Learn about Dr. Amy Zhao and the signature Budgie Academy approach!
Dr. Amy Zhao
Dr. Amy Zhao is an animal scientist living in Boston with her small flock of budgies and Gandalf the cockatiel. She earned her B.S. in Animal Science from Cornell University in May 2014 and continued to earn her PhD in Animal Science specializing in animal physiology and molecular and cell biology from Cornell University in July 2019. During her time at Cornell, she has worked with and taken classes in management and husbandry for many animal species including sheep, cattle, horses, birds of prey, and of course, parrots. She also spent 8 years as a teaching assistant for courses including Domestic Animal Biology, Animal Nutrition, Domestic Animal Behavior, and Comparative Animal Anatomy and Physiology.
Dr. Zhao has 15 years of teaching experience in biology, physiology, nutrition, and behavior and more for students ranging from elementary to the graduate level. She continues to expand her expertise through additional continuing education in nutrition, physiology, and applied behavior analysis. Today she uses her experience and knowledge to help guide other budgie owners on their journey to care for their pet budgies. Dr. Amy Zhao also completed Dr. Susan Friedman’s Living and Learning with Animals course in 2022.
Who We Are
Making Budgie Care Easy and Stress-free
World Class Science
We are bringing the most up-to-date nutritional and behavioral science to you achieve your budgie-keeping goals.
Expert Teaching Skills
We will get you feeling confident in your budgie care choices and truly know the science behind the decisions your’re making.
Happy, Healthy Budgies
Maximize the health and well-being of your budgies and build the relationship you’ve always wanted them.
What We Offer
You Guide to Everything
We take all the guesswork and anxiety out of budgie care and help you find equipment, nutrition, and behavior solutions that fit with your needs and resources.
Here, budgies are our top priority! We focus on your budgie’s unique needs and don’t get them mixed up with other parrot species.
The Most Up-to-Date Science
We stay up to date on the latest products, research, and information so you always get the most updated recommendations. No outdated misinformation here!
Here we believe budgies deserve specialized, top tier care just like every other parrot species, large or small!
Meet the permanent resident members of The Budgie Academy flock!
8 years old
FitC (hatched May 2014) is a confident female budgie and knows how to provide for herself and fly herself wherever she needs to go. She was purchased with Dapi (see below) as juveniles in June of 2014 from a vet tech in upstate New York whose small personal flock happened to produce some chicks. She (and Dapi) were both parent raised and naturally fledged and learned to interact with humans together with the family group as fledglings. It set her up for a lifetime of success. She loves bell peppers for their satisfying crunch and has a very real obsession with chewing mahogany pods.
Eva is a 5 year old female budgie adopted from Orlando, Florida. She was surrendered at a pet store as a young clipped budgie but luckily was taken in and raised with a thoughtful owner. She found companionship with a conure in that flock but when that bird passed away, she was somewhat alone and the cockatiels in the flock were not interested in socially including her. However, because of her age and gender, she was a perfect fit for our flock of middle-aged ladies so we were happy to take her in. She already could fly, navigate a home, recognized different pellets and fresh foods and immediately took to socializing with and following the other ladies around the house. Her experience living with cockatiels also was a big help in helping Gandalf learn how to interact with budgies.
5 years old
5 years old
TritC is a five year old female budgie who was adopted from her previous home in Connecticut in April 2022. She and her mate were not receiving adequate care at her first home and was moved by a family to their second home. The second home did have two other budgies as well but due to the owner leaving home for college, she no longer had time for them. Her male mate had also been lost in that time. Upon arrival, it became clear that she was actively destroying the flight feathers on her right wing and is completely unable to fly even a few inches off of a surface. A veterinary check revealed no obvious injuries so we suspect she never had a chance to properly fledge and as a result, does not know how to fly. Despite her physical limitations, she has continuously grown and learned to navigate the house by catching rides with the humans and after several months, she’s making slow but real improvements to her flying skills. Hopefully one day she will be able to fly herself around the room.
Gandalf is a male cockatiel adopted April 2021 from a coworker who had been struggling with him for almost two years. She had adopted him from another coworker who purchased him from a Petco for her teenage son in December 2012. Gandalf had in his time with the second owner developed a very strong negative association with women and would even actively attack women if they made eye contact with him. Fortunately, through training we were able to reframe how he views humans and teach him all of his basic essential behaviors. Now, he’s not afraid of people or hands and has no problem flying in from across the house for a singsong whistle session! Gandalf is quite the dancer. His favorite moves include the headbob and gently pressing his face against our faces. He has also learned several cute tricks including dance, wave, speak, and spin!
10 years old
11 years old
Sydney is an 11-year old female cockatiel adopted in December 2022. She was hand-raised by a parrot store in North Carolina and was purchased by her first family. She has been a single parrot in the home her whole life but did live with bunnies and dogs before. Unfortunately, her family felt they were not giving her the time she deserved and decided to rehome her. She was on an all-seed diet and had her wings clipped most of her life so she unfortunately has very poor flight control. Sydney also displayed some hissing behavior when asked to step up, very common amongst birds who had been pushed to step up rather than taught to walk onto the hand. After joining the flock, we were able to introduce her to a variety of new foods and reteach her some of her basic skills so that she was more comfortable interacting with approaching hands. We are also in the process of teaching her how to fly and have high hopes she will be able to get herself from A to B one day.
Dapi was a male budgie purchased as a juvenile together with FitC in June 2014. He hatched in April 2014 and was 8 weeks old upon arrival. Dapi was a spunky energetic male budgie and was an absolute delight to everyone. He learned many words including ‘Dapi’, ‘baby bird’, ‘pretty bird’ as well as many sound effects like “pewpewpewpew!” and even a trickling faucet. He truly was a perfect budgie and did not hesitate to chat up everyone in the house. He was so comfortable around people and spent his days happily going from perch to perch showing off his vocal skills.
Sadly, he passed away a bit before his 8th hatchday very suddenly. He had been struggling with a crop infection and despite being on antibiotics to treat the infection, we woke up one morning to find him on the bottom of the cage. We rushed him to the ER but sadly they weren’t able to stabilize him. Necropsy showed he had myocardial degradation, which is a breakdown of the heart muscle. The veterinary staff were unable to pinpoint an exact cause but it was suspected to be a vascular issue, potentially linked to the crop infection.
Callie was adopted in January 2021 as a five year old female budgie whose mate had just passed away from suspected liver cancer. She had a long list of health issues due to poor diet including nutritional deficiencies, an impacted preen gland and being severely underweight. She also was positive for avian gastric yeast. Fortunately, a diet conversion and a a few vet visits were able to clear these health problems and she looked fantastic. She was smart, food-motivated, spunky and great on the wing. She learned fast and was an absolute delight.
In March 2022, she began to show signs of being sick and bloodwork and fecal testing revealed she had liver failure and unfortunately, she passed away despite our best efforts to fix it with medication. Upon her passing, a necropsy revealed she actually had avian tuberculosis, which would also be consistent with the suspected liver cancer of her previous mate. (Tuberculosis forms growths which can be mistaken for tumors on necropsy.) FitC and Gandalf were tested to make sure they did not get infected due to their exposure and both fortunately tested negative.