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  #1  
Old 09-02-2013, 10:34 PM
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Default Cockatiel FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions


General


Should I get a cockatiel? What are the pros and cons?

Pros:
Something to care for that can be a fun challenge
Something to listen to, if you have a male.
Something to keep you company, no matter what, not judging you.
Something warm to keep on your shoulder whether it suits you or not.
You can never be bored of these birds.
Some can talk, even if they never do, it’s fun talking to them in the hopes they MAY repeat what you say one day.
It’s a pet that most people don’t think of right away when people ask about cuddly pets, therefore unusual to most people (especially those who think birds are evil)
They're calm and generally laid back compared to other birds, such as budgies and lovebirds.
If you own cats, they aren’t likely to be scared to death like a finch, canary, or budgie.

Cons:
Nightfrights.
Possible (although highly unlikely!) noise complaints if you live in an apartment with neighbours who complain about anything.
Biting, from taming the bird if parent raised or through mood swings.
Teenage stage, worse in males than females.
Getting screamed at in the ear when the birds on your shoulder.
Poop, poop, and poop.
Credit: Meanneyfids

Where can I find a pet bird?

You can find birds in pet stores, at breeders, from rescues, or from advertisement sites online such as Craiglist and Gumtree. Just be sure to make sure the bird is healthy before bringing it home.

Should I get a baby or an adult?

Getting a baby bird from a breeder or petshop is a popular way to go - you just want to make sure that it's weaned BEFORE you bring it home. Some dodgy breeders sell unweaned birds which is irresponsible. Make sure that the bird is an absolute minimum of 8 weeks old before bringing it home.

Just as baby cockatiels can make fantastic companions, so can "second hand" adult cockatiels. Each one is an individual and has so much to offer their guardian(s)!

It is a myth that those who bring home their birds as babies will have a stronger bond with them; in truth, a parrot of any age can bond with its keeper. In the wild, birds do lose mates and choose new ones, or integrate with new flocks when necessary. They are quite adaptable.

In some cases, a parrot will also change allegiances when it matures, just as a baby bird who grows up will begin distancing itself from its parents and attempt to find a mate. Adopting an adult bird who has already gone through puberty will ensure that you know exactly what you are getting. Does the tiel like most people, or is it a "one person" bird? Does it have a gender preference? Many times, babies change as they mature so adopting an adult will give you a better idea of what to expect for the rest of your life with your companion. It also means that you do not face the challenge of coping with the potentially volatile "adolescent period" when hormones first strike.

Furthermore, adopting or rescuing a cockatiel can be very emotionally rewarding. There are many unwanted cockatiels, who through no fault of their own find themselves cast into the vast sea of the "rehome cycle." The average parrot goes through at least seven homes in its lifetime, for a variety of reasons. Sadly, tiels being a relatively inexpensive and readily available species, they are very likely to end up in such a situation.

Birds that come with a history of abuse may require more patience, understanding and adaptability on the part of their keepers. They may have trust issues, or never fully accept physical contact. It is immensely rewarding to rescue an abused animal, but for those who do not feel up to the challenge there are many tame and well-adjusted juvenile and adult tiels available for adoption (through bird rescues, online classifieds sites, etc.)

Credit: Moonchild

Do I get one or two birds?

This depends on you and your situation. If you can afford two birds and really want two birds, then this is your choice.
So you are considering pet birds, but you don't know if you should get one or two. Or, you have a single bird and are considering a buddy.

A common myth is that two birds will not bond to their owner.

If enough individual time is spent with each bird they will still have a bond with their owner. Each bird is an individual. Some birds are more bird oriented than others. These type of personalities do better with a bird companion.
Some birds are more human oriented and these birds are perfectly happy as single birds. As long as they get enough attention from their owners, these birds do just fine.

Some pros to two birds:
Your bird has a constant buddy when you are not home.
You get to watch how they interact together and play together.
You bird can learn to be a bird and learn more independence.
You can curb some flock calling.

Cons to two birds:
May not get along as expected.
If they do get along, you need a bigger cage.
If incompatible, they need separate cages.
Twice the food ration.
If one gets sick, there's risk of both birds getting sick--therefore higher vet bills.
Injuries may happen.
Jealousy.
Unplanned breeding behaviours.
Most birds double noise level.
If incompatible, twice the time spent on each bird.
Twice the toys.
Disputes over territory.
Twice the mess.
More money for continuous upkeep.

