The cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) is one of the most popular birds the world. It has a distinct raised crest that makes it endearing for many. The natural color of this species is pale gray with distinct round, orange cheek patches. It is roughly about 14-inch long and weighs in the range of 80 - 120 grams. Native to Australia, this is the smallest member of the cockatoo family. (Their name rhymes with the Dutch word 'Kakatielje', meaning 'little cockatoo'.)
The behavior of the species can be best defined as timid and shy. Any unfamiliar sound can make them hiss and retreat to safety. However, if need be, they can take an aggressive stance and even bite. They are very sociable and moderately active. They love being touched, played with, and spoken to. These birds are always up to some trick that will grab your attention. They love singing, and if taught to whistle they will keep whistling all day long.
They are very cheerful birds and have an affectionate nature. They will climb over your shoulders and groom your hair. You can shower all the love you have and cuddle these birds as this is all they want from you. They can also be trained to talk. It is said that the male species are generally better with the training part. You should always keep in mind that these birds need to be hand fed.
Bringing Home a Cockatiel
You need to be very observant while buying a cockatiel, or else you might end up buying a weak, unhealthy bird. You need to see that the bird is chirpy and responsive. It should have clear eyes and the vent area, i.e., the area where the bird excretes from, should be clean. The bird should not be too fluffy and unhealthy looking. Look at the bird droppings at the bottom of the cage. Do you find them normal or is something wrong? Once you are sure, you have found the perfect bird, you can buy it.
You need to invest in the biggest cage you can afford for your pet cockatiel. The cage should have horizontal bars as they love to climb. The perch should be firmly fixed. Place the cage in an area where it can always remain around the family. Do not place it in a secluded spot or you may have a sad, depressed bird as pet. If you want to let it out from the cage, make sure the room is sealed properly. The bird should not get a chance to escape.
You can use avian water bottles to provide clean water to the bird. Before you pull out the water tray, make sure your cockatiel has learned to drink water from the bottle. You need to place two food trays in the cage. One for seeds and one for fresh foods. The cage should be cleaned every day and disinfected regularly. You can use a bleach solution to disinfect the cage.
Cockatiels survive on many different kinds of seeds and fruits in the wild. You need to understand its likes and dislikes decide what you would like to feed it. You can feed it sunflower seeds, vegetables, and seed mix. You can even resort to formulated and well-balanced diet pellets, or offer fortified seed mixes. Never feed your pet salty, greasy, or sugary foods. You are bound to end up with a sick bird if you feed it recklessly.
You need to provide ample rest to your cockatiel to keep it healthy. They sleep for about 10 to 12 hours at night. You need to maintain their rhythm of sleep every day, or else you will have a noisy pet when you are trying to sleep.
Cockatiels reach puberty at around 18 months. (You should avoid mating them before 18 months as it can result in serious defects in the chicks.) You need to get male and female cockatiels together and within a few days they will begin to mate. Soon, the female will lay eggs and incubate them for about 3 weeks. The eggs should not to be touched till the mother stops incubating them. You will find some females will lay eggs even if they are not mated. These eggs though, will be infertile. To stop the female from laying infertile eggs, you will have to place her in dark room for a longer period.
You need to take good care of your pet cockatiel to keep it healthy, and ensure that it lives a longer and fuller life. Just like the cockatoos, cockatiels produce a powdery down, which covers their feathers. It can trigger asthma attacks and allergies in some people. If you or someone in your family has asthma, or are prone to allergies, make sure you take this under consideration before bringing this bird home.