Introducing a new cockatiel to the feathered buddy you already have can be challenging and it can take weeks, but the lifelong friendship you are setting your birds up for is well worth it. Don't start the introduction until after a full quarantine period of 30 to 90 days.
Place your birds' cages side by side. Allow the cockatiels to investigate each other from their cages. Reward calm, curious and friendly behavior with tiny bits of treat. Ignore aggressive behavior. If one bird finds this so stressful he actually panics, remove the new bird's cage from the room and try again tomorrow. Slowly build up the amount of time you keep them side by side until they can be housed in the same room permanently.
Remove your first bird from his cage, keeping the new bird inside her own cage in the same room. Give your birdy his normal daily training session and out-of-cage playtime. Now switch. Return your No. 1 pal to his cage and take your new bird out. Give her a complete training and out-of-cage playtime session. Let each bird see you interact calmly and lovingly with the other. End with both birds snug in their own cages.
Place a neutral play area in front of both cages. This can be a table-top bird jungle gym or any type of open play area, but it shouldn't be one your established bird already thinks of as his territory.
Hang special treats inside this play area. It's best to use something that takes a little bit of concentration, like millet sprays, and reserve this treat for when your birds are socializing.
Open both cage doors. Allow your birds to check each other out. Don't force the issue; let them get used to each other at their own pace. You may need to begin with small increments of time, stretching the door-open time over a period of days. Eventually they may climb on or into each other's cages. End the social session with each bird in his own cage.
- Don't try to force your 'tiels to share a cage -- they should each have their own space unless they decide to move in together.
- Female-male or male-male pairs tend to bond most readily. Don't be surprised if two ladies never really get along.
- A strict 90-day quarantine is the only guarantee that your new bird won't pass toxic cooties to your original bird (30 days is the barest minimum). Get your new birdy her avian vet check after quarantine.
- Be on the lookout for aggressive flareups. Separate your birds in the event of biting or feather-tearing, and never leave them together unsupervised during introductions -- it takes only a very small amount of time for little angry birds to do big damage to one another.
Angela Libal began writing professionally in 2005. She has published several books, specializing in zoology and animal husbandry. Libal holds a degree in behavioral science: animal science from Moorpark College, a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College and is a graduate student in cryptozoology.