It's hard to find a downside to living with the cockatiel, the super-achiever of the feathered pet world. With the right taming and training, cockatiels grow to adore their humans and aim to please. However, there are a few issues you might want to consider before inviting one home.
When Size Matters
If you're ready for a meaningful relationship with a parrot but don't have space for one of the bigger species, cockatiels mesh easily in an abode of just about any size. His cage should be 2 feet on all sides, but that's less than half of what some species need; such as the 5-foot-square or larger condo a hyacinth macaw requires. When he's spending time outside the cage, a cockatiel’s pint-size toys and relatively petite length of 12 to 14 inches from the top of his head to the bottom of his tail take up much less space overall than those of his big boy cousins. His smaller appetite also means less bite on your budget at the pet food store.
If you'd like an in-depth conversation most evenings, you'd probably be happier with a chatty African grey, Amazon or quaker parrot. Some cockatiels do learn to talk, but they aren't renowned as a species for their speaking ability. They do have an amazing talent for mimicking birdsong and other melodies, however, and they don't need any special training to do so. Just leave the television playing or the window cracked open for a while -- provided it's warm out -- and he'll pick out his favorites. If you have a doorbell, your cockatiel may learn to imitate it so well you'll be checking the peephole for visitors.
Lifetime Commitment Required
A cockatiel that gets a nutritionally sound diet and enjoys a stimulating and interactive environment can live 20 years or more; the average is closer to 15. It's a long-term obligation and your cockatiel will count on you for his nutrition, recreation, vet care and emotional health throughout his life. A budgie, by comparison, lives about 5 to 8 years. However, if you know you want a parrot larger than a budgie but aren't ready to commit for the 60 or more years some domesticated birds, such as the African grey, can live a cockatiel’s relatively short life span may count as an advantage.
More Than Just a Pretty Face
The cockatiel is an inquisitive, social and affectionate parrot that bonds closely with his humans. Unlike other pet birds, such as finches, a cockatiel will notice if you don't greet him when you come home or forget his usual playtime outside the cage. Cockatiels have the intelligence to learn a variety of tricks, and they expect lots of adoration for their accomplishments. He'll not fetch a ball for you like Rover, but he may get the hang of rolling one toward you if you give him time. And unlike Rover, he'll never expect you to take him outside to potty on a rainy day.
A medical writer since 1990 and successful home-based business owner for more than 14 years, Sandra King holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications. She uses her formal education, professional insight and extensive volunteer involvement to cover topics on health and fitness, pets, parenting for a lifetime, building healthy relationships, conquering business basics and developing career goals.