Budgerigars aka “Budgies” or “Common Parakeets” are native Australian parrots that represent the most popular companion birds, currently accounting for about 45 million pets.
But decades of aviculture and selective breeding have culminated in numerous budgie sub-species which vary in size, colours, patterns, personalities, and even breeding capacities.
However, most ornithologists categorize budgies into only two types:
Australian/Wild Budgies and English Budgies.
Before we discuss how these two differ, let’s address the elephant in the room:
What Is An English Budgie?
Well, English Budgies are a sub-species of Australian budgies that were produced in England through inbreeding of selective traits including enormous size and mild temperament.
So, English budgies are larger and calmer than their wild relatives.
They also have brighter tones of yellow, green and blue as base colours with pronounced markings and distinguished hues of olive, mauve, grey, violet, and cinnamon.
But their most distinguishing feature is their unusually large heads with feathers covering their eyes and pearl feathers making a beard-like structure on their necks.
Scientifically, both English and Regular budgies are Melopsittacus undulatus.
That means they are the same birds but English Budgies have never existed in the wild.
Since English budgies were bred in captivity, you may be curious as to when the first English Budgie was born.
I talk about this at the end of the article if you’re interested to know about their origin! (It’s pretty interesting)
Since English Budgies are larger than regular budgies, you must be wondering about:
English Budgie Size
But its unusually large size makes an English Budgie somewhat sedentary.
However, this still doesn’t mean that an English budgie is any less active than a regular budgie because it too keeps on exploring new activities and shows several new feats.
In fact, they are ideal birds for displaying new tricks at a bird show.
This is exactly what earned them the title: “Show Parakeets” or “Exhibition Budgies”.
That said, even the biggest English budgie is quite a small pet bird.
And so, you can only claim that an English Budgie is a large parrot while comparing it to a normal budgie.
English Budgie vs Normal Budgie (What’s The Difference)
Well, an English Budgie is just a large selectively-bred cousin of a normal Budgie.
Now, a Normal or Australian Budgie is about 28-32g in weight and 7-8 inches tall, with a wingspan as wide as 12 inches.
In contrast, even the smallest English budgie is at least 45g in weight and 10 inches tall, boasting a wingspan of 14 inches. So,
But English Budgies were not artificially selected for only their enormous builds.
Therefore, there are other differences between the two budgie sub-species.
Compared to a normal budgie, English Budgies have:
- Brighter base colours with more pronounced stripes on their necks.
- Distinct hues of mauve, grey, violet, cinnamon and golden.
- Larger heads with fluffier bodies and longer tails.
- Beard-like pearl feathers around their necks.
- Feathers covering their eyes and giving them a somewhat blind appearance.
- Slightly more hooked bills.
- Clear gender dimorphism with male birds displaying blue ceres contrasting pink-brown ceres of female or white ceres of the immature budgies.
- Calmer personalities.
Though the physical traits make English budgies distinguished from other breeds, they remain most desirable for their temperaments.
This leads me to my next point
English Budgie Personality
Contrary to expectations, English Budgies are neither reserved nor sarcastic.
But they are British-born, calm and certainly polite, so they’re English enough.
Now, all budgies are intelligent birds that host complete personalities in their tiny bodies.
So, individual birds may behave differently but most English budgies are extremely calm, docile and loving parrots.
They are as active as their wild counterparts because they continuously explore new activities, swing around, bob their heads and grind their teeth.
Therefore, they need a consistent supply of toys and treats to keep them entertained.
Though female English budgies turn aggressive during the breeding season.
Despite that, they still thrive on human attention and can be even more playful than a normal budgie.
Even so, they don’t squawk loudly to gain affection.
It may be that English Budgies find it rude to talk aloud or stare a little too long.
But on a side note, Englishmen hand-picked calm birds for inbreeding.
So, it’s not too far-fetched to assume that they were hoping for a British standard of etiquette from their pets.
So, it’s kinda disappointing that English Budgies don’t make queues or take tea.
However, there is only so much a bird can conform to the English norm.
Now, you may be wondering if English can teach their birds some manners, how would American budgies behave in comparison?
Let’s find out the difference between an English budgie and an American budgie
English Budgie vs American Budgie
Befitting their names, English budgies are far more restrained and polite while American budgies are probably strong believers of ‘freedom of speech’ as they are way too expressive, even if that means openly letting you know that they dislike you.
Oh, come on! I am not kidding.
You see, English budgies were inbred for their calmness and laid-back personalities.
Meanwhile, American budgies are ‘almost’ native so they are noisy, prone to biting, and as difficult to tame as any wild budgie.
Apart from personalities, American budgies physically differ from English budgies as a normal budgie does.
Now, American budgies aka ‘common parakeets’ are the descendants of Australian budgies that were imported to the Americas in the late 1800s.
However, they were not as selectively bred as their English relatives to morph into distinct subspecies.
