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Re: Are parrotlets the right bird for me?

Posted: Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:47 am
by paul-inAZ
FinchLady: It can be frustrating. An independent non-chain pet shop would be the most likely place to find an English. Chain stores buy from bird mills and won't have English.
These are basically culls from an exhibitor's stock but unless you want to begin competing any minor 'faults' should not bother you. Exhibitors I know can breed up to 200 chicks a year and retain a small number as stud stock -wholesaling the rest as pets to resellers. In this area a pet type of English budgie sells for $30-50 and even these can be hard to find. Prize winning stock is much more expensive.

The seller you mentioned may well have lower priced birds sold as 'pet quality' and expensive birds as 'exhibition quality' breeding stock. Contact him to ask. Also ask if he is the breeder or if he is reselling and marking up birds he bought at wholesale. Better to deal with a breeder.

Re: Are parrotlets the right bird for me?

Posted: Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:12 am
by wilkifam
Have you considered Bourkes or Grasskeets. Same approximate size as a budgie, but MUCH MUCH quieter and very sweet. They are not big on being petted or scratched, but LOVE to hang out on your shoulder or lap. Even ones that are not hand raised are easily tamed. They are so docile, they can even be housed with finches. They seldom bite, and if they do, it is never hard. They can't be housed with budgies, as the budgies will kill them.

I currently have 2 DNA Sexed male baby Scarlet Chested grasskeets available, and I ship airlines if you are interested.

Re: Are parrotlets the right bird for me?

Posted: Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:34 am
by paul-inAZ
I have had Bourkes and scarlets.
Bourkes are charming, very quiet and placid to a fault, active mainly at dawn and dusk. They can be semi-tamed but are not cuddly.
Scarlets are also quiet, more active but harder to tame.

Either one is attractive.

Re: Are parrotlets the right bird for me?

Posted: Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:13 pm
by FinchLady
No, I haven't considered Grasskeets or Bourkes. Those are lovely birds though. Are they more Parrot temperament/maintenance? I'm drawn to Budgies because they have playful personalities and are easy to maintain. They also travel well by car and not stressed visiting relatives. My Society finches were another story: had to board them when away on weekends or vacation. No one wanted to take them to their home- too messy; nor could we find anyone who minded disarming/re-arming house alarm to check them in our home. Adorable as they were, they were also the messiest birds I've ever had.
So, this time I want to keep things simple/easy upkeep.
I'll check with that breeder about English Budgies (had not thought about pricing difference between exhibition birds vs pet quality). If that doesn't work out, I may get two male American Budgies, not to tame, but to enjoy watching their antics. If I go this route, I'll get a large cage with lots of toys.

Re: Are parrotlets the right bird for me?

Posted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:11 pm
by paul-inAZ
Grasskeets or Bourkes
They are not at all like the bigger parrots as far as temperament or demands. Easy to care for, quiet, not destructive and very trouble free -very comparable to budgies. As an aside, my English budgies show little interest in chewing perches etc apart whereas the 'American' type are more apt to chew things.
I would not rate Grasskeets or Bourkes as having playful personalities. They are lovely eye candy.

No idea about their tolerance of vacation travel.

RE: budgie sexes, a M&F pair will work just as well as M&M so don't let that sway your choice. Pick the color of mutations that appeal to you without concern about sexes.

Re: Are parrotlets the right bird for me?

Posted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:21 pm
by FinchLady
Paul-inAZ: Thanks. I had wondered about Budgie M/F pairs vs. M/M pairs. Lot of conflicting info out there. Nice to get expert advice. These will be single pets- don't want to get back into breeding/crowding situation like with my finches that also had to be boarded at Vet when we were away for weekend. Promised my husband to keep it 'simple' this time.

Re: Are parrotlets the right bird for me?

Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:45 am
by wilkifam
I travel with Bourkes and Grasskeets to sales and shows, they do just fine by car. I could say the Grasskeets are more playful than the Bourkes. Still sweet and quiet. Low maintenance. Hand feds are great because they love to be with you.

Re: Are parrotlets the right bird for me?

