Top 9 Reasons Why Budgies Puff up

Last updated on February 5th, 2024 at 10:39 pm

Written by Isra P

Many pet owners wonder why budgies puff up so often. That adorable behavior, characteristic of budgerigars and other birds, is known to be triggered by healthy habits and troublesome challenges alike. But why do they do it?

For the most part, budgies puff up when they are cold, sleepy, excited, sick, or need to clean themselves. Now, there is a big difference between getting ready to take a nap and struggling to breathe. Luckily, there are specific signs that tell whether that puffiness is normal or you need to do something about it.

Depending on the reason for puffing up, you may need to act. So keep reading and discover why your feathered companions are turning fluffy and the steps you can take to make them comfortable.

A lot of things can make budgies puff up their feathers. A chilly day in winter, being tired, getting ready for a bath after a long day of flying, and feeling under the weather are more than enough incentives for birds to fluff up. Since puffing up could mean so many different things, you must pay attention to other indications that may give you a clearer picture of what is actually happening.

1. It's Too Cold

Budgies like moderate temperatures. They feel quite comfortable between 70° F to 75° F. However, they can handle lower temperatures, all the way down to 60° F. Below that temperature, they may get too chilly and risk hypothermia. So how do they manage cold days?

They conserve body heat as much as possible (reference). When the environment gets too cold, they puff up to trap the warm air generated by their bodies between their feathers. That very same air prevents them from losing the valuable heat they need.

The more puffed up they get, the more warm air they can keep close to their bodies, and the more comfortable they can get for longer.

2. The Budgies are Sleepy

Often, budgies puff up when they are ready to take a nap or sleep for the night. Why? Because nights are typically colder than days, their natural reaction to ensure they stay warm while they rest is puffing up. The last thing they want is to lose their body heat as they try to sleep.

sleepy budgie

Even in warmer rooms, they might still sleep puff up out of instinct, so don’t get too surprised if you see them doing it during the summer.

3. They are Ready for a Bath

Humans are not the only ones guilty of liking a relaxing bath. Budgies also enjoy looking forward to having a good time as they approach their own tub.

During hot days, you can see them getting all puffed up just before diving in. When they do this, the dust that has settled on their feathers loosens, and as soon as they emerge from the water, they are ready to keep having fun!

4. To Groom Themselves

Another reason that might motivate budgies to puff up is to keep themselves squeaky clean by removing the dirt. When birds fluff up, it causes dust and other debris to fall off the skin and feathers.

why budgies puff up

Moreover, as budgies move and shift the feathers from their positions, it allows them to use their beaks to preen all their feathers and get rid of any remaining particles. As a bonus, they can also straighten out their plumage to feel more comfortable.

5. The Budgies are Demanding Food

Budgies puffing up their feathers when they are hungry is not a common occurrence. Still, young ones may do it occasionally when they are expecting food.

6. To Fend Off Threats

Fluffing up feathers is also a technique budgies use to repel threats (details). As they puff up, they make themselves look bigger and more intimidating to other birds or predators that might get too close to their territory. You will likely see this quite often if you have several male budgies.

The main difference between this type of puffing up and the one budgies use while sleeping is that it focuses more on the area under their necks and between the wings. Furthermore, you will likely hear a lot of angry screeching as they ruffle their head feathers and pace from side to side.

7. Your Pets are Upset

Budgies may also puff up when they are upset about something. For example, their head feathers puff up like when they are scared.

This behavior is usually accompanied by other cues such as keeping the wings away from their bodies and twisting the feathers of the tails in an unusual manner. They may also seem anxious and apprehensive and may not be fond of you getting close to them.

8. Your Friends are Excited

Puffing up can also be a sign of happiness and excitement in budgies. You see, budgies are social birds, and often, when they are having a good time, they fluff up their feathers to show they are enjoying themselves.

vibrant green budgie

This occurrence tends to take place when they try to impress other budgies or play with their favorite toys. They will also chirp and sing as they puff up, indicating they are doing great. You may try interacting with your budgies at that moment by talking to them or offering a new toy or treat to make them even happier.

