The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Budgies are friendly birds, so they generally get along well with their fellow budgie companions. They’re fairly docile and easy to tame.
In the wild, budgies live in large flocks. For this reason, they’re quite sociable and prefer living in pairs.
I know what you’re thinking, “If they’re such social creatures, then why are my budgies fighting?”
Indeed, sudden aggression may seem entirely out of place with these birds. However, it’s only normal for them to have arguments here and there.
But how do you know when they’ve crossed the limits? You certainly don’t want them injuring or, God forbid, killing one another!
In-fighting between budgies is caused by several reasons, from territorial issues to jealousy. This article discusses everything you need to know about budgie aggression, including how to stop it.
Reasons Why Your Budgies Are Fighting
Fighting is a normal part of budgie society. Similar to how young children fight over candies and toys, budgies fight over food and have brief disputes with their friends.
Since budgies aren’t aggressive by nature, their anger usually comes and goes. They’d fight for a minute and cuddle the next.
However, if your budgies are fighting more than usual, here are some of the biggest reasons why.
Budgies—especially female ones—are fairly territorial. They treat cages like nesting sites and would warily guard their perch, food bowl, and other furnishings from trespassers.
Usually, this behavior is desirable. This is especially true if you’re a professional breeder. It’s an important breeding cue after all.
However, territorial aggression can get out of hand real quick if the birds are left to their own devices.
Some owners correct this sort of behavior through verbal reprimands. Others simply take the territorial bird out of the cage and separate it from the other birds.
In either case, an attempt should be made to make the bird less territorial about its living space to prevent dependence and further aggression. If the bird spends most of its time in its cage, viciously defending it is entirely normal.
You can prevent this sort of territorial aggression by establishing a two-cage housing system to imitate a more natural environment.
In the wild, budgies roost in one location at night. When morning comes, they’d fly off to forage and play with their flock.
Their space should imitate their natural environment, so you should use a large, well-furnished cage to encourage activity and socialization.
Transfer your birds into the playpen during the morning and return them to the roosting cage when evening comes.
Also, make sure each bird has its own set of food and water bowls. If required, feed the aggressive bird in a separate location.
Much like other parrots, budgies are capable of being jealous. If a budgie feels jealous, it’ll defend its favorite person, cage, toy, or budgie companion through aggression.
Jealousy may occur when a new bird is introduced into a cage. Even though budgies are social birds, they can still view the newcomer as a threat to their toys, food or water, and personal space.
They may also feel that the new bird is stealing all your attention.
When a budgie is jealous, it’ll bite or fight the newcomer. However, a budgie will only feel jealous when a second or third budgie intrudes in its pre-established routine.
It’ll recognize it as a challenge to its authority and position in the flock, and attempt to show its dominance by fighting the new bird.
Inadequate attention, lack of socialization, insecurity, and hormonal flare-ups can likewise induce jealousy and aggression in budgies.
When this happens, make sure your budgie is getting sufficient care and attention by playing with it every day. This will help the bird become more sociable and friendly. It’ll also make it less defensive towards the new budgie and new faces later on.
In most cases, aggression caused by jealousy doesn’t last more than a few days. Give your budgie some time to acclimate to the newcomer’s presence.
Throughout the introduction process, give your budgies equal attention. If the fighting persists, place your new budgie in a separate cage to avoid stress and injury, just until both birds get used to each other.
Just like humans don’t get along with certain individuals, budgies sometimes don’t get along with other budgies.
In the wild, large flocks resolve inter-bird tension by staying as far away from each other as possible.
Unfortunately, that option isn’t available for captive budgies. They’d have to either tolerate each other’s presence or fight each other.
Usually, aggression between budgies can be prevented by carefully introducing the birds to one another.
However, if the budgies simply don’t get along, there’s little that can be done. You’ll have to house the budgies in separate cages to prevent bigger issues from happening.
Space is extremely important to budgies. Although budgies are social and love to stay together, living in a small or overcrowded cage tends to cause more fights.
When deprived of space, budgies tend to be overly aggressive and territorial. This is why overcrowded bird cages lead to all sorts of behavioral and social issues.
In an overcrowded space, aggressive budgies become defensive of roosting spaces, perches, food, water, and even toys. This aggression is often directed to “weaker” and more timid birds, stressing them out even further.
To prevent this, make sure your cage is large enough to comfortably house all your budgies.
As a general rule, a single budgie needs an aviary of at least 12 x 18 x 18 inches.
The cage should be large enough for the bird to fully stretch its wings and move around without bumping into furnishings, toys, etc.
The larger the cage, the better. If you can’t get a large cage, consider getting multiple cages.
Hormones are tricky things. They can turn a calm budgie into an aggressive bird in a blink of an eye.
Budgies flooded with hormones during nesting and mating season often display aggressive behavior; not only towards other budgies but also towards their owners.
During this period, male budgies become overly protective of their mate and territory. Female budgies—who are typically more dominant than males—will aggressively defend their territory while nesting.
