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A bird can be an ideal pet for people who have very limited space and the cockatiel is an easy kept bird which is relatively inexpensive to purchase yet a little more unusual than a budgerigar or canary. lt makes a delightful pet for adults or children.

Cockatiels are an Australian native bird and were first recorded by the naturalists who accompanied Cook during his journeys to eastern Australia.

In the wild, Cockatiels inhabit the drier inland areas, nesting in hollow branches or tree stumps. Gregarious in nature they are rarely seen as solitary birds and are usually found in large flocks. The wild cockatiel is only grey in colour but a variety of colours have been developed by breeders. The "Normal Grey" cock bird comprises various shades of grey on the body and tail. The front of the head and throat are lemon yellow and the crest is a mixture of yellow and grey. The sides of the head are white with large orange-red patches. The wings have bars of white and very pale yellow.

Mutant colours include, albino (white) or lutino (yellow), pied (a grey bird with patches of white or yellow tinted white breaking the grey body colour), pearled (attractive shaded wings), Cinnamon.

Cockatiels are approximately 13 inches long and should be housed in similar cages to budgerigars but they must be large enough to allow the bird to spread its wings. Generally the larger the cage the better for all birds. Cockatiels are gnawers and cannot be kept in wooden cages

Cockatiels should be fed a balanced prepared diet of seeds, consisting of millets, canary seeds, oats and sunflower seeds. An important part of the diet is fresh foods such as spinach, lettuce, cabbage, apple, carrots, orange, pear, banana etc. Fresh seeding grasses from the garden are a special treat but they must be free of garden sprays. Cockatiels love freshly sprouted seeds and these can be grown in a shallow container and then offered directly to the bird who will eat the seedling, roots and all.

Cuttlefish, mineral blocks and shell grit are essential to aid digestion.

Most cockatiels like to bathe and large, shallow earthen ware dishes are best for this. Allow the bird to bathe in the mornings so that it has time to dry.

Water and feed dishes must be kept clean and not placed beneath perches where they may become soiled.

Cockatiels are best taken as pets as soon as they can feed on their own - approximately 8 weeks after hatching.

Cockatiels can be taught to talk although they are not prolific talkers. Choose one word, usually the birds name, and repeat it to the bird morning and night and every time you pass its cage. It will soon learn to repeat the word but it's vocabulary will probably be limited to a few words or short sentences.

Cockatiels can be hand trained, that is they can be taught to climb on to your hand on command. Gently press your hand against the birds chest while giving the command "up". The bird will step on to your hand. It should not be allowed to run up your arm or sit on your shoulder.

Although most birds become amusing and affectionate pets, some may have a tendency to bite, especially adolescent males, and for this reason they should not be allowed to sit on the shoulder where they may bite the face or ear. Birds may eventually become tame enough that they can be let out of their cages to fly around the room. Whenever the bird is out of the cage all doors and windows must be closed, all heaters and fires must be unlit and all saucepans covered. Some indoor plants are poisonous so the bird must not be allowed to feed on these.

These delightful small birds make amusing and entertaining pets and have a relatively long lifespan of 15 - 20 years in captivity.

Further Information
  Books - Cockatiels Taming and Training
  Books - Guide to Owning a Cockatiel

Petcare Information and Advisory Service Australia

Last Update: 31/07/08 10:16 Views: 15955

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