Cockatiels, named for their physical similarity to their larger cousins, the cockatoos, are ranked second only to the parakeet in popularity. It’s no wonder they are so popular – they possess all the qualities desired in a pet bird. Besides being attractive and intelligent, cockatiels are hardy birds and easy to care for.
Cockatiels are native to Australia, but wild-caught birds have not been exported from their native country for many years. The fact that they are readily available at reasonable prices is due to the ease with which cockatiels have adapted to life as caged birds. They are excellent breeders. by using selective breeding techniques, aviculturists (those who keep birds as a hobby) have established many attractive colour mutations. These colours include, grey, white, pied, pearl, cinnamon and silver.
No matter what colour or sex you choose, your cockatiel will be an excellent student! When approached with a gentle voice and a little patience, a cockatiel can be finger-tamed in a few hours. Cockatiels even have the ability to speak, whistle and do a few tricks. The instinct for hand-reared babies (spoon-fed) to bond with people make the initial adoption price more than worth it.
Our pet counsellors are bird lovers and because they are, they hold and play with the baby cockatiels in our store. Our guests also play a big part in our cockatiel’s social skills.* This is why a Petland cockatiel is quick to bond with his new owner.
To provide a happy, healthy atmosphere for your cockatiel, Petland recommends the following necessary and fun accessories. We have listed them as your new pet’s four basic needs: Environmental, Nutritional, Maintenance and Behavioural. When these needs are met, along with a loving environment provided by you, your cockatiel can live a long and happy life. Typically, a healthy cockatiel may live between 20 and 25 years.
Your Cockatiel’s New Home – When choosing a cage for your cockatiel, keep the following in mind. Get the largest cage that you can. Even if your cockatiel will be out of his cage a lot, provide him a roomy, secure home that he will not feel claustrophobic in. When he spreads both his wings, they should not touch the side of the cage. The bars in a cockatiel cage should be spaced far enough apart that he can climb comfortably; however, they are not so far apart that he can get his head caught between the bars. You may want to place his cage on a cage stand. Make sure his cage is away from heat or air-conditioning vents and it is not in direct sunlight. A cage cover helps your cockatiel to get the rest he needs. Remember, that birds wake at sunrise and sleep at sunset. Last of all, your cage should be square or rectangular, not round, which can make them nervous and feel insecure. Your pet counsellor can show you the homes available made specifically for your cockatiel.
Perches – Birds should not stand on the same diameter of a tree branch or perch. You should offer your cockatiel a variety of perch sizes to allow his feet proper exercise. Sandpaper perch covers should be used on only one out of three perches. These covers will help to keep nails trim and are fun to pick at. Situate the perches at the same height as the seed and water dishes, not directly over them, where fecal matter could spoil the food.
Lighting – Your cockatiel requires exposure to ultraviolet light on a daily basis. Since it is not possible in our climate to have them outside on a daily basis, and placing them in front of a window only allows filtered light inside, which is ineffective, the use of a full-spectrum light is vital. UVA and UVB is necessary to prevent calcium and vitamin D3 deficiencies, which can cause a tremendous amount of health problems. As well, depriving your cockatiel of UV light will make them colour blind. It has also been suggested that UVA light is beneficial in reducing or eliminating abnormal behaviour, such as feather damaging disorders, screaming, phobias and aggression among just a few. An avian floor lamp and UVA/UVB bulb will be a necessary part of your cockatiel’s basic environmental need.
Food – It is not reasonable to expect any living thing to remain healthy when fed only one or two types of food. You must give your cockatiel a balanced diet if he is to live a long and happy life. this diet should consist of cockatiel pellets, as his staple food. You should also offer a cockatiel seed mix. It is best that your cockatiel eats pellets, and that you offer only small quantities of seed as a supplement. Offer a healthy mix of fruits, vegetables, pastas, rice, beans and even whole wheat toast daily as part of their morning meal. Once or twice a week offer a cooked egg finely chopped; this is a rich source of protein. Every bird is different in his tastes. While your cockatiel may love certain fruits or vegetables, he may reject others. Keep trying, and offer him variety. Feed these perishable foods to him in a separate dish and remove it after one hour.
