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There are hundreds of beautiful parrots out there that can make amazing companions. However, not all parrots are good beginner birds. One of the best beginner parrots is the Cockatiel. Get ready for the sweetest little companion!
Cockatiels, or Nymphicus hollandicus (as scientists call it), are a commonly kept pet in America. This bird is the smallest species of the Cockatoo family. Cockatiels are native to Australia, but have been living in captivity often in America. Because of this, captivity has been able to bring many color mutations of the bird. They usually grow to be about 12 inches (with tail), and are so smooth! You'll find out why later.
Why the Cockatiel?
The cockatiel is a beautiful parrot. Not too loud, good for kids, lower maintenance, and more. This lovely bird can sing many different tunes, and you some even learn to talk! Cockatiels can be nippy once or twice, but they're small enough that a nip is tolerable (but should be watched out for). Of course there are smaller birds like Budgies, but for those who enjoy a bit of a larger parrot: Cockatiels are for you!
Like any pet, there are some downsides to this bird. Cockatiels produce a fine dust that keeps their feathers "waterproof" and smooth (all cockatoos have this). This can be quite bad for those with bad allergies. This bird can also be nippy if not handled correctly, and a child could easily be scared of sudden aggression. Lastly, they can be harder to work with if you decide to adopt an older one (they can be stubborn sometimes). But: Cockatiels truly do make great companions.
Cage & Exercise
Cockatiels should have a cage wider than it is tall (they fly horizontal). A good size should be a cage that is 24" long by 18" wide by 24" tall and decent bar spacing to prevent the head getting stuck. Besides the cage, Cockatiels need some time outside the cage. I would recommend a good 3/4+ hours a day. When doing so, make sure to Cockatiel-proof the free roam room under supervision (fans off, windows closed, no lighted candles,etc.).
The cage should consist of a few toys and perches but CAUTION: don't make the cage crowded. The best perches are wood or alternating sizes. It's good for the health of their feet (too much time in one postition can cause crampimg feet and pain). Always provide CLEAN WATER and food (see diet).
EXERCISE is crucial. Time outside the cage should consist of walking and some flying. If you decide to clip your bird's wings, provide play gym and more toys.
*Make sure to provide daily sunlight / artificial light (not direct) to boost metabolism and vitamins.
The diet of your Cockatiel can impact their life dramatically. Never let your Cockatiel live off of only seeds. In the wild, they eat vegetables, fruits, seeds, and more. Try providing high quality pellets. I use Roudybush Crumble, but Zupreem and other brands are really good. (there is a long proccess of converting to pellet diet if not already).
Feed vegetables daily, and fruits as well. A decent amount of seeds daily can be healthy as well. You can also try sprouted speeds!
Male or Female?
Males: Male Cockatiels tend to be more cooperative towards owners. They are also a lot more vocal. They usually are a lot brighter in the color of feathers, as where females are dull colored.
Female: Females are usually quiet and love attention. Like mentioned before, they are usually duller in color. However, females have a tendency to lay infertile (chickless) eggs. If excessive infertile (without a male) eggs are being laid, veterinary care may be needed.
Always show love for your tiels. Even signs of aggression should never lead you to hurt your birds. Remember, parrots are not domestic, they are trained. Always try to adopt before going out to a petstore. Tiels can be so loving, and they need love back, whether it's from another Cockatiel or you! Some time of taming can lead you to a forever bond. I guarantee you the best love experience with a parrot (once you both gain trust). You'll understand when you guys can share a watermelon together, nap together, or even sing to each other. Remember, never feed your cockatiel avacodo!