Posted: Mon May 07, 2018 1:02 am
by Sojourner
Parrotlets, in my admittedly somewhat limited experience, are terribly noisy, not people-friendly, and (worst of all) universally projectile poopers. At least the one's I've seen are. I decided parrotlets are Not For Me, even as a bird owner who doesn't want to "interact" with my birds.

I think budgies are a better choice.

I don't like the English budgie (but YMMV). I think they look - weird. I prefer the so-called "American" style which is closer to the wild stock.

And American budgies only SEEM to be behaviorally obnoxious because 90% of them in the US (99.99% in pet stores) are being fed the same crap dry "parakeet seed" mix that people have thought should be their main food for generations (I mean PEOPLE generations, LOL!). They're cranky because they cannot be healthy on a dry-seed diet like that (or pellets, which IMNSHO are even worse for them).

Once I got my guys switched over to a mostly veggie, home-made corn-free bird bread, and almost millet/oat/canary reedgrass free diet, they IMMEDIATELY calmed down (vocally) and became WAY more active (physically), developed an interest in their toys, and virtually stopped screaming. They actually have a very pleasant warble that I had never heard before out of any parakeet which is their normal mode of communication, not the incessant screaming, LOL!

But it does take some effort. I have found it to be well worth it though.

Re: Are parrotlets the right bird for me?

Posted: Mon May 07, 2018 6:16 pm
by Sojourner
BTW - I think its really weird that you found budgies to be CLEANER than societies. I've found the exact opposite! There is a constant fog of dander and feathers around their cage, and they are way more likely to scatter hulls out of the cage.

I have to wonder how many societies you had and what size the cage was. I have found them to be WAY easier to clean up after than my budgies, who also tend to urp on everything in sight. I pretty much have to clean the mirrors at least every couple of days. Just budgie friendliness, to go up to a friend (including the one in the mirror) and offer a bit of pre-digested refreshment.

Re: Are parrotlets the right bird for me?

Posted: Mon May 07, 2018 10:27 pm
by FinchLady
Sojourner: That's very interesting that Budgie diet so strongly changed their behavior. Would not have thought of that but it does make sense: healthier diet= healthier birds= happier birds. So, thanks for the tip.
RE: Societies being messier than Budgies: Yes, my Societies were crowded. As first time finch owner, had no idea 3 cute little birdies could become "9' within weeks! In retrospect the cage was too crowded and too tall. Result:wet runny poop on walls, curtains, cage bars. Seed/pellets covered everything several feet around the cage. By contrast, my Budgies had drier poops that stayed mostly in bottom of cage. I do remember some feathers, dander, seed hulls around cage. It has been a number of years since I had a Budgie (and only one at a time) so perhaps my memory is faulty. I'm also a bit worried about the noise level of two Budgies (want to have buddy birds this time). My husband loved the soft peeps of the finches but not screech of lonely/wanting attention Budgie. Was hoping two Budgies would make them less demanding, less screechy? But then two birds = twice the noise?

Re: Are parrotlets the right bird for me?

Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 1:38 am
by Sojourner

Yeah, any birds can really make a mess on the wall. My solution is to hang a sheet over the back. Doubles as a night cover. FLAT sheet. I've been using an old twin fitted sheet and when I hit a rough patch with my health and it didn't get taken down and washed for a few weeks, the stuff that collected in those corners .... EWWWW!!!

My sister had parrots. Like big ones, a cockatoo, some kind of macaw. She had moved in on my dad. Eventually I had to go throw her out because she was letting those birds loose in the house and they were pooping EVERWHERE, it would dry up and aerosolize and my dad had pneumonia 3 times in about 15 months. Not good for an 87 year old man! Or anybody else for that matter.

Anywhoo. My son went over there with me after I got rid of her to help me clean. I kid you not, things crunched when you walked across the carpet in her room. He looked at the walls behind where she had had the cages sitting and said, "What is THAT?"

It was bird poop encrusted on the wall. Layers and layers of it.

BUT back to OUR birds, who are not allowed to get into those kinds of conditions.

