REVIEW: Budgerigar by Sarah Harris and Don Baker

In brief: The story of the budgerigar, native to Australia and known around the world.

The good: A lot of very interesting facts about budgies.

The not-so-good: Very sad reading about their early exportation and smuggling.

Why I chose it: I love budgies. Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the copy.

Year: 2020

Pages: 252

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Rating: 8 out of 10

I’ve had a budgie almost constantly since I was a kid. I’ve had green ones and blue ones, boys and girls but the one thing they have all had in common is that they are generally happy little birds. They are fascinating, smart and a great companion.

Budgerigar by Sarah Harris and Don Baker aims to get to the bottom of why these humans love these birds so much. It starts by tracing the history of the budgie in Australia and then expands on how it was transported to England, then Europe and across the world. Some of these sections were difficult to read, as the conditions for the birds weren’t always conducive to survival. Budgie mania was rife in England and Europe and it’s amazing that these birds not only lived, but thrived. There are interesting sections on budgie mutations (as native budgies are green and yellow, like the cover bird here) and breeding. However, my favourite parts were little sections interspersed in the narrative of famous budgies and what they could do. Some budgies could speak many English words, others knew to recite their address when they got lost. Some even managed to survive in a northern hemisphere winter!

The book is easy to pick up and read in sections, or sit down and read through. The style of writing is engaging, and doesn’t get bogged down in technical detail or boring facts. It’s highly entertaining, for both keen budgie fanciers and those looking to know something about the little bird who took over the world. There is also a lovely selection of colour pictures of budgies with famous people and in advertising over the years. I learned a lot about the budgie’s history, which is something you don’t see in the usual budgie books.

I also asked my budgie, Nic for his review. He wasn’t keen on the budgie on the cover (likely because it was bigger than him) but the edges of the paper were to his taste. His overall review was, ‘very cute!’.

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