There is no question that when a cherished pet has died, it is completely normal for you and your surviving budgie to grieve. How, then, can you help your beloved bird recover from his mourning period?
First, let’s look at some signs and indicators that your budgie may be grieving:
- constant head-bobbing (If your budgie is head bobbing all the time, you should read our article on head bobbing here.)
- loss of appetite
- change in vocalization
- aggression and biting (Sudden aggression in budgies can have various reasons. We have created an article on sudden aggression in budgies here.)
- change in droppings (Droppings can tell you a lot about your bird’s health. Here is our Poop Guide for cockatiels. It can also be used for budgies!)
- searching and calling for his companion
- a difference in sleeping habits
- obsessive behaviors
If you have determined your bird is, indeed, grieving, try your best not to distress. Experts say that it is very typical for your remaining budgie to mourn anywhere from two to four weeks.
It is extremely important that your budgie has your support during his period of transition and readjustment.
Here are nine simple things you can do to help ease your budgie’s heartache:
1. Play Soothing Music
Because it is common for a budgie to call and search for his departed companion, playing calming music over the radio or a new recording of whistling can be both a comfort and a distraction.
Your budgie may even try to learn and perform some new songs for you. In a pinch, you can leave the television on or play a recording of your voice in your absence to keep your lonely bird company.
2. Schedule Extra One-on-One Time
Make sure to give your bird some extra, scheduled attention.
If you can, try and block off ten to fifteen minutes of interaction a few times each and every day; do your best to stick to the same times each day–an unchanging daily routine is important, as it is calming in your bird’s time of uncertainty.
Keeping your budgie close as you’re moving around the house, singing to him, talking to him, and playing with him are all ways to help ensure that he bonds with you, even as he is missing his mate.
If your budgie is not tame yet, this might be a good opportunity to tame him/her unless he/she isn’t too scared of you. This way your budgie will be busy and not alone, and you will have a tame budgie.
3. Provide Some Interesting Toys
Invest in some new toys to pique your bird’s interest. Toys are essential to stimulate your budgie both mentally and physically; this is especially important for a bird on his own.
Toys made of wood, plant, or paper materials are good for your budgie, and they are similar to things he might play with in the wild of Australia.
Toys of different colors and textures are ideal for keeping your budgie from getting bored. Climbing toys, perches, swings, and toys that make noise are always favorites, but there are plenty of DIY toys your budgie may enjoy as well.
Even a simple wooden spool or some popsicle sticks can provide hours of supervised entertainment. Make sure that you get some toys in the right size, made from non-toxic material. We show you 15 amazing toys for budgies in this article. Read it here!
Remember to try and rotate old and new toys out of his cage on a weekly basis; as the days pass, this should help increase his curiosity.
Keep in mind that you should never get a mirror for your budgie. That could have a devastating effect on your budgie. Read this article to learn why.
4. Offer Some Favorite Foods
Try and entice your bird with a few of his favorite foods or attempt to expand his palate with new ones.
While peas, carrots, celery, broccoli, apples, and spinach may already be staples in your bird’s diet, budgies also enjoy parsley, silverbeet, cooked pumpkin, apricots and sweet potatoes.
Don’t forget to treat your bird to millet as well; this seems to be an all-time favorite of budgies.
Although your budgie’s intake should be extremely limited, a bit of honey may be just the thing to perk up a depressed bird.
To help you a little bit, we have created an article where we compiled 12 treats that your budgie will definitely love. Read it here!
5. Have a Staycation
New environments can be stimulating for your bird. Let him ride on your shoulder as you explore new places in your home together; allow him to experience walking around on different surfaces, such as the top of a table or nightstand.
Consider moving his cage so that he can be near a window. This can provide an exciting vantage point from which to view the outside world.
Just remember to keep the window shut and avoid anywhere with exposure to direct sunlight.
6. Let Your Bird Say Goodbye
If possible, think about allowing your bird to see his departed companion one last time. While it may sound morbid or even cruel, because budgies bond so tightly, seeing the body may keep your budgie from searching and calling in vain for his friend.
It can help him understand the finality of the event and possibly even offer some closure.
If that is not a possibility, there is evidence to suggest that a surviving budgie may exhibit significantly fewer signs of stress after his owner puts up a picture of the deceased bird outside the cage where it can be easily seen.
7. Consider Getting Him A Friend
If you think you are ready, it may be time to consider getting another bird. Because budgies are social animals and generally prefer to be kept in pairs or groups, this can be helpful.
Most budgies usually do accept a new partner very quickly. However, it is recommended that you introduce them slowly.
Put their cages next to one another so they can get used to each other’s voices. Pay special attention to whether they seem interested in one another.
If they chatter and tweet back and forth, they may be ready for supervised play outside the cage. Check to see if they play together or if they peck and fight.
Do not force them to share a cage unless both birds seem ready. If they do not seem to get along, you can cage them separately in the same room; they will still appreciate the company.
Remember, two males or a male and female will most likely get along better than two females.
8. Give Him Time
Be extremely patient with your budgie. It can be difficult to see your budgie grieve, and unfortunately, it may take longer than you would like for your bird to begin to emerge from his period of mourning.
Remember, he needs time to process the loss.
Think of his grief as his way of paying his final respects to his departed friend. With your help, your beloved budgie will be feeling like his old self again before you know it.
9. Visit Your Vet
If, however, your budgie is still showing signs of grieving after you have tried the above tips, it is time to find and schedule an appointment with a trusted avian vet.
It is much better to be cautious than to just assume that your bird is continuing to display signs of grief.
Because some diseases can manifest with the same symptoms as a bird in mourning, you will definitely want to get an expert opinion.
If I Choose Not to Get Him a Companion, Will My Budgie Be Lonely?
Budgies can feel lonely, especially after their companion passes. Budgies are, by nature, flock animals.
However, just like people, there are some budgies that are actually more suited to being alone, and they do not feel lonely at all as long as they have sufficient interaction and plenty of attention from their favorite human.
A solo budgie will require hours of one-on-one time with their owner each day to stay happy, so make sure you can commit to that before deciding to keep your bird single.
If you have the time to devote to your budgie, you may actually find that it is much easier to bond with your budgie and tame him when you only have one.
Owners of solo budgies also report that their budgies tend to be more affectionate towards them when kept alone. Having one budgie may even increase the likelihood of him talking to you.
- If your budgie is happy being alone, you will know based on careful observation of his behavior.
- If, after the expected grieving period, your budgie is back to normal and seems excited and active, he may do well staying by himself.
- Birds who remain genuinely curious about their surroundings and are vocal and playful are probably well-suited to being solo birds.
- If, however, he stays withdrawn and shows no interest in you or his environment after every effort to cheer him up, you may need to reconsider getting him a friend after all.
- If you decide that a new budgie is in the cards, remember that female budgies are dominant in their social interactions, so it’s best to base your pick of another budgie on gender.
- If you own a male, your best option is usually to select another male. Male budgies get along well together; they frequently sing to one another and ordinarily interact peacefully.
- If your surviving budgie is a female, a new male is still probably your best choice. A male and female can live together very amicably.
- If you don’t want any budgie chicks, just make sure there are no potential nesting holes in the cage–or anything that your birds could turn into nests–and your budgies will most likely avoid mating, although there are no guarantees.
- If you choose to put two females together, you can expect a lot of bickering over personal territory — which equals a lot of noise.
Whatever your choice will be, your lonely budgie is certain to appreciate the company! We also highly recommend reading this article. It will show you why budgies need companions so badly!