CARING FOR YOUR PET
Cockatiels are one of the smallest parrots in the
parrot family, and make lovable and intelligent
pets. Cocktails are social pets who will mimic your
voice and happily ride around on your finger or
shoulder. This article will show you how to care for
your happy, healthy pet Cockatiel!
Consider if a Cockatiel is the right pet for you.
Cockatiels require daily care and attention, and can
be noisy and messy pets. With proper care, they can
live for more than twenty years! Before purchasing a
Cockatiel, you should consider the following
questions (and include anyone else who lives with
you in the discussion):
How much money am I prepared to spend?
While Cockatiels are not very expensive to purchase,
they need sizable cages, and plenty of toys and
other enrichment items. In addition, you will need
to take your Cockatiel to the vet for annual
How much time can I spend with my Cockatiel?
Unless someone is at home most of the day, a single
Cockatiel is likely to be lonely. Paired Cockatiels
will need less attention, but you'll still have to
give them daily attention and care.
Am I sensitive to noise and mess?
Though Cockatiels are not extremely noisy, they will
be vocal in the morning and evening, and can create
big messes. If you're a neat freak or hate being
woken up early in the morning, a Cockatiel might not
be right for you.
How long am I prepared to care for a pet?
Because Cockatiels can live for upwards of twenty
years, consider your dedication carefully before
purchasing. If you are underage, consider who will
care for your Cockatiel if you cannot keep it while
Purchase a cage.
cage should be at least at least 2 feet (0.6 m) tall
with a 20-inch width and 18-inch depth, but a larger
cage is recommended. The cage should have bars no
more than 3/4 of an inch apart. Stainless steel
cages are recommended. Because zinc and lead are
poisonous to birds, the cage should also be
guaranteed to not contain these materials.
Additionally, because Cockatiels love to climb
around their cage, the cage should have at least a
few horizontal bars.
Purchase the other supplies you'll need.
Cockatiels, like any pet bird, require things to
keep them entertained in their cages. You will need
Two food bowls and a water bowl. You will need need
separate bowls for the dry and wet bird food (wet
food will be items like fruit, cooked beans, etc.) A
skirt for the cage to catch thrown seed.
Lots of perches for the cage. Cockatiels like to
climb and play so lots of perches will make your
cockatiel very happy. You will notice that your
cockatiel will choose one perch as his home base
(the perch where he will sleep.)
A bunch of toys for your Cockatiel to play with. Buy
several toys and rotate them every week so that your
bird isn't bored. Cockatiels love to chew, so toys
like twig balls, or rafia and palm strips are best.
Buy extra supplies
Though not necessary, purchasing cleaning supplies,
such as poop remover and a handheld vacuum, is a
good idea. You will also need to purchase a
cuttlebone for calcium; this is particularly
important for female Cockatiels, who can get egg
binding problems (females will lay eggs without a
male; they'll just be unfertilized).
Learn more about
purchasing a Cockatiel, thorough research of
Cockatiels and how to care for them is necessary.
While this article covers basic care, more in-depth
research is recommended. Good resources include the
Internet, your local library, and pet stores, which
will usually carry books and other resources about
the care of Cockatiels. In addition, interacting
with Cockatiels is recommended, as well as speaking
with an owner of Cockatiels about their experience
caring for their birds.
Purchase a Cockatiel.
you might be tempted to purchase the cheapest
Cockatiel you can find, purchasing a bird from a pet
store is not recommended. This is because pet store
birds can be unhealthy, and are often not socialized
(which makes taming them harder). You can purchase a
hand-fed baby from a specialty bird store or bird
breeder. Purchase a Cockatiel that is about three
months old or slightly older. A beginner should
never hand-feed a baby Cockatiel.
Purchase a cockatiel from a rescue center. Before
trying to buy a pet bird it is generally better to
try to adopt a bird. While many Cockatiels from
rescue groups make good pets, adopting from a
shelter is not recommended for beginners, as these
Cockatiels can be unhealthy or have behavior
Purchase a cockatiel from a previous owner.
Sometimes, things come up and people have to give
away their pets. As long as you're sure the owner
isn't rehoming the bird because of behavior
problems, and you are given the bird's health
history, this can be a great way to purchase a
Cockatiel, particularly for beginners.
Tame your bird.
your cockatiel is already tame, you can skip to the
next step. One of the major parts of taming a
cockatiel is getting the bird used to your presence.
When you first bring your bird home, place the cage
in an area of your house where there is a lot of
human activity. Sit down next to your birdís cage
every day and talk or whistle to it quietly for 10
minutes. This will get your bird used to your voice
When the bird comes over to the side of the cage
where you are sitting and seems fine with you being
there, start to offer him small treats (see step one
of the next section for what those treats should
be.) After about a week of doing this, open the cage
door and hold out a treat, thus prompting your bird
to come sit on the cage door. The next step is to
place food in your hand and have the bird eat out of
Train your bird to step up.
you have tamed your cockatiel and he is eating out
of your hand, you should teach him to step up onto
your hand. The way you do this depends on if you
have a bird that bites a lot, or a friendlier bird.
