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   The Budgie and the Eucalyptus, Once Upon a Time in Australia

A Relationship that Ended over 160 years ago:

The Budgie and the Eucalyptus, Once Upon a Time in Australia

by Peter McLaren

I live in Australia, where I have, in the last few years, re-discovered a relationship between a bird and a tree that ended in 1840 after having evolved together over hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of years.

The bird is the world’s most popular cage bird, the budgie. The tree is the Eucalyptus, or, at least, five species of Eucalypts.

In around 1840, budgerigars were found in Australia by a British naturalist named Gould who took a few back to England. In its native habitat the budgie used to eat grass seeds and Eucalyptus leaves, but it was too cold for Eucalyptus trees to grow in Europe.

Since then the bird has been fed on all sorts of diets in every country in the world, but never its original Eucalyptus leaves. It eats cabbage in Russia, dandelions in Turkey, lettuce in the USA and so on.

When the budgie arrived back on Australian shores, it had been modified more than Bruce Willis. It had gone through a selective breeding program that gave it a whole range of colors besides its natural green. Even Australians didn’t recognize this native son, and they fed him, as per European instruction books, on foods that were nothing like his native grasses and Eucalyptus leaves. The bird had undergone a complete cosmetic makeover outside the country.

I can’t think of parallel in the history of the world where a species was removed from its native continent and never tasted its natural food again.

When I was at university doing Aboriginal Studies, I visited Aboriginal communities in the Outback. There I saw flocks of budgies strip Eucalyptus trees like locusts, and I realized that this was part of their original diet. It gave me the idea for starting a business exporting Eucalyptus leaves and re-introducing budgies to their native food. I now have customers in many countries on four continents.

In Britain alone there are estimated to be 540,000 households containing at least one budgie each, plus all the breeders, exhibition budgie fanciers etc. The worldwide caged budgie population is hard to estimate but various people have put it at something like 30 million.


To put your budgie back on its natural diet, please visit our site.


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This story was published on January 8, 2003.
  
JANUARY 2003
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· Belvedere Square, Waverly Projects Get Funding Nod from BDC
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·OPEN LETTERS:
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 ·  Failure To Fire Journalists Who Lie Shows Rotting from the Top
 ·  Trying to believe
 ·   Open Letter to MSNBC
 ·  Open Letter to Rev. Pat Robertson from the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada
 ·  An Open Letter to Fellow Media-Watchers
 ·  (01/16) Open Letter: An Appeal to Bill Gates, Ted Turner, or Some Other Billionaire
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 ·  Idiotic Proposed Tax Cuts Show Who’s Really Getting Welfare
·(01/19) Massive Anti-War Rally Rocks Nation's Capital
·In Addition to Civil Rights, We Should be Concerned about Corporate Rights and Health Care Rights and Pension Rights
·Consider the Orwellian “Arrogance is Humility”
· (1/17) Will the White House Please Slow Down and Listen to Reason about Iraq before It's Too Late?
·The Consequences of an Iraqi Misadventure
·Gun Control Misses the Target, we should reprogram all our citizens to be like the Swiss!
·Without Protest, Americans Are Giving Up Freedom
·Environment: The Budgie and the Eucalyptus, Once Upon a Time in Australia
·To Al Qaeda: Fries with That?
·Soapbox: Refresh Your Memory of the UN Charter
·John Rawls—An Appreciation
NATION & WORLD
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