One of the world’s most familiar parrot species, the budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) is best known to many as a hugely popular cage bird. However, this small, slender, long-tailed parakeet is also notable for being one of the most abundant members of the parrot family in its native range in Australia. Although captive budgerigars come in a variety of colours, the wild budgerigar is predominantly green and yellow. Its forehead, face and throat are bright yellow, while the rear of the crown and the sides of the head are yellow with fine black barring that extends down over the eyes. Further down the back, the fine barring gives way to heavier bars that produce a scalloped appearance. The lower back and uppertail-coverts of the budgerigar are bright green. The budgerigar has long, pointed wings, with black and green wing feathers that are edged with yellow. A prominent yellowish to white wing bar is visible in flight. The budgerigar has light green underparts and underwing-coverts, and its long, tapering tail is bright bluish-green with a conspicuous yellow band across each side, near the base. The side of the budgerigar’s face is marked with a prominent violet patch and a row of three round, black dots. This species has a rounded head and a small, compact beak, which is brownish with a yellow tip. The adult budgerigar’s eyes are white and its legs are grey. The male and female budgerigar are similar in appearance, but can be told apart by the colour of the cere, which is blue in adult males and brownish in adult females. Juvenile budgerigars are distinguished by their dark eyes and the barring on their forehead, and develop their adult plumage at about three to four months old. The budgerigar is the only species in its genus, and is difficult to confuse with any other parrot due to its small size, its distinctive patterning, and its long, pointed wings and tail. The calls of the budgerigar include a continuous, warbling ‘chirrup’ or ‘chedelee… chedelee’, interspersed with whistles and screams. This small parakeet also gives a sharp chattering in alarm and a subdued screech. In captivity, the budgerigar is famous for being able to mimic other sounds, including human speech. Certain parts of the budgerigar’s plumage reflect ultraviolet light, which may enhance its bright colours and play a role in mate selection.




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