Pet stores are full of fun and colorful toys for your pet cockatiel. Ropes, ladders, and chewy treats are all tempting choices to brighten your bird's day. You will even find that old bird cage standby, the mirror, for sale. However, mirrors may not be the best choice for your feathered friend.
Social Personality of Your Cockatiel
Cockatiels are social birds that interact with other members of the flock. Some owners feel that their cockatiel is lonely without another bird around. However, your cockatiel will bond to you and your family and even your other pets to form a flock. The presence of a mirror in her cage, instead of making your cockatiel feel as if she has a companion, can actually cause problems that make her less interested in bonding with you.
The Cockatiel in the Mirror
Cockatiels, like most birds, are attracted to reflective surfaces. However, once they approach what they think is water and see “another” bird, they can become agitated and confused. The bird in the mirror doesn’t respond or interact the way a real cockatiel does. Your pet may see its reflection as a rival, and try to fight with it. The opposite reaction is that he sees a potential mate in the mirror. He can then “fall in love” and become protective and possessive of the mirror. Females may become so stimulated that they begin laying eggs. Male or female, your loving cockatiel will undergo a personality change because of its reactions to a mirror.
Dangers of Household Mirrors
It isn’t just a cage mirror that is bad for your cockatiel. Wall mirrors and even shiny appliances can make your bird “see” a rival or a lover. She may fly at the mirror bird at a high rate of speed and injure herself. She can also be attracted to, and hurt by, pots on the stove, toasters or television screens. Since covering every reflective surface might be impossible every time your cockatiel is out of her cage, it is important to keep her wings clipped so she cannot attain real flight. Never leave her unattended when she is out of her cage.
Acceptable Cage Toys
Of course, you cannot be with your cockatiel all the time. She will spend a good deal of time in her cage, with a lot of "time on her wings." Acceptable toys for cockatiels include things she can chew, such as bird-friendly wooden toys that hang in the cage. Treat holders that make her work to find a tasty surprise are especially good for keeping her mind sharp and occupied. Cockatiels also love special paper toys that they can shred. Change the toys around occasionally and your cockatiel will have plenty of mental stimulation without developing the bad habits that mirrors cause.
Noreen Braman has been writing professionally since 1987. She has contributed to publications such as "GRIT," "Modern Dad," "DayCare and Early Education," "Women’s Harpoon," "Priority Parenting," "New Brunswick Business and Entertainment Journal" and "NJ TechNews," as well as several fiction and poetry anthologies. Braman earned a special publishing certificate from the Institute of Children's Literature and a design certificate from the Sessions School of Design.