Budgies live in a world where they compete for everything. They bicker over food and may have a brief dispute over friends, toys, or territory. This is all part of a normal budgie society.
How, then, can you tell when things have escalated from playing to something more serious?
Often playing and fighting between budgies may look similar. There are many things to watch for, but if one bird is consistently fleeing from another, or if one budgie is constantly pecking at another’s feet, it is time to step in and take a closer look.
To decipher if a budgie is playing or fighting, you will need to familiarize yourself with a budgie’s signs of aggression versus signs of play. Spotting aggression in a budgie may be tricky at first, as they are often extremely active, vocal and physical without being hostile.
First, let’s look at some of the differences between the two types of behavior.
Signs of an Aggressive Bird
- Raised Wings – This is an angry bird who is rising his “fists” in preparation to fight. (Also, if you feel that your budgie is flapping his wings all the time, read this article!)
- Hissing – This sound is a threat that is meant to warn others away.
- Biting Feet – When one bird pecks at another bird’s feet, this is an act of aggression. It is often done to forcibly remove a bird off of his perch. This is not something budgies do in innocent play.
- Chasing – If one bird regularly chases another bird around, it is most likely an aggressive behavior.
- Guarding Resources – If one budgie is going out of his way to keep another budgie from eating or drinking for any significant period of time, it is probably not a friendly gesture.
- Defending a Perch – This is often an indication that your birds are feeling overcrowded, and it can lead to a significant fight.
- Screaming and Loud Squawking – If you hear violent squawking or distinctive screaming from a bird, this is often a clear sign that a fight is in progress.
- Wrestling on the Floor – This behavior will most likely lead to injury if it is not stopped immediately; it means that a serious struggle is taking place.
Friendly Budgie Behavior
- Preening – Friendly budgies will preen each other’s faces and beaks with their beaks. If a budgie’s feathers are fluffed up and his eyes are closed, he is enjoying his grooming session.
- Beak Touching – This looks like a bird kiss, and is an affectionate sign between good budgie friends.
- Sitting Together – Budgie buddies enjoy sitting close to one another and touching each other.
- Regurgitating – Birds who are truly close may regurgitate food into their friend’s mouth.
- Bobbing and Singing – A singing bird is a truly happy bird. When you throw head-bobbing and dancing into the mix, this is a good indication that your bird is ecstatic to have a feathered friend he loves. (Head bobbing can have various reasons though. Read more on that here!)
- Light Pecking or Bumping – This is a playful behavior that is typical among budgies. While it may not seem very loving, it is harmless.
If, after careful observation, you determine that your budgies are fighting and not playing after all, you will need to take immediate action.
It will be crucial that you take steps to determine why your budgies are fighting and then make every effort to remedy the situation.
1. Territorial Tiffs and Resource Riots
In the wild, budgies live in flocks comprised of hundreds or even thousands of birds. Often birds within the flock fight to establish the social hierarchy. This same instinct comes out when multiple budgies are kept in a too-small cage. They will fight and bicker over space and resources.
Female budgies are almost always more territorial than males. Females consider their cages to be like a nesting site, which they tend to guard warily from intruders.
Often the amount and placement of perches contribute to the budgie brawls.
Out in nature, budgies are able to rest in trees with many branches and leafy areas. Any area that is higher and more concealed is sought after due to its protection from predators.
A high swing with posts on the sides can help mimic that protected feeling. Try and set up your cage so that every budgie has equal access to their own secure space. Each swing should be high off of the cage floor, and they should all be hung up at close to the same level.
Remember, these are prime resting spots at night, when birds feel the most vulnerable.
You may also need to consider that your birds require a wider cage to add space between all their required swings and perches.
To keep budgies from being jealous over toy placement, there should toys on multiple platforms around the cage so that they can play without sharing if they prefer to do so.
If your budgies bicker over food, make sure to place it in multiple dishes around the cage.
