05-27-2017, 07:17 PM
Your Harmonious Flock
One of the most common issues we get on the forum is to help with an issue of flock dynamics.
Whether you have just two birds, or twelve, the dynamics between them is essential for having a harmonious flock and a happy owner.
The problem can start before you even have a bird living in your home- it can be in the process of choosing exactly which bird you want to bring home.
Step One: Picking the right bird.
Not only do you want to pick a healthy looking bird (and honestly, if some aren't looking healthy, I'd look elsewhere straight away) but you want to pick a well socialised bird.
You want to spend as much time as possible observing the birds before you pick out anyone to take home. Ideally, I'd look for a budgie that is socialising well with other birds (if I saw two that were well bonded and feeding one another, I couldn't split them up, it would be both, or neither), that is not actively aggressive to any of the other birds. You don't want to get into the mentality of thinking that this bird is 'standing up for himself'. It's possible this bird might be a bully.
Now this can be extra hard if you're looking for a certain mutation, but head must rule over your heart. If you see the perfect bird, but it's showing signs of aggression to it's cage mates- walk away.
There will be another bird.
You will cause yourself more stress making a rash decision than making the right one.
Step Two: Know Your Numbers
Odd numbers are not ideal in a budgie flock. Chances are, someone is getting left out.
So when planning to add to your flock, think in the long term. If you have two birds and want four in total, buy two together. Not only does this mean you can quarantine them at the same time, reducing the stress of that lone bird, but it means you won't have the awkward part where dynamics will change when going from two to three.
The dynamics will change. There's a chance the new bird will get on with one of your existing birds better than the current friend and that will upset everything, but if you go for two at a time, you are reducing the chances or upsetting the dynamics too much.
Step Three: Quarantine... and then some
So, lets say that you have found the perfect birds and have named them Buddy & Bobby.
They've been through quarantine and you simply can't wait to let them socialise with Bert & Ernie, the two birds you already have.
You have read up about how to correctly introduce them, but in your excitement to let them play together, you end up letting them all out and then put them all in the same cage together.
Just because quarantine is over, there is no rush to throw all your birds in together. You can keep the cage in the same room. You can introduce them into the same room and let them have out of cage time in their pairs. They don't have to meet face to face on the first day that they can meet face to face.
Do you know what will happen if you don't introduce them straight away?
Nothing will change.
There's no downside of waiting a little longer.
Step Four: Time Is On Your Side
As established already, you don't have to rush to let them see one another, but once you take the plunge, you love to see them interacting together.
By waiting a little longer, Buddy and Bobby became more comfortable with 'their' cage. When it's feeding time, they return to it because it's where they feel safe. Bert and Ernie return to their cage too.
You imaged having them all living together in one cage, but you know what? For now, this is fine.
This is working for them. They have lots of space, seem content and are getting on really well in their pairs.
They also are getting to know one another better when they play together and it's so fun to watch.
You are learning about their personalities.
Step Five: When it's Time, You Will Know
When the budgies want to all live together- they'll let you know.
I knew it was time to make changes to my birds living conditions when I'd find all of them settling down for the night in the same cage. It's natural for budgies to want to be a flock- it's what they'd do in the wild. So if they are happy to be together- let them do it.
Step Six: What to watch out for
Living together is fine and good, when budgies are at their best, but you need to be observant and ready to step in at any given time should that change.
*Any injury or illness.
If one of your birds is sick, it's always best to remove him and let him recover in a quiet cage away from the others. This stops the others from bothering a weakened budgie and can also help to stop the spread of an illness. It might not be what your budgies want, but it's for their overall health so it's vital that you do this.
The same with an injury. If you think your bird may be disturbed by the others, or it's a serious injury, that bird needs to be left alone for a while.
In the event of an injury and with a bonded pair who are docile- I would move them both to decrease any stress caused by the move.
*Any serious fighting.
As a bird owner, it's essential you quickly learn the difference between squabbles (and budgies do this now and again, over perches and what's the best food pot etc.) and fighting. If one bird is on top of another, holding it down and pecking- that's fighting!
As spring comes, so do budgie mating urges and your boys will start to get rather full of themselves.
If needed, you can remove a budgie from the flock for a short time (a few days, a week or so- you have to judge for yourself) while hormones calm down.
Last edited by Therm; 05-28-2017 at 03:19 AM.