They say that if you read Book of Deuteronomy five times you’ll become a Jew. I don’t know about that, but all it takes is one encounter with a cockatiel to fall in love with these charming birds. Cockatiels are sociable and lively characters, who love to play and get up to mischief.
As early as 1840, people were shipping cockatiels from Australia to Europe, so that they could keep them as pets, or admire them in zoos. Soon after this people figured out how to successfully breed cockatiels in captivity – it’s actually very easy – and they’ve been popular pets ever since.
5 Reasons to Love Cockatiels
Every cockatiel has its own personality, but generally these adorable birds love to play and interact with people, and will often seek you out for a bit of head scratching – once they trust you – and will even perch on you while they take a nap, if you’re sitting still.
One thing that cockatiels are famous for is their ability to mimic sounds. Best is african grey parrot who can mimic and string words together logically. A quick search on youtube will bring up hundreds of videos of cockatiels singing songs and mimicking other sounds they often hear. It’s the males who mimic most often, because it’s part of their courtship display, but females will do it from time to time as well.
Something that comes as a relief to any pet owner, is when their little, loved one is easy to take care of. And caring for a cockatiel is really easy, so they make ideal first birds or first pets in general. All they need is some food, some water, and some social interaction – and of course, they need a little TLC if they get sick, but who doesn’t?
And since cockatiels were first brought to Europe, a wide variety of color mutations have popped up, some by accident, and some by deliberate breeding. This means that you’re sure to find a cockatiel that you think is really beautiful.
After you’ve chosen the most beautiful member of your family, they’ll be around for a long time. Cockatiels have a lifespan of 15-30 years in captivity, depending on luck and how well they’re cared for. That means you can enjoy their company for a long time. And you’ll probably never have to explain that they’ve gone to live on a nice farm.
To sum up:
- Cockatiels generally have friendly, sociable personalities.
- They can mimic sounds they hear around them, which is cute and entertaining.
- Cockatiels are super easy to care for.
- They come in a wide variety of beautiful colors.
- These beautiful birds have long lives, and can be wonderful companions for many years.
Come On, What’s The Catch?
For cockatiels, there aren’t any specific downsides that I can see. The only negatives are the ones that come with having any pet. You have to be able and willing to commit the time to looking after them, and you have to be able to afford it – especially emergency vet bills.
But, if you’re willing to take on the responsibility, then it’s practically guaranteed that a cockatiel will enrich your life, and give you many wonderful years of happiness. Not a bad deal for the price of some bird food, is it?
Okay, I’m Hooked, What Now?
I’ve put together this website to share everything you need to know about cockatiel care, and about these beautiful birds in general. All you have to do is follow your curiosity around the articles here, and you’ll be a cockatiel expert in no time.
Cockatiel Buying Guide
Deciding Whether a Cockatiel is Right for You
You might have fallen in love with these charming birds, and I can’t blame you – cockatiels are wonderful – but you need to consider whether a cockatiel is really the right pet for you. There would be nothing worse than getting one of these adorable birds, then being miserable, and maybe giving it to a shelter.
So, what do you need to take into account when deciding whether a cockatiel is the perfect addition to your family?
Firstly, there’s the cost. Buying a cockatiel can cost US$30-60, a decent sized cage will set you back US$100+, and that’s before you pick up any food and toys. Obviously, animals need feeding, so you have to be sure that you can afford to buy food regularly, even when money’s tight. The last cost is veterinary bills. Can you put a few hundred back for emergency treatment, if the worst should happen?
Now that money’s out of the way, the second consideration is the noise factor. Cockatiels are generally calm and friendly, but when they do squawk the noise can be very shrill. This might be annoying if you’re trying to have a conversation, or a family member is watching T.V. etc. If you’re packed tight with your neighbors, it could upset them as well.
Apart from the noise, will a cockatiel get on with the other members of your family – the fury and feathered ones included? Dogs and cats might spot a tasty meal in your latest addition, if they’re not well trained. I know you love your pets, but be honest with yourself about whether they’re under control. And other birds, even smaller ones like budgies, are notorious for bullying cockatiels.
Lastly, a cockatiel is a very social creature, because they live in flocks in the wild. Without a decent amount of social interaction, they’ll become depressed and sick. Will there be someone at home a decent amount of the time? Or can you afford to get a pair of cockatiels, so they can keep each other company?
