If you’re looking to bring a new budgie into your home, going to a breeder with the proper expertise and education can be a great choice. These breeders care deeply about their birds and will introduce you to healthy, confident, well-adjusted budgies that can thrive under even a beginner owner’s care.
However, budgie breeding is no simple undertaking, and many breeders cut corners at the expense of their birds’ wellbeing. Sadly, unethical breeders outnumber ethical ones, and good breeders often have small, at-home operations that are not heavily advertised. This means that potential owners have to do some serious legwork to track down good budgie breeders.
Fortunately, with the right information, you can teach yourself to see through deceptive marketing practices and steer clear of shady operations. Here are some of the biggest red flags to watch out for when vetting breeders.
1.) Feeding a bad diet
The number-one giveaway of a bad breeder is a poor diet.
If a breeder is feeding their birds only seed mix, they either have a severe lack of knowledge or simply don’t care enough to feed their birds properly. The inexpensive seed-mixes sold in many pet stores (often containing low-quality pellets and sprayed-on vitamins) can’t cover all of a budgie’s nutritional bases.
Feeding an all-seed mix diet puts chicks at a major developmental disadvantage and endangers the health of breeding parents. Look for breeders that have introduced their birds to a wide variety of foods including eat high-quality pellets and fresh produce.
Already have a bird that was raised on a less-than-ideal diet? Check out our guide on introducing pellets to your parrot.
2.) Overlooking handling
It's not normal for budgies to be terrified of humans when raised in captivity.
It’s a big red flag if a budgie has no handling experience and is terrified of being around people. We see this a lot in pet store budgies that come from large mill operations or other poor quality breeders. They are not being given basic training from a young age, not being exposed to a home environment, or being taught to fly a home environment. As a result, the budgies are terrified of people and require all of that foundation to be built up by the owner who purchases them. This is stressful for the budgie to have so little foundation but also difficult for new owners.
3.) Selling unweaned chicks
The idea of raising your own baby bird can seem cute, but is actually very harmful for the bird.
When budgies are in the nest, they are receiving more than just food. The parents and clutchmates provide early life socialization, consistent round-the-clock feeding, as well as heat and humidity. Removing them early from the nest robs them of these key early developmental milestones and can increase the chance of behavioral problems later on.
Hand-raising is also not what most people think it is. Budgies at these stages are fragile. Not only do they need controlled temperature and humidity, they need feedings of special temperature controlled food every 3-4 hours around the clock for several weeks. Improper procedure due to lack of experience and proper training frequently result in death of the birds. This is not an accident. The breeders selling unweaned babies likely know this. However, it is easy to appeal to unsuspecting buyers, allows them to get more eggs from the parents repeatedly (which is also a major red flag), and allows them to sell more chicks in less time if they go out younger. It is an extremely dangerous practice so steer clear of anyone advertising an unweaned baby budgie.
4.) Hindering flight training
Breeders need to let their birds practice flying.
Fledging is a crucial time to learn and practice flying, and budgies can’t practice if they’re always cooped up in tiny cages. Inadequate flight experience is why new owners find their birds crashing into walls and having difficulty navigating around the house. These birds never learned to use their wings in a wide-open space, resulting in dangerously poor flight control.
Wing clipping is another major red flag. A misinformed breeder might try to tell you that clipping a young budgie’s wings is a safety measure, intended to prevent them from bumping into things and getting hurt. That would be like tying a child’s legs together because they scraped their knee while learning to walk. This is outdated and misleading advice that ignores more modern knowledge on how wing clipping can cause serious problems for the duration of a budgie’s life. Check out our article on wing clipping to learn more.
5.) Lacking veterinary info
At the very least, a responsible breeder should be able to point you to the nearest avian vet.
Breeders should be getting regular veterinary care for the budgies in their care so any good quality breeder would know the avian vets available within a few hours drive like the back of their hand. If a breeder can’t share a recommended avian veterinarian nearby, that is a red flag.
Many small animal vets that see mostly dogs and cats don’t see birds, so it’s important to find a reliable avian vet in your area that can see your bird for both wellness and emergency visits.
Think you’ll only need to bring your bird to the vet when they’re sick? Check out our article on the importance of wellness visits to learn why more frequent care can be better for your bird.
6.) Poor genetic choices
Fancy colors and exaggerated plumage aren't worth serious health issues.
Genetics are the cornerstone of a healthy animal, but unscrupulous breeders may prioritize aesthetically-pleasing traits, like certain color mutations, at the cost of genetic health. Ask breeders about what genetic decisions they make to ensure their birds’ wellbeing, and generally speaking, avoid budgies with unnecessarily exaggerated features.
7.) No breeding records
A good breeder should have no problem walking your through their breeding documents and lineages.
Good record-keeping is important to ensure that closely-related birds or birds with inheritable health issues are not bred. Ethical breeders always keep records of genetic lines to prevent inbreeding and maintain proper genetic diversity in their flock. Breeders should know exactly which budgie parents are producing which chicks and how many eggs and chicks are being produced each year.
Adopting from an ethical breeder can be a great choice, especially for beginner budgie owners looking for well-adjusted birds with strong, healthy foundations. However, unscrupulous breeders that don’t prioritize animal welfare often try to take advantage of well-meaning potential owners. Be sure to run through this list when evaluating an operation, and generally speaking, don’t be afraid to ask questions–a reputable breeder should have no problem addressing your concerns in a respectful, knowledgeable way. After all, a high quality breeder is putting a lot of effort into the animals they raise and therefore also only want to sell to owners who show commitment.
For more information you should have before bringing a budgie home, check out our articles on budgie-safe cleaning and preventing escapes. And don’t forget: we’re on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook!