As members of the parrot family, cockatiels share many of the fun and interesting characteristics of larger tropical birds in a smaller size. They are affectionate and trainable; some learn words or songs. Since cockatiels have different personalities, getting the most sociable cockatiel takes research and some work.
Choosing Your Cockatiel
When purchasing a young cockatiel, you need to carefully consider several things. Note the overall health of the bird. Look for a cockatiel with bright eyes, clean shiny feathers and no discharge from nasal passages or the vent area, which is directly under the tail feathers. The cockatiel should have been hand-fed and used to being touched. She should curiously come to the front of the cage to greet you as a new visitor. A bird that retreats to the back of the cage or hisses most likely is not good a good candidate for sociability. The bird that leans toward you to listen as you speak to her may be the perfect one. Sometimes, a really sociable young cockatiel will choose you by readily hopping on your finger.
Bonding With Your Cockatiel
The process of bonding with your cockatiel is called imprinting. A cockatiel becomes attached to her owner, whom she sees as her flock. Your cockatiel should have had her wings clipped before you brought her home to limit the bird’s ability to gain altitude, making her more dependent on you. To ensure the best bond with your new bird, approach her in a gentle manner. Speak to her for a few days up close. Spend lots of time in the room the bird inhabits. Hand-feed appropriate treats through the bars of the cage while she acclimates. Then give treats by opening the cage door and letting her climb on the outside of it. Reward her with a treat when she comes out. Using treats, you can train her to step up on your finger. Soon she will be walking up your arm to sit on your shoulder and snuggle with you. To facilitate this, train with her as often as possible.
Socializing Your Cockatiel
Not all birds take to more than one person, their handler, but cockatiels can learn to be friendly with others. Placing her cage in an area where the family gathers will introduce her to other members of the family and accustom her to household activity and excitement levels. Be sure the cage is located in a place where it will not be bumped and is not in a draft. Teach family and friends how to hand-feed her. After some time, you can transfer her from your finger to the finger of a calm family member who has been hand-feeding. Allow others to pet your cockatiel only after she's become comfortable with you. A young cockatiel will quickly bond to the family flock and in general will interact with, play with and fly to all the family members in time.
Socializing an Older Cockatiel
On occasion, an older cockatiel becomes available for purchase or adoption. Her owner may not be able to care for her anymore, for instance, or she may have passed optimal adoption age. The best person to adopt an older cockatiel should be someone with experience. An older cockatiel is able to bond with a new owner, but it takes longer. She must learn trust and feel completely safe. Again, hand-feeding is the best way to bond. Knowing the bird’s history helps, as she may not have had much human touching or freedom from her cage. If so, you must introduce them much more slowly. An older cockatiel should have a quieter environment but still needs lots of her handler's attention. Introduce other family members more gradually and passively. With lots of love and gentle handling, an older cockatiel can learn to be as sociable as a younger one.
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