Vitamin/Mineral/Amino Acid Supplement – If a cockatiel’s diet is made up primarily (90%) of pellets and he enjoys a variety of vegetables, fruits, seeds and other nutritious table foods, then a vitamin supplement is not necessary and could in some instances, be harmful. If however, a cockatiel’s diet is not ideal (strictly on seed), then we recommend the addition of a high-quality powdered vitamin. This is best administered on top of his daily salad or sprinkled on his millet.
Treats – Packaged seed treats, honey sticks, egg biscuits and spray millet should be offered in small amounts. They give your cockatiel the variety he craves and the behavioural requirements he needs. Treats will keep him busy picking and gnawing, while giving him a tasty alternative to staple foods and salads. Spray millet is the only food that is available for birds that they would eat in the wild. Feed all cockatiels spray millet as part of a daily diet. Most cockatiels love it, and it will soon become a favourite. Ask your pet counsellor about the most popular treats and supplements for your pet.
Cuttlebone – Cuttlebone will supply your cockatiel with calcium, phosphorus and other minerals necessary to keep him in optimum health. Hang it in his cage, out of the way from droppings, which could soil it. Change it every two months. If your cockatiel does not show any interest in his cuttlebone, grind it up into powder and mix with his salad or favourite treat.
Iodine Block – Provides iodine, copper and many other minerals, in small quantities. The iodine block is fun to chew, tasty too.
Plumage Conditioner and Bird Bath – Birds are naturally very clean. Most will enjoy an early morning splash in a bird bath that attaches to the door of the cage. Flavoured sprays encourage preening and grooming, and will condition feathers giving them a healthy sheen.
Additional Food Cups – Food and water should always be available for your bird. Hooded cups may seem threatening to a bird accustomed to open cups. If your bird does not readily eat and drink, remove the hood from the cup and replace it for a few hours a day until he is used to it. Your bird will need one additional cup for salad and another for seed treats.
Cage paper is easy to remove and will not become a soppy mess like paper towels or newspaper may when water is inevitably splashed onto it.
Nail Clipper and Coagulant – Nails and wings are important to keep trimmed. Use nail clippers made for birds to keep your cockatiels nails from becoming too long. Take care not to over trim or cut into blood vessels running through each nail. Should this happen, have a blood coagulant waiting and ready to use. Flight feathers should be trimmed regularly to prevent accidents, injury or death. Ask your pet counsellor how to trim flight feathers and trim nails properly.
Toys – Behavioural needs vary from people to animals. Everyone has behavioural needs; a dog’s may be to fetch and chew a bone, a person’s may be to lounge in front of the television. Your cockatiel has specific behavioural needs as well. Along with the regular day-to-day relationship that he will enjoy with you and your family, you must provide other activities. This will help give him the extra mental stimulation and entertainment he needs. Toys play a significant role in your bird’s life. As with a child, he will be less interested in some toys if they are always left in the cage. Petland recommends you purchase several toys and rotate them every two weeks.
Play-pen/Portable Perch – Your cockatiel will be much happier and develop a closer relationship with you, if he spends some of his day out of his cage. When he is out, wood play-pens and portable perches create are an ideal safe place for him.
Books – Petland has many excellent bird books available. Whether your goal is breeding or maintaining a single pet, your pet counsellor can help you select the one that will best suit your needs.
Please ask your pet counsellor what other items your particular pet will need.
*Ask about the volunteer program at your nearest Petland location.
Attention: Certain cookware, aerosols, incense, aromatic candles and household cleaners may be harmful or worse to your bird’s health. Ask a pet counsellor for a copy of the “Safety Tips & Household Hazards” tip sheet.
Cleanliness and Safety
All pets must be kept in a clean environment to avoid the spread of dirt and contaminants to yourself and others. Always keep your pet’s home clean, and wash your hands before and after handling your pet or cleaning his home.
Please remember that all pets may bite or scratch, and may transmit diseases to humans. Young children, infants, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems and the elderly are at greater risk of infections and should use caution when in contact with pets or their homes.