Home | Bird Research or Recent News | Mate Choice in the Budgerigar (Parakeet), Melopsittacus undulatus – opposites do not attract

Mate Choice in the Budgerigar (Parakeet), Melopsittacus undulatus – opposites do not attract


Research conducted recently at University of California (Irvine) has revealed that female budgerigars choose males whose contact calls closely resemble their own. Males, in turn, pay more attention to similarly-sounding mates than to females whose calls differ from theirs, grooming them often and defending them vigorously. When paired with such females, male budgerigars also devote substantially more time to the care of their young. This extra care translates into an increased rate of growth and survival for the nestlings.

It has long been known that male budgerigars imitate the calls of their mates, and that doing so seems to strengthen the bond between the pair. Budgerigars have highly variable contact calls, more so than many other parrots. This may help the pair to maintain contact and to thwart competition within the huge flocks that parakeets typically form. The current research is the first to show that female mate choice is influenced by the initial sound of the male’s contact call, before he has begun to imitate her sounds.

Although budgerigars breed readily for pet keepers, this information may have important implications for hobbyists and zoos working with rare parrots that do not reproduce reliably in captivity.


An interesting article on the natural and captive history of the budgerigar is posted at:

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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