American budgies are just domesticated American cousins of Normal or Australian Wild Budgies.
Therefore, comparing an English budgie to an American Budgie is just like comparing a normal budgie to the former.
That said, some American budgies display an orange-red tinge which is found in neither wild budgies nor English budgies.
Furthermore, decades of aviculture have resulted in American budgies being ‘slightly larger’ parrots compared to their wild Australian relatives.
But, how big is ‘slightly larger’?
Well, a typical American Budgie is 8-9 inches tall and weighs about 30-40g, with a wingspan of 12-13 inches.
Meanwhile, a regular Australian budgie can be as large as 8 inches tall with a wingspan of 12 inches and a weight of 32g.
In contrast, an English budgie can be as tall as 12 inches with a maximum weight of approximately 66 g and a wingspan of 14 inches wide. So,
An English Budgie is almost twice the size of an American Budgie, just like it’s double the size of a normal or Australian Budgie (See figure 1 below).
Again, American Budgies, Australian Budgies, Common parakeets and Normal/Regular Budgies are considered synonymous terms.
English budgie vs Australian budgie
They differ mainly in size, origin, and personality.
You see, the English budgies are a subspecies of Australian budgies that were produced through selective breeding.
That means both parrots are the same birds that are scientifically recognized as Melopsittacus undulatus.
English budgies are artificially bred birds that don’t exist in the wild. Meanwhile, Australian budgies are the wild or “Normal budgies” – the parent species of all budgies.
So, comparing an English Budgie to an Australian Budgie is equivalent to English Budgie vs Normal Budgie (As mentioned earlier in the article)
However, English budgies were selectively bred as “show birds”.
Figure 1: Representing Differences between Australian, English and American Budgies
Do English Budgies Talk More?
Though they are prolific talkers, their low-pitched voices make them appear quiet.
You see, when breeders were selecting English budgies for their large size and calm demeanour, they ended up breeding birds with low-pitch sounds.
Now, humans find shrill or high-pitched sounds extremely discomforting because it represents a human baby crying in distress.
This is precisely why “baby cries” in a horror movie create an unsettling sense of anxiety.
In contrast, a soft and deep human male voice tends to have a soothing effect because it usually represents a sort of fatherly figure and protection.
However, that kinda makes Australian budgies very ‘Australian’ because their chirps are cheery and English Budgies extremely ‘English’ because they have low deep voices.
Oddly enough, American budgies are also quite ‘American’ because those birds too tend to fill the silence with their not-so-low squawky songs.
Like any budgie, English Budgies chirp, whistle and sing along to human tunes.
Do English Budgies Talk Like Humans Do?
Well, they do mimic human speech just like any regular budgie does.
On average, a budgie can learn about 500 words. In fact, a budgie named “Puck” could speak 1728 words – the world Guinness record for knowing the most words for any bird.
Yet again, English Budgies have deep and low-pitched voices.
Consequently, even if an English Budgie mimics entire human sentences, it may be hard to understand it because of its gruff voice.
That said, an English budgie is far too easier to teach compared to a wild budgie.
Are English Budgies Easier to Tame?
Though it still requires patience, taming English Budgies is relatively easy.
Now, the most difficult task while taming a bird is to stop it from nipping or biting because that’s how any bird explores new things.
However, English budgies were specifically bred for their composed personalities.
An English Budgie is less likely to bite compared to its wild counterpart.
Besides, English Budgies are pretty affectionate.
So much so, that they can hop into the arms of any unfamiliar person as long as their ‘Hooman’ is nearby.
It also helps that English Budgies don’t prefer flying, so they are also less likely to flee.
Male English budgies are much more docile and easier to tame compared to their female partners that can be extremely aggressive towards other female birds.
So, it is advisable to either put the female budgies in adjacent separate cages or provide them with an extremely spacious cage where they all can have their personal space.
English Budgie Price
Typically, the price of an English Budgie ranges between $50-90.
Now, a wild Australian Budgie is about $10-25 per bird.
So, an English Budgie may cost as much as thrice the price of an average budgie.
The price may further vary according to the following standards:
|Criteria||Effect on Price|
|Size||A large-sized English Budgie is more costly than a small one.|
|Colour Variations||While base colours don’t make as much difference, distinctive colour markings make an English Budgie more valuable.|
|Breeder||A reputable store or breeder will charge you more.|
|Age||1-year-old tame budgies are usually more expensive.|
|Number of Birds||Getting a pair from a single breeder will cost less than getting two birds from different breeders.|
|Hand-tamed||Birds raised in large flocks are less costly compared to a single hand-tamed bird raised by a reputable affectionate breeder.|
But getting a bird may not be as costly as maintaining one.
So, if an English Budgie is your first bird, then you would still have to get a cage and its supplies including perches, toys, food containers, bathing fountain and cage cleaning products as well as food essentials, nesting box, and grooming supplies.
