A colorful budgerigar in the wild.

The budgerigar, most commonly known as a shell parakeet, is a species of parrot that finds itself a pet in many homes across America. This colorful and unique bird makes a popular pet due to its small size, inexpensiveness, and ability to imitate human speech, but people can oftentimes forget that this bird exists naturally in the wild as well. Although the species is native to Australia, they were brought to Southwest Florida in the 1940′s and have been found here ever since.

After dogs and cats, the shell parakeet is the third most popular pet in America today. They are naturally green, yellow, and black though breeding has resulted in a variety of new colors such as blue, violet, white, and grey, and various crest and scallop markings can be found on them as well. Wild shell parakeets also tend to be smaller in size than their caged counterparts, and, like all parrots, have long, flat, tapered tails.

Shell parakeets are most comfortable in grasslands and woodlands, but tend to be a nomadic species that travels wherever food and water can be best found. They also tend to travel in smaller sized flocks, feeding on ripening wheat and various types of seeds. Shell parakeets are very social animals and need interaction and entertainment from toys or other parakeets. This also adds to their appeal as pets because they love human interaction as well.

Perhaps the shell parakeet’s most intriguing characteristic is its ability to speak, whistle, and play with humans. They can be taught simple tricks and songs and have been known to develop vocabularies up to a hundred words, though males tend to possess greater skills in these areas than females. Shell parakeets also make excellent companions because they have been known to live up to twenty years, though their lifespan depends largely on individual exercise and diet.

While you have likely already encountered a shell parakeet at some point in your life, either at a zoo or in a cage at a friend or relative’s house, these birds are truly best encountered in the wild, where their natural behaviors and habits can be observed. One such place to observe budgerigars naturally is on an airboat tour through the Florida Everglades, a popular habitat for these beautiful birds. Though witnessing a shell parakeet in the wild is truly an amazing experience, from an Everglades swamp tour, a plethora of other unique wildlife can also be found and appreciated.