If you have a square or rectangular cage, there should be a dish on three of the four sides. Make sure the dishes are always cleared of hulls and refilled so that your budgies don’t get protective of a dish that has the best food.
2. Mating Rivalry
If two males and one female all live in a cage together, you will probably notice that there are more struggles among your male budgies than those of the opposite sex.
This housing situation will inevitably lead to a fight at some point.
When male hormones surge, three will be a crowd.
As soon as your female goes into her breeding cycle, they will definitely notice, and this is when their competition to attract her can turn ugly, even leading to the death of a bird.
If you believe that a female’s presence is threatening the peace of the cage, it may be time to rearrange their housing situation until her would-be suitors’ interest levels die down.
Stopping the Fights
If, despite your best efforts to provide adequate space, equal resources, and an ideal housing situation, you still find your budgies battling it out, there are some things you can do to disrupt a fight in progress, or maybe even stop it before it starts.
While many budgie owners are not fans of laser pointers for birds, it will serve its purpose in distracting your budgies to curb their fighting. You can get a rechargeable pet laser pointer here.
If you hear your budgies fighting, sometimes all they need is a word of discouragement from their owner. Often walking up to their cage and uttering a loud, firm, “No!” is all they need.
A can partially filled with coins or pebbles can be used for shaking; when used sparingly, this sudden noise should startle your birds and break up their brawl.
You can try to deescalate the situation by speaking soothingly to your budgies. Once they are focused on you, you should be able to take the most stressed budgie out of the cage by asking him to step out and onto your hand.
Exercise Break – Avoid Boredom At All Cost
If one budgie is aggressive, you may find that giving him an outlet for his energy will make him a more peaceful part of the flock.
In the wild, budgies have many things to take care of as part of their daily routine; pet birds that are not allowed to exercise often become bored and then act out.
Foraging toys can really help to keep your budgies busy. A busy budgie has no time to fight. We recommend getting this foraging toy and filling it with your budgies’ favorite treats.
Foraging toys can do wonders if you have two budgies that fight all the time as those toys keep budgies busy mentally and physically.
If you have enough space in your cage, it might be a good idea to get two of those toys in order to avoid that your budgies fight over the toy.
Also, do not forget that playing with the same toy over and over again will become boring over time. To avoid that, we recommend switching out your budgies’ toys from time to time.
If you need some recommendations on what toys are perfect for budgies – we show you 15 awesome toys especially for budgies here!
It may be necessary to keep your budgies separate if one of them is being bullied or if one is being too aggressive. You can try putting them in two different cages until they calm down.
Keep them close together so they can get reacquainted without being able to reach each other. This may help their bonding and allow a more peaceful arrangement in the future.
If you find yourself continually having to break up budgie brawls, it is time to consider a permanent separation. Budgies who fight or are picked on will suffer health consequences from the constant stress of being in fight-or-flight mode.
Some budgies just cannot get along with the rest of their flock.
While it is a logical solution, it is not an easy one for a budgie owner to make. Just try and remember that the health and happiness of your budgies come first, and in the long run, it will be better for your feathered family.
Do budgies even need a companion?
We get this question very, very often. It is totally understandable. I mean, why should you even keep two budgies if they are fighting the whole time (IF they are fighting)?
Still, there are very good reasons why budgies should always be kept in groups, or even better, in flocks.
In this article, we will tell you why budgies definitely need a companion! – Read it here!
How do I know if my budgie is happy? Is your budgie talking, whistling, or singing? These particular vocalizations are a good indication that your budgie is content. If your bird makes a lot of these noises, especially when you are in close proximity, it is a clear sign that your bird likes you. You’ve done a good job of making your budgie happy.
Can you put two male budgies in the same cage? Budgies are flock birds, and it is recommended to always keep them in pairs. Female budgies are very domineering, so you should keep that in mind when getting a second budgie. If you already own a male budgie, your best option is to purchase another male. As long as there is no female around, male budgies tend to get along very well.