The Metal Band on a Budgie's LegMany breeders put a metal band around one of a baby budgie's leg, when they are around 10 days old. The band itself costs about $8 each, although you can of course buy in bulk. The band typically tells the birth year of the budgie, as well as the breeder's ID number. As the budgie grows, the foot becomes more stiff and the band becomes unable to slide back off the foot.
The theory is that the band will help you identify a budgie that escapes. However, most escaped budgies aren't found again - and those that are tend to be easily identified by their owners. There aren't hundreds of budgies languishing in pet rescue facilities, that owners have not claimed.
Many parakeet shows require all entrants to be banded so they can be tracked. So if you have intentions of "showing" your bird in competition, you will need the bird to be banded. In fact, the American Budgerigar Society has colors assigned to each year to make it easy to see how old a budgie is. For example, some older colors were:
2001 - Black
2002 - Yellow
2003 - Silver
A metal band permanently wrapped around your leg - a leg you stand on 24 hours a day - is not necessarily a comfortable thing. I hear from people often that have various issues with the band. Sometimes it gets caught on something, trapping the parakeet. It can cause a fractured leg if for example the band gets caught on a cage wire and then the bird falls as it tries to get itself untrapped.
The band itself is metal and can have small bumps in it that wear on the parakeet after a while. Sometimes the band presses against the foot or leg to cause swelling or uncomfortableness.
While some pet owners band expensive pets, like $1,000 parrots, there really aren't "parakeet thieves" out there targetting these little $20 pets. If there WAS a parakeet thief, he would simply cut off the band once he got his hands on the prized bird.
If you're going to have a band removed, have a vet who has done it before perform the task. There are many horror stories out there about permanently injuring a parakeet with a botched band removal job. In essence the vet will have to use tiny bolt cutters to get the band off.
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