How to Take Care of a Cockatiel

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Consider if a Cockatiel is the right pet for you.,
Purchase a cage.,
Purchase the other supplies you’ll need.,
Buy extra supplies (optional).,
Learn more about Cockatiels.,
Purchase a Cockatiel.,
Tame your bird.,
Train your bird to ‘step up.’ After you have tamed your cockatiel and he is eating out of your hand, you should teach him to step up onto your hand.,
Give your bird time to adjust when you first bring your Cockatiel home.,
Give your Cockatiel a healthy diet.,
Make sure that your cockatiel always has clean water.,
Handle your Cockatiel.,
Understand why your Cockatiel may bite.,
Teach your Cockatiel how to speak and whistle.,
Recognize signs of sickness in Cockatiels.,
Take your bird to the vet regularly.,
Be aware that cockatiels can have night frights.

Cockatiels require daily care and attention, and can be noisy and messy pets. With proper care, they can live for more than twenty years! Before purchasing a Cockatiel, you should consider the following questions (and include anyone else who lives with you in the discussion):

How much money am I prepared to spend? While Cockatiels are not very expensive to purchase($80 to $100 or more), they need sizable cages, and plenty of toys and other enrichment items. In addition, you will need to take your Cockatiel to the vet for annual examination.

How much time can I spend with my Cockatiel? Unless someone is at home most of the day, a single Cockatiel is likely to be lonely. Paired Cockatiels will need less attention, but you’ll still have to give them daily attention and care.

Am I sensitive to noise and mess? Though Cockatiels are not extremely noisy, they will be vocal in the morning and evening, and can create big messes. If you’re a neat freak or hate being woken up early in the morning, a Cockatiel might not be right for you.

How long am I prepared to care for a pet? Because Cockatiels can live for upwards of twenty years, consider your dedication carefully before purchasing. If you are underage, consider who will care for your Cockatiel if you cannot keep it while at college.;
, The cage should be at least at least 2 feet (0.6 m) tall with a 20-inch width and 18-inch depth, but a larger cage is recommended. The cage should have bars no more than 3/4 of an inch apart. Stainless steel cages are recommended. Because zinc and lead are poisonous to birds, the cage should also be guaranteed to not contain these materials. Additionally, because Cockatiels love to climb around their cage, the cage should have at least a few horizontal bars., Cockatiels, like any pet bird, require things to keep them entertained in their cages. You will need to purchase:

Two food bowls and a water bowl. You will need need separate bowls for the dry and wet bird food (wet food will be items like fruit, cooked beans, etc.)
A skirt for the cage to catch thrown seed.
Lots of perches for the cage. Cockatiels like to climb and play so lots of perches will make your cockatiel very happy. You will notice that your cockatiel will choose one perch as his home base (the perch where he will sleep.)
A bunch of toys for your Cockatiel to play with. Buy several toys and rotate them every week so that your bird isn’t bored. Cockatiels love to chew, so toys like twig balls, or rafia and palm strips are best.

, Though not necessary, purchasing cleaning supplies, such as poop remover and a handheld vacuum, is a good idea. You will also need to purchase a cuttlebone for calcium; this is particularly important for female Cockatiels, who can get egg binding problems (females will lay eggs without a male; they’ll just be unfertilized).

, Before purchasing a Cockatiel, thorough research of Cockatiels and how to care for them is necessary. While this article covers basic care, more in-depth research is recommended. Good resources include the Internet, your local library, and pet stores, which will usually carry books and other resources about the care of Cockatiels. In addition, interacting with Cockatiels is recommended, as well as speaking with an owner of Cockatiels about their experience caring for their birds.

, While you might be tempted to purchase the cheapest Cockatiel you can find, purchasing a bird from a pet store is not recommended. This is because pet store birds can be unhealthy, and are often not socialized (which makes taming them harder). You can purchase a hand-fed baby from a specialty bird store or bird breeder. Purchase a Cockatiel that is about three months old or slightly older. A beginner should never hand-feed a baby Cockatiel.

Purchase a cockatiel from a rescue center. Before trying to buy a pet bird it is generally better to try to adopt a bird. While many Cockatiels from rescue groups make good pets, adopting from a shelter is not recommended for beginners, as these Cockatiels can be unhealthy or have behavior problems.
Purchase a cockatiel from a previous owner. Sometimes, things come up and people have to give away their pets. As long as you’re sure the owner isn’t rehoming the bird because of behavior problems, and you are given the bird’s health history, this can be a great way to purchase a Cockatiel, particularly for beginners.

, If your cockatiel is already tame, you can skip to the next step. One of the major parts of taming a cockatiel is getting the bird used to your presence. When you first bring your bird home, place the cage in an area of your house where there is a lot of human activity. Sit down next to your bird’s cage everyday and talk or whistle to it quietly for 10 minutes. This will get your bird used to your voice and presence.When the bird comes over to the side of the cage where you are sitting and seems fine with you being there, start to offer him small treats (see step one of the next section for what those treats should be.) After about a week of doing this, open the cage door and hold out a treat, thus prompting your bird to come sit on the cage door. The next step is to place food in your hand and have the bird eat out of your palm.

