Do you ever feel like me – just a tiny bit guilty that your budgie is confined to the house environment and not outdoors flying free as a proverbial bird in nature? Never hearing the rustle of leaves in the trees or the warmth of the sun on a beautiful spring afternoon?
What’s a gal to do with all this guilt?
The solution might be amazingly simple. You will raise a few eyebrows, be disowned by your teens and possibly incite jealousy amongst your (equally crazy) bird friends, but get your hands on a bird backpack carrier, zip birdie in, hoist said backpack on the back and out you both go.
Easy – or is it?
This article digs a little deeper into the somewhat wild, but very appealing idea of taking your budgie for a walk.
But firstly why?
Why Should I Walk With My Budgie?
Human Exercise Is Important!
There are plenty of great health and wellbeing reasons for enjoying a good walk. In a nation where obesity is an ever growing problem, and mechanical and technological advances have rendered sustained body movement obsolete, the recommended 10,000 steps per day for fitness can be hard for many people to achieve. [source: www.10000steps.org.au]
Depression and anxiety are skyrocketing too.
Did you know that researchers believe that regular exercise can be helpful for people with depression and anxiety as it may increase the level of brain serotonin, the neurotransmitter involved in regulating mood, sleep, appetite and other functions? [source: www.blackdoginstitute.org.au]
An active lifestyle that features walking as a daily activity is clearly good for your health and wellbeing.
And guess what? Your budgie can benefit from your walking too!
Walking Can Be Good For A Budgie!
It is a sad reality that some pet budgies are confined to their cage for many more hours each day than is good for them.
Without careful attention to diet, opportunities for ‘free flight’ exercise and a stimulating environment, budgies can become overweight, bored and prone to undesirable behaviors such as feather plucking and biting.
Budgies are intelligent birds who need additional environmental enrichment in order to remain happy and healthy – why not provide that by taking your bird outside with you on your daily walk?
You could, of course, put the birdcage outside for your fid (feathered kid) to enjoy some outside time – something I recommend to do regularly anyway, but how much more fun would it be to take your budgie with you while you’re out walking?
Birdie will also enjoy the change in scenery, smells, sounds and physical sensations of feeling the wind and sun.
And finally – why not? It could be fun. And a great conversation starter for those of us who like random social interactions with strangers 😉
So if a leisurely stroll with your bird (the feathered variety) sounds like a reasonable thing to do, I invite you to read on.
If, however, the thought makes you cringe with embarrassment, want to crawl in the nearest hole and disappear forever, perhaps you might like to read this rather rude book about not caring what other people think of you.
Still with me? Great!
What Are The Advantages Of A Backpack?
The best way to take your budgie for a walk is to choose a bird carrier that is both portable, safe and comfortable – for you and the bird! There are many other features to consider, but making sure your budgie is secure in the carrier is crucial. You do not want your budgie to escape!
Here’s where bird carrier backpacks are an excellent choice.
They are portable, sturdy, secure, yet lightweight and very convenient to use. No awkward one-handed cage carrying. The weight of the backpack and its occupants is distributed across the shoulders and back, leaving your hands free for movement or hand-holding with a significant other.
A budgie backpack carrier will make life much more comfortable for you if a long and leisurely stroll is something you plan on doing.
Additionally, some people have difficulty with carrying a traditional bird travel cage. For those of us with arthritic hands or mobility issues, holding onto a cage handle when transporting a pet bird can be very troublesome.
Some travel cages can be bulky and heavy, hard to grip or hold onto for long periods of time and just downright awkward! If you find yourself having to carry your budgie around for any reason (vacation time, a trip to the vet, visiting rights with the non-custodial parent), a backpack can be a versatile choice.
How To Choose A Suitable Bird Backpack
Choose A Backpack Based On Anticipated Use
Long Walks and Hiking
If you want to take your budgie on long walks or a hike, you will need a backpack that will stand up to variable conditions. It’s entirely possible (and a very awesome idea) to hike with your budgie, but certain practicalities become paramount.
The backpack must be durable and comfortable to wear – you don’t want to have a mid-hike backpack breakage disaster or be slowed down in any way just because you’re carrying a bird. A comfortable, well-fitting backpack with padded shoulder straps and extra storage space will allow you to carry food, water and emergency supplies for everyone.
With additional mesh siding, windows and covers and a sturdy perch, your budgie will be comfortable in all weather, and they’ll love being able to look out. Another feature to look for is the capability to hang a toy or two inside the backpack – to give birdie alternative entertainment on long walks if the scenery is not up to par!
Comfort and safety are still important considerations for walks of a shorter duration. You might consider buying a less durable, but more affordable backpack if your budgie will be using it infrequently or for short walks only. This choice is entirely up to you of course!
Does Size Matter?
Bird backpacks are different than traditional carriers. They are entirely enclosed and have no cage bars for your budgie to climb around on. It is, therefore, necessary to have a perch fitted into the backpack. The perch must be of a suitable thickness to allow the bird to hold on tightly, as the rhythmical walking motion of the owner can be unsettling at first.
You also want to make sure that your budgie(s) fits in the backpack comfortably. As a budgie is smaller than most other pet birds, the size of the backpack is not generally a big concern – just make sure there is room to perch comfortably without the head or tail being squished up against the side walls of the backpack.
