.
I'm also reading that an all-seed diet is not providing all the nutrition a budgie needs. The magazine Bird Talk says that pellets/extruded foods are better nutritionally and should comprise the top spot, then veggies, protein, fruit and last, seeds! Why wouldn't I have been told this when I was buying them if it was so important to feed them pellets? Currently, we feed them seeds and a variety of fruit, veggies, or wholegrain bread (or combo - whatever we have on hand basically). If it's true to feed primarily pellets, how would I switch him over? Any seed we've bought that has had pellets or colored vitamin pieces he's ignored and stuck with the seed.
Thank you very much for all the feedback!

Comments for One of 2 pet budgies died - we're worried about the other one!

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Apr 13, 2013
can male budgie feed baby birds
by: Anonymous

one of my mother bird was suddenly died last nite & i'm vwry upset on that.i'm worrying that will the male budgie will feed the babies or not.if not is there any alternate for feeding other than these formula's?

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Oct 29, 2010
Can a Budgie eat a nother Budgie?
by: Anonymous

My pet Budgie was fine and full of life this morning when I left home for work. On my return this afternoon, te Nanny told me that my female Budgie died and she found the male Budgie on top of her pecking it away at the neck area until the head of te female Budgie was completely seperated from her body. Is this normal or is it some form of illness or is my male Budgie posessed? I am very upset right now and could not believe what te Nanny have told me. I cannot find any related issues regarding this behavouir on the internet. Please assist.
Thank you

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Jun 20, 2010
Budgie mate died and switching to pellets
by: The Avian Vet

If your budgie is not tame, you do not take him out and spend time with him, then you should get it a cage mate. But you need to make sure the male is healthy before doing that. Take him to see the veterinarian BEFORE he shows signs of illness.

It does not really matter if you do this right away. When you get another one do not immediately put them in the same cage. They will need to sit side-by-side, in separate cages, for a period of time to get used to each other and establish who is in charge.

It does not matter if you get a male or a female. Getting an older bird, close to the age of yours now, would be best.

Yes, interact with him daily. Yes, pay way more attention to him and try to train him to interact with our family life. He would need to come out daily or more often, and you may need to have his wings clipped. Clip only 4 feathers on each side, not more. Yes, after a period of adjustment, he will consider you his flock, but he may like birds better. A happy bird will sing and chirp and play and eat as opposed to sitting in one spot most of the time.


You asked, "Would you recommend we take him to a vet to determine his state of health?" Absolutely.

You asked, "Why wouldn't I have been told this when I was buying them if it was so important to feed them pellets?" Because not everyone knows this information, even pet stores are ignorant sometimes. Please read the Switching Birds to Pellets article.

You mentioned, "Any seed we've bought that has had pellets or colored vitamin pieces he's ignored and stuck with the seed." Yes, that is why mixing is not an effective method of conversion.

Thanks for writing.

Dr B

Jun 20, 2010
One of 2 pet budgies died - we're worried about the other one!
by: Linda

First of all, we are sorry for your loss and you should have had a necropsy done to see what killed the other bird. While you have ideas as to why, you'll never know. Cages made in China and the UK can contain too much lead in the powder coating, and one has to contact the manufacturers for the information on paint testing here in the US as they are required to have testing done here. The other thing is it could have been the paper rolls though I've given mine paper towel rolls in the past with no problems. I've never give toilet paper rolls as they are kept in a nasty place to begin with and are tainted from the beginning.

Take your other bird to the Avian vet as soon as you can get him there. Have the vet check for infections, and have some bloodwork done to see how his kidneys, liver and thyroid are doing.

The reason pet store did not tell you about pellets versus seeds is the personnel are usually not well trained in caring for birds and seem to not have time to help educate the public. They are there to SELL THE BIRDS, and what happens afterwards is your concern, not theirs. One has to do all the study BEFORE getting a bird, so one knows what birds need to eat, how large their cages should be and so on. Once the vet gives him a good bill of health, start changing him over to an organic, high quality pellet like Harrisons which Tracie carries on site. Feed organics because the cheaper pellets are cheaper for a reason, namely dyes, preservatives, pesticide/fertilizer residue. Fruit and veggies can only be 10-15% of total diet, and if feeding Harrisons, feed exactly according to package directions which means NO ANIMAL PROTEIN as this will cause an imbalance. Harrisons is cold extruded leaving in necessary minerals, proteins and vitamins, so NO supplementation is needed, and budgies need NO grit either.

Here is link to article written by an Avian Vet about changing from seed to pellets:
Switching Birds to Pellets article.

Wait until he's been checked by the Avian Vet before changing. As for another bird, I'd suggest you wait until he has been examined by vet and is deemed healthy or not. If you are gone all day, HE WILL NEED A COMPANION, and I suggest you get another cage and set up the new bird in there so they see and talk to each other,(new bird has to go to vet 24-48hrs after purchase)and leave males in separate cages to prevent fighting. Do get another male so breeding is out of the question as it takes much study, time and money to embark on breeding and is NOT worth it financially since the budgies are already being bred to death all over.

Linda

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