If you’re looking for a bird that keeps you company and entertains you, the cockatiel is a great choice. It’s one of the most popular pet birds in the United States, and with good reason.
The cockatiel, the male in particular, is famous for constant vocalizing, as well as for being sociable and bonding with its handlers. Cockatiels make great pets and can be a real conversation piece (if not part of the conversation), but they also require special care to live a long and healthy life.
Originally found in Australia, the cockatiel is a relatively small bird in the pet market, reaching a full length of 12 to 14 inches. It reaches sexual maturity after 1-2 years and can live anywhere between 16 and 25 years.
Cockatiels are known for feathers that stand upright on their heads – or as I like to call them, their “mohawks” – but they have other distinguishing characteristics as well. The male bird has brightly colored feathers along the face, usually yellow or bright orange, while the female has more subdued colors like gray and pale yellow.
In terms of behavior, the males are more extroverted and self-impressed than their female counterparts. Males are more vocal than females and will whistle and call at will. Females, on the other hand, might screech in certain situations, but remain quiet otherwise.
Caring for Your Cockatiel
If you’ve decided to buy a cockatiel for your home, be prepared to care for them. Remember, they can live as long as 25 years, so you’ll be living with them for a long time. In particular, keep these things in mind:
Food: If left to their own devices, cockatiels would eat nothing but seeds. However, seeds only provide a small portion of the nutrients they need. Instead, make seeds only one-third of their diet and fill the rest with bite-size pieces of fruits, vegetables and bean sprouts. The biggest no-no for cockatiels is avocados; they’re poisonous to the birds.
Cage: Cockatiels are active birds, so they need a large bird cage in which they can fly around They’re less adept at climbing, though, so add bars no more than one inch apart so they don’t end up falling in their cages. Also, install different types of perches, and add a cuttle bone to minimize the need to trim their beaks.
Surroundings: Cockatiels are especially sensitive to smells; some odor-causing products can even kill them. For example, the spray you use for mole and gopher removal might be great in your yard, but keep it away from your bird. The same goes for smoke and room air fresheners. Also, keep them away from windows or any other drafty area of the house.
Cockatiels can be a great addition to your menagerie. With the proper care and the right environment, they can entertain a household for many years to come.