Cockatiels are native to Australia. They are so easy to breed in captivity that they have become widely popular and available in pet stores and shops around the world. (However, chronic egg laying is a problem with some parrots, so it's best to breed under the supervision of a professional breeder.)
With 22 different color mutations, cockatiels can vary in colors so drastically that some do not have the orange cheek patch that most are so widely recognized for.
Wild cockatiels thrive on cultivated crops (to farmers' dismay) while pet cockatiels tend to be given a seed diet that is WAY too high in fat. Just because they love it, doesn't mean they should eat it. Fresh vegetables should make up a giant portion of the cockatiel diet.
Cockatiels as Pets
Cockatiels are known for their friendly and affectionate nature. Because they are small, quiet(ish) and even-tempered they are one of the parrot species that turns many people into parrot lovers for life.
It is important to understand, that ANY parrot, even small ones, require the same level of care as macaws or cockatoos. Neglect in their diet and daily care will not only cost you a fortune in vet bills, but unwell birds are cranky and quickly become aggressive. You will not have a great relationship with a sick bird.
Cockatiels always want to be a part of the action. When the family has gathered in the living room for movie night, your cockatiel will be the first one making its way to the popcorn bowl. (Please prepare a separate unbuttered, unsalted bowl for him.) When you vacuum the house, your cockatiel will be riding shotgun on your shoulder.
He will thoughtfully preen your hair when you are sad and generate unlimited amounts of fun and laughter with his antics. A well trained and socialized cockatiel will quickly become a beloved family member, and you will wonder how you ever managed life without him.
Unfortunately, too many people get parrots thinking they are like the family dog who can be contended simply sleeping at their feet. A cockatiel is a highly intelligent species that loves to explore everything in the world around them. They are in constant motion and need to be active and mentally stimulated in order to thrive.
All parrots require the proper, educated care of an avian veterinarian. In the wild, it's the difference between life or death to be able to mask illness or “pretend to be well”. Often times when a bird shows obvious signs illness, it's too late.
Cockatiels are especially known to have an issue with night fright, where they get scared from the dark and thrash inside their cages at night.
Keeping Cockatiels Mentally Stimulated
Let’s face it, most of us have jobs and must leave our cockatiel behind to fend for themselves and find their own entertainment. It is up to us to make their cage an exciting place to be.
It doesn't matter if you have a single bird or a pair, both males and females need mental stimulation through training, toys, diet, and interaction. Male cockatiels have the same capacity for learning as a female cockatiel. Whether you get a young bird or an older one, every bird is trainable!
Bored parrots are unhappy parrots. Unhappy parrots do not keep their complaints to themselves! You might find yourself enduring the incessant, ear-piercing screams as it DEMANDS to come out of its cage or as it INSISTS that it be allowed an activity that you know is unsafe.
A bored cockatiel will eventually become angry!
...and an angry cockatiel will bite! And make no mistake about it, that small beak CAN inflict a painful wound.
Parrot Training: A Great Solution for Boredom
We here at BirdTricks have 2 favorite methods for providing your cockatiel with enough mental stimulation to keep him or her happy. One involves one-on-one interaction with you, and the other they manage happily on their own.
Training is like a board game you can play with your bird. It provides the ideal opportunity for your bird to use its brain, to expend some of that boundless energy and to bond with you. It’s a fun and rewarding experience that allows your cockatiel to lessen the frustrations from boredom, inactivity or confinement in a positive way for everyone involved. These fun games will also strengthen the bond with the player on the other side of the “board”.
Taking basic target training a step further, trick training a cockatiel is incredibly stimulating and if done regularly creates the expectation for fun and excitement. You will begin to notice behaviors in your bird that tell you he or she would like to do some training. The improvement you will see in your relationship will be very noticeable! I have to tell you; that feels pretty good.
Providing Cage Activities
Training is great when you're around. However, what do you do when you're off at school or work?
Toys, toys, toys and more toys! Toys made from natural materials like raffia and palm leaves make great choices for cockatiels that like to tear things apart. They love shiny and colorful plastic toys with moving parts and ringing bells. I have never known a cockatiel that wasn’t crazy about paper. Weaving strips of paper into the cage bars can give your cockatiel hours of fun and needed exercise.
Imitating nature by using foraging toys to hide your cockatiels food INSTEAD of using food bowls is an ideal way to fill up the hours with fun activities for any caged bird. Daily food which is hidden inside paper products or inside complicated foraging toys can take hours for your bird to collect the day’s food, just like it would in the wild.
The cockatiel lifespan ranges from 10-35 years. Why such a big gap? Healthy cockatiel food and enough exercise will greatly contribute to your cockatiel living a long and happy life with you.
In conclusion, cockatiels make great family pets when the owner is happy to provide it with socialization, training, a healthy diet and plenty of toys. We have found this to be the BEST way to increase mental stimulation and to decrease behavior problems.