Melanie Castano
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Getting a Cockatiel

How to Care and Give It Its Best Life

@tiliathecockatiel

Choosing to get a cockatiel is always such a great choice.

They make friendly, sweet friends who if you gain their trust, are sure to make the best companions.

There are a few things to always note about getting a cockatiel.

Their lifespan being healthy of course can range from 20-25 years. So it is quite a commitment. Cockatiels, like any bird, require A LOT of attention. IT is recommended to not leave them entirely alone for more than four hours. Cockatiels are, as well, extremely messy, so be prepared to have to do daily cleaning. Lastly is if you are getting one or more cockatiels.

The number of cockatiels is dependant on your preference. Having one will allow it to bond with just you. So you'll get home to quite a happy tiel ready to play and sit next or on you. Getting more, you will risk them bonding to each other and not really to you. Of course, there are exceptions.

Wanting to make the commitment, it's important to check of these things.

Room Temperature

Cockatiels are not so expensive to care for. The first "bundle" is the most expensive. If you live in a cold or dry place you should purchase a warm humidifier. As well, NEVER have ceiling fans on as they can fly into them.

Windows

The room must always be warm and if you place a tiel near the window, never leave it open. If a cold draft gets through, it could make your bird sick, and of course, it can fly out and get lost. In colder days make sure to keep your tiel warm if it's near a window since cold air can get through the window that we don't feel but they definitely do.

Lighting

Lighting is very important as well. If you don't live somewhere where it's summer all year round, you might want to consider getting an avian lightbulb. What this essentially is, is a specialized lightbulb providing UVB and UVA rays to your bird. This helps them synthesize vitamin D3 which helps with calcium and their bones. Keep in mind you'll have to replace these bulbs every three to six months.

Cage

The cage should be large enough for your cockatiel to freely spread its wings and move about. Usually, a medium-sized cage will do the trick. Making sure there are plenty of toys inside, and MEDIUM-sized perches. Keep in mind cockatiels are medium-sized birds, so everything you purchase for them should say so. If you get them small perches that are intended for budgies, it will hurt their feet. You should be keeping the cage clean, never allowing bacteria to grow as it can make your bird ill, as well changing the bottom of all the poop and mess.

Vet

Vet trips can be expensive. But necessary. When first getting a cockatiel, you want to take it to an avian vet for a checkup. Normally, there you can ask them as well for nail and beak trimming. When you can, blood work and DNA testing are very important as well in keeping your bird's healthy. Keep in mind, cockatiels will not show that they are ill until it may be too late. Some signs might be sleeping at the bottom of their cage, losing their appetite, or having a runny nose or eyes.

Molting

Cockatiels will go through a molting season two to three times a year. Some molts are bigger than others. What this means is they will start dropping feathers and growing new ones by the quantity. Things will get messy and your cockatiel will be irritated and tired. This process is a lot for them. Make sure to give them extra love as well as extra calcium and protein.

Diet

It's best to get a cockatiel on a pellet diet rather than seeds. Seeds contain only fat and aren't good for them. They should be used as treats. If your cockatiel needs to switch over from seeds and pellets, do this slowly. Introduce them in a separate bowl while reducing the number of seeds. This process can take awhile. Always be sure to give your tiel fresh vegetables and fruits every day. Remember every cockatiel has their own likes and dislikes, so try different things until you find what they like. If they need extra protein, you can always give them some egg. Try not to salt and when making food for them, NEVER use a Teflon pan as this can poison them. Never cook with a Teflon pan near them either. It as well is important to give them fresh water every day and to clean out the bowls you use well to prevent bacterial infections. Avocados, coffee, and alcohol are all POISON for them, never give them this.

Behavior

Cockatiels are all unique, they don't all act the same. It is also dependant on male or female. As males tend to be a lot louder and talkative than a female. Some are more curious and friendly, others are more nervous and scared. Some can take longer to warm up to you, some can bite, some will be shy. It's important to be patient and reward good behavior. Hand feeding them things can help them get used to you if you are starting out. Never yell or hit your cockatiel, they don't understand this and will never trust you. If you are going to leave your cockatiel alone for a few hours, try finding some music or shows to keep them company. If their wings are not clipped make sure to have them supervised while they are out of the cage. You don't want them flying somewhere while you are gone and getting hurt.

Preening and Baths

Birds love to preen, stay clean, and look beautiful. They'll spend a lot of time ruffling in their feathers and coating them with keratin. Keratin is a waterproof protein that they use to protect their feathers. Just be aware that they aren't painfully plucking out feathers or leaving bald spots, this may be a sign of a psychological issue. Cockatiels love baths! Some prefer a mist shower with a spray bottle and others a little shallow container with water. Always make sure the water is lukewarm and fresh. If they like the mist, be careful to spray it above them and not in their face. If they prefer a bath, make sure the water is shallow as cockatiels CANNOT swim. Bathing them should ideally happen once a week and being aware that they have sun or warmth to dry off.

In the end, it is extremely rewarding to have a cockatiel as a friend but it takes work, trust, and patience. You will end up with an adorable feathery friend for life who will chirp and sing to you and jump onto your finger for cuddles.

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