The cockatiel is a midsize bird with an enormous personality. Your avian friend will have a flair for rhythm, and doesn't need to be a Park Avenue resident to display a love for some of the worlds' finest composers. Your cockatiel can learn to mimic and repeat your favorite words, whistle your favorite tunes and spend hours entertaining himself by singing along with the radio.
Cockatiels establish strong bonds with their human companions, and learn by repetition, becoming winged mimics. Males will speak easier than females, but both can learn with good training and repetition. Speaking is a precursor for learning any song, and one good method is to clearly speak every action, especially during feeding time. Identifying each item will allow the cockatiel to associate the word with the item, and learning words will help your feathered friend sing along to your favorite tune.
A Feathered Beethoven
Cockatiels don't speak as well as African grays, for instance, and may respond better to a strong classical tune with a good rhythm. These birds learn rhythm and the art of dance easily, and this tendency to be rhythmic may help them learn to sing classical tunes. According to Sally Blanchard of Bird Channel, her cockatiel took a strong liking to the William Tell overture. This classical tune, with its strong staccato rhythm and lack of vocals to distract the cockatiel with unknown words, soon became of a favorite of Sally's beloved bird, Rosie.
Whistle Me This
In addition to being able to mimic sounds and vocalizations, a cockatiel can learn to whistle well enough to catch the attention of any passing female. As with vocalizations and learning to sing, the art of whistling can be taught by repetition. Whistle to your cockatiel each day for a duration of several minutes, and introduce music, such as the Andy Griffith theme. Before long, your feathered friend will be whistling along to some of the world's most beloved tunes. Removing the distraction of vocalization and keeping a strong beat, will bring out the dancer in your bird, as well as the singer, and before long your cockatiel will be whistling along to song of the day on your favorite radio station.
Talk, Sing, Whistle, Repeat
Perhaps the best song to teach a cockatiel is the one you like, as he'll learn from you by mimic first, and then repetition. It may be a matter of taste, and your bird will let you know what he likes by dancing to the music as he sings along, either with improvised vocalizations or a sharp whistle. It may be as easy as teaching him "Mary had a little lamb," beginning with the word, "Mary," and gradually adding more words to his expanding vocabulary.