On top of that, you would also need to cover bird vet visits.
So, even if a person gets a good deal, say $50 for an English Budgie, then the initial costs would be around $600.
Also, English Budgies are more prone to diseases compared to wild birds.
This means, you would have to be more strict with temperatures within 60-75° F.
Otherwise, you may endanger the limited lifespan of your English Budgie even further.
How Long Do English Budgies Live?
About 5-7 years.
That too, if they are well taken care of.
You see, English Budgies were produced through the selective breeding of calm and large budgies.
But that took a lot of inbreeding, which makes them biologically prone to new diseases as there wasn’t much exchange of new DNA.
Should You Get An English Budgie?
Well, it depends on your priorities.
You see, English budgies are calm and playful birds that cuddle as much as any other budgie.
They don’t make much fuss, can learn to speak human language, and are much easier to tame.
Furthermore, they are brightly colored and not as prone to biting as most Budgies.
But, getting a pair is always better than a single bird because the birds keep each other company while you are away, and they don’t much retaliate during the breeding season.
However, English Budgies are much more expensive compared to their wild relatives.
Also, they need daily cleansing to stay healthy which means they are rather costly to maintain.
Furthermore, English Budgies have shorter lifespans.
Therefore, you may have to say goodbye to your bird much earlier than you would have to part with any wild budgie.
So, if you just want birds to be there when you are home.
Getting a flock of Australian Budgies will be much more suitable for you.
The birds will keep each other company and you can simply just provide a big enough cage with food and plenty of toys to keep them happy and chirpy.
Of course, they too will need your attention but not as much as a single English Budgie.
But wild Budgies are noisy and prone to biting while English budgies are gentle beings.
So, it comes down to whether you have the patience to tame a wild bird or you are organized enough to maintain care for a cuddly gentle bird.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Types of Budgies are there?
Based on the size, budgies are divided into only two types.
- Australian Budgies aka Normal Budgies (includes American Budgies)
- English Budgies (Selectively bred by birders for size and calmness)
But there are over 30 colour mutants of budgies, the most notable of which include:
- Opaline Budgies
- Albino Budgies
- Grey and Grey-green Budgies
- Lutino Budgies
- Olive Budgies
- Crested Budgies
- Spangled Budgies
- Clear-winged Budgies
- Cinnamon Budgies
- Yellowface and Goldenface Budgies
- Suffused Budgies
- Fallow Budgies
- Violet Budgies
- Blue Budgies
Can English Budgies Share Cage With Australian Budgies?
Most certainly, yes.
Like all birds, an English Budgie must first be introduced to your already present bird flock.
For this, keep the English budgie in a separate cage near the main cage for at least two weeks.
This will ensure that birds become familiar with each other before they get to live together.
After that, shift the new bird to the main cage.
But keep on observing all birds because wild budgies are much more likely to be aggressive towards an English
Budgie while an English Budgie may be too docile to fend for itself.
Can an English Budgie And American Budgie Mate?
They can and they do, but it might not be the best idea.
Since English Budgies are a sub-species of Australian budgies.
While American budgies are just caged cousins of Australian budgies.
That means an English and American couple can procreate and produce predominantly viable offspring.
However, several birders hesitate to the idea for two main reasons:
- English Budgies are much more prone to diseases. Therefore, companionship with a regular bird might reduce its lifespan by exposing it to several infections.
- Procreation with sub-species does produce viable offspring but there is still a higher chance of miscarriage compared to couples from the pure subspecies.
Currently, there is no documented evidence about English budgies in this respect.
So, this might just be a birder myth or mere caution.
Besides, several hybrid couples have been found to live pretty normal lives.
While I suggest you don’t particularly induce mating to a pair of English and American/Australian budgies, there is nothing much concerning about it.
What Should Be The Cage Size For An English Budgie?
Now, a regular budgie should have a cage of about 20” length x 20” width x 20” height.
But an English Budgie is double its size.
Therefore, a cage suitable for cocktails is much more suitable for an English Budgie than a regular budgie cage.
What Is The Origin Of English Budgie?
It remains unclear exactly when the first English Budgie appeared in aviculture.
However, the origin of English Budgies can be traced back to the 1840s when the first budgies were imported to the UK. Back then, they were such a rare commodity that even Queen Victoria received a pair as a gift in 1845.
By 1894, Australian authorities had banned the export of budgerigars. Meanwhile, English and American breeders had established their own bird-keeping businesses through already imported birds.
As budgies began participating in bird shows, English birders encouraged only colourful large parrots with laid-back personalities to reproduce further, mainly through inbreeding.
This resulted in an enormous, bright-coloured & calm subspecies of common parakeets that were born only in the UK, making them “English Budgies”.
So, English Budgies were probably born around the late 1930s when Bird Shows were booming in England.
I hope this article answered all your queries regarding English Budgies.