There are over 16 million pet birds in the United States. That number surprises a lot of people, but not me. If you’re a cockatiel lover, like I am, then it probably doesn’t surprise you either. What’s not to love? They’re intelligent, they have adorable personalities, and they’re beautiful. It’s no wonder that people have been drawn to cockatiels for years.
The challenge for most people often comes when it’s time to care for these wonderful birds in the home. Despite the challenges, if you take a few simple steps to learn the proper care, a cockatiel can be a wonderful addition to your family.
A Long Term Relationship
You shouldn’t take the idea of a bird companion lightly. A cockatiel is not something that you can bring into your home for a short time. Cockatiels can live 15 to 30 years, so be sure that you’re ready to take on the responsibility.
You really will be having a relationship with your cockatiel. Most birds form a very strong bond with their human owners. A strong relationship like this is an important part of a healthy life for a cockatiel.
Your Cockatiel’s Diet
There are a wide variety of cockatiels, but one thing is true for all of them – good nutrition is critical if you want your cockatiel to have a good quality of life. In general, a healthy diet for a cockatiel consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, pellets, and a high quality seed mix that is enriched with vitamins.
Fresh clean water is also an important part of a good daily diet for your bird companion.
Cleanliness is Important
Some people think that birds are “dirty” pets. This is simply not true. If a pet cockatiel (or more often, the cage) isn’t clean, it’s likely the fault of the owner, not the bird.
It’s very important to keep a cockatiel’s cage clean. All of the surfaces of the cage (including the perch and dishes) should be cleaned frequently with mild soap and water. Don’t use anything stronger than mild soap and water – many stronger cleaning products can harm your cockatiel’s skin, eyes and even their respiratory tract.
It’s also important for you to keep your hands clean when you’re working with your cockatiel. This can prevent bacterial infections caused from preparing your bird’s meals, handling their dishes and handling your bird.
There are also bacteria in human saliva that can be harmful to your cockatiel. So, you shouldn’t allow contact with your mouth or nose and their beak.
Your Cockatiel’s Cage
Your cockatiel’s cage is his or her home. It needs to be big enough and it should be safe. Your bird should be able to spread its wings inside the cage. There should also be enough room for a few cockatiel safe toys.
You need to periodically inspect your cockatiel’s cage to look for anything that could be hazardous such as exposed sharp metal edges or points.
Where should you place your cockatiel’s cage? A good place is where you and your family spend time so that you can interact with the bird. The kitchen is generally a poor choice for your cockatiel’s cage. There are a number of fumes in the average household kitchen that can be toxic for birds.
Grooming Your Cockatiel
Your cockatiel will need periodic grooming. Their nails and beak will continue to grow and can cause problems for your bird if not properly cared for.
Overgrown nails can get caught on toys or perches. You can clip them every three to four weeks to minimize this risk. A good cuttlebone can give your cockatiel something to keep their beak trimmed.
Don’t forget to bathe your cockatiel. In the wild, a cockatiel gets a bath in the rain to keep their feathers healthy. At home, you can mist your cockatiel with a water bottle every few days.
One of the most important grooming tasks is clipping your cockatiel’s wings. If you want to keep your cockatiel from flying, you should clip their wings every few weeks.
Your cockatiel is a smart, playful and affectionate friend that will be a part of your life for years. Learn how to care for them properly and you’ll both enjoy a happy and fulfilling relationship.