There may be more cons listed, but the pros' quality outweigh the cons. Think of your situation and your bird.
Avoid getting a bird for your bird. If they don't get along, you now have TWO needy birds! You should get another bird if YOU want another bird.
If you are considering a buddy for your bird, it is less complex to stick with the same species. Different species should not be housed together, some species are more aggressive and dangerous than others. Even birds like lovebirds are known to kill other birds--including those larger than them.

Always prepare for things to not work out and hope for the best if you opt to get another bird.
Credit: Meanneyfids


I got another one! Now I need to introduce them. How?

Great! First of all, you need to keep your cockatiels in separate rooms for a minimum of 30 days. This is called quarantine and is extremely important to prevent potential diseases spreading. Birds hide their symptoms very well, but 30 days should give you a good idea of whether your new cockatiel is healthy and able to be introduced. This sticky explains how to implement quarantine and why you need to. After that, you’re good to go and introduce the birds. Keep in mind that they may not get along, and don’t force them on each other. Slow introductions almost always end in success. This sticky has some ideas - http://talkcockatiels.com/showthread.php?t=162. Maybe start with the cages sitting next to each other where the birds can interact through the bars. Then let them out in neutral territory. See how it goes and take hints. If they get on great you can progress to them sharing a cage. If not, don’t despair. Some birds take longer.

What colour is my cockatiel?

We call cockatiel “colours” mutations. Here is a mutation guide with some of the basic mutations in it. If you’re unsure, just post a picture and some members will help you.

Is my cockatiel a boy or a girl?


If your cockatiel is 8 months +, it can usually be sexed by feather markings. There are many knowledgeable members on the forum, so feel free to post photos and see what the general consensus is.
The other way to figure out sex, at any age, is by DNA testing. DNA testing is sometimes offered through your avian vet, but otherwise you can do it through online labs. All you have to do is send off a feather or blood sample, and it generally only costs $20-30 dollars.

Dna Solutions (Australia) - http://www.genescience.com.au/
Avian Biotech (Europe) - http://www.avianbiotech.co.uk/
Avian Biotech (America) - http://www.avianbiotech.com/

Behavioural queues also give you a good idea. Males could be beak-banging, or displaying heart wings, as well as singing and whistling and mimicking. Females are often a lot quieter and more subdued. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.

Heaps of people talk about their “fids”. What are “fids”?

Fids is an abbreviation of feathered kids .Since most members treat their cockatiels like their kids, it’s quite appropriate terminology.

This forum has this rule which says that no pictures can be posted of your cockatiels near potential predators (cats and dogs). Why? My cat’s gentle!

Talk Cockatiel does not want to promote relationships between cockatiels and natural predators. In 9\10 cases, cats and dogs want to chase and play with and injure small flighty animals. Why take the risk? Everyone’s cat and dog is different and it’s a personal choice. We don’t want to promote it because what might work alright for one person most definitely does not for someone else. Be very careful! Many members have had sad injury and death stories from their birds getting swiped while their back was turned. Being around cats and dogs is especially dangerous for birds with clipped wings. With no way to flee, they are easily trapped.
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Last edited by ollieandme; 11-14-2013 at 07:36 PM..
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  #2  
Old 09-02-2013, 10:38 PM
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Housing requirements


Is this cage big enough?


The minimum cage size for a single cockatiel is 18inx18inx18in. For a pair of cockatiels, it should be at least double that. Bear in mind that a cockatiel in a minimum size cage should have plenty of time out and about with mental stimulation. The cage should be a square/rectangle type cage. Round cages are generally too narrow and many birds feel insecure in these type cages. Also with round cages, the bars meet at the top and the space becomes narrow. Feet, toes, and wings can get stuck and can seriously hurt the bird. Doors should be secure or made secure if your bird tends to know how to escape.
If finances permit, flight cages (fairly cheap on eBay or Amazon) are definitely the favourite on TC. Check out the cage sticky for inspiration.

What perches should I use?

The best perches are natural branches from bird safe trees: http://www.cockatielcottage.net/houseplants.html. These vary in diameter along the same branch and they're more natural for the bird. These also naturally keep the nails from over growing and are a much better alternative to sand paper perches and other pedicure perches. Perches with sandpaper or sandpaper covers should never be used as these scrape the feet and cause sores and infection. Cement perches should be carefully used if used at all. These can damage the birds feet as well. These should not be a main perch (sleeping) as they are not good for birds feet. Rope perches are excellent for birds and are great for comfort. Older birds or birds with foot deformities benefit from these perches as they are soft and have good grip. Watch for loose strings and trim any you may see. If the bird chews through the perch to the wire, the perch should be replaced. Dowel perches (usually the ones which come with your cage) should not be used, but if they are used, do not use them as a main perch as these can cause foot problems for the bird. Plastic perches also can cause foot sores, but can be used in moderation. Swings and boings are great for many birds, especially birds who love to swing. Make sure they are securely hung in the cage, you don't want the bird to fall!