9. They are Sick

One of the most dreaded reasons for budgies puffing up their feathers is a disease (source). You need to understand there is a difference between a fluffy bird that has a chronic illness versus one that is a bit chilly. So how can you tell if a budgie is sick or just getting comfortable?

Well, birds are remarkable at hiding their ailments, so figuring out whether they are experiencing a health issue requires knowing and understanding their habits. In the wilds, budgies have to act like they are strong and healthy even if that’s not the case; otherwise, predators target them first as sick birds are the easiest prey.

Our budgies at home still retain that deeply ingrained survival instinct and will behave the same way regardless of how safe it may be. As a result, they could be sick for weeks without you realizing something is wrong.

A sick puffed-up budgie spends almost the entire day with the feathers all fluffed up and will barely eat, play, sing, or fly. It will also have wet poop sticking out of the vent.

Puffed-up budgies that are unwell tend to hide in the corners and sleep on the floor of their cages using their two legs. They are also lethargic and rarely react to your presence or any other external stimuli. Furthermore, they are likely to have a runny nose, sneeze, and shallow breathing with tail bobbing. Consult with an avian vet if your budgie shows any of these symptoms.

In the following video, you will learn why budgies puff up and how they look when they do it:

What to do When Your Budgies are Puff up?

Now that you know why budgies puff up their feathers, it’s time to do something about it if it presents a threat to the well-being of our beloved pets. Most of the causes that make budgies get their feathers all fluffed up can be solved easily or are not a cause of concern. However, a few might endanger our winged companions, so we must proceed without hesitation.

Warm Them up

If your budgies are too cold, you have to warm them up. Of course, before you do anything about it, you must be sure the room temperature is the problem. So, first, find out the temperature in the area during the day and nighttime.

If it gets close to 60° F or below for several hours, you know there’s a good chance your budgies will be shivering. The birds won’t be in danger immediately, but you have to do something about it before hypothermia sets in, which may take a few days. Thankfully, there are many ways you can address the issue.

One alternative is to check for drafts and move your pets to a warmer room. Don’t forget to take the temperature of the new spot first and be certain that the temperature is as close to 70° F as possible.

You may also have to turn the thermostat’s heat up to ensure they are comfortable. Remember, moderate temperatures are ideal for them to thrive.

There is something you can do if everything else fails, and that is to get your budgies a bird cage heater. These gadgets are useful for keeping your feathered buddies warm when they need them the most.

Let the Birds Sleep

There is nothing is wrong if your budgies are fluffing up before sleeping at night. As long as the temperature is acceptable, just let them be, and don’t forget to cover their cage to help them sleep more soundly.

Encourage Them to get Clean

puffed up female budgerigar

It’s okay for your pets to be clean and sharp. If they want to get a bath, give them a small tub and let them enjoy it.

tub for birds

Investigate if They are Afraid or Upset

If your budgies seem apprehensive or angry, you must find out the cause of the behavior. Watch them for a while, and determine if there are sounds, lights, predators, or anything else nearby that might be startling them.

In some instances, budgies that share the same cage don’t get along, so you may need to separate them if they fight too often.

Allow Them to be Excited

You want your budgies to be happy and excited. So if they are puffing up because they are having such a great time, you are doing a good job!

Take Care of Your Budgies

Birds that are puffed up for the entire day regardless of the temperature have a high chance of being sick. So if you suspect an illness is affecting your budgie, take it to an avian vet fast.

Typically, when budgies show clear symptoms of being unwell, it means they have been sick for quite a while. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to buy a bit of time while you take them to a vet. One of them is to use a bird lamp to keep them warm.

Why is that important? Budgies need around 80° F to effectively stimulate their immune system to fight infections. If their temperature gets too low, their odds of making it aren’t great. So keep that in mind.

There are many reasons why budgies puff up. Some are nothing to be concerned about, while others demand your undivided attention. As you play and bond with them, you can tell if fluffing up is a good or bad sign. If at any moment you suspect something is out of place, consult with a veterinarian immediately.

He is the leading creator of featheredbuddies.com, a website dedicated to helping bird owners. For many years, Isra P has cared for budgies and other birds to ensure their happiness and well-being. His passion and enthusiasm for them have led him to a quest to find out why birds act the way they do and how to enrich their lives.