of the biggest mistakes that animal lovers make is to bring home a bird
impulsively, without considering the needs of the species or the expense of medical treatment if the bird gets sick. Although bringing a new cockatiel into your family is always
an exciting event, along with the excitement comes a
lifetime of commitment and responsibility. It's important to select a breed that
is compatible with your lifestyle and your expectations. Unhappy bird owners
will usually have unhappy birds whose physical, social and psychological needs
are being neglected. Un-wanted birds are all too frequently neglected
and abused. These birds will develop behavioral problems and they end up being
"re-homed", often a sugar coated way of saying birds are considered a
disposable commodity, being passed on from one home to the next until they end
up at a shelter. By learning about cockatiels as a species first, you can be
sure that both you and your new bird will be compatible and happy together for
With proper care, nutrition, yearly check ups and medical
attention, cockatiels can live up to 20 years of age. According
to a recent article in Bird Talk
Magazine, 2005, avian vets have reported more cockatiels are now
living well into their mid to late 20s. This is attributed to better
nutrition, better care and advances in avian medicine and bird owners who are
more educated. When you bring
a cockatiel into your life, you are making a long term commitment to meet all of
your new companion's physical, social and psychological needs for perhaps 20
years or more.
Cockatiels are sociable are companion birds
and they need to interact with you or another bird to thrive.
Companion birds will get lonely if ignored
and left alone. They will become depressed, stop singing, playing, eating and
will spend most of their life being lonely, hiding in a corner of the cage. Cockatiels also need to be taken out of
the cage, played with and talked to each day. Health
and behavioral problems like screaming, biting and feather plucking are common when a
cockatiel's physical, social and psychological
needs are not being met. Your bird is
totally dependant upon you for all of its needs, a nourishing diet, water, shelter, medical
care and companionship. Birds are literally prisoners behind bars.
You can either make life in captivity miserable
or enjoyable for a bird. Are you willing to make a 20 year commitment to give a
cockatiel a healthy, happy and
Do the children want a bird? Getting a new pet can be an
enjoyable, family oriented activity but this alone is not a good enough reason to adopt any pet, especially a bird. You
have to want a bird too. It will be your responsibility as an adult, to monitor
the bird's care, living environment and health every single day. A child can
not be expected to monitor the health of a bird by noticing early symptoms of
illness or a change in droppings. This is a parent's responsibility. Ask any responsible bird owner and he/she will tell you
that keeping a cockatiel healthy and happy can be
more work, more time consuming and more expensive than owning a
dog or cat. Fresh foods, pellets, toys,
other cage supplies and medical care are expensive. Birds should have yearly
check ups which include
blood tests and other lab tests just like a cat or dog. Birds also get
sick and injured. The diagnostic tools,
medical procedures and treatments that
are available to help sick birds from avian veterinarians are remarkable but expensive. A
young child or teen can not be expected
to pay for all of these expenses. This is your responsibility, not your child's.
Understanding this before buying a bird
will help to prevent you from breaking your child's heart someday. If you don't
have time or are unwilling to monitor the daily care of your child's bird,
please don't bring a bird into your home.
Cockatiels and Families:
Purchasing a cockatiel as a family pet is more appropriate
than purchasing one for just the child, although families with small children
under the age of 5 may want to wait a few years before bringing one into their
home. Cockatiels can be moody and they do not react well to the fast
movements and the energetic voices of toddlers. Like all parrots, cockatiels can
scream or be nippy if they feel threatened. Even though cockatiels have a
relatively small beak, they can bite hard enough to cut through skin and cause
bleeding. Cockatiels, when biting, can also clamp down with their beak and
not release their grip for several seconds if they feel the need to defend
themselves. Cockatiels do make wonderful pets for
with older, school age children who can understand and respect the needs or a
Cockatiels tame easily, they love to spend
time out of the cage with their humans and they thrive on attention from all
family members. Your new cockatiel is also much less likely to become a one person bird
or a biter when all family members participate
in daily care. Daily care of a cockatiel can be a family responsibility. Older children
can wash and fill food/water dishes and change
cage papers. Younger children can help by putting dishes back inside of the cage
and checking the water dish a
few times a day. Parents can supervise out of cage time and they can monitor
feeding, cleaning and the
daily health of birds that are family pets.
Maybe you want to breed cockatiels
for profit. Purchasing a pair of
cockatiels for investment purposes will probably lead to a pair of
neglected, unwanted cockatiels when you realize that you're losing instead of
making money .
This will only increase the number of unwanted birds that fill avian rescue centers already. Small scale breeding with a few pairs of birds is not very profitable.
When you add in the cost of supplies and avian vet fees, you will be lucky if
you break even. Mother Nature can be very cruel and one trip to an avian vet with a baby that
has crop stasis or splayed legs or a hen that is egg bound and you may end up at the
bank withdrawing money out of you child's college fund.
Breeding is also time consuming. Cleaning nest boxes and brooders, sterilizing
feeding utensils, cleaning babies, preparing soft foods for the parents then
hand feeding and weaning chicks is a lot of work.
Breeding is also a very emotional process. Finding a dead chick in the nestbox
or having your pet female die from egg binding is devastating. You will also
need to find good homes for your grown babies or your flock will increase to an
unmanageable size. Then when you do find homes, saying goodbye to
the babies may break your heart as well.
