Preparing For My First Cockatiel
by Laurel A. Rockefeller
Genre: Pets, How-To
Preparing for My First Cockatiel is a beginner's guide book for you and your children to help you know what it takes to get ready for bringing home your very first cockatiel.
Unlike most books about cockatiels out there, this one doesn't try to cover everything, but stays focused on what you need to be ready for your new life with your bird.
Full of personal stories and photos, you will get to know what life with cockatiels is like from my many years living with and loving them. A fun book for anyone who loves animals!
Topics covered include:
-- Cockatiels as cockatoos
-- Primary cages
-- Travel/hospital cages (including cages for domestic & international air travel)
-- Play spaces
-- Food dishes
-- Communicating with a new or shy cockatiel
-- Preventing psittacosis (the main disease that transmits between humans and birds)
-- Games to play with your new bird
By Laurel A. Rockefeller
1. Seed only diets are NOT for the birds.
Remember reading all those really old parrot guide books advocating for all seed-diets for budgerigars and cockatiels? Throw them out! Though it is true that cockatiels are granivores (meaning they eat primarily seeds in the wild), an all seed diet is a fast track to early death. Instead offer your bird a wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and raw nuts along with some quality pellets mixed in with the seed. Just skip the guacamole; avocado pits contain an especially deadly poison that tends to leech into the fruit, sometimes all the way to the skin. When it comes to avocados, play it safe and keep them away from your birds.
2. When calcium blocks fail, offer your birds dairy.
Traditionally we offer cuttlebones and mineral blocks to our birds at all times so they can ingest what they need in terms of calcium and other essential minerals as they need it. But as with food, birds can be picky and not like what is offered. When mineral blocks, calcium blocks, cuttlebones, and other traditional offerings fail serve milk, cheese, and other dairy foods. Though these will cause digestive issues from lactose intolerance that should be monitored carefully, dairy works in infusing your bird’s blood and bones with the calcium they need to stay strong and healthy. Plus, many cockatiels enjoy eating cheese and drinking milk. So, say yes next time your cockatiel wants some cheese or a sip of your (plain) milk! Dairy does a birdy good!
3. Use pet mats to contain the mess.
Birds, like children, make messes. A lot of them. Whether it’s throwing the contents of their food dishes onto the floors, chewing up toys (and precious objects in your house they decide are their toys), or simply pooping wherever they happen to be, your cockatiel will make quite a few messes. Over the decades I’ve had birds I’ve tried dozens of different options for trying to sweep up and clean up the mess. And while these worked with food messes, they didn’t on the bird poop – until I discovered pet mats while browsing online pet retailer Doctors Foster and Smith. These mats are supposed to be used right side up which is absorbent to liquid messes, but I found that flipping them over works perfect for bird poop! The backsides of these mats are liquid repellent. When you are ready to clean simply pick up and wipe the poop away with a cleanser-infused sponge. Air dry until you are ready to put them back in place. Find them in three sizes at https://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=29946
4. When your birds won’t eat fruits and vegetables, try offering them prepared different ways.
Birds are picky eaters, especially cockatiels. They may love one fruit or veggie when prepared one way but hate it prepared a different way. Experiment until you find what your birds prefer.
5. Provide a nest box even if you don’t plan on breeding your birds.
Cockatiels LOVE to nest. Even when you have a single bird, odds are very good you will experience nesting behaviours which can be very destructive to your home. The solution: offer a nest box your bird can customize to her/his/their liking through chewing the nest box, cardboard boxes, and shreddable toys. Nest boxes offer privacy for your birds for when they feel like hiding and a safe place for your hens to lay their eggs.
6. When the pre-drilled hole doesn’t work, open the lid to your nest boxes.
Some birds don’t like the pre-drilled holes provided for them in commercially made nest boxes. With the lid closed tight, the sudden plunge into blackness can be a rather terrifying prospect. Opening the top alleviates this stress while also providing an alternative route into the box your birds may find they prefer.
7. Prevent illness with regular trips outside.
Unfiltered UV light is essential to your birds’ health. Without it your bird cannot manufacture essential key nutrients she needs, especially as she ages. Cockatiels in particular are vulnerable to sight loss and blindness as they age, especially if they do not receive regular doses of unfiltered sunlight. While full spectrum light bulbs are available for lighting around your home and cages, nothing does a body good quite as well as fresh air and family time inside the protection of a quality travel cage. So, take a trip, a picnic, an afternoon of fun in the sun. Your bird will reward you not only with the happy chirps of the moment, but with a longer life too!
8. Offer play spaces in every room of your home.
Your cockatiel is extremely social and needs constant interaction with you and other birds in your home (preferably other cockatiels). Make those interactions safer while controlling your bird’s mess and destructive habits by providing at least one play space such as a natural wood perch stand in every room and placed near where you and the family spend the most time.
Floor length java tree/play stand.
Java trees (aka Borneo or coffee wood) offer a natural climbing surface that is durable enough to naturally wear your birds’ nails while being smooth and comfortable enough to be easy on the feet. If you need something small and portable that sits on your desk, try the medium size perch stand by Penn Plax just like Arwen’s.
Arwen on the portable perch stand by Penn-Plax. Photo taken with my kindle fire. What’s great about this perch stand is the way it easily assembles and disassembles and fits into a carry-on suitcase for out of town trips. Very hotel friendly! I bought mine at https://www.amazon.com/Penn-Plax-Perch-Stainless-Feeding/dp/B00OE3C1K6.
9. Grapevine perches make healthy feet.
In addition to java/coffee wood/Borneo perches and play spaces, grapevine exercises your birds’ feet while helping to wear down toenails safely and effectively. Choose twisted, gnarly perches over straighter options if you can. The less straight and smooth the better. I found my favourite grapevine perches at my local Petco (also available online) where I was able to choose the least straight and most twisted perches the store had in stock. If your local pet store doesn’t offer grapevine, ask if they can order some perches for you. It’s well worth the extra effort!
10. Sundecks and platform perches open up relaxing possibilities.
Imagine always having to keep your hands curled around an object 24/7/365. After a while your hands would get really tired – which is exactly what your birds experience when their only perches are round. Platform perches made of wood and sun decks made of plastic-covered metal give your birds a flat surface to rest on that are also perfect for placing small treat bowls and fresh fruit/veggies upon. Another option for opening up those feet? Clam style mineral blocks positioned horizontally.
This popular clam style mineral block doubles as a flat perch.
Cockatiels enrich our lives. But by following these tips and tricks, you can make your life with your birds healthy and happy for many years to come!
Yes, this book tells you about the obvious considerations one must undertake before adding a "pet" to the family, but this is not just an instruction manual. Part personal experience and part love story, this book was written by someone who truly adores this breed.
Cockatiels are not really pets. They are social beings who require and expect bonding and interaction with their flock and family. You will learn about cage sizes and materials, what to feed and amounts, frequency, etc. but you'll also learn about their history and personalities.
A quick introduction to cockatiels but an important one before you consider adopting a bird.
Born, raised, and educated in Lincoln, Nebraska USA Laurel A. Rockefeller is author of over twenty books published and self-published since August, 2012 and in languages ranging from Welsh to Spanish to Chinese and everything in between. A dedicated scholar and biographical historian, Ms. Rockefeller is passionate about education and improving history literacy worldwide.
With her lyrical writing style, Laurel's books are as beautiful to read as they are informative.
In her spare time, Laurel enjoys spending time with her cockatiels, attending living history activities, travelling to historic places in both the United States and United Kingdom, and watching classic motion pictures and classic television series.