Meet my childhood budgie, the inspiration for my cartoon character Billabong!

People who follow me on Instagram or Facebook already know my budgie character Billabong, he’s bossy, self-confident, fearless, but sometimes surprisingly sweet and he’s Fergus’ partner-in crime!

So what you love! Billabong basically always does that.

Like the other three main characters I created he was based on a pet of mine, enter Lukas the yellow budgie!

I got Lukas when I was in elementary school, probably in first or second grade. The breeder didn’t really inform us about how to differentiate the gender of a budgie (when they grow older the “nose” above their beak turns blue with males and stays kind of orangey with females) so I decided to name him Lukas after one of my favorite children’s book characters Lukas der Lokomotivführer (a German classic). Well, as it turned out later Lukas was a girl. Err. Did we change her name? Nope. Did we address her as “he” for the rest of her life? You betcha.

I went up to my old photo albums to get a few good pictures for this blog post. Err. I’m sorry to say I didn’t succeed and the only two pictures I found were taken by elementary student me and are heart-breakingly, hilariously bad.

I’m also a bit appalled how small poor Lukie’s cage was, I am planning to get budgies again once I have the time and energy for them and my kids are a bit older and I’m already planning a cage that covers the whole wall so I was a bit shocked to look at those old pictures!

As for Lukas’ character: She was the sweetest bird, always cheerful and loving and in retrospect it breaks my heart we kept her as a single bird, now I know of course that this is absolutely wrong and you should never keep a single parakeet.

My childhood budgie Lukas on our windowsill. Sorry for the abysmal quality, seven-year old me gave it her best shot (literally).

As you can see we let her get some fresh air too! We put her cage on the patio a lot, let her fly every day etc. So I hope that despite being alone and without budgie company she had a good long life with us. She grew to be over 15 years old and was always the joy of our kitchen (again, another mistake, don’t keep parakeets in a kitchen area!). Anyway, I can’t wait to get some new budgies one day, I’ve already vowed to myself that one of them will be yellow like Lukas and (of course) called Billabong!

Comparison Billabong and Real-Life Lukas

Billabong is a real go-getter, bossy and determined, but also sweet. As with the rest of my characters he started to develop his own personality over time.

After a few months of drawing him nearly every day it dawned on me that he was a lot like my five-year old son. Err. Coincidence? Nope. I love how the subconscious works!

Real life Lukas was a typical budgie, very, very sweet, always cheerful (like Billabong) and very loving. Billabong shows some more selfish characteristics I’m afraid and is up to no good a lot of times. My apologies to Lukas on that front!

How Billabong was born

I went back in time to 2021 and here is the first time I drew Billabong! I made this for Cinco de Mayo and I wanted someone smaller next to Fergus so I started doodling budgies. He looks different now, rounder and a bit (forgive me Billabong) fatter than the first version. I also named him Lucky in the beginning as a version of Lukas to honor my childhood pet.

Here is my first ever sketch of him, a preparation for the Cinco de Mayo picture:

Here is the finished artwork:

I tried to work on him a bit more with this sketch, this was also the first time I drew my daughter’s pet gerbils (more about them in another blog post):

The second thing I made with Billabong were his athletic exploits for the Para(keet)lympics:

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Thanks for reading and see you soon, have a great week my friends!

Did you have a beloved childhood pet when you were young? Let me know in the comments!

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