Welcome to Hand Reared Cage and Hand Reared Exotic Birds Lisburn County Antrim. Cockatiel
The cockatiel is a friendly, intelligent bird normally overshadowed by the budgerigar. Nonetheless, the cockatiel is a distinguished bird in its own right; it is virtually vice-free, has a placid temperament and is socially accomplished. It gets along well with other birds and it is almost unheard of for a cockatiel to harm any small bird. Cockatiels are a fine introduction to bird keeping because they easy to feed breed and house.
The wild-type cockatiel is the most common: grey body, orange cheeks and white face. Several interesting colour mutations have been formed in recent times. These include the Pied Cockatiel, in which the colour varies from predominantly grey to almost white. Another is the common Lutino, first bred in the USA. The colour is pale yellow; the grey has almost faded but the bird retains orange ear patches. Pearls are a Lutino mutation with an intermixing grey-lemon plumage.
The cockatiel is distinguished by its long tail and uneven coloured plumage. The upper body tends to be medium grey while the underparts are a lighter grey with a faint tinge of yellow buff. The head, crest, cheeks and throat are bright yellow. The female is similar but the yellow areas on the face and throat are less bright. Unlike the male the underside of the females tail feathers are barred with yellow and grey.
In the wild cockatiels live in small groups so in the domestic setting they are happier with company, whether budgies, canaries, finches or their own breed. Dont house them with birds that are much bigger than them. The most satisfying combination for bird and owner is obviously a male and female pairing but you would have to think about long term breeding provisions.
What you will need Cages
A cockatiel will need a large, long cage, measuring at least 24 inches long x 20 inches wide x 16 inches high. Many of the budgerigar cages will be too small but a parrot cage should be suitable. Many experts discourage owners from buying round cages as this disorientates the bird causing circling disease.
Various types of perch are available, plastic, wood dowelling or natural wood. The artificial perches are easy to clean, and being very smooth and non-porous - they offer simplicity of cleaning. While beneficial to the owner the bird may be less than pleased.
Cockateils benefit more from natural branches; the contours of the bark keep the cockatiel distracted and if eaten by the bird condition its beak and boost its intake of vitamins and minerals. Always check beforehand that the wood is not poisonous and is free from dirt.
Offer a selection of perches of varying thickness. A perch should not be so small that the birds foot can totally enwrap it; the front claws will dig into the back foot, causing muscle cramp for the cockatiel. Equally a perch which is too large will prevent the bird from gripping it effectively.
Offer perches at varying heights but ensure the gap between them is big enough for the cockatiel to hop or fly through as it wishes. And when a bird is perched its tail feathers should not be touching the bars of the cage. Some owners offer a broad, flat perch which gives the bird a rest from balancing.
Finally ensure the perch has some flexibility, particularly when the bird is landing as it prevents muscle compaction. As always ensure the perch is securely in place and doesnt rotate when the bird alights - it could cause injury.
This belongs in every cage. It is usually clipped to the cage wire. Its used for beak trimming and a source of calcium and phosphorous.
Sand and grit
The cage floor should be lined with grit or pebble sand. Grit is essential for the birds digestive system and the absorption of food. Birds do not have teeth and so their food is processed in a muscular gizzard, which grinds food. In order to function, the gizzard relies on grit to rub against the seeds and produce the grinding action.
The most popular type is the spouted gradient drinker, which has the advantage of keeping the water clean and free from contamination.
The drinking water should be changed at least twice daily because bacteria multiply rapidly, particularly in warm conditions. Never leave food or water containers under perches as these will be contaminated with droppings. Contaminated water can be fatal; the cockatiel will refuse to drink altogether which leads to dehydration.
Cockatiels eat a mixture of seeds (canary seed, millet, linseed, and rapeseed). They are also fond of sunflower seeds and a selection of seeding grasses in winter you can add some drops of cod liver oil to dry seed each week to provide extra vitamins.
Cockatiels will need fresh green feed, which provides a range of vitamins and trace elements. Recommended are sprouted feed, fruit and vegetables; brussel sprout leaves, dandelions, lettuce, apple, etc. Shredded carrot can also be fed, as it is a valuable source of vitamin A. Spinach should be fed sparingly; it contains small amounts of oxalic acid which can be poisonous to birds. Equally cabbage and rhubarb leaves should not be fed to a cockatiel. Be sure to wash all fresh products before giving them to the cockatiel.
Dont leave fresh foods in the cage for any more than a few hours, as bacteria will quickly form on it. Never give junk food, strongly salted or spiced food, butter, crackers, crisps, and soft drinks to cockatiels. Finally dont feed cage birds dried substances such as bread, or dried fruit as these can swell in the birds intestines, causing discomfort and in extreme cases can be fatal.
Location of cage
It is important to have the cage away from direct sunlight, in a draught free place. The cage should be at the same level as the human head or slightly higher. There should be nothing above the cage because a cockatiel is frightened by overhead activity, (reminiscent of predators in the wild.) The cage should be sited in such a way so that any person entering the room does not create a shadow over the cage; this alarms a cagebird.
The cage should not be placed in bedrooms as these are too quiet causing the bird to get bored, or kitchens as these get too hot or in areas where air pollution is likely (tobacco smoke in living rooms).
The birds cage should be cleaned on a weekly to kill bacteria and ensure the continued health of the bird. Perches and containers should be cleaned and leftover seed removed. The cage should be completely dry before the bird is returned.
A cockatiel will appreciate a bath once in a while so leave a container half full with water, either on the floor or attached to the side of the cage. Bathing can promote healthy plumage and reduces feather dust. Some birds will be more reluctant to bath so you can spray the bird with lukewarm water each week. However be careful not to wet the cockatiel before it sleeps and dont wet the soft down feathers underneath as they are difficult to dry. If left damp, a chill can set in. Always leave a fresh supply of drinking water for your cockatiel.
Remember to allow the cockatiel free flight around a room each day. Be sure that there are no means of escape as the birds will almost certainly never return - in the wild cockatiels develop no homing skills because they live in groups.
Cockatiels are intelligent birds and can be trained. They can whistle and mimic, and although their speech is less pronounced than that of a parrot or mynah bird, they learn very quickly. Simply start with a two sylllable word - "hello, willow, cola, hoover", and get the bird to repeat. Dont move onto another word until the bird can remember the last word taught.
Did you know
Average age of cockatiel is 12 14 years.
It costs less than £1 to feed a cockatiel for one week.
Cockatiels have a delicate digestive system so it is important to be careful when feeding your Cockatiel treats or plants. Common sence usually rules out harmful foods, but some are not so obvious.
-Chocolate can cause hyper activity, vomiting, seizures and sudden death.
-Salt causes excessive drinking, hyper activity. Dont feed your Cockatiel crisps or other foods high in salt.
-Rhubarb leaves will cause death.
Other dangerous foods include,
Potato shoots and skin,
Some form of cabbages, best not to feed your Cockie any form,
some form of mushrooms, best not to feed your Cockie any form,
Here I have listed only the less obvious harmful foods, theres so much that our Cockatiels cannot eat it is best to stick to what you know they can eat. Such as;
Apple [not seeds],
The more fruit and vegetables your Cockatiel eats the runnier the droppings will be.
Always feed your Cockatiel a wide variety of fruit and veg.
Some people feed their Cockatiels meat but I find this highly unnatural.
Cheese and Yogurt pose no problems due to the way they are processed, however, with such foods you should feed them spareingly.
Pasta, Rice and Egg are also suitable for your Cockatiel to eat.