How To Familiarise Your Budgie To A Backpack
Budgies aren’t known for being adaptable and welcoming to changes in routine. They can become attached to their usual living arrangements and might be wary of a new type of small space confinement – even if it’s just a temporary one.
To minimize trouble when first introducing your budgie into an unfamiliar environment, it’s important to follow a calm and gradual approach. Every budgie has its own unique personality and you know their temperament better than anyone else.
Try following the tips below to get your budgie familiar with being in a backpack.
Tips And Tricks
- When you get the backpack, make opening it an experience for your budgie. Open it next to their cage or when they’re next to you and allow them to explore it if they seem interested. Birdie will have no idea what it is or what it will be used for, but this is a great way to introduce the backpack to your bird in a non-threatening way.
- Leave the unzipped backpack somewhere where your budgie can easily see and investigate it. You might notice he starts to go near (or in) it or even land on it. This is a positive step and you can encourage more of this exploration by praising your budgie, rewarding with a food treat or engaging in play with them in and around the backpack.
- If your budgie doesn’t seem interested in the backpack or is nervous about going near or inside, try enticing them with some of their favorite treats or toys. Millet can work miracles for a reluctant bird!
- Never force your budgie inside their backpack. This can be a traumatic experience, and they might never want to willingly go inside the carrier again! The aim is to encourage a positive association between the bird and the carrier.
- In a calm and controlled manner, get budgie to ‘step up’ [link to beginner training] on your finger and transfer him to the backpack perch. Don’t get discouraged if your budgie doesn’t seem to like their backpack right away – be consistent and keep trying to get birdie on that perch! Reward, reward, reward!
- Once budgie is happy to sit on the perch, start to slowly zip up the access point. Talk encouragingly whilst you are doing this, as this is a critical point where birdie might begin to panic. Keep initial backpack introductions short to maintain calm and reduce bird stress.
- When budgie is at the point where he is happy to sit on the perch all snugly zipped into the backpack, you can begin to practice wearing the backpack. I recommend doing this in a familiar environment first (inside the house) a few times, before venturing outside. You can slowly walk around, talking encouragingly to your budgie, maintaining a verbal connection even though he won’t be able to see you.
- Repeat the above until budgie seems comfortable in the backpack. Then the real fun begins – outside adventures! Whilst you might ultimately be planning on going on much longer walks, make sure each initial trip outside is brief and enjoyable. As budgie gets more comfortable, you can start to make your walks longer.
Getting Out And About With Your Budgie
So you’ve reached the point where you and budgie are confidently using the backpack for some short familiarization walks.
Even longer hikes.
Walks in a whispering forest.
Leisurely walks along deserted beaches.
Three day cross country snow skiing adventure … just kidding!
Really, wherever your feet can take you – your budgie can go too. You might be the one doing all the walking, but your budgie is going to have a great time!
Before I review the best options for backpacks – just a quick word of caution.
Take your time on your outings and don’t expect budgie to be okay with a 10-mile hike immediately. It’s always better to increase walking time slowly until you know how long your budgie can remain comfortable in their carrier.
Humans aren’t the only ones that can get dehydrated – especially on a hot day. Make sure to carry sufficient food and water with you, for yourself and your budgie. Stop occasionally to check on your bird to make sure he is comfortable. Also be aware of cold draughts, rain or sun directly impacting your budgie.
Don’t forget to keep rewarding and praising your budgie when they do an excellent job behaving calmly inside the backpack. It’s easy to stop doing that once we think they’re comfortable but be sure to give them a rewarding treat occasionally.
Backpack Carrier Reviews
In the name of research (and the very real possibility I will be investing in one soon), I have spent more hours than I like to admit investigating what types of bird backpack carriers are currently available on the market.
Even though there is a large variety of pet backpacks advertised, unfortunately, most of them aren’t suitable for a small bird such as a budgie.
Birds have sharp claws and beaks and like to gnaw stuff. They need robustly constructed carriers with no small parts or threads that could be accidentally swallowed. Budgies are also of small size and can easily escape from carriers designed for animals such as cats and dogs (or even larger birds such as conures).
But never fear, pet bird backpacks have come a long way in recent years and there are some (but not a lot) eminently suitable ones for your specific requirements.
If you’re someone who wants to take your budgie with you wherever you go, or you have (or would like to begin) an active lifestyle, the following backpacks might just be a perfect choice.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these backpacks (yet!) but have consulted manufacturer websites, online retailers, existing owners of these backpacks via social media avenues and waded through many other customer reviews, in order to provide a completely impartial review of each product.
Read full review of Celltei Pak-o-Bird backpack here.
Note: at the time of writing [June 2019] the Celltei Pak-O-Bird is out of stock on Amazon.com but can be ordered directly through the company.
Read full review of Petsfit Bird backpack here.
Review of Baosity Pet Bird backpack– coming soon
And that’s it! Thanks for sticking with me ’til the end – it’s been a long post, hasn’t it? I hope I have answered every question you may have had regarding suitable backpacks for budgies – if not, you know what to do – contact me!
Shall I be seeing you somewhere off the beaten path, bird on your back, sometime soon? I hope so!