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Cockatiels Make Great Pets

Updated on July 12, 2011

The Cockatiel makes a wonderful pet for beginners. They are not too small or too big. Cockatiels are extremely intelligent and become easily attached to their owners. They also make excellent companions, are very affectionate and get along well with non-parrot birds. The birds, first identified in the late 1700s, originally came from Australia.

Cockatiels are actually small parrots and a member of the Cockatoo family. They measure about twelve inches from beak to tail and weigh three to four ounces when mature at about nine months. These birds generally have a lifespan of 12 to 20 years with some reported to live for up to 30 years. Since Australia placed a ban on exporting cockatiels in 1894, all cockatiels sold in the United States come from captive breeding stock.

The bird has a limited ability to talk with a vocabulary consisting of about 10 words. But, it is usually the males that talk. Females usually whistle and are quieter.

Wild cockatiels have grey body feathers, yellow faces feathers, a yellow crest and orange cheek patches, with the males having the brightest colors. However, domestic breeding has produced many color variations, including cinnamon, silver and pearl, standard grey, lutino, white face or combinations of any of the above.

If you are considering buying a cockatiel it is best to buy from a breeder rather than a pet store. Prices are usually lower and probably hand raised, making them tamer. Birds purchased in the typical pet shop are more than likely wild and it will take more time and patience to train them. Cockatiels have a powder on their feathers used to groom themselves. Persons with allergies should consider this before purchasing a cockatiel.

According to breeders the most common question asked by those about to purchase a pet is which sex makes the best pet. And in many cases a request is made for a male because of its ability to talk. However, there are other things to consider. Of course, each sex has individual characteristics as well as temperaments.

Here are a few things to contemplate before purchasing your bird.

Male cockatiels are:

· more likely to talk

· usually fairly outgoing with active personalities

· able to be taught how to whistle tunes

· mostly noisier than females

Female cockatiels are:

· usually quieter and have a single pitched whistle

· able to lays eggs

· usually not talkative

· normally less dominant than males

You will notice the main differences are the ability to talk and lay eggs. As far as a talking male bird, they can be entertaining and often the center of attention at family and social events.

But it should be noted talking won’t be the only vocalizations in his repertoire. Males are very vocal and he will still make normal male sounds.

These can consist of wolf whistling, screeching, or a continuous two note routine which can become very annoying. But, they are a natural form of communication used for such things as attracting a mate or alerting others to danger. In the wild these vocalizations are important. But in pet birds they are not usually a desired trait.

So, before buying your bird consider your life style…and your neighbors. A noisy bird could cause problems. Female cockatiels however, tend to be quieter, although capable of a lot of racket if they so desire. Hens are also more apt to be placid and affectionate. In either case, professional breeders say, the bird that is friendliest is usually chosen…regardless of sex.

There are also other things to consider. Although they are easy to take care of, they still need attention, or they may partially revert back to their natural wild instincts. People can’t just stick them in a cage and take them out to play with whenever the urge suits them.

Now you have your newest family member, you need to know how to care for it. Cockatiels love almost any table food and will eat from your plate if they are allowed. But, it’s recommended to also provide a pellet diet as well as a few “birdie treats.”Many commercial seed mixes are readily available on the market.Select one specifically designed for cockatiels. A calcium bell or cuttlebone for additional calcium is also recommended.

However, never feed them avocado or rhubarb as these are toxic to cockatiels. Also avoid caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, apple seeds (apple is ok,) lettuce and food high in salt or sugar. Water must be changed daily. Bacteria grow rapidly in water containing soured seed or droppings.

Your new addition will also require a cage…the bigger the better. They need to have ample room to move around and flap their wings without sustaining injury.

A happy bird happy requires stimulation. This can be accomplished with a variety of toys to keep it occupied. A confined bird with nothing to do will develop behavioral problems due to boredom. Problems like plucking, self mutilation and aggression. Toys and time out of the cage for exercise will remedy this.

Care must be given in selecting toys.There are safety issues that need to be addressed. The best toys would include such things as ladders for climbing, branches, wooden beads and rawhide leather pieces for chewing. Make sure your choices are made from non-toxic materials and do not have small parts. Your bird could conceivably ingest a small part.

Rotate their toys so they don't get bored. Remember, toys are only an enhancement. They still need human interaction.

The information provided here is just a basic guide. It is recommended a complete guide for the care of cockatiels be obtained.


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    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      I'm glad I wrote this...seems many people love these birds. Thanks for your kind comments Pam and Vicki.

    • Vicki.Pierce profile image

      Susan Ungrey 6 years ago from Grand Rapids, Michigan

      Cockatiels make a great 'first bird'.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      I enjoyed this hub. I use to raise cockatiels about 15 years ago and they are very enjoyable. I had a variety of colors and use to sell the babies once they had been hand raised. I did trim there wings just enough so they couldn't fly away. Great hub.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      You can give a cockatiel varying amounts of flight capability depending on the amount of feathers you clip on her wings.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      By the way, is it appropriate to trim their wings so that they will not fly away? Any suggestions?

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Great information. I used to have one a few years ago and I'm thinking of getting another. Thanks to your post I now know a little more of what to look for and do.

    • dearabbysmom profile image

      dearabbysmom 6 years ago from Indiana

      Great hub! My brother-in-law used to have a male and the bird was often the center of attention--would whistle Dixie, yell at the dog, he was a hoot. Very useful info on criteria to select a male vs. female, and info as to what is toxic in the diet. Up, awesome and useful.