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