Newest Review: ... the bird,this enables them to spread their wings a bit, now back to the birds. Cockatiels are actually native to Australia but their pr... more
The Pikachu Parrot
Member Name: RattieFink
Advantages: Adorable, funny, friendly, long lived, healthy, easily available
Disadvantages: Noisy, messy, dusty.
Cockatiels are touted as perfect beginners bird by parrot keepers everywhere, and with good reason. These small, hardy birds become very tame, friendly and sweet and have adorably cute face and funny habits.
The cockatiel is now considered part of the cockatoo family as well as being a parakeet, and is one of the smallest cockatoos. It is also the least demanding, cockatoos are beautiful birds but they tend to be screaming, jealous feather pluckers in captivity, whereas cockatiels are sweet little charmers...although still a little noisy for some. The cockatiel reaches 13 inches in length, making it the smallest cockatoo, and shares the distinctive crest on the head which can be raised or lowered according to mood...the crest may be flattened, held right up when the 'tiel is excited or alarmed, or held in a state of "half mast" when the cockatiel is just going about the daily business of being a bird.
Cockatiels come in several colours, lutinos (yellow), pied (patches of grey and yellow), pearls, white faced, and other. The classic cockatiel is a grey bird with a yellow face and comical red cheeks that make them look like clowns. The cockatiels smart colouring and cute appearance help to add to their allure as popular pets.
Keeping a cockatiel
Seeing as this is a review on how cockatiels are as pets, not how to care for them, I decided to keep this section brief. Cockatiels can be bought from any pet store for £30, hand reared birds are far easier to tame and will cost from £50 upwards. The larger the cage the better, I am in favour of big indoor aviaries for birds, not pokey cages, you can pick these up cheap on ebay. Cages should have bars no further than 3/4 of an inch apart, and powder coated. You can pick up a big aviary cage on ebay for abut £80 if you bide your time. Cockatiels should have a variety of thicknesses of perch, natural branch perches are best, and different variety of toy (for example, foraging toys, shredding toys, foot toys, puzzle toys) and you should have a set of different toys for weekly rotation to keep them amused. The base on the cage can be covered with newspaper, bird sand or sanded sheets and should be changed weekly. You can feed your bird cockatiel seed, pellets or a mixture of both but a variety of fruit and vegetables should be provided every other day (anything really, aside from onion-poisonous to lots of animals, iceberg lettuce and celery- nutritionally useless), and a daily protein source such as boiled or scrambled egg, dried crickets or mealworms or small amounts of cooked chicken or turkey. Variety is the key to a healthy cockatiel. And go easy on sunflower seeds and peanuts, they are very fatty. Fresh water and grit should be available daily, and the cage bars, perches, toys and food and water bowls should be cleaned with animal safe disinfectant regularly. Cockatiels crave company, if you are working most of the day, two is much better...they will be no harder to handle or tame as a result, I have two brothers and they are both tame talkers. Find a good avian vet BEFORE you buy your bird, avian vets are pricey and harder to find, a regular vet probably wont be much use at treating a cockatiel.
Cockatiels as pets
Cockatiels are fantastic pets for the people who have the time to care for them. If you want a pretty bird to sit in a cage and beep at you, buy zebra finches...cockatiels are for people who want to interact with their pets. They are intelligent, funny little birds which have lots of adorable habits. They can be taught simple tricks like "dancing" on cue, waving at you and things like that. Some cockatiels will say a few words and phrases, but their voices are muttery and hard to make out, they are fantastic at whistling tunes and imitating noises like barking dogs, ringing phones and alarms...cute, but also incredibly annoying!
My friends are constantly amazed at how tame and sweet one of my two cockatiels are (the other is friendly, but more shy). Boss, a pearl pied, sits on your lap or shoulder for hours, begging for his crest and face to be tickled. He reminds my friend of a dog the way he begs for physical attention, which makes up for the fact that he is not as good a talker as Pika, the less tame cockatiel. Cockatiels really are very cuddly and devoted birds, they are also intelligent, fun and have plenty of attitude.
In short, they have all the attitude of a parrot or cockatoo, in a smaller, simpler and quieter shell. The larger the parrot, the larger the brain, and the more demanding the bird becomes. Most people really aren't suited to the bigger parrots as pets, but with a little understanding of bird psychology, enough money, and loads of love, anybody can keep a cockatiel, and they are ounce for ounce as fun, pretty and loveable as big birds like macaws and amazons. If you want a pet parrot, a cockatiel is a superb first choice!
On the other hand, cockatiels are very noisy. If Boss, my needier cockatiel, knows I am in the house but I'm in another room, he lets out an ear piercing shriek...I really hope he doesnt do this all day long if i go out, our walls are pretty thin! Cockatiels are much louder than budgies and have quite a shrill voice. I dont think they are quite loud enough for neighbours to notice, but if you have thin walls think twice about having a cockatiel (having said this noone has ever complained to me).
Cockatiels, in common with all birds, are messy. They spit seed and seed husks everywhere and drop feathers...and of course poop when they are out of the cage. Apparently cockatiels can be toilet trained, but this takes time and a lot of dedication. if you are house proud, a bird is probably not the right choice for you, no matter how handsome they are.
They are also very "dusty" birds, as powder-downs. Powder down birds produce a which powder which coats the feathers, giving them an incredibly soft coat. It feels lovely, but the dust can cause allergies and irritate those with athsma. Those who are sensitive should probably avoid a pet cockatiel...there are other lower dust birds if you insist on a pet bird. Having said this, regular vacuuming and bird baths help cut down on the problem, my boyfriend has athsma and no problems with the birds.
5 Cute things cockatiels do:
The Wave: They lift one foot up and hold the claws out in imitation of a wave.
The Macho Man: Lift their wings without stretching them right out, so they look like they are flexing their pecs
The Drunk Eagle: Tipping forward on their perch, they spread their wings right out whilst looking like they are about to overbalance.
The Serenade: They come right up to you, look you in the face, and begin beakily serenading some whistled tuneless rubbish they just made up that very moment.
The Mock Attack: They will playfully bite your hand and pretend to attack you, making offended noises when you playfight back.
5 places cockatiels love to be tickled:
The back of the neck
The "Chin" (under the beak, where the chin would be if they had one)
Just around the eyes
5 things cockatiels love:
Pecking you in a demonic dancing fashion
The sound of their own voices
Being tickled and cuddled
Driving you crazy imitating car alarms and telephones.
Boss: Love sponge cuddle bird extraordinaire, we think he's a bit stupider than his brother but he makes up for it in loveable cuddliness. Enjoys pecking at earrings and facial studs, and attempting to preen your eyebrows.
Pika: Boss's brother, much shyer but he learned to talk first (Boss learned by copying him). Likes his head being tickled but only when HE feels like it, he has the cheek to sit on your shoulder for ages, then fly off when you want to cuddle him.
It is important to take a look at books on parrot psychology before committing to any parrot as a pet. They are not like dogs or cats, if you shout at them they will think its a game and shout back louder, and they do not really understand the concept of punishment. If you do the research however, they make great pets!
With all pets, you get out what you put in, and cockatiels are no different. If you want a fun, loving and sweet pet, you need to put the hours in taming, training and cuddling with your cockatiels every single day. If you want something pretty to go in the living room, try a painting!!!
All in all, if you want a higher maintenance, cuddly and friendly pet but a dog or cat doesnt appeal to you, or you are interested in parrots but not sure about the time commitments, try a cockatiel (or two). They think they are big, tough macaws, when really they are just cute yellow little imps.
Summary: Teeny parakeets with buckets of attitude!
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