Animal experiments with my budgie

Don’t worry though - nobody got hurt.

I have a delightful purple budgie named Caesar who is about a year old. He’s really tame and affectionate now (apart from occasional cheeky nipping), mimics a couple of dozen words and phrases and has recently started to learn tricks (I’m teaching him to pick up beads and drop them in a pot).

Anyway, when we first got him, the minor shock of moving him to our home caused him to moult a little and we collected up a number of beautiful little feathers. At that time, my inquisitive daughter wondered out loud how many feathers he would lose in a year, so we started collecting them all in a plastic box (as he subsequently lost and regrew more of them)
Initial rough estimates led us to formulate the question: After a year, will the accumulated shed feathers weigh more, or less, than the bird? i.e. will he produce his own body weight in feathers in a year.

Well, the results are now in and it turns out it was a hopelessly naive question; the bird weighs 34 grammes (as measured on an accurate set of digital kitchen scales). The accumulated feathers (occupying, uncompacted, a container of about one pint capacity) weigh … nothing at all - that is to say, they don’t even weigh enough to register one gramme on the scales.

We probably didn’t manage to collect each and every single dropped feather - a few were just vacuumed up; others were soiled in the bottom of the cage and were discarded when it was cleaned, but at the outside estimate, even if we only collected half of the total, we’re still talking about the bird producing perhaps 2 percent of his body weight in feathers per year. Incredible.

Also to be noted is the fact that we were only able to collect a few of the larger feathers such as the flight feathers and the long, stiff ones from the tail - so it’s also true that these have an individual life cycle longer than a year. Little wonder that birds spend so much attention on keeping them preened.

How did you tech him to pick up beads?

Adorable! I had budgies as a kid, and they never learned to do much of anything, but they were fun.

There’s a joke in here about unladen budgies and airspeed but I just can quite get it. Tweet!

My experience was similar to matt_mcl’s: I had a couple of the birds (both yellow-faced turquoises), but neither of them ever learned much of anything. My first one was rather tame, and would be very friendly (he loved to snuggle my nose whilst I nasally blew through his headfeathers), but neither of them ever learned to talk.

I still miss them, sorta, but they were impossible to sleep in the same room with after the sun came up.

Experiments are a big part of the fun of life with birds. I favor behavioral experiments. I did teach my conure to “sleep in”(being quiet until I got up) and he taught it to the greys. I forgot to make notes on how. Currently I am conducting “What Happens if you Turn an African Grey on its Back?” Preliminary data suggests that greys become indignant, then cuddly and smug.

No, no, no. You’ll never get funding with a title like that! Try: “The Behavioral Effects of Gravitation and Inversion on* Psittacus erithacus erithacus*” (or timneh, as appropriate).
Cute birds.

If you put a budgie on a treadmill…

He likes picking things up and tossing them about already, so it’s really a matter of holding the cup in such a way that it’s a little more likely to happen by chance, then rewarding him* when it does happen. I also demonstrate the goal by repeatedly picking up the bead and dropping it in the cup - although I’m sure he’s aware that I am a larger animal than him, he does interact with my hand in some ways (and at some times) as if it were another bird.

*His reward consists of talking to him really close up - with my lips touching his beak - he really likes this (I’m aware it’s probably not entirely hygienic).

One thing I’ve noticed with this bird and with another very tame budgie we had some years ago, is that they love dropping things off the edge of tables - he has a number of small playthings, including half a dozen little plastic half-shells from Kinder Egg toys - if I line these up on the table, he will systematically pick them up, one at a time, carry them carefully to the edge of the table and let go, then he looks down at them for a while and returns to do the next one.


Perhaps you should get him a stopwatch and lean a yardstick up against the table. 32 ft per second per second and all that. :slight_smile:

Well it’s a long time since we had budgies but I seem to remember that if you’ve got more than one together they wouldn’t talk. They’ll just chatter away to each other in budgie.

I think maybe he’s trying to train you to pick them up. Stupid humans. They’re hard to train. :smiley:

Or screech until you take them and their cage and place 'em in the bathroom and close the door.

My mother brought home a couple. Mostly innocuous. Their biggest problem is that they occasionally go for walks around the living room floor without telling anyone first.

So far, neither is flat.

I have a cat and a son who do that too. Well, my son stopped when he turned three.

I taught my budgie, Max to say “Dumb bird”, “Fuck a duck” and then “Viaduct, vhy not a chicken?*”

*Marx Brothers joke