Where to Buy a Cockatiel
So, you’ve weighed up all the factors, and decided to bring one of these lovely creatures into your home. But where should you get one?
It might be tempting to get a cockatiel from your local pet super store, after all, they’re the pet experts, right? Not to mention that pet stores sell them a little cheaper than breeders. The problem is that most commercial breeders are more concerned with quantity than with breeding healthy birds. Not all commercial breeders are heartless, but we’re all familiar with puppy farms, aren’t we?
Your best bet for finding a healthy and well cared for cockatiel is a smaller, private breeder. These people generally have a real passion for cockatiels, and make sure their animals are well cared for and well socialized. That good care will extend to the parents, who aren’t just seen as egg machines.
The benefits of getting a healthy, and well socialized bird, far outweigh the tiny saving that pet stores tempt you with. It will be easier to build a good relationship with your new pet, if it’s happy and used to people. We all know how anti-social abused children can turn out. And getting a healthy pet could save you hundreds in veterinarian bills.
Checking the Cockatiel is Healthy
When you go to buy a new cockatiel, you need to be able to check whether it’s healthy or not. We’ve already looked at the costs of bringing an unhealthy bird into your family, so I won’t harp on about it. I’ll just give you a quick check-list, so you can asses the health of the birds.
- Make sure the environment is calm when you’re inspecting the cockatiels. Any animal that’s nervous or alarmed will hide signs of illness and other weaknesses, meaning you could get fooled into thinking the bird is healthy when it isn’t.
- Look at the plumage, (the feathers,) and make sure it’s smooth and flat with no bald patches. A small bald spot on the back of the head is okay – it can get passed down the family line if two lutinos were bred together – but everywhere else should be fully feathered. Despite what some unethical breeder might tell you, healthy cockatiels don’t get bald patches when molting.
- Look at the eyes and check that they’re clear and bright, with no discharge or crustiness.
- Check the nostrils are free from discharge.
- Look at the body language of the bird. If it is sat up, happy and lively looking, all is well. On the other hand, if the cockatiel is just sitting, depressed and tired looking, that’s a bad sign.
- Obviously, the cockatiel’s back-side should be clean. Any smears of poo, or other signs of stomach upset are bad.
- Lastly, if one of the birds looks sick, don’t buy any that are housed with it. There’s too much of a chance that the sickness has spread to the other ones.
Last Words of Advice
I know that’s a lot to take in all at once, so you might want to print it out, or come back to it several times before you finally go to choose a cockatiel.
The tips above are mostly common sense, just things you might not have considered yet. Trust your instincts when choosing a new bird, if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. And I know it’s exciting a get a new pet, but try to stay clam when you’re looking at birds, because too much excitement could lead to a rash decision.
The only other thing: remember to take a travel box when you go to get your cockatiel, you have to get it home somehow.
Cockatiel Lifespan: How Long Do Cockatiels Live?
In captivity the average cockatiel lives between 15 and 25 years, with good care, and some live for as long as 32 years. Obviously, the ones that aren’t well cared for tend to get depressed, sick and dead within a few short years.
So, how can you give your cockatiel the best shot at a long and healthy life? It’s simply a matter of good habits, and once you have them, it won’t be any effort at all to keep your little guy in top condition.
- Good diet: It’s a fact of life that bad diet leads to health problems, and that’s just as true for your cockatiel as it is for you. You can help extend your cockatiel’s lifespan by making sure they’re eating a balanced diet of nutritious food.
- Regular exercise: Yep, plenty of exercise goes right along with good diet. Cockatiels need the chance to stretch their wings, to keep their bodies in good condition.
- Socialization and entertainment: Good health is about more than good diet and exercise. If your cockatiel is lonely or depressed, it is likely to dramatically decrease their lifespan – not to mention their existence being miserable. These little birds are very social and inquisitive creatures, and they need regular interactions and love to keep them happy. But then, you didn’t just get one to look pretty in a cage, so that’s no problem.
- Good hygiene: All you need to do is take a few minutes daily to wash out food and water bowls, with warm, soapy water, and clean out their cage every few days. Stopping nasty germs getting a foot hold will prevent many illnesses, and help keep your cockatiel feeling great.
- Regular health inspections: Pay attention to your cockatiel’s body language and other behavior, and the condition of their body, so you build up an idea of how they should look and behave. You’ll soon be able to spot any changes quickly, which will help you catch signs of illness before it’s too late.