Do not try to grab a Cockatiel or force it to step
up, as this will most likely result in you getting
If you have a bird that bites: Move your finger
quickly and fluidly towards the top of his legs, as
if you were running your finger through a candle
flame. Your bird will automatically step up. Give
him a treat and praise immediately after he does
this. If your bird starts to bite aggressively, stop
the training session and try again later.
If you have a bird that rarely bites: Place your
finger against your birdís abdomen about his legs.
Apply a slight pressure and he will most likely step
up immediately. When he does this, give him a treat
and praise him. Next time you do it, say step up as
you apply the pressure. Eventually he will associate
those words with the action of Ďstepping up.í
Give your bird time
to adjust when you first bring your Cockatiel home.
your Cockatiel is a hand-fed baby, this can be as
short as a few hours. Unsocialized babies, however,
will usually need two or three days to get used to
their new surroundings. During the adjustment
period, do not handle the bird, but do cleaning and
feeding routines and talk softly with the bird.
Give your Cockatiel a healthy diet.
pellets should make up about 70% of your Cockatiel's
diet. Seed can make a good treat, but don't feed it
in excess as it's too fatty. You should also feed
your Cockatiel healthy vegetables and sometimes
fruit; well-cooked beans and spaghetti are examples
of tasty treats you can give your Cockatiel. When
you choose fruits and vegetables to feed, organic
ones are recommended. You should also thoroughly
rinse off fruit and vegetables before feeding.
feed your Cockatiel chocolate, avocado, alcohol,
onions, mushrooms, tomato leaves, caffeine, or
uncooked beans, as these are toxic. Very sugary or
fatty foods such as candy bars are also not healthy
Remove any uneaten fresh food from the cage within
four hours or else it could attract harmful bacteria
(and will just make a mess.)
Make sure that your cockatiel always has clean water.
should change your birdís water daily. You should
also change it when you notice that food or
droppings have gotten into it. You should give your
bird water that you yourself would drink.
When washing the water bowl, make sure to use hot
water with a bit of soap. Doing this will make sure
that fungus doesnít begin to grow that could make
your bird sick.
your Cockatiel is already tame (or you have already
tamed and trained it--see Part Two,) you will need
to spend at least an hour a day with it to keep it
tame and friendly. Unless you purchase a bird
"diaper," you may want to interact with the bird on
a chair covered with a towel, or in a room with an
Understand why your Cockatiel may bite.
might feel hurt or upset when your Cockatiel bites,
but it's important to realize that birds bite
because they are reacting to a stressful situation,
not because they are trying to be mean. A bird will
bite to express that it is scared or upset, and you
shouldn't take bites personally. Think back to what
you were doing when your Cockatiel bit you, and try
to see things from it's point of view. For example,
a Cockatiel might bite if you were trying to grab
it, or if you were too careless or rough while
handling it. Additionally, many Cockatiels are
protective of their cage, and may be aggressive if
you try to put your hand in the cage.
If your Cockatiel bites you outside of the cage, put
it back into the cage and wait for it to calm down
before taking it out of the cage again.
If your Cockatiel is cage aggressive, train it to
step up onto a stick or perch. That way, you can
have it step up onto the perch when you want to
remove it from its cage, instead of having to put
your hand in the cage.
Teach your Cockatiel how to speak and whistle.
males are best at speaking and whistling, females
can learn how to whistle and will occasionally learn
a few words. It's recommended that you begin
teaching your Cockatiel how to speak before teaching
it how to whistle, as it can be harder the other way
around. To teach your Cockatiel to speak, talk
frequently with it, and say words you want your
Cockatiel to learn frequently - for example, say
"Mommy!" every time you approach your Cockatiel. If
you hear the beginnings of a word or phrase,
immediately reward your Cockatiel with a treat and
lots of attention.
Teaching your Cockatiel how to whistle is much the
same - frequently whistle in front of your
Cockatiel, and reward it if it begins whistling.
Recognize signs of sickness in Cockatiels.
Because Cockatiels will often hide their illness
until it is very bad, you should keep a sharp eye
out for signs of sickness. Very sick Cockatiels will
sit with fluffed up feathers at the bottom of the
cage. A Cockatiel that is bleeding is also obviously
injured. Signs of a sick bird include:
Crankiness or biting; napping more often than usual;
a decrease in your birdís weight or the amount of
food he eats; refusal to eat or drink water;
coughing, sneezing, or irregular breathing;
lameness; lumps or swelling; inflamed or crusty eyes
and nostrils; cloudy eyes; a soiled vent; or a
drooping head, wings, or tail.
Take your bird to the vet
should take your Cockatiel to an avian veterinarian
for an annual "well-bird" exam. Additionally, you
should immediately contact your vet if your
Cockatiel exhibits any of the signs listed above.
Remember that while it may be expensive to go to the
vet, birds will often become very sick in a short
period of time, and it isn't a good idea to "wait
and see" with Cockatiels as they are rather delicate
Be aware that cockatiels can
have night frights.
cockatiels are afraid of the dark and have "night
frights" where they essentially freak out in their
cages. To prevent this, put a nightlight in the room
your Cockatiel sleeps in, and don't completely cover
the cage at night. Once you know which perch your
cockatiel prefers to sleep on, you should make sure
that there are no toys hanging around that perch. If
your bird was to have a night fright and get tangled
up in a toy, he could be badly injured.