Parakeets are noisy, but my parakeets are actually acceptably quiet to me since getting their diets straightened out. HOWEVER, they still get screechy at times. Such as when I am on the phone. Never fails. They're like 3 year olds, ignore you totally until you pick up the phone then they're hanging off your leg screaming "MOMMY! PAY TENTION TO ME!"

Yes, twice the birds is liable to be twice the noise. Also it took me a bit over a year to get their diet straightened out, so they were pretty dang screechy that whole time. AND THEN they got particularly attached to one particular type of feed I'd been giving them and when Trader Joe's stopped stocking it, they went totally off EVERYTHING I had worked so hard to introduce to them, even most of their old original "parakeet blend" feed. The only thing they ate happily was the oats, and secondarily the canary reedgrass seed in the mix. They wouldn't eat the millet for quite awhile, whereas they had been millet hogs when I got them.

Which is not a heartbreaker overall because despite its commonality in pet bird feed, millet is not all that great, and its AWFUL as the majority of their diet. But anyway. I did finally get them straightened out again and it thankfully didn't take nearly as long, AND in future I will be more careful about letting them get too attached to any one thing.

You could totally eliminate the teach-them-to-eat-right problem if you get your birds from a private breeder who already feeds her birds properly. Or HIS birds, not to be chauvinistic there, LOL!

My suggestion would be to go with a pair of finches. GUARANTEED to be quiet (as long as they're not zebras anyway, LOL!) and in my experience, way less picky about their food than any parakeet I've ever had. And really, I promise, way less mess than budgies. Mine are kicking up dust and dander and loose down and feathers all the time. The finches? Way cleaner, way less seed scattered (of course I do use very small feed cups and a gravity feeder so there's less to scatter) and way way way quieter even when the budgies are being well-behaved.

I suggest this cage for one pair of finches:


Prevue F075, WITHOUT STAND, 36x18x20

OR the same cage with the stand (and WITH the stand is actually cheaper at the moment than the one WITHOUT the stand)


Prevue F070 WITH the stand, 36x18x20

This cage (in either version) comes with a divider you can slide into the middle so you can isolate the birds on one side of the cage and clean the other side at your leisure without fear of escapes. This cage has a very nice all-metal heavy duty slide-out tray under each half that you just, well, slide out, dump, scrub, line, replace. SIMPLE.

It also comes with wire bottoms which I just leave out. They're more trouble than they're worth and not good for little birdy feet anyway. If you have very very small finches it's barely possible one could wiggle through the gap that leaves but my Bambi is actually quite small for a society and he has never gotten out. I'm not sure he's TRIED, mind you. And you can just slide the waste trays in ON TOP of the runners and it will close that gap back up.

With the wire bottoms in cleaning is a lot harder because now you have to clean the wire bottoms and they are not removable with the birds in the cage. At least not EASILY removable. If you line them with paper on top, now that waste tray is, well, WASTED. And its a lot harder to clean the cage because now all that paper and poop and dropped seed has to come out through a door instead of just pulling the whole drawer out.

This cage offers good flight space for a finch. It's bigger than the 30x18x18 cages that are the minimum acceptable size for a pair of finches. It doesn't SEEM larger to us hoomans, but I guarantee you, a little 3" bird thinks an extra 6" is a LOT of extra space, LOL!

You actually COULD keep up to 6 societies in one of these (because they are generally so low on the aggression scale) but then you'd probably experience some increased cleaning requirements. Zebras, I wouldn't put more than 2 in one of these. Not sure about other finches - Owl finches would probably be ok with a 6-bird flock, but really, I'd go with a larger cage for more finches anyway. One pair is a guaranteed winner.

The best thing about them in my opinion is how easy it is for me to clean. The worst thing is that I need help if I need to mount, say, a perch on the back wall because I'm a little bit of a thing myself and I can't QUITE reach through to hold the perch and then reach around to the back to screw in the nut, LOL!

It does have spring-type doors on either end as well as the doors on the front, that have hinges and a latch. It is heavier duty than any of their other cages that I own.

Toss the D-cups that come with it, they are Macaw size and your birdies will nest in them. Or try to. And poop in them and do all sorts of messy things with oversize feed cups. I use thumb cups but you can't get those any more.