As you might expect, this is all pretty common sense stuff. What’s good for people is generally good for cockatiels, except they eat a somewhat different diet – although you probably know some health food nuts who eat much like a cockatiel does.
If you build these few things into your daily routine, chances are your cockatiel will live a long and happy life. Good luck with it.
Cockatiel Cages: Buying Guide
So, you’ve decided to add an adorable cockatiel to your family, and you need to pick their most important piece of furniture. But what should you look for in a cage? You need to know why some cages are better than others.
Size and Shape
The first important thing is to make sure your cockatiel has enough room. Nobody likes to feel cramped, and your cockatiel will probably be spending a fair amount of time in its cage.
For a single cockatiel, a cage should be no smaller than Length: 60cm Width: 40cm Height: 60cm. For two birds it shouldn’t be smaller than Length: 100cm Width: 70cm Height: 100cm. But these are minimums, and bigger is better. Really you should get a cage as large as space and budget allow.
While a larger cage is better, cockatiels need a decent amount of regular exercise, so even if you get a large cage, it isn’t a substitute for daily time out and about.
Round or dome shaped cages are horrible homes for cockatiels, or any birds for that matter. The serious lack of horizontal bars makes it almost impossible to climb about, and the inward curve just wastes space, making your bird’s living area even smaller.
If you want your cockatiel to be able to climb around, using its cage bars – and you do, unless you’re very mean – it’s best to get a cage that has a good mix of horizontal and vertical bars, mostly horizontal is also good.
We’ve all seen – on TV at least – someone with their head stuck between two bars of a railing or fence. It might be hilarious on the box, but if you want to avoid that ordeal with your cockatiel, you need to make sure the bars are spaced no more than half an inch apart.
If you can, grab a cage that has bars on the bottom, which stop your cockatiel walking on the cage lining, because that’s where all its droppings are. Walking around in your own doings isn’t exactly healthy.
For many new owners, perches are somewhat of an after thought, but they’re very important to your new addition. Imagine having to sit on an uncomfortable chair all the time – sounds like school – but seriously, it isn’t fun, and can lead to health problems.
Ideally, your cockatiel wants quite thick perches, which it can’t fit its toes all the way around. It might seem counter-intuitive at first, but imagine the difference between standing on a log, and standing on a broom handle. An extreme example perhaps, but I think everyone would agree that the log is more comfortable, and your cockatiel thinks so too.
Once you’ve picked up some nice, thick perches, how do you place them to suit your cockatiel best? I’m glad you asked. Generally, the best arrangement seems to be one high, the middle one low, and the last at a medium height. All of the perches need to be placed so that your cockatiel’s feathers don’t touch the bars, or other perches, when it’s sat on them. That helps to keep your pet’s feathers in good condition.
If the choice is between wooden and plastic perches, choose wood. If your cockatiel decides to nibble off a piece of perch, wood won’t do much harm – I don’t think anyone would recommend eating plastic. Ideal perches are small branches of fruit trees, apart from being free, your companion will enjoy nibbling on the bark to get some extra nutrients, and the uneven surface is good for their feet.
Other Furniture and Essentials
The only other pieces of furniture your cockatiel really needs are food and water dishes. It’s probably best to get two food dishes, cockatiels need fruit and veg as part of a healthy diet, and you don’t want to dump them in with their seed.
The other essential supply is something to line the bottom of the cage. Pet stores everywhere sell sandpaper to carpet bird cages with, but it’s a terrible choice for your bird’s health. Birds, being what they are, will nibble on the sandpaper and end up swallowing the toxic glue – and that’s before we get to birds choking on bits of it.
Your best choices for lining your cockatiel’s cage are newspaper, or paper towels. If you read a corporate propaganda paper newspaper, you can just use that when you’re done with it.
Helping you understand healthy cockatiel diet.
What Makes a Healthy Cockatiel Diet?
A healthy cockatiel diet is much like a healthy diet for people. Cockatiels need proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Basically, they need the same essentials that any animal does. You can deliver this nutrition in a variety of ways, and there’ll certainly be trips to the pet store to pick up food, but you might need to consider your cockatiel when you pick up your groceries as well.
Seeds or Pellets are the Staple of the Pet Cockatiel Diet.
Traditionally, the main staple in the cockatiel diet has been seed mix. The bags of seed mixture, available at any pet store, contain a variety of seeds which cockatiels may eat in the wild, and they’re pretty cheap.