, The way you do this depends on if you have a bird that bites a lot, or a friendlier bird. Do not try to grab a Cockatiel or force it to step up, as this will most likely result in you getting bit.If you have a bird that bites: Move your finger quickly and fluidly towards the top of his legs, as if you were running your finger through a candle flame. Your bird will automatically step up. Give him a treat and praise immediately after he does this. If your bird starts to bite aggressively, stop the training session and try again later.
If you have a bird that rarely bites: Place your finger against your bird’s abdomen above his legs. Apply a slight pressure and he will most likely step up immediately. When he does this, give him a treat and praise him. Next time you do it, say “step up” as you apply the pressure. Eventually he will associate those words with the action of ‘stepping up.’

, If your Cockatiel is a hand-fed baby, this can be as short as a few hours. Unsocialized babies, however, will usually need two or three days to get used to their new surroundings. During the adjustment period, do not handle the bird, but do cleaning and feeding routines and talk softly with the bird.

, Bird pellets should make up about 70% of your Cockatiel’s diet. Seed can make a good treat, but don’t feed it in excess as it’s too fatty. You should also feed your Cockatiel healthy vegetables and sometimes fruit; well-cooked beans, and spaghetti are examples of tasty treats you can give your Cockatiel. When you choose fruits and vegetables to feed, organic ones are recommended. You should also thoroughly rinse off uncooked fruit and vegetables before feeding.

Do not feed your Cockatiel avocados, chocolate, alcohol, onions, mushrooms, tomato leaves, caffeine, or uncooked beans, as these are toxic. Very sugary or fatty foods such as candy bars are also not healthy for Cockatiels.
Remove any uneaten fresh food from the cage within four hours or else it could attract harmful bacteria (and will just make a mess.)

, You should change your bird’s water daily. You should also change it when you notice that food or droppings have gotten into it. You should give your bird water that you yourself would drink.When washing the water bowl, make sure to use hot water with a bit of soap and rinse thoroughly to remove all traces of soap. Doing this will ensure that harmful algae or fungus doesn’t begin to grow.

, If your Cockatiel is already tame (or you have already tamed and trained it–see Part Two,) you will need to spend at least an hour a day with it to keep it tame and friendly. Unless you purchase a bird “diaper,” you may want to interact with the bird on a chair covered with a towel, or in a room with an easy-to-clean floor.

, You might feel hurt or upset when your Cockatiel bites, but it’s important to realize that birds bite because they are reacting to a stressful situation, not because they are trying to be mean. A bird will bite to express that it is scared or upset, and you shouldn’t take bites personally. Think back to what you were doing when your Cockatiel bit you, and try to see things from it’s point of view. For example, a Cockatiel might bite if you were trying to grab it, or if you were too careless or rough while handling it. Additionally, many Cockatiels are territorial and may be protective of their cage, and may act aggressively if you try to put your hand in the cage.

If your Cockatiel bites you outside of the cage, put it back into the cage and wait for it to calm down before taking it out of the cage again.
If your Cockatiel is cage aggressive, instead of putting your hand into the cage train it to step up onto a stick or perch. That way, you can have it step up onto the perch when you want to remove it from its cage.

, While males are best at speaking and whistling, females can learn how to whistle and will occasionally learn a few words. It’s recommended that you begin teaching your Cockatiel how to speak before teaching it how to whistle, as it can be harder the other way around. To teach your Cockatiel to speak, talk frequently with it, and say words you want your Cockatiel to learn frequently – for example, say “Mommy!” every time you approach your Cockatiel. If you hear the beginnings of a word or phrase, immediately reward your Cockatiel with a treat and lots of attention.

Teaching your Cockatiel how to whistle is much the same – frequently whistle in front of your Cockatiel, and reward it if it begins whistling.

, Because Cockatiels will often hide their illness until it is very bad, you should keep a sharp eye out for signs of sickness. Very sick Cockatiels will sit with fluffed up feathers at the bottom of the cage. A Cockatiel that is bleeding is also obviously injured. Signs of a sick bird include:

Crankiness or biting; napping more often than usual; a decrease in your bird’s weight or the amount of food he eats; refusal to eat or drink water; coughing, sneezing, or irregular breathing; lameness; lumps or swelling; inflamed or crusty eyes and nostrils; cloudy eyes; a soiled vent; or a drooping head, wings, or tail.

, You should take your Cockatiel to an avian veterinarian for an annual “well-bird” exam. Additionally, you should immediately contact your vet if your Cockatiel exhibits any of the signs listed above. Remember that while it may be expensive to go to the vet, birds will often become very sick in a short period of time, and it isn’t a good idea to “wait and see” with Cockatiels as they are rather delicate creatures.

, Some cockatiels are afraid of the dark and have “night frights” where they essentially freak out in their cages. To prevent this, put a nightlight in the room your Cockatiel sleeps in, and don’t completely cover the cage at night.

Once you know which perch your cockatiel prefers to sleep on, you should make sure that there are no toys hanging around that perch. If your bird was to have a night fright and get tangled up in a toy, he could be badly injured.

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