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Thread: Some specific questions about cockatiels

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    Question Some specific questions about cockatiels

    Hi, I'm new here and am interested in learning more about cockatiels.

    I've got experience with budgies, finches, and canaries, and even some less common species (rehabbing wild birds), but have never been around a cockatiel. I'm much more familiar with passerines than parrots, as my only hookbill experience involves budgies. I'm interested in a companion parrot of some kind in the not so distant future and I've been researching all I can. I also plan to go and spend time with various species in person, but if possible I'd like some input on some specific topics from people with experience.

    1. How bad is the dust? Is an air purifier, frequent baths, and an occasional wiping down of surfaces enough to manage it, or would there constantly be a blanket of white all over every surface in the room? How frequently would one have to dust wipe?

    2. Molts. How frequent are their molts? Do they seem to molt every month or every other month in massive feathery explosions like budgies are prone to? Does photoperiod or diet appear to affect their molts?

    3. About poop -- Do they tend to have any preferences regarding where they poop? Will they poop right where they eat and sleep like budgies will? Do they seem to have any awareness of their own bowel movements? How frequent would you say that they poop? Do most cockatiels poop on you without concern? (My reason for asking about this isn't because I'm squeamish about bird poop... I'm a veteran where that's concerned my clothes will attest to that... it's simply that if possible I would prefer a species that has a little more desire to keep their poops away from their eating/sleeping areas.)


    4. I know this is a difficult topic, but how emotionally intelligent do you feel cockatiels are? As in, do they seem to experience moods and have preferences and quirks in the way that conures and larger parrots do, or are they more like budgies? (Note: I'm not saying budgies don't do any of these things or that they're not intelligent! It's just that in my experience they're very easily contented and if strongly bonded to others of their own species, it's difficult to notice the same level of personality depth that larger birds tend to display.)

    5. Do most cockatiels play with toys, climb, or otherwise clown around, or are they perch potatoes?

    6. Do your cockatiels talk to you? I don't mean in human language, but rather do they communicate their wants/needs with specific sounds and/or body language?

    7. Do you think it's possible for most cockatiels to learn to wear a harness with proper patience or is this a rarity?

    8. How strong a bond do most handfed cockatiels form with a human? Is it comparable to conures and larger parrots?

    9. Lastly, from what I've researched cockatiels are basically the most even-tempered and least aggressive of the hookbills and less prone to major personality shifts after puberty... is this true in your experience? How well do they get along with other species? Can they 'share' their human with others?

    Thanks. I'd really appreciate any input you're willing to give.

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    Re: Some specific questions about cockatiels

    Hi, and welcome to the community!! Cockatiels are people birds! They love to communicate with us, and are very, very intelligent. Males can learn many different sounds and speak words. Actually, you can hear the word most of the time. They also love music, and can learn to whistle tunes. I have a tiel, Penny who can whistle the Mickey Mouse song. Now, granted, you may need to use your imagination, but if you listen closely, yes....it is the song! He also is a master at beaking rhythms on his food cup and on the cage floor. I give him a rhythm by using my fingernail on the lid of a glass jar. He repeats my rhythm almost perfectly. I have had some who barked like a little yorkie pup, and also made the sounds of punching in the numbers of a phone call you may be making. They often hear sounds from outside they repeat. Penny makes the sound of a cardinal singing. He also can say pretty bird, and loves music, especially when I play my keyboard. He sings along to the Mickey Mouse song.

    Males are very vocal, and can also be very determined. I often compare them to two year old children. Both males and females can get into their hormones. During this time, which can last for a few weeks, they can get very loud, sometimes biting, and being obstanant. And when they get loud...it can last for a long time.

    Females are more docile, and quiet, but if choosing a female, most likely she will lay eggs, even without a mate, and egg laying is very focused, because hens can get egg bound, become chrtonic egg layers, meaning laying all of the time, which is very dangerous to their health, and sometimes have egg prolapse which can cause death. Females generally do not talk, or mimic sounds, and are always focused on laying eggs, or nesting behavior.
    Last edited by maxollie; 04-12-2019 at 10:20 AM.

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    Re: Some specific questions about cockatiels

    Molting usually occurs in fall and spring, although it varies from bird to bird. Their poops usually are firm, but during hormone time, they can become very. loose and watery. It is common for them to poop most anywhere when out of cage. When I let birds out of cage, I use an old hand towel, or wash cloth to put on my shoulder, and that keeps the poop off me. I then dispose of the towel or washcloth.

