By Natasha Polak
For Local Pet Services
Cockatiels are the smallest members of the cockatoo family, reaching around 12 inches in length from head to tail in adulthood. Similar in appearance to cockatoos, cockatiels have crested heads, orange cheek patches, and are native to Australia. Although popular as pets, they can also be seen in the wild. Their feather color mutations can range from various shades of tans and muted greens, to white, grey and speckled. Cockatiels are also very intelligent birds with gregarious natures, capable of learning tricks, imitating voices, and showing affection for their owners. They thrive in environments where they can receive ample attention. The average lifespan for cockatiels is 7-20 years.
One or More Cockatiels
Decide ahead of time whether you would want to adopt just one cockatiel, versus several (particularly if you want them to share the same cage). If you choose to have one cockatiel as your sole pet, you will need to be available to him every day. Otherwise, he can easily become lonely, withdrawn, or even aggressive. If choosing a cockatiel to add to your existing pet birds, be careful in how you introduce them. It is strongly advised that new birds are kept in separate cages in view of each other, so that they can become accustomed to one another before sharing a cage or playing together without feeling threatened or territorial. It is not uncommon for cockatiels to get along well with dogs, and sometimes even cats or other pets, but it is wise to also keep cockatiels caged during the initial few days of being in your home, to see how all your pets react and adapt. When in doubt, never leave cockatiels out of the cage unsupervised.
Cockatiel Supplies and Needs
Every cockatiel needs a spacious cage, perches, a cuttle bone, litter/bedding, toys, and trays for food and water. The cage should allow enough room for him to extend his wings comfortably – at least 20 inches by 20 inches per single bird. Keep in mind, this is in addition to time outside of the cage for exercising his wings. Perches and toys should be sturdy and safe for your bird and sanitized regularly. A cuttle bone is necessary to help keep your cockatiel’s nails and beak trimmed. Using litter or bedding in the bottom of the cage helps neutralize odors and absorb the droppings in between cleaning out the soiled areas and replacing the entire tray with a fresh layer. Litter choices include crushed walnuts, aspen, pine, or cedar shavings made specifically for bird cages. Food and water must be refilled daily, and a cockatiel diet may consist of a combination of seeds, nutrient pellets, fruits and vegetables, cooked meats and other sources of protein. Treats in moderation that your cockatiel will enjoy include millet sprays, sunflower seeds, yogurt balls, and bird cookies.