Parakeets, also known as budgies, are small birds with larger-than-life personalities. While parakeets are usually social and enjoy living in pairs or flocks, conflict can arise in certain situations.
Don’t attempt to pair 2 budgies in a cage smaller than 36″ x 24″ x 24.” Living space is important to a harmonious relationship, especially if you pair highly territorial female parakeets.
As well as territory, parakeets may fight over food, water, and toys. So, ensure that each bird in the cage has at least 1-2 perches, and provide several feeding and hydration sources.
Parakeets can become jealous of each other if they believe that 1 bird is receiving more human attention. Also, be aware of hormonal fluctuations and resulting changes in aggression in the spring.
Is it Normal for Parakeets to Fight?
Most parakeets will coexist peacefully if you provide an appropriate cage and lifestyle. However, some birds struggle to get along and share a space, seemingly fighting for no good reason.
Parakeets can come into conflict for the following reasons:
Parakeets must be trained for life in captivity. Even once tame, budgies retain many wild instincts. As per The Auk, this includes a natural urge for budgies to organize themselves into a hierarchy.
If the budgies can amicably agree upon a social hierarchy, the dominant parakeet will likely be groomed and preened by a more submissive conspecific.
Trouble can arise when both birds wish to ascend to dominant status or the budgie that enjoys status as head of the cage displays bullying tendencies.
This can result in fighting, whether as self-defense or outright aggression. If the parakeets can’t find peace, you must home them separately.
Try keeping the 2 birds in separate cages in the same room. Over time, they may learn to tolerate each other’s company and can be reintegrated into a single cage.
Disputes over territory are the most common reasons for parakeets to fight.
If you wonder, “why are my female parakeets fighting?” territorial disputes are likely the answer, as females are considerably more territorial than males.
If 2 budgies are forced into a cage that doesn’t afford enough space, they’ll battle for territory. If the parakeets often fight at night, they’re likely squabbling over a preferred perch to sleep on.
Budgies need horizontal space to fly, so ensure both birds can move freely, and provide a minimum of 2 perches per bird, strategically locating them around the cage.
Allowing the budgies to exercise outside the cage more often will reduce territoriality.
The more time budgies spend in their cage, the most defensive they will become over ‘their’ terrain. If the budgie frequently flies free, it’s more likely to relax when caged at night.
Food and Toys
Fighting over food and toys can also be common in parakeets, sometimes called “resource riots.” Each bird would prefer to have its own food and entertainment unless bonded.
The easiest way to manage conflict is to ensure each budgie has its own food dish and water bowl. Budgies can see and detect different colors but avoid bright and intense reds and oranges.
Resource riots become increasingly common if you don’t feed budgies based on a reliable schedule or provide sufficient nourishment. If budgies wonder when they’ll next eat, fights will arise.
If you keep multiple parakeets together, they must be treated equally.
Like all psittacines, budgies can have a range of emotions, including jealousy. If a parakeet feels a conspecific is gaining more attention, it may react adversely.
This is most common when introducing a new parakeet to a household with an incumbent bird.
The existing budgie will worry that the new arrival will become the focus of your care and efforts or will attempt to assert dominance, which can lead to hostility.
If you provide all parakeets with the same level of care, dedication, and attention, these feelings of jealousy and envy will usually pass within a few days.
Parakeets may start fighting at the onset of spring or following periods of intense rainfall. This will likely result from hormones as the mating instincts of the budgies are activated.
Mating season is when 2 males can become slightly more aggressive toward each other.
Both birds may be sexually frustrated as they wish to breed and can’t do so. Equally, 2 males will fight over one female’s attention in multi-bird cages.
The territorial instincts of a female parakeet will also be elevated during mating season. She’ll be increasingly protective of her terrain as her desire to nest takes hold and may start guarding food to ensure she has enough to sustain herself and her young.
If you’re not planning to breed parakeets, consider separating them until their hormones calm down. They put the parakeets to bed earlier, making them think the days are shorter.
