The budgerigar (Melopsippacus undulatus) is a small parrot that is native to the continent of Australia. The bird is known globally because of the number of budgerigars, also called budgies or parakeets, that are kept as pets. The budgerigar has adapted to its habitat in the wild and those in captivity have adapted to grow larger than their wild counterparts.
In the wild the budgerigar has adapted to survive in the desert regions of Australia and in coastal regions of the continent. The budgerigar has adapted to the desert environment by maintaining its yellow and green coloring that acts as camouflage against predators and remaining small in size to make it difficult for predators to catch them. Wild budgerigars nest in the hollows of old gum trees in desert regions, remaining in smaller holes while larger holes are used as nesting grounds by cockatiels.
The budgerigar is a nomadic bird that follows heavy rains around the Australian desert. Rains bring with them growth of grasses whose seeds the budgerigar feeds on. In the wild the budgerigar feeds almost exclusively on grass seeds. Following rains budgerigars breed and produce a brood of between four and eight young. The large explosion of the budgerigar population requires the birds to move on to new feeding grounds as soon as the young are able to leave the nest. In periods of food shortages the budgerigar can migrate to coastal regions of Australia where food is more abundant.
Within Australia the natural predators of the budgerigar include the Australian hobby. The budgerigar has adapted to fly in large social groups that dart around to avoid predators. The movements of the vast numbers of budgerigars is completed in unison while the birds are chirping loudly to confuse potential predators, according to Alice Springs Desert Park. The nesting habits of the budgerigar are colonial, meaning there are more than one mating pair nests in the same tree hollow to avoid predators. Around three mating pairs nest together and ensure the safety of a large number of young budgerigars.
Wild budgerigars grow to around 7 inches in length and are generally limited to yellow to green colorings. They have adapted to survive in captivity by growing to larger sizes of over 8 inches in length and weighing more than wild budgies. The colorings of captive budgerigars have altered to include a larger number of bright colors through mutations that are not found in wild budgerigars.