Frequently Asked Questions
Should I get a cockatiel? What are the pros and cons?
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.