Once the urge to mate passes, the birds will live harmoniously again.
When budgies are stressed, their behavior will change.
This can manifest as aggression toward humans or conspecifics that share a cage. Signs that a parakeet is stressed include loss of appetite, feather plucking, and the appearance of stress bars on the feathers.
Common reasons for parakeets to become stressed include:
- Overcrowding in a cage.
- Unsanitary living conditions.
- Lack of stimulation.
- Insufficient sleep due to noise.
- Unsuitable ambient temperature.
- Fear of other pets in the home.
Agrarian and Biological Sciences recommends increasing the enrichment in the parakeet’s cage.
How Do I Know if My Parakeets Are Fighting?
It’s rare to find 2 budgies fighting without a preamble – usually, parakeets will give some warning that they are feeling antagonized or aggressive.
Taking this under advisement, what are common signs of aggression in parakeets?
- Raising the wings. This is the equivalent of a parakeet lifting its fists.
- Hissing. This is a warning from a parakeet, usually immediately preceding an act of aggression.
- Screaming. Parakeets can be loud, but this level of volume is rarely friendly.
- Hoarding and guarding. Parakeets dislike sharing but should allow others access to food and toys.
Learn to recognize the warning signs of fighting and separate the birds before the situation escalates.
Are My Parakeets Playing or Fighting?
Sometimes a game between 2 parakeets can look like a fight. For example, 2 budgies may appear to be pecking at each other but are touching beaks in an avian kiss.
The budgies may be playing, but it’s not friendly if one of both birds aggressively pecks at the feet. This will be an attempt to drive one of the parakeets away from a perch.
Look out for wrestling. Parakeets don’t fight for fun, meaning they intend to injure each other. If one of the parakeets manages to draw blood, the conflict is serious and must be stopped.
Monitor chasing games carefully. Budgies may fly around a cage and chase each other for recreation. Each bird should take turns. One bird constantly fleeing another is likely to be the victim of bullying.
Are My Parakeets Fighting or Mating?
Bonded parakeets of the opposite sex may breed in captivity.
This can resemble fighting to the untrained eye, as the male will mount the female from behind and flap its wings, but this is to maintain balance.
If the parakeets have displayed the following behaviors toward each other immediately before their physical interaction, they’re likelier to be mating than fighting.
These are all common courtship behaviors in budgies:
- Singing to each other – as per Animal Behavior, an amorous male will imitate the calls of a female.
- Preening and displaying the plumage.
- Head bobbing and dancing.
- Mutual grooming.
- Relaxing on the same perch.
- Sharing food through regurgitation.
This doesn’t mean male and female parakeets will never fight.
Disputes can arise in any cage if the environment is unsuitable for all inhabitants. However, female parakeets are much likelier to clash with each other than males.
How Do I Stop My Parakeets from Fighting?
A fight between 2 parakeets can turn nasty, so keep a spare, empty cage in the home. If 2 parakeets actively fight, they should be separated until both cool off. Keep the second cage in a different room.
Parakeets remember conspecifics, meaning that any fighting will be recalled. If the 2 budgies never bonded before fighting, they shouldn’t live together for some time.
To this end, avoiding fights breaking out before disagreements become physical is preferable. Achieve this by doing the following:
- Ensure the cage is large enough to comfortably accommodate all birds.
- Provide a range of perches so that every budgie has its own space.
- Ensure the cage is filled with entertainment to stave off feelings of boredom and stress.
- Let all the parakeets leave the cage for daily exercise to burn off energy.
- Provide enough food and water sources to prevent feelings of insecurity and the need to hoard.
Treat all budgies equally in terms of attention and treats.
If you want to be particularly cautious, only house male parakeets together in a single cage because this pairing is the least likely to result in hostility.
Fighting is always possible if you keep parakeets together, as with any flock of territorial birds. Providing a good quality of life increases the likelihood of parakeets getting along well.