Budgerigars, also known as the Common parakeet, are the sole species of the genus Melopsittacus. These colourful birds have been bred in captivity since the 18th-century and are the most popular avian pet globally.
Budgies are sociable, well-natured, intelligent, easy to train, and capable of advanced vocal mimicry, which further enhances their appeal as a pet. Here, we’re going to answer: how long do budgies live?
Pet budgies can live for up to 15 years, but 6 to 12 is a more reasonable range. This is nearly double their lifespan in the wild, which is just around 5 years - quite low for a parakeet. Some breeds of pet budgies - the "English budgerigars", also known as "show" or "exhibition budgerigars" - live for just 6 to 9 years.
The life expectancy of a budgie is highly dependent on how well it’s looked after. In exceptional circumstances, pet budgies can live until they’re almost 20.
Read on to learn more about the lifespans of these popular and much-loved birds!
Captive budgies can live up to fifteen years
Broadly speaking, budgies live for around 5 to 15 years in captivity, though not many birds will obtain 15, which is exceptionally old for a budgie. Their average lifespan is probably more like 8 years. Pet budgie lifespans are highly dependent on how well the bird is looked after.
There are generally two types of budgies; the traditional budgerigar, also called the American budgie, which is descended from wild budgies in Australia, and the English budgie.
The English budgie has been more intensively interbred and is generally larger. Traditional budgies have a longer lifespan, typically between 8 and 12 years. English budgies live for more like 6 to 9 years.
Budgies are also selectively bred to be different colours, but colour has no real impact on longevity aside from some of the rarer or more ornate mutations.
Budgies live for around 4 to 6 years in the wild. This is pretty low amongst most other parrots and parakeets. There’s little information or data on wild budgie mortality rates, or the causes of mortality.
Two pet budgies perched together
Breeders and experienced keepers report that female budgies can live slightly longer than males, but only by a few months.
Older budgies do sleep more and generally have less energy. In their last couple of years, many budgies become quieter, less active and more withdrawn. Particularly old birds begin to lose their eyesight and other senses.
These are telltale signs that a budgie is reaching the end of its live, but an older bird may still live another few years in this state.
Budgies are also commonly referred to as common parakeets
Most well-kept budgies die from old-age related causes. These include infections, organ failure and sepsis. In addition, old budgies are particularly vulnerable to respiratory infections and liver disease.
Budgies can die suddenly if exposed to cigarette smoke, air fresheners and other fumes.
Stress also significantly impacts a budgie’s lifespan, so they shouldn’t be exposed to loud noises or other pets. Another common infection is chlamydiosis or parrot fever. Budgies are fragile animals that require constant care and vigilance to protect them from stressors or toxins.
Budgies have relatively quick lifecycles. Incubation is just 18 to 23 days in the wild, with fledging taking around 30 to 40 days after hatching.
A budgie feeding their chick in the wild
In their native Australian habitat, budgies are predated by goshawks, falcons, Wedge-tailed eagles and owls.
In addition, red foxes, snakes and other reptiles predate budgies on land. Corvids may also raid budgie nests and eat eggs and nestlings.
There are numerous anecdotes of budgies living for 20 years. One Australian bird was confirmed to be 26, but the titleholder is Charlie from England, who died at 29-years-old.
Charlie was born in April 1948 and was kept by J Dinsey of Stonebridge, London. He died on the 20th June 1977, aged 29 years and 2 months. Charlie holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest budgerigar in captivity. If the Australian budgie lived for another 2 years, it would have beaten Charlie’s record.
A young pet budgie
Budgies need to be fed every day. They cannot reliably survive more than one day without eating and drinking.
If they’re not fed for around 24-hours, budgies can weaken and die rapidly. Budgies also need to drink every day and can die without drinking for 24-hours.
Budgies are listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their native population is currently stable and increasing.
A wild budgie perched on a wire
You can only reliably tell the age of a budgie when it’s younger. Hatchlings and nestlings less than 2-weeks old are primarily naked, with pin feathers developing after a week. The bird should be covered in feathers after around 1-month.
White or yellowish caps help identify birds older than around four months. After that, the budgie moults into its juvenile and adult plumage.
The only way to gauge the age of an adult budgie is by looking at its plumage. As budgies age, their plumage will change colour and become less vibrant. Additionally, older budgies slow down and eventually become more reclusive and less talkative.
A 20-year-old budgie would be exceptionally long-lived.
A budgie can live 20 years, but most budgies live between 5 and 10 years. Even 15 years would be considered a long life.
Budgies that live over 10 years are considered to have a longer than average life
10-years-old is not particularly old for a budgie, but is still towards the top end of their average lifespan.
Most budgies live for around 8 years at least. If a budgie dies before the age of 6 or so, that would be considered premature.
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