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english budgie vs american budgie

English Budgies vs. American Budgies (Ways They Differ!)

Last Updated on January 28, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

English budgies are larger than American budgies, usually by up to 3 inches. They have a much bigger head, prominent markings on the cheeks and throat, and more relaxed personalities.

This calm demeanor is because English budgies have been trained as show birds for almost 200 years. They’re quieter and less skittish, making slightly better pet birds for families with young kids.

English and American budgies can live together and breed, but personality differences exist. American budgies, especially females, are territorial and may attack passive English budgies.

How To Tell English And American Budgies Apart

This table summarizes the key differences:

 English BudgieAmerican Budgie
Size10 – 12 inches.7 – 9 inches.
WeightMaximum of 65 grams (2.2 oz).Maximum of 40 grams (1.4 oz).
LifespanUp to 7 years.Up to 15 years.
CostUp to $100 from a breeder.$15 – 20 in most pet stores.
PersonalityDocile, quiet, and like handling.Skittish, loud, and temperamental until tamed.

You may wonder how two birds from the same species can have such significant differences.

Origins

The names “English budgie” and “American budgie” are misnomers. All budgies hail from Australia, and native budgies were imported from Australia to England in 1840.

Queen Victoria was gifted a pair of budgies as pets, and their popularity grew. Budgies were bred for display, and English budgies are still in bird shows and pageants in Britain.

Australia banned the export of budgies in 1894 due to concerns over dwindling population levels. The first budgies arrived in the U.S. in the 1920s but became popular pets from the 1950s onward.

Appearance

The differences in appearance between English and American budgies are:

  • Expect an English budgie to be at least 3 inches larger and almost 1 ounce heavier.
  • The feathers of English budgies are longer and fluffier.
  • English budgies have larger heads.
  • The feathers of an English budgie frequently grow over their eyes.
  • Large, prominent throat spots and cheek patches mean you’re looking at an English budgie.

Most pet stores sell American budgies with green, blue, and yellow feathers (or color combos).

english vs american budgies

Lifespan

While American budgies that are well cared for can live for more than a decade (up to 15 years), English budgies are unlikely to survive more than 7 years.

English budgies are frequently inbred to maintain character traits and appearances. Siblings are commonly mated, or parents are encouraged to breed with their offspring.

This inbreeding can cause various difficulties and complexities, reducing their lifespan.

Personality

English budgies are affectionate, relaxed, and relatively quiet. They welcome human interaction and handling. Unless molting or unwell, they rarely bite.

American budgies are more energetic, louder, naturally skittish, and sometimes nippy. That said, a bite from a budgie is unlikely to hurt and won’t cause any lasting harm.

American budgies are happier in pairs. That said, they sometimes fall out and get into fights. English budgies also prefer to be housed with other same-species birds but tolerate solitude better.

Trainability

English budgies have long been bred for showing and presentation, so they’re likelier to accept training. Most English budgies will take to stick training quickly, requiring minimal training.

American and English budgies are skilled mimics. The Guinness World Record for a bird that knows the most words is held by an English budgie named Puck, who has a vocabulary of 1,728 words.

American budgies require more training. They haven’t been bred for display, so they retain more wild instincts. You’ll also need to do more to teach them to accept handling.

Living Together

English budgies rarely bite, but a skittish American parakeet can be prone to these behaviors. Once appropriately introduced, they can usually share a cage safely together.

Ensure the cage is large enough that each budgie has territory, perches, food/water bowls, and toys. Although smaller, American budgies are likelier to become territorial in cramped conditions.

A pair of budgies will inevitably be noisier than a lone budgie because they’ll communicate. Also, an English budgie may start competing to match the volume of the American parakeet.

American budgies can live up to twice as long. Once the birds have bonded, the survivor will be left to deal with feelings of grief due to losing a bonded partner.

English budgie vs American parakeet

Breeding

Mixed-sex English and American budgies may pair up and breed. This is more likely to happen at the onset of spring, but the breeding season for psittacine birds lasts until October.

Budgies breed when the days are warmer and lighter, meaning food is plentiful. Provide calcium-rich food and a nesting box where the female budgie can safely lay her eggs.

If you don’t want the budgies to mate, avoid keeping males and females in the same cage.

Although spring and summer are traditional mating seasons for budgies, they can breed anytime in captivity. Two bonded males or females are the safest pairings if you don’t want offspring.

Once two budgies have bonded, they shouldn’t usually be separated.

Cost

Most pet stores, like Petco and PetSmart, sell American budgies for $20 to $50. English budgies are usually only available through specialist breeders, often costing up to $100.

Mutations like lutinos, opalines, cinnamons, and spangles are more expensive. Similarly, if you’re seeking a bird with unique markings or distinctive plumage, this will cost several hundred dollars.

A grey anthracite budgie (the rarest type) can cost several thousand dollars.

English Budgies vs. American Budgies As Pets

Choosing between an English and an American budgie comes down to deciding what you want in a pet.

Opt for an American budgie if the following matters to you:

  • Limited budget (half the price for standard colors, like blue and green).
  • Longer lifespan (live twice as long due to inbreeding in English budgies).
  • Strong and characterful personalities.

Choose an English budgie if these criteria apply:

  • You want a relaxed pet that’ll settle in quickly and is easy to tame.
  • People live nearby, and you must minimize noise.
  • Many people will enter the home and want to interact with the bird.
  • You have young children and are concerned about nipping and biting.

A good quality of life will ensure the budgie is happy, resulting in positive behavior.