If you're looking for a roommate who will keep you company but never ask you to do the laundry, a cockatiel might fit just right. He's got enough talent to make conversation fun and needs just a few basic necessities to settle in as your best bird buddy.
The Cockatiel Family Genes
Domesticated by bird enthusiasts in the late 1800s, these Australian parrots are the smallest member of the cockatoo family. Reaching an average weight of 2 to 4 ounces, your feathered friend will measure from 10 to 14 inches long as a mature adult, including those long tail feathers and that expressive, moveable crest on top of his head. Social by nature, found in pairs and small flocks in the wild, your cockatiel will happily adopt you as provider and friendly, attentive audience for his cheerful songs, climbing performances and other humorous antics of daily living.
A Healthy Diet and Lifestyle
Find a local vet who is experienced with birds before bringing your cockatiel home since he will need an annual checkup and an available expert should he become ill. For optimal health, feed your cockatiel a pellet diet formulated especially for his nutritional needs and supplement with well-washed fresh vegetables such as carrots, kale or beet tops. As an occasional treat, offer small amounts of raisins, nuts or seeds. He'll need a bath or a shower from a spray bottle two to three times a week -- in the morning so he dries by bedtime -- as well as weekly cage cleanings and daily water changes to round out his routine care. Also note that cockatiels can die if exposed to fumes from common household products, including hairspray, so check labels carefully and remove him from the source if use cannot be avoided.
Designing His House
Cockatiels need a cage at least 2 feet on all sides per bird. Cages designed for large parrots won’t work because the bars are spaced too far apart for safety. Cockatiels love to explore and are as happy walking or climbing as they are flying, so pick a home with plenty of floor room, square or rectangular in shape rather than rounded because circles are hard to climb. Add perches or pesticide-free tree branches at different heights and angles for him to traverse, with enough open space to flap his wings freely. He’ll use his feet like hands, often picking up an interesting object to eyeball before popping it in his mouth for a taste, so he needs toys designed to resist cockatiel toes and beaks.
Your feathered buddy will live an average of 10 to 15 years, and his social nature requires daily interaction and affection from you. If you make the time, your cockatiel will be a lively and entertaining friend. He can learn people talk if you’re patient and will often mimic other birds singing outdoors or produce sounds, like your doorbell tone, without any help from you. With the right socialization, he’ll gladly leave his cage to hitch a ride on your shoulder or keep you company on the couch, likely nibbling your hair and cuddling against your chin during the movie.
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