Check on for her current crop of feed cups, I use the flat narrow shallow "biscuit cups" mostly now, and a gravity feeder for their staple seed. Plus the thumb cups, which they stopped making (it turns out) in 2005 when the factory shut down and now the backstock seems to be totally depleted.

So I'm contemplating some very small round cups she has labeled "Mineral cups". The "egg cups" that look like actual eggs are too big IMO, my guys did try to lay eggs in them and did turn around and poop on their food. They don't do that with the biscuit cups (they're like rectangular trays more than "cups") though it sure looks like there's room for that, I am guessing the sides are so thin they aren't comfortable perching on them anywhere except the actual built-in perch.

And I use the JW products water silos. The short ones, not the tall ones. The tall ones tend to lean back away from the cage so the trough doesn't fill properly, I had to clip the one I use to the side of the cage to stop that. And they don't come with a clip. The short ones are fine though. Once you mount the holder part to the cage all you have to do is slide the silo itself up to remove.

Budgies MIGHT be doable if you get yours from someone who has already taught them to eat a proper diet, but I do think you would be "safer" from the noise standpoint with a pair of finches. Given your SO already has noise concerns that's just the safer route, IMO. And I wouldn't put even a pair of budgies in anything smaller than this cage:


Prevue F040 31x20.5x53 including stand, 30x20x47 cage only

I actually would bang 2 of the above together to give them 5' of flight room. I've been buying these when they go on sale. Which USED to be about $90 but lately has been about $100 (when they go on sale).

If I only had room for ONE cage I would at least go with the X-LG Prevue F050 on the same page (about $30 more) that is 37x23x60 (47" tall not counting the stand).

I have two of the F040s sitting out in the garage right now waiting to be banged together. Between losing a bird, a dog, and dealing with my own illness this past year, not a lot has been getting done here, LOL! Actually now that I think of it I am pretty sure I have FOUR of those sitting out there waiting to be banged together, one pair for the budgies and one for the finch(es). Used to be "finches", currently just "finch". But at least for the budgies I need to get that done soon.

One good thing about budgies: They are WAY less likely to surprise you with a bunch of eggs one day. Female budgies BURROW to nest. They actually sell sections of a lightweight wood "log" for the purpose. So - super simple, I have never had a problem with budgies trying to nest when you don't want them to. I've never even found so much as a single dropped egg.

Most finches are NOT sexually dimorphic (eg you can't tell which gender they are just by sight). Zebras are. Societies are not. Owls are not. Spice finches are not. Strawberries sort of are, or they are part of the year, or at certain ages, I forget. The vast majority of the breeds I like are not though. So that's one plus for zebras, you can for sure get 2 males to take home and not have to worry about egg laying at all. They are noisier than societies but (probably) not as loud as budgies can be. And just 2 will not be as noisy as 6.

Actually a pair of Javas would be an EXCELLENT choice for you, if you can get them in your state. They're BIG for finches, but very peaceable. I really really like Javas and they are legal in my state, but if there are any here, nobody knows where they live.

OK, now I'll go and answer the other thread where you posted, LOL! I only knew you posted here because I saw you posted there, and you TOLD me you posted somewhere else, LOL!

Re: Are parrotlets the right bird for me?

Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:58 pm
by FinchLady
Sojourner: Thank you so much for all the great info!!!! This is like a it over many times- considering several options.
Sorry it has taken so long to respond- 'Bird' search on the back burner while I attend some other matters. Hope to get back to bird/cage acquisition decisions later in the Summer. But, again, I apologize for delayed response. Appreciate great advice!

Re: Are parrotlets the right bird for me?

Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2018 9:54 pm
by FinchLady
Sojourner: Had posted on another string RE: Vision II birdcages. Was lured by promise of seed-free floors so asked opinions on Forum- glad I did. Was ready to set up my old cage when remembered your post. After rereading all of your excellent advice decided to look for an English Budgie (very hard to find- but tamer/quieter than American). Or I may try 2-4 Societies again using your tips for different seed cups/water silos and a more suitable cage. I now have a neighbor who will bird-sit for us.
So, now the hunt is on.....