    I have found that tiels get along best with their own species. The smaller ones, like budgies, are a distraction to tiels, because they fly all over, are fast, and when caged with tiels, budgies often provoke them by trying to bite their toes and chase them. I have found that having a male is much less concern than a female, due to the laying eggs worry. If you were to have more than one, then, I would have all males. But be prepared for a loud time and wild ride with several male tiels. It will be a loud time in your home with several of them.

    As to emotional intelligence, as I had shared, in my view, tiels are like two year olds, and are stuck in this age indeffinite!y. They simply have a mind of their own.
    Last edited by maxollie; 04-12-2019 at 10:21 AM.

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    Re: Some specific questions about cockatiels

    As to handfed vs. parent fed. I feel the handfed tend to have more problems with separation anxiety, because they learned the feeling of human touch, and want that all of the time. That causes problems for some owners, because this behavior can be very intent, and it is difficult to stop it, or change it. Handfed, though, are very loving and happy birds, but do demand more attention.

    If you or family members have allergies, I suspect the dust will be a problem. A good air cleaner does help, but be prepared to change filters often. Just one tiel can generate lots of dust. Using a swifter duster every other day or so would help. The dust does manage to filter itself throughout the home.

    As to toys, it is not necessary to have lots if them. Usually a tiel chooses a favorite. Buy a few and change them out on occasion. My tiel has only two toys that I made for him. Stay away from toys with rope, or those that can be shreaded. They are chewing birds, and can swallow pieces of shredding, or rope, and can die from that consumption. Also, when you hang toys in the cage, be sure to not hang long pieces of ribbon or string. Try to find chains that are not real long. I had two tiels, over the years, almost hang themselves on longer pieces of ribbon. Ribbon frays. Both had them wrapped around their neck. Thankfully, I was close by the cage and saw what was happening and rescued them. Also, try finding toys that are natural wood and not co!ored with paint. Even though they should not hurt the birds, I tend to be safe than sorry when it comes to toys.
    Last edited by maxollie; 04-12-2019 at 10:24 AM.

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    Re: Some specific questions about cockatiels

    I have a budgie, Muffin, a ma!e, who is seven years old. And my tiel, Penny, a male, will soon be a year old. They each have their own cage, and the cages sit close to each other. They are best friends. My budgie learns every sound Penny makes and often plays with his mirror girlfriends, making the sounds of Penny.

    I hope this information will be helpful to you. I have homed both budgies and tiels for many years, and I love both species. The higher evolved the parrot species, the more intelligence appears, but, in my view, ALL birds are beautiful, and make awesome pets!
    Last edited by maxollie; 04-12-2019 at 10:25 AM.

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    Re: Some specific questions about cockatiels

    Thanks maxollie for your thorough reply. I really appreciate your input. I've been researching a lot, but nothing compares to hearing from others who have firsthand experience with them.

    I currently have three birds in the sturnid family (related to mynahs), two budgies, and four zebra finches. One of the sturnids (Moa) is very very spoilt and the main reason I don't see myself being realistically able to adopt a territorial hookbill, even a smaller one, as much as they appeal to me. I think quakers and conures wouldn't work with my other birds which is why I've been looking more seriously into cockatiels. I've had no issues with my budgies getting along with everyone--they've been really good about respecting the other birds' space, believe it or not. My finches are actually much more of a problem.

    I seem drawn to female birds for some reason, but the chronic egg laying scares me. My sturnids aren't a species prone to egg laying at all and I've never experienced it, though I have been through the whole hormonal fun with them. My male (Moki) is very prone to hormonal episodes and can get pretty loud. Moa doesn't seem very fond of male birds and seems to get along better with other females, but she doesn't seem to care when it comes to budgies. Maybe she wouldn't be bothered by a male cockatiel as they're such a distant and unrelated species, like the budgies.

    Are males more aggressive and nippy? I've read that females tend to be more gentle and very sweet.
    The fact males are really interactive and can learn to whistle and maybe speak a word or two is charming, but I don't mind a quiet female at all. My only concern is the horror stories of chronically hormonal females who end up dying due to egg binding or prolapse.

    I have plenty of time to devote to a bonded bird as long as he/she can 'share' me with Moa and the other birds. I have no other obligations in my life and my birds are my only outlet, so time isn't an issue, but it is concerning if a bird came to view me as a mate and become very frustrated and I am leery of triggering that sort of feedback loop. My sturnids don't seem to really have this issue. Moki will mate with my hand but it's not obsessive and there's no territorial behavior or regurgitating. Moa never directs mating behavior towards me.

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    Re: Some specific questions about cockatiels

    Quote