When keeping budgies outdoors there are a few key things you need to keep a close eye on to ensure the safety and comfort of your budgies. It is important to remember that budgies are tropical birds and are therefore not properly acclimated to the outdoor British weather.
It is possible for your budgie to get too cold or too hot, and if this occurs for too long it could have fatal consequences.
Budgies are native to Australia and are most comfortable at a temperature of around 21°C – 23°C, however they can withstand between 16°C – 26°C. Budgies should not be subjected to drastic changes in temperature as they do not cope very well, if you are planning on moving them from a cool indoor area to a hot outdoor aviary, you should gradually increase the heat first before moving them outside, and vice versa.
When outdoors, you should continuously check on your birds to ensure that they are not overheating or too cold.
Managing The Cold
If your budgie is cold, it will puff up its feathers, tuck its beak into its chest and will visibly shiver. If your budgie is outside, you should bring it inside to warm up.
If your budgie is inside, you could try putting a blanket over its cage to help them warm up.
If neither of these work, you should seek veterinarian advice.
There are ways of managing the cold weather when keeping your budgies outdoors, although, if possible, you should ideally bring your budgies indoors during the winter months. If this is not possible, then the easiest way to keep your budgies warm is a bird safe heater.
Using a heater can get tricky, as you do not want to increase the temperature of the aviary too much and cause the birds to overheat, so you want to ensure that the heater you purchase comes with a thermostat and thermometer to measure and adjust the heat within the aviary.
You should be able to keep your aviary completely closed off during the winter to prevent any draughts and prevent heat from escaping. Our section on setting up an aviary below will offer guidance on how to achieve this.
Managing The Heat
If your budgie is exhibiting open mouth breathing and holding its wings away from its body, it is most likely overheated. Like dogs, birds cannot regulate their body temperature properly and will open their mouth and pant in an attempt to cool themselves.
You should also look out for any other behavioral changes, such as unusual aggression and inactivity.
Humidity can cause your birds feet, legs and beak to dry out, so you should check these regularly throughout summer.
Similar to the cold, the best way to protect your bird against extremely high temperatures is to bring them indoors if possible, if not, then a fan can be used (ensure the fan is set low and not directly facing them) on non-humid days. An air conditioning unit would be most ideal for more humid days (as a fan would just begin blowing around warm air) in the midst of summer, and a bird bath is a must to prevent the birds feet, legs and beak from drying out.
It is also recommended to regularly and lightly mist your budgies, however you should ensure that the water is not extremely cold as this can send them into shock. You could install an automatic misting system on a timer to help keep the birds cool.
Aviary Set Up
If you are planning on keeping budgies outdoors you should ensure that your aviary is equipped to deal with their needs. The size of the aviary should be dependent upon the number of budgies you plan on keeping and how much room you would like them to have to fly around. According to Omlet: “you need at least 13cm aviary length per budgie, with a width measuring at least half the length. So, in a cage measuring 130x130x65cm you can house 10 budgies.”
The aviary should have both an outdoor area for flying and keeping cool, and an indoor area for safety and keeping warm in the winter. It is a good idea to house your budgies during the night to protect them against predators and low temperatures.
Leaving the door open to the indoor area of the aviary will also give the birds the option of going inside for shade during summer, or heat during winter.
In order to accurately measure the temperature of your aviary, you should place a thermometer in both the indoor and outdoor area to ensure that your budgies will not freeze or overheat.
As discussed above, heating and cooling systems should be installed to protect your birds against the weather. If you feel you would struggle to provide this, then you can adapt a spare room in your house or a conservatory into an aviary, like the image to the right provided by one of our customers.
Building your own aviary, whether it be indoors or outdoors, allows you to be creative. You should ensure that your aviary is big enough for your birds, or if not, then you should allow your birds plenty of flight time outside of the aviary.
As you can see in the images to the right, one of our customers had the creative idea of turning a cabinet into an indoor aviary for her budgies. It allows enough room for 2 budgies to perch and fly.