Credit: Meanneyfids

Does my bird need toys?

Yes, your bird needs toys to keep itself entertained. A bird that becomes bored are prone to plucking and screaming. You can buy toys at pet shops or online, though they are often expensive. Many TC members love making DIY toys. Here’s a thread to give you some ideas. All birds love different stuff, so just investigate and see what catches their fancy.

How often should I let my bird out of its cage?

It should be let out daily for at least two hours a day. Birds enjoy company of their flock, and a single bird considers their owners their flock. This means you must give your bird attention. Parrots require a lot of attention a day because they are such flock oriented animals. Time requirements may decrease a little if you keep your cockatiels in pairs or more.

Can I let another bird live in the same cage as my cockatiel?

Other species with cockatiels is very risky. You need to know the other bird extremely well to risk it. Cockatiels are very gentle birds, and can be pushed over by many other species. It is recommended that cockatiels are never housed with budgies, conures, lovebirds, lorikeets, and many others. It’s safest to stick to same-species caging and housing unless you’ve seen the birds interact harmlessly over a long period of time. Remember that another stronger nippier bird only has to get grumpy, and your cockatiel needs the vet! Here’s a useful sticky about cockatiels being around other birds, and also other animals. Supervised playtime with another species is often a viable option, but keep your eyes open. Caging is never recommended.
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:39 PM
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Behavioural Issues and Training

I’m trying to tame my cockatiel, but it’s not working!!

Take a look at our training stickies:
http://talkcockatiels.com/showthread.php?t=33824
http://talkcockatiels.com/showthread.php?t=22073.
And food bribery works absolute wonders. Patience is the key – work at your bird’s pace and don’t force things on them.

My cockatiel’s changed. He’s so aggressive and he hisses and shrieks all the time. I want my baby back!


First, don’t worry. I think most cockatiels go through the “teenage” stage. It’s just their hormones, and there are ways to reduce and control them. Check out the hormone sticky. Start by ensuring your bird is having 12-14 hr nights, in the dark.

Should I clip my cockatiel’s wings?

Wing clipping is a very controversial topic. There are pros and cons to both sides. Clipped birds are easier to control, and perhaps easier to catch if they escape outside. Fully flighted birds have the ability to escape from prey animals – cats, dogs. Many people say that clipped wings affect a bird’s personality, though that isn’t always the experience. If you do decide to clip, or at least try it out, here’s a thread describing how to do it effectively.

I want to teach my cockatiel to fly to me on command. How?

A good way to start is by target training your cockatiel. Program into them that if they touch the tip of a stick, they get a treat (spray millet is really useful!) Start by getting them to jump from one of your knees to the other – not hard work, but it definitely drills it into them.

Then start getting them flying from two objects. I like to use two dining room chairs. Start with them 15 cm apart, and teach your cockatiel to come when you tap on one. You can slowly increase the distance until your bird is flying 1 metre between each chair. Remember to keep plying them with treats.

Then start getting them to come for a chair to your arm by tapping the stick, and saying “come here”. You can choose then, whether you want to continue using the target stick or not. I like to say “come here” and hold eye contact – that way I can recall my bird whenever wherever.

Make sure that there is always an incentive and a reward for good behaviour and obedience (that can be food, scritches etc.)

My cockatiel is obsessed with someone else. Whenever that person walks in the room, they fly to them and ignore me. How to I become the favorite person again?

Use food bribery.
Although there are just some people our birds are going to like more and there is really nothing we can do about it. Spend lots of time with your bird when that person isn't around and maybe his affections will change.

Credit: roxy culver

I really want to teach my cockatiel to talk and whistle! How should I go about that?


First off, females rarely whistle or talk or mimic. Males are the main mimics.
Teaching your bird to whistle and talk is all about repetition. Your cockatiel will only pick up sounds that it likes. When you’re talking to them, have a look at them and discern what words and tunes make them listen, and which ones they just ignore. Pick a tune, or phrase, that they’re interested in and repeat it endlessly. Over and over and over.
Some birds learn really fast. Some don’t. Many cockatiels will whistle tunes – less talk, but it’s still quite common. Don’t get frustrated with them if they don’t learn for months. It can takes days, it can take months.