The thing about seeds is that they’re high in fat, and calories. This isn’t necessarily bad, as cockatiels need fat to burn as energy, but too much calorie rich food leads to obesity in birds, as well as in people – and that means all the associated health problems. You can largely avoid this by sticking to small seeds, and avoiding large seeds like sunflower and safflower, which have super-high fat contents.
Over the last few years there’s been a lot of fierce debate about whether the cockatiel diet should be one of pellets instead of seed. Since they’re pets, our cockatiels aren’t doing all the flying that wild birds do, and they don’t need as much calorie rich food.
Whichever way you decide to look at it, the fact is that cockatiels can enjoy long and healthy lives whether they’re fed on either pellets or seeds. The deciding factors are whether they’re getting the other nutrients they need, and whether they’re getting enough exercise.
If you do decide to go for seed in your cockatiel’s diet, make sure it’s pretty fresh. The longer seed sits in storage, the more nutrients disappear from it. And if seed is left too long, it goes rancid – you can tell by the funky smell, and slimy texture. Luckily, you can store excess seed in the freezer to keep it fresh, just make sure the bag is properly sealed.
A Healthy Cockatiel Diet includes Fruit and Vegetables.
No healthy cockatiel diet would be complete without fruit and vegetables. Apart from being rich in nutrients, your cockatiel will enjoy the variety in their diet. Each bird will have its own favorites, and they only way to find out what they are is to try your bird on them and watch the reaction.
Before you feed any fruits or veg to your cockatiel, remember to wash it thoroughly to remove any pesticide and other nasties. And I know it’s common sense, but I have to say it: only serve fresh fruit and vegetables, and remove them before they spoil.
Fruit and vegetables also serve calorie control. If you read the labels of your own food, you’ll see there are hardly any calories in even a large portion of vegetables, but it still fills your stomach and makes you full.
How Much Should You Feed Your Cockatiel?
For all this talk of obesity, and avoiding too much high calorie food, you probably expect me to recommend strictly controlling how much food your bird has access to. Actually, I’m going to tell you the opposite, you should always give your cockatiel access to a little more food than it actually needs.
You see, birds have a fast metabolism, and burn through calories quickly, especially if they’re sick, molting or under stress in some other way. Without enough food, a small health problem can quickly deteriorate into a large one.
If your cockatiel is getting a touch porky, your best strategy is to make sure their diet is well balanced, and encourage them to get more exercise.
Consequences of a Bad Cockatiel Diet.
We’ve talked a lot here about having a healthy cockatiel diet, and avoiding obesity, but it’s a good idea for you to know why it’s so important. You see, many cockatiels live short and miserable lives, not because their owners don’t love them, but because their owners aren’t aware what a good cockatiel diet is, and why it’s vital. Many owners just feed their feathered friend on bird seed, and think that’s enough.
That sad truth is that the majority of pet cockatiel illnesses are avoidable conditions, caused by malnutrition, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Without a good diet, it’s common to find heart and kidney disease, nerve damage, weak immune system, low energy, muscle weakness etc and the list goes on. It can even lead to the sudden death of young birds.
The bottom line is that the proper cockatiel diet is the difference between a life of 5 years and one of 25 years. It’s the difference between a miserable and painful life, and one that is enjoyable and comfortable.
The first step in good hygiene, as mentioned above, is to make sure that all food is fresh, and free from contaminants. That means making sure that seed hasn’t gone off, washing fruit and veg before you serve it, and taking it away before it spoils.
Again, I know it’s obvious, but if the food or water dishes get poop in them, you need to take them away and wash them out. It’s not uncommon for cockatiels to poop in their food occasionally, in the wild it’s not even a consideration, so they never learned as a species to avoid it.
Apart from that, all you need to do is give the food and water dishes a quick wash daily, when you change the food. All that’s needed is warm soapy water, just like you’d use to wash your own dishes.
One Last Tip
Gosh, I know that’s a lot to take in, so I’m just going to give you one more piece of advice, and then I’ll let your brain get some rest to digest it all.
As much as you can, feed your cockatiel at the same time each day, so you can get into a routine. A routine is comforting for anyone, even a cockatiel, and it’s especially reassuring to know that you can expect to get fed at the same time each day. Food is an important issue for all animals.
Cockatiel sings “If Your Happy & You Know it” and talks.
Happy Cockatiel Whistling On The Couch.