My last roommate had a couple of budgies that I became quite attached to over the course of their stay with me. I spent a lot of time talking and playing with them when my roommate wasn't around to keep them company. Now that it's just me and my chinchillas (and the jungle creeping across my living room) it's become kind of quiet around here, so I was thinking about getting a keet of my own. Are there any budgie owners out there with advice for a potential parrot-pappy? I know that everyone says hand-raised keets are more social, but what are people's personal experiences with hand-/breeder-raised versus pet shop, bin-o-budgies birds?
I would like to just have one for now so that I can bond with it and not worry about it having to eventually grieve over the loss of a nestmate it's been with for it's whole life. This raises the concern of giving it enough attention, though. I am a busy student and I'm gone for much of the day (Monday-Thursday) during the week; I'm also out of the house regularly in the evenings. I know that, under normal circumstances, I would have at least fifteen to thirty minutes per day for just 'bird time' and nothing else, and more time once the keet is trained well enough to accompany me while I study and do housework. Is this enough time to properly socialize a budgie? I don't want any bird of mine to be lonely. I am in the habit of talking to birds even when I'm not actually playing with them, so I know I would pay plenty of attention to the bird when I was at home. I guess what I'm wondering is, would my regular six to ten hours of absence be harmful to a new bird?
Also, I was wondering, could I build my own cage? I'm going to be building a small PVC-and-tarp greenhouse soon, so I could whip up a nice, spacious bird cage with my scraps. My only question is how to line it. I seem to remember that the bars of bird cages are choosen to assure that the bird can safely grip them without entangling its feet, and so that the bird's head can't squeeze through the bars. Are there any readily available building materials that could suit this purpose? I was thinking of using machine cloth, the wide-gauge wire mesh they sell for cheap fencing and bird/squirrel netting purposes. Will any old metal do or do I need something inactive and/or corrosion resistant?
What have I missed? I feel like I have a good grip on training, home safety, cage/toy accomidations, etc. I don't remember precisely, but I have gone over diets and grooming and they seemed managable. What kind of health/ behavior problems are commonly found among pet keets? I've heard about thrashing, and we had to deal with unwanted biting and squawking in my birds - is there anything else I need to know about?