Cockatiels Are Not For Everyone – Here’s Why
By Oana M.
1. Birds need physical stimulation, too.
Some people buy birds because, in their eyes, they are easier to care for than a cat or a dog. The dog needs to go outside and get plenty of exercises, the cat needs her space and birds just sit in a cage, right?
Wrong! Birds normally fly, that’s how they live in the wild. And the cockatiel, even though he is a small bird, will need plenty of exercises. That means he needs a spacious cage and some out-of-the-cage time every day. That means you will have to have some patience while he’s circling around in the room and please, please leave the windows and the doors closed while he’s busy doing that. The bird has to be supervised the whole time while he’s enjoying his exercise because he might fall behind furniture and injure himself.
2. Your ‘tiel has emotional needs too.
Cockatiels are social birds, they live amongst a flock and tend to not do so well alone. If you plan to acquire one bird, be aware of the fact that cockatiels have the emotional intelligence of a 2-year-old human- that means they are needy!
You will need to spend at least two hours every day with your pet. That doesn’t mean you will have to hang with him for two hours, but at least be in close proximity to him for that amount of time, he will try to interact with you and communicate their needs. You can listen to music, read to him aloud or just talk to him. The bird will like to perch on you and watch you doing your chores or just chill.
If you are a busy person, that gets home late from work, eats on the run while watching the latest on Netflix and then heads to bed, then you’ll have a really depressed cockatiel, with behaviour problems and eventually health problems.
3. They tend to live for a long time.
If taken care of properly, cockatiels can reach up to 14 years. That’s a long time. Take into consideration that the cockatiel will really bond with you and will have problems adapting to a new environment and to a new human. If you can’t commit to taking care of a bird for at least 7-10 years then just don’t buy it. Buy a cute, small mouse.
4. They do have behaviour problems.
Cockatiels like to sing and vocalize, will attempt to communicate with the birds outside and like any other bird, will be especially noisy in the mornings and in the evenings. But I had my Chico for 4 years already and my neighbours didn’t suspect I had a bird in my house.
But if they are not stimulated enough or do not have a routine, you might find yourself with a screaming bird. The bored cockatiel, that doesn’t get the attention he needs will attempt to get it by being really loud. And if you do not react properly, this behaviour will intensify and will be really hard to unlearn.
So, if you like your peace and quiet, get a cat. If you do not have the patience nor the time necessary to stimulate your bird, get a fish. It’s better for everyone.
5. They need a specialized vet.
Taking care of the cockatiels is an easy job, but you will have to closely watch his appetite, his water intake and make sure he has a variety of foods in his diet. Cockatiels are birds of prey so they will try to hide the fact they are ill until they can’t do so anymore. You will need to become an expert at your bird’s behaviour, closely watching his patterns and also his droppings, as they can tell a lot about your bird’s health.
If he gets ill, you will need to find a doctor that has some experience with treating exotic pets, while most vets specialised in treating dogs and cats.
6. They are fragile birds.
When it comes to the environment, cockatiels are really sensitive. They enjoy a routine – lights on/out at specific hours, they enjoy consistency and they don’t really like change. Actually, they are frightened by it. So they need someone that can maintain order and consistency for long periods of time.
Also, they are fragile birds, they sometimes have night frights and will need your immediate attention otherwise they might injure themselves.
They are not well suited for small children. They are beautiful, sometimes majestic and very friendly- the perfect target for children- but they are to be handled with care, so they are better suited for older children. So keep that in mind when buying one.
If you can manage all of the above you should know that cockatiels are great companions, they are kind and quirky and sometimes empathetic, really nice to watch and can entertain you and your guests with beautiful songs and vocalizations. If taken care of properly, your bird will become your best friend.
Best of luck!