Cockatiels as starter birds can be an excellent way of
entering into the world of
birds, but first be
honest with yourself. Do your interests become
short lived and do they change as you move on to more exciting ones? If the answer is yes and
you have your heart set on a larger parrot like an African Gray, then
it may be better to wait until you can afford the
larger parrot. Cockatiels do not talk or perform like the big guys and you may be disappointed.
A dissatisfied bird owner ends up with and an unhappy bird that is not
receiving the love and attention it deserves. Unwanted birds will usually be resented, ignored,
abused, left alone
in their cages or given away. There already is an over-population of unwanted,
birds at shelters and rescue centers as owners dump a smaller bird then move
on to a larger species of bird. This isn't fair to any
bird. Cockatiels are intelligent birds that bond with their human family and
rejecting a bird like this is heartless. On the other hand,
if you enjoy exploring new interests but you retain previous interests
too, then a cockatiel is a
great first bird for you.
Previously owned birds
can make excellent pets. Giving a forever, loving home to, a previously owned
bird, a disabled bird or a rescued bird is a wonderful act of kindness.
Previously owned birds can make delightful pets and companions and birds in shelters desperately need good homes and
somebody to love them. If you are willing to put in the time that may be needed to rehabilitate a bird that
is untamed, biting, screaming, feather plucking or one with possible health problems
then please consider giving one of these birds a home. A bird that had behavioral problems with a past owner may respond
very well to you. In most cases, the bird's behavior is the result of being abused, ignored
or neglected by the previous owner. If you do adopt a previously owned bird, do
it with love and the promise of unconditional love and with an understanding that rehabilitation can be a long,
frustrating and very financially costly process for you. It's not a good idea to
adopt a bird that is offered free at a rescue shelter because you
think it's a bargain. Applicants are usually carefully screened before placing a
special need bird in permanent, loving home. You may not have success rehabilitating
a bird with behavioral problems because of the bird's past history.
Ultimately the bird will end up back at the shelter worse off than before.
You must truly love birds and have patience, knowledge and time to work with
Cockatiels are Time
Consuming: Spending time with your bird will nurture the development of your bird's
need a great deal of your attention to stay happy and healthy because
they are not able to entertain themselves for hours like some of the larger
species of parrots.
Neglected cockatiels are unhappy and they are under a great deal of stress.
Stress will have negative effects on your bird's personality and health. Young,
hand-fed parrots are friendly and trusting birds when you buy them. These
qualities have been documented in a study
conducted by Stephanie Myers at the
University of California. However, in order for your bird to maintain
this sweet disposition, you must spend time with your
bird. Cockatiels that are constantly ignored will revert back to being wild, untamed birds.
Taking care of a cockatiel's daily physical needs is also time consuming. Fresh vegetables, fruits and other nutritious
foods should be served
Food/water dishes must be washed daily. Cage papers should to be changed everyday. The entire
cage should be periodically washed and disinfected. Another fact to consider is
that cockatiels can not be left home alone while you go on vacation or if you frequently travel.
Leaving your bird home alone for an extended period of time is a dangerous and a lonely situation for your bird.
The Mess, Noise &
Expenses: Cockatiels drop food,
pellets and seeds all over the floor. You would be surprised at how far brown rice can travel
and what it will stick to when a bird shakes to clean off it's beak. Loose feathers are shed
and feather dust is cast off after preening. Cockatiel's, like cockatoos,
produce more dust than other species of parrots. Feather dust will coat and
accumulate on cage bars and surrounding areas each day so be prepared to dust
and wipe down the cage bars frequently. Feather dust that is dispersed through
the air after a cockatiel preens can make you as well as your bird
sneeze so if you have allergies or asthma, cockatiels are probably not the right
bird for you. Birds also make droppings about every 20 minutes when they are both inside
and outside of their cages. Are you going to be
upset when you find droppings on the floor, furniture or your clothes? If
you find this disgusting, consider another pet. Birds love to chew on just about
anything that captures their interest, even if their cage is well stocked with
toys to chew on. Will you be upset if your bird chews off a piece of wood from
furniture or puts a hole in the curtains? As for noise, the scream of a cockatiel
is a mere whimper compared to that of a larger parrot. However,
singing or the loud flock calls of cockatiels can get
on some people's nerves so much that they give their birds away.
Prices to Consider:
Owning and taking good care of a pet cockatiel is expensive. Typical expenses include a good,
sturdy cage large enough for the bird to flap its wings, a play
gym for out of cage time, pellets, fresh fruits and vegetables each week, treat foods,
seeds, perches, feeding dishes, new toys (toys need to be rotated), cuttlebones, mineral blocks, cage covers,
seed guards etc. All of these items will need to be replaced as they wear out.
When considering expenses, the most important issue is can you afford the services of an
avian vet. Medical
expenses can be high when your bird is sick or injured
and a yearly healthy bird check up which includes blood work and gram stains is costly as well. Pet
health care insurance
is now available for birds and it may be wise for you to enroll in a plan if
money is an issue. For more information on this, contact your veterinarian.
Get Some Books: If you think that a cockatiel is the right companion bird
for you and you want to make a 20 year commitment, read some books and learn as much as
you can about the birds. Some recommended books can be found on our
Look at pictures of the many different
color mutations of cockatiels that are available that you may not see in pet shops.
Visit a few pet shops and aviaries to learn about other breeds of birds
too. No matter how
endearing or captivating a bird may seem in the
store, you better know exactly what it is that you are bringing into your life. You may even learn that a different
breed is more appealing to you. Take your time and don't ever buy a bird on a whim.