Have you been thinking of getting a new bird?
Cockatiels are chatty, cute birds that are a popular choice, but you need to know if this domestic avian critter is a good fit for beginner bird parents.
Are cockatiels good pets for beginners? Cockatiels are great for beginners as long as you are able to dedicate enough time to care for them. They are affectionate birds that make lovely whistling sounds and can learn to mimic speech and reproduce songs. However, they can develop health issues, and their noise can be annoying over time.
|Very affectionate and loving||Can be prone to health issues|
|Can be trained to speak||Require lots of time and care|
|Can make beautiful whistling songs||Their calls can be annoying|
In the following, you’ll find the information that you need to help you decide if a cockatiel is your next perfect pet.
We’ll explain the pros and cons of owning a cockatiel, and answer some of the most commonly asked questions about cockatiels.
Make sure to keep reading to the end to find out if a cockatiel is the right bird for you.
Reasons Why a Cockatiel Is a Good First Bird
Cockatiels are fun, cuddly birds that, once they form a close bond with you, will want to mimic your sounds and can be trained to speak and whistle.
1. Cockatiels Are Super Affectionate and Will Fall in Love With You
Although you might not think of birds as the most cuddly creatures, cockatiels love a good snuggle.
Cockatiels are known for their affectionate behavior and will love to spend lots of time with you.
Once they form a trusting relationship with you, they’ll want to cuddle up and be petted frequently–they might even let out a “purring” noise if they’re super happy.
They’ll also want to be around you as much as possible. Whether you’re working from home, cooking dinner, or watching TV, they’ll want to be by your side the whole time.
These are great pets for anyone who wants a loving bird friend.
William Fritsch, founder of Lakeside Aviaries, offers the following advice to achieve the best possible relationship with your cockatiel and help your bird meet his full potential.
Handfed babies make the best pets. Cockatiels are not birds that you can neglect and then expect to have a good relationship. They really need socializing, training, and your attention. Cockatiels, when older, tend to get set in their ways. So, this is why it is important to socialize your baby as best as you can.
2. Cockatiels Can Be Trained To Speak
Like parrots, cockatiels can be trained to say human words, though their vocabulary is not quite as broad.
Male cockatiels may repeat some simple phrases with proper training. You’ll want to start by creating a trusting bond with your cockatiel.
Once the bird feels safe and happy and you’re in a nice, quiet environment, the bird can be trained to speak through positive reinforcement.
The bird will want to mimic your sounds and movements if it feels safe around you.
For example, you can say a phrase like “pretty bird” over and over, while giving your cockatiel treats, and eventually your cockatiel may repeat the phrase back to you.
However, not all male cockatiels can be trained to speak, and female cockatiels may not speak at all.
3. Cockatiels Can Make Beautiful Whistling Songs
Cockatiels can be trained to speak, and they can also be trained to mimic songs by whistling.
Once they’ve formed a strong bond with you, they’ll want to respond to any song you whistle.
Many cockatiels can be trained to “wolf whistle” as this is a simple song for them to learn.
Cockatiels can also learn more complicated songs given enough repetition, and you may soon find your feathered friend around the house serenading you with your favorite song.
Reasons Why a Cockatiel May Not Be a Good Choice
There are so many great reasons to make a cockatiel your next pet, but there are also some drawbacks.
Cockatiels can have health issues, they require a lot of time, and some of their calls might get super annoying.
1. Cockatiels Can Be Prone to Health Issues
Like many birds, Cockatiels are prone to vitamin A deficiency.
Vitamin A is crucial to a bird’s immune system and a bird with a poor diet might exhibit nasal discharge and sneezing if deficient in vitamin A.
Cockatiels also commonly get bacterial and parasitic infections and commonly catch respiratory infections.
If you want your cockatiel to live its full lifespan of 10 to 15 years, you need to schedule regular visits to the veterinarian, and make sure that he or she is getting proper nutrition.
2. Cockatiels Require Time
Because of their affectionate nature, cockatiels must have lots of time with their human counterparts.
A cockatiel is not an animal that can be left alone for several hours at a time; they need someone to play and engage with them.
If you get a cockatiel, ensure that you have enough time to spend hanging out with them.
The cage and equipment must be kept very clean and may need to be disinfected everyday to prevent illness.
Of course, fresh food and water is a must.
However, as long as you allow ample time to hang out with and care for your bird, it should be just fine.
3. Cockatiel Calls Might Seriously Annoy You
Cockatiels are very vocal animals by nature. While some of their songs might be pleasant, some others might get very annoying.
Once you’ve trained a bird to whistle a song you like, they might never want to stop.
Also, cockatiels are known to let out a loud “screech” to get attention.
In the wild, these birds use this screaming sound to alert their bird friends of a predator, but when used in captivity, they may be feeling lonely or scared.
