How to Tell the Age of a Budgie

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Budgies make great first pets for the novice bird keeper. The most obvious way to tell the age of a parakeet species is to look at the feathers on the top of the bird's head. Budgies under four months of age will have stripes — known as cap feathers — on the forehead area. As parakeets mature, these stripes disappear after the bird's first molt. After a budgerigar reaches approximately eight months of age, their iris of their eyes will lighten from solid black to light gray or brown.

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Budgies under four months of age will have stripes on the forehead.
Image Credit: CBCK-Christine/iStock/GettyImages

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Parakeet species have diverse personalities and some can even learn to talk. Males are more prone to talk than females, so pick a boy if you want a talker. You can also increase your budgie's chances of learning to talk by purchasing a very young bird, less than six months old. There are several ways to tell a budgie's age to make certain that you pick the right bird for you.

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Ask the store owner

Ask the breeder, the pet shop owner, or the bird owner about the age of a budgie. A reputable breeder or store will be happy to provide this information to you. This method is not always reliable — older budgies are less valuable than younger budgies, so some owners may lie about the age to get rid of the budgie. Double-check the information you are given by checking the bird yourself. Look for cues such as stripes on the head, a leg tag, or the color of the bird's eyes.

Check for a leg tag

Read the leg tag if your budgie has one. Look at the budgie's leg to see if he or she is tagged. The color of the leg tag will indicate the year the budgie was born, if the tag is an American Budgerigar Society (ABS) tag. The ABS uses color-coding to signify the year the bird was hatched. However, tag colors are re-used (rotated) every six years. Double-check with the breeder or owner to verify the budgie's age. The budgie's birth year, and possibly birth date, should be inscribed on the tag.

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Observe head and eyes

Check the budgie's head to tell his or her age. A budgie under four months old will have stripes on the forehead area known as cap feathers. When the budgie first molts, these stripes will fall out and be replaced with non-striped feathers. This will indicate that the budgie is somewhere around three to four months old. The exceptions to this are lutino budgies or albino budgies, as their markings are different from other types of budgies.

Look at the budgie's eyes. Most budgies will have solid black eyes until they are about four months old, then an iris starts to form. The iris will be dark at first, then gradually lighten. A budgie with solid black eyes is generally less than four months old. A parakeet with dark grey irises will be between 4 to 8 months of age, and a budgie with light grey or brown irises is more than 8 months old.

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Different types of parakeets

Believe it or not, there are more than two dozen colors, varieties, patterns, and types of budgerigars. Some have unusual, vibrant colors, while others are more familiar, such as the classic green and yellow Budgerigar, or the yellow chevroned parakeet. The opaline parakeet is a pale grayish color, with pale yellow highlights. Blue parakeets are really popular because they can live many years and are highly intelligent and playful. A more rare budgie is the saddleback budgie. These have a V-shaped portion of their back that is darker colored than the rest of the bird's feathers — making it look like a saddle.

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