I really want to take my bird outside with me, and I've seen some people use harnesses! How do they work? How do you teach your bird to wear one? What one would you recommend?


Using a harness makes it a lot safer to be able to take your Cockatiel(s) outside with you — whether it is in your frontyard, backyard, at the park, at the beach, etc. This is also another way to provide your Cockatiel(s) with not only fresh air and sunshine, but socializing them, and allowing them to be able to have some flight time outside as well.

Training your Cockatiel(s) to wear a harness can take more effort, especially if they are fully flighted, it is however not impossible though. It will take a lot of patience and time, NEVER force a harness on your Cockatiel(s) and expect them to be fine with it, because you will end up making it a negative experience for them, and more than likely they are going to freak out every time you get the harness out again and it will make things a lot harder by putting you, and your Cockatiel(s), back to square one. Your Cockatiel(s) do need to be comfortable with being touched, more so on the head and wings, if your Cockatiel(s) do not like this, then this is something you will need to work on before harness training.

Below are a few great links on harness training, and what to do, it is most of all a lot positive reinforcement and patience, I hope that these links are helpful.

Harness Training (Trained Parrot Blog)
Harness Training Blog
Harness Training & Harness Train Your Bird! (Barbara Heidenreich)

There are a few harnesses to choose from, but a very popular harness, used, and suggested, by many bird enthusiasts, is the “Aviator Bird Harness” (which can be seen here: Aviator Bird Harness - The Parrot University) — this is one of the safest harnesses out there, and is easy to use, as well as easy to put on your Cockatiel(s)! I do want to mention too, please make sure the harness is the right size, for Cockatiels, you need to get the Petite size.

Credit: Renae
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:39 PM
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Food and Diet



What do I feed my cockatiel?


Birds need a variety of food in their diet. They should get seeds, pellets, fruits, and veggies. Pellets can be replaced with foods such as Nutriberries or Avicakes, and may be excluded from the diet if the bird's diet is varied properly and carefully. Here’s a sticky with information on the best diet for cockatiels. And here’s an important sticky on foods that are dangerous for your cockatiel.

My bird won't try new food, what do I do?

To get some birds to try new foods such as veggies or fruit or even pellets can be very difficult. To get a bird to try new veggies, it may be worthwhile to try cutting them in different ways or hanging them in the cage in different places, or even sprinkle a favourite treat on top of the new food. A bird sees its flock eating and will want to try to be with the flock, this includes you. So try eating the new food in front of your bird, or at least pretending to eat the food. Offer the new food then to your bird. Keep offering the new food, they may eventually try the new food. This sticky gives tips on how to convert a stubborn seed junkie.

Credit: Meanneyfids


Health

How do I know if my bird is sick?

A sick bird may sit on the cage floor fluffed up and sleeping all day. It may not eat or drink and may act lethargic. It may not vocalize as much as it used to and it may not play as much. If it acts differently than normal it may very well be sick. Sick birds often show the first sign of illness in the droppings and it is very important to pay attention to the birds droppings each day to know what is normal and what is not. If there is a change, it may be a cause for concern. If you are looking at a bird that you may want to bring home you should look for general signs. If the bird is fluffed up and not active, you may want to look elsewhere. Look at the other birds in the cage. If any act sick, you may not want to bring home any birds as birds hide their illnesses easily and any bird can be sick if one is showing signs. Check bottom of the cage to see the droppings, they should look normal. Look at eyes, nostrils, vent, feathers, and the bird as a whole. Plumage should be neat and smooth. Keep in mind birds do molt so molting birds can look a bit rough. Look for pin feathers on the body and this may be a clue that the bird is molting. The eyes should be clear, bright and open fully. There should be no discharge or redness to the eyes. The nostrils should be clear and clean with no swelling or discharge. They should not be clogged or dirty. The vent should be clean and should not have any stains or droppings stuck to the vent or feathers around the vent.

Credit: Meanneyfids

What vet is the right vet for my cockatiel?


Unfortunately parrots are exotic pets, which means that your average vet usually has no idea what they’re doing. You can try your cockatiel at a local clinic, and you might be pleasantly surprised. However for important things, avian vets are to be recommended. Here’s a useful sticky on how to find an avian vet, and how to know if they’re a “real” one.

How should I take my cockatiel to the vet?