You may unknowingly train your bird to let out this screeching sound by going up to them every time they screech.
This teaches them that the screech gets your attention, and they’ll keep doing it.
This can get super annoying, especially if you are trying to get any work done at home, but the good news is that it can be untrained.
Cockatiels will always be very vocal animals (especially males), so if you get annoyed easily, they might not be the right pet for you.
Do Male or Female Cockatiels Make Better Pets?
Male and female cockatiels have different personality traits, so it’s up to you to decide if you’d rather have a chatty male who loves to imitate you or an affectionate female who loves to cuddle.
Female Cockatiel Traits
Female cockatiels are generally more shy and reserved compared to males. They also usually are far less chatty compared to males.
They can be taught to repeat one or two word phrases but generally stick to a single screeching sound when they do want to talk.
Females are also known to be less aggressive and probably will not want to peck at strangers.
Male Cockatiel Traits
Male Cockatiels are known for being major hams. They love attention and will show off to anyone watching.
They’re super talkative and will love to imitate your talking in their own sing-song voice.
However, they can be more aggressive than females and might peck on hard surfaces.
How To Decide?
It’s your choice to decide whether you’d like a shy, cuddly, female cockatiel or a funny and loud male.
Know that the above traits are simply general characteristics of cockatiels and each cockatiel has its own unique personality.
It’s important to spend a little time with your potential cockatiel before you take it home to make sure you’re the right fit for each other.
How To Choose a Cockatiel: What to Look For
Cockatiels vary widely by bird, so it’s important that you choose a healthy, alert cockatiel to bring home.
When buying a cockatiel, whether from a pet store or an independent breeder, make sure to inspect the living conditions of the bird.
Make sure that its cage is clean and doesn’t have an odor.
It’s also important to look at the bird itself and make sure it has nice bright feathers and looks perky and happy to meet you.
Ensure that you have an extensive conversation with the breeder during which you ask about the bird’s temperament and care.
What Age Cockatiel Is Best?
If you want a trainable, behaved cockatiel that will form a bond with you, it’s best to get one around the time frame of 12 weeks to 1 year old.
You do not want to get a bird much younger than 12 weeks because it is still a baby and requires a professional to take care of it.
Unless you are trained in baby cockatiel care, it’s best to let the breeder or pet care specialist take care of the baby at least until it is 12 weeks old as improper feeding can lead to injury or death.
If you get a cockatiel within its first year of life, it is more likely to form a bond with you compared to an older bird.
Young cockatiels are impressionable and want to form an attachment to their owner.
A young bird is also easier to train–you know what they say: old birds can’t learn new tricks.
While this isn’t exactly true, training can become more difficult the older the bird is.
However, older cockatiels can learn new tricks as long as you’re dedicated to teaching them and are willing to be patient.
If you aren’t willing to care for a young bird for the next 15 years, you may want to consider adopting an older bird who needs a home.
Cockatiel Supply List
You need to make sure you have the proper supplies to take great care of your new feathered friend.
Here is a list of what you’ll need to keep your cockatiel happy and healthy:
- A habitat space that is at least 24”W x 24”D x 30”H and has lots of different perches within that are at least 5” long
- Lots of toys and play areas – Cockatiels are smart birds that can bore easily; they need something to play with
- Habitat litter – wood pellets, gravel, or shredded paper
- High-quality food
- Supplements – especially those that support skin and feathers, and prevent against Vitamin A deficiency
- A cuttlebone to support beak health and prevent calcium deficiency
- Food and water dishes that can be easily cleaned
- A nail trimmer
Do Cockatiels Need a Companion?
Cockatiels do need a human companion but not necessarily a bird companion. As long as they receive proper attention from their humans, they will not need another bird in their habitat.
However, cockatiels do great with each other as long as their cage is large enough and they have enough perches.
Some cockatiels may fight with each other, so it’s important to keep a close eye on them when you first put them in a cage together.
While cockatiels can be very happy living with other cockatiels, it is highly advised to not place them in cages with other species of birds.
How Often Do Cockatiels Molt?
Birds molt in order to replace old feathers with new ones. It is a normal process and no cause for alarm.
Cockatiels molt two to three times per year on average.
Cockatiels will molt for the first time around 6-12 months old, and each molt takes several weeks to complete.
How Many Words Can a Cockatiel Learn?
The number of words a cockatiel can learn varies widely between each individual bird.
If you have a male cockatiel, they may be able to learn about a dozen words or phrases, where female cockatiels might not speak any words at all or only know a couple.
Cockatiels are fun, cuddly pets that require a whole lot of love and attention.
They are super loving and adorable and can learn to imitate you, but they also might get annoying, and they’ll require lots of time and care to prevent health issues.
They can be great for beginners as long as you are diligent about research and pet care.