Last Updated on: 14th July 2023, 03:13 pm
English and American budgies, commonly called “parakeets,” are popular pet birds.
English budgies are larger than American budgies, usually by up to 3 inches. They have a much bigger head, more prominent markings on the cheeks and throat, and relaxed personalities.
This calm demeanor is because English budgies have been trained as show birds for almost 200 years. English budgies are quieter and less skittish, arguably making slightly better pet birds for families.
You’ll find American parakeets if you look for a budgie at a local pet store. English budgies are usually only available through specialist breeders, reflected in their higher average price tag.
English and American budgies can live together and even breed, but personality differences exist. American budgies, especially females, are territorial and may attack passive English budgies.
Differences Between English vs. American Budgies
While English budgies and American parakeets are both Melopsittacus undulatus, they differ in certain ways. This table summarizes the difference between English and American budgies:
|English Budgie||American Budgie|
|Size||10 – 12 inches.||7 – 9 inches.|
|Weight||Maximum of 65 grams (2.2 oz).||Maximum of 40 grams (1.4 oz).|
|Lifespan||Up to 7 years.||Up to 15 years.|
|Cost||Up to $100 from a breeder.||$15 – 20 in most pet stores.|
|Personality||Docile, quiet, and like handling.||Skittish, loud, and temperamental until tamed.|
You may wonder how two same-species birds can have such significant differences.
The terms “English budgie” and “American budgie” are a misnomer, as all budgies hail from Australia.
The word “budgerigar” is a loose translation of the Aborigine term for “good food,” as budgies often led natives to food and water supplies.
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 remain fixtures of 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.
As budgies are companion animals in the U.S., the American parakeets you’ll find in a pet store are closer in size, spirit, and behavior to the wild budgies in Australia today.
The difference in appearance between English and American budgies are as follows:
- English budgies are larger than American budgies. Expect an English budgie to be at least 3 inches larger and almost 1 ounce heavier. As with American budgies, females are bigger than males.
- The feathers of an English budgie will be longer and fluffier than an American parakeet.
- English budgies have a larger head than American budgies.
- The feathers of an English budgie frequently grow over their eyes.
- Check the throat spots and cheek patches of a budgie. You’re likely looking at an English budgie if these are large and prominent.
Most pet stores sell American budgies with green, blue, and yellow feathers (or color combos).
English budgies have a shorter average lifespan than American parakeets.
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.
The reason is that English budgies are frequently inbred to maintain character traits and appearances. Siblings are frequently mated, or parents are encouraged to breed with offspring.
This inbreeding can cause various difficulties and complexities, notably a shorter lifespan.
While an English budgie with obvious deformities is unlikely to be sold to the public, they still pay the price for breeder practices in the form of a shorter life.
English budgies are affectionate, relaxed, and relatively quiet. An English budgie welcomes human interaction and handling. Unless molting or unwell, they rarely bite.
American budgies are more energetic, louder, naturally skittish, and sometimes nippy. However, a bite from a budgie is unlikely to hurt and definitely won’t cause any lasting harm.
American budgies are happier in pairs. However, they sometimes fall out and get into nasty fights.
English budgies also prefer to be housed with other same-species birds but tolerate solitude better. However, a lone bird will need more interaction and engagement with its owner.
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.
English budgies can be trained to talk, especially if you adopt one from a young age.
American and English budgies are skilled mimics, but the Guinness World Record for a bird that knew the most words is held by an English budgie named Puck, who had a vocabulary of 1,728 words.
American budgies require more training because they haven’t been bred for display, so they retain more wild instincts. You’ll also need to do more to teach an American parakeet to accept handling.
English and American budgies need daily exercise and should spend 2-3 hours outside the cage. All birds like to fly because it’s essential for heart health, muscle tone, weight control, and mental well-being.
The average American budgie will have a lower price tag than an English budgie.
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.
Certain budgie mutations like lutinos, opalines, cinnamons, and spangles are more expensive. 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.
Can English And American Budgies Live Together?
English budgies rarely bite, but a skittish American parakeet can be prone to these behaviors. Once introduced properly, English budgies and American parakeets can share a cage.
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 as English budgies. Once the birds have bonded, the survivor will be left to deal with feelings of grief due to losing a bonded partner.
Can English And American Budgies Breed?
Breeding English budgies with American budgies could be preferable. It’s unlikely that English and American budgies will share a bloodline, so the risks associated with inbreeding are removed.
Mixed-sex English and American budgies may pair up and breed. This is likeliest to happen at the onset of spring, but the breeding season for psittacine birds lasts until October.
Budgies prefer to 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.
English Budgie vs. American Parakeet – Which Is The Best Pet?
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 commonly available colors, like blue and green).
- Longer lifespan (live twice as long due to inbreeding in English budgies).
- Strong and characterful personalities.
- Good talkers capable of building an extensive vocabulary.
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 bird 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.
Regardless of your decision, provide the budgie with nutritious food, regular companionship, and things to do. A good quality of life will ensure the budgie is happy, manifesting in positive behavior.