Travel cages are what we use to transport our birds around. You can buy them at pet stores or on eBay or Amazon. Here’s a thread with pictures of member’s different travel cages.

I woke up and found feathers, and blood in my bird cage! My cockatiel’s fine though. What happened?


That definitely sounds like a night fright. I have never been able to pinpoint exactly what sets my birds off at night, but partially covering the cage and leaving on a night light definitely will help.
If they're multiple birds caged together, it's even possible that one of them might have woken up and accidentally spooked the others. You might additionally consider removing some toys or other objects from the cage at bedtime, if this would make it safer for a bird that might be thrashing around.

Credit: enigma731

If your cockatiel is moulting when it it’s nightfright there’s the possibility it will break a blood feather. Broken blood feathers need to be removed promptly to eliminate the risk of your cockatiel losing way too much. Here’s a thread on how to do it. Otherwise you can take your bird to the nearest vet as quickly as possible.


Breeding and Egg laying


If I get a female for my male, will they lay eggs and have babies?

Long story short, probably not. Many members have a male and a female and no babies. Cockatiels don’t mate of their own accord unless they are bonded. And it is rare to happen upon a pair of bonded cockatiels. There are also hormone reduction techniques that will prevent your hens from laying. If you don’t want your pair laying, then it’s pretty straight forward preventing that.

Can lone female cockatiels lay eggs? Are they infertile?

They are capable of producing eggs at 6 months old, although it is not ideal for their health. Some females will lay eggs continually, but most of the time it’s pretty easy to control. Check out this egg-laying\hormone reduction sticky.

What mutation will my babies be?

Online, there's an awesome virtual breeder where you can enter in the mutations and splits of the parents and it calculates what your babies will look like. Just go here: http://www.kirstenmunson.com/cockatiels/blue.html.

For other important information on breeding and egg laying have a look here: http://talkcockatiels.com/showthread.php?t=32275.
Deliberately breeding cockatiels is not something to be taken lightly, as it is a big responsibility. Please make sure you do your research first.
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Last edited by ollieandme; 10-09-2013 at 06:53 PM..
  #5  
Old 09-02-2013, 10:40 PM
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Site Related\Technical FAQ’s


So some people have awesome pictures of their cockatiels under all their posts. What are they? I want one!

These are signatures. It’s a fun way to show others your birds plus it makes your post look extra pretty and personalised. Some members make their own, using Photoshop or Gimp, or a free online editor like PicMonkey or Ribbet. Otherwise there’s always people who are happy to make one for you. At the top of this page there are usually a few signature request threads active.

I want to add an avatar picture to my profile picture. How?

Here’s the link. You can either upload it straight off your computer, or you can use an online photo hosting website like Photobucket or Dropshots.

How do I add photos to my post?


You can do it a few ways.

First option is, upload it as an attachment. (sometimes you’ll have to click GO ADVANCED before you can do this) Go down towards the bottom of the page, you will see Additional Options, under that there will be 3 boxes and under the last box you will see Attach Files, you then click on Manage Attachments choose the photo you want to upload (click on Choose File) and once you have chosen the photo you want to upload, you click Upload located next to the Choose File button on the right hand side there.

Second option is, go to www.tinypic.com, click on Choose File (make sure below you have file type selected as as Image), choose the photo, then, a bit further down underneath that you will see a green bottom that says UPLOAD NOW! (you will also have to do the capche thing that comes up) Once the photo has uploaded, you will see Share This Image, copy the link that has above it IMG Code for Forums & Message Boards , it will have [IMG]IMGURL[/IMG] and paste it where you will post it (which is the box when you make your thread to post the photo), and you are done!

Third option is Photobucket (or dropshots) if you have it, it is really easy, and you just copy the same image code I mentioned above for the second option after uploading the photo.”

Credit: Renae

I want to post a video. How?

The easiest way to share a video is to upload it to your Youtube account. Once it’s uploaded just copy and paste the link into your post on TC. Simple and everyone can watch it.

Different members have different titles under their posts: 'super tiel', 'egg', 'moulting' etc. What do these mean?

These are levels or rankings among members based on the number of posts. Below is a list of how many posts you need before you graduate to the next level.

Egg 0
Hatching 30
Chick 100
Fledging 250
Youngster 500
Moulting 750
Adult 1000
Super Tiel 3000



Want more information? Over time, our members have composed an awesome collection of articles and stickies about everything you’d possibly want to know about cockatiels! Check them out in the Sticky Library
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Last edited by ollieandme; 07-16-2014 at 10:39 PM..
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