Are you considering a cockatiel as a pet? Here we talk about the care of a cockatiel, a cockatiels health, a cockatiels diet, how to bond with your cockatiel, what to look for when buying a cockatiel, the history of the cockatiel as a pet, a cockatiels natural habitat, the different color variations of a cockatiel, and traits of a cockatiel you should be aware of before getting a bird.
Cockatiels are one of the worlds favorite pet birds. They are a little bigger than a parakeet, have brilliant color variations, and a feather crown, (crest) on the top of their heads. Cockatiels are playful and affectionate to people they bond with. They are not known for mimicking human voice, but do at times, and they mimic sounds, whistles, and even music!
Cockatiels are a member of its own branch of the cockatoo family native to the forests of Australia.
Cockatiels primarily live in the outback of Australia near bodies of water, a region of the northern part of the continent. Discovered in 1770, cockatiels were destined to become one of the most popular pet birds. In 1894 the Australian government decided to ban the local flora and fauna from being exported. By this time cockatiels were already being bred around the world. No wild birds have been in captivity since then.
Cockatiels natural coloring is a grey body with a yellow face and crest and orange cheek patch. The male face colors are brighter than the female, while she has bars on the underside of her tail feathers. Since captive birds were first bred in Europe, color mutations have developed and increased the popularity of the bird as a pet.
What to consider
When considering any type of parrot, the following issues must be dealt with:
- Pooping. Birds poop wherever they are at that moment. If you intend to allow your bird to roam freely in your home, then be prepared to clean up gooey bird poop every day all over your house. Or you could do what my Aunt did, and put poop drop cloths over all the lamp shades and furniture. However you choose to deal with it is fine!
- Chewing. Many parrots, including cockatiels, love to chew on things like lampshades. picture frames, and basically anything wood.
- Noise. Parrots are known to be loud and “screech”, a long high pitch and extremely loud screech. Cockatiels do not screech and are not that loud. They chatter and mimic sounds, other bird calls, whistling but its not usually non stop, and is more prevalent if the bird is bored.
- Biting. Parrots bite. Even hand raised well trained birds will bite you if it is irritated for various reasons. Go to any parrot discussion forum and seasoned professional bird owners will tell you they get bit on occasion. Most parrot species have a powerful bite that will hurt and draw blood, and the large parrot species can inflict significant damage. Cockatiels do not have that strong of a bite. It will sting at best. Really no different than a parakeet, (Bungie).
How to choose a healthy bird
Choose a bird that is bright, alert, and active. Feathers should be flat to the body and not puffed out like a hedgehog! The beak should look smooth and straight without any abnormalities. Nostrils should appear clear with no obstruction and its nails should be in good condition.
Cockatiels should be kept in a cage large enough for two or three levels of perches. The bars should be close enough together to prevent the bird from getting its head stuck between the bars- no bigger than 3/4 inch space. If you want more than one bird, consider as large a cage as possible or keep them in separate cages. If kept together they may tend to bond more to each other than to you. Reports show cockatiels express more affection to their human if housed alone in a cage.
Health and diet
Cockatiels may spend much of the day in a cage and be content, however for overall health your cockatiel should spend at least an hour a day outside of the cage to spread its wings, fly and get some exercise. To limits its flight capability, clip its wings twice a year. A local vet or breeder can do it for you. Cockatiels need to eat a combination of fresh fruit and veggies and seed. The most common health problems are the result of poor diet. Many people make the mistake of feeding their bird only seed. Only 30% of their diet should be seed, while the rest is fruit and veggies. Seeds provide fat. Fruit and produce provide other essential nutrients. An adult cockatiel eats about a tablespoon of food a day. Rarely does a bird overeat. Avocados, chocolate, coffee, and salt are deadly to a Cockatiel.
A cockatiel’s feathers produce a layer of dust that can get all over the cage when the bird shakes its feathers. The dust on the feathers helps the bird groom. Bathe or spray water on your bird regularly, and clean the cage with diluted bleach weekly. Most bird cages have a removable bottom to make cleaning easier. Waste build up in the cage creates toxic levels of ammonia and other health risks.
A hand raised young bird will be easier to bond with and curb unwanted behavior such as biting. When buying a bird from a pet store, watch the clerk handle the bird and see how friendly the bird is: if its fearful, or biting the clerk. If you are going direct to a breeder, ask them if the bird is socialized to people and if you can try handling it before buying it. A fearful cockatiel will take more time and patience to bond with.
Cockatiels do not do well in sudden room temperature changes. The cage should be away from the kitchen in a draft free location. Fumes from toxic cleaners such as oven cleaners can be deadly. Room temperature should not be below 65°F or to exceed 80°F. Do not place the cage in front of a heating vent or A/C.
Cockatiels are so much fun. They have lovable antics, play, and can be affectionate. My cockatiel loved to sit on my chest, rub his head on my chin and chew on my whisker stubble! They are safe with children if they are taught how to interact with the bird gently.
If you are a first time bird owner, please let us know how you are doing and if we can help in our discussion forum on Facebook