Things can get ugly in a cage of two male budgies and one female budgie. As soon as your female budgie goes into her breeding cycle, the male birds will fight for her attention.
Sometimes, this hormone-fueled competition may lead to death.
To prevent this from happening, place your breeding budgie into a separate cage until the mating cycle ends. This should take anywhere between three to six weeks.
Likewise, hormonal birds should have their daylight reduced to around 10 hours a day to end their hormonal cycle quicker.
When a budgie is stressed, it’ll often bite and lunge because it’s nervous or anxious.
Budgies get stressed for many reasons, including illness, loud music, change in diet, repetitive noises, and a loss of a companion bird.
Usually, budgies hide their emotions until these feelings become so extreme that they manifest to behavioral changes.
Alongside aggression, some of the biggest warning signs a budgie is stressed are as follows:
- Sudden increase or decrease in vocalization
- Feather picking
- Self-mutilation (i.e., chewing or digging into their skin)
- Decreased appetite
- Destructive behavior (i.e., destroying things like beddings and feeding bowls)
- Stress likes or bars on the feathers
- Perching on the bottom of the cage
If you notice the above behavioral changes in your budgie, it’s best to schedule an appointment with an avian vet to rule out illness and/or disease.
Once your budgie is cleared for any sort of health issue, try to figure out what’s stressing your budgie and adjust its environment or routine to make it more comfortable.
As much as possible, don’t yell or physically reprimand your stressed bird, as it may worsen the behavior.
Also, some stressed birds benefit from extra attention and stimulation, so make sure to let your bird out of the cage once in a while. Provide it with stimulating puzzle toys and other items to keep it entertained.
Like most birds, budgies have social hierarchies. Budgies of the same or opposite gender fight to decide who’s the “boss” of the cage.
Typically, this type of in-fighting occurs when multiple budgies are kept in a cage.
Establishing social authority among birds is perfectly normal. Budgies do it all the time in their natural habitats, so it shouldn’t be much of a concern.
There are times, however, where budgies “bully” or harass timid or sick budgies. In this case, it’s best to place the weaker budgie in a separate cage, preferably with other timid budgies.
Resource riots are closely tied to territorial issues. However, instead of fighting over territory, your birds may fight over food, water, toys, furnishings, etc.
Budgies like having their own stuff, so you can prevent aggression by placing multiple dishes, water bowls, toys, perches, and other furnishings around the cage.
Likewise, make sure your budgies aren’t being underfed. Per day, a single budgie needs about 15 to 16 grams of food and about 3 to 4 grams of treat items such as sunflower seeds, nuts, and the occasional human food.
If in doubt, it’s best to leave a bit of extra food in their bowls. Most budgies don’t overeat even when their food dishes are kept full.
They may return to the bowl for a quick snack but they rarely eat all of it. If your budgie is overeating, it might be a symptom of a bigger issue.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell whether budgies are fighting or playing. For this reason, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with your budgie’s body language.
Differentiating fights from play can be tricky at first, as budgies are often active, vocal, and physical without hostility. Don’t worry, though; you’ll understand the difference through close observation and time.
- Raised wings: angry budgies raise their “fists” for a fight or challenge
- Hissing: a threat meant to warn others to stay away
- Biting feet: done to forcibly remove a bird off of its perch; almost always aggressive behavior
- Violent pecking: done to actively hurt the other budgie
- Chasing the bird around the cage: not always a sign of aggression, but if performed persistently with pecking in between, it’s most likely aggressive behavior
- Screaming and/or loud squawking: a clear sign that a fight is about to start
- Food guarding: a budgie going out of its way to prevent the other bird from eating or drinking by blocking feeding areas
- Wrestling on the floor: a serious struggle is taking place; this behavior may lead to injury if not stopped
- Preening: preening is an act where birds tidy and clean their feathers with their beaks. Affectionate birds preen each other’s faces, beaks, and feathers with their beaks.
- Beak touching: a friendly behavior where a budgie “kisses” its friend’s beak in a gentle manner
- Sitting close together: budgies sitting close to one another are a sure sign of friendship and love
- Regurgitating: budgies transferring food into their friend’s mouth is a natural expression of affection
- Light pecking or bumping: playful behavior that is often mistaken for aggression. If the recipient is content and calm, this act is harmless and often loving
- Bobbing and singing: a content and happy bird. Budgies bob, dance, and sing when they’re enjoying their friend’s companionship
Budgies are naturally docile and calm birds. They’re super playful and love being around fellow budgies.
When your budgies fight, this may indicate territorial disputes or mating rivalries, especially during mating season. It can also be caused by jealousy, incompatibility, stress, and social altercations.
Usually, aggressive behavior doesn’t last more than a couple of minutes. Budgies don’t hold grudges and would forget the altercation after a while.
If the behavior persists, it’s best to separate the budgie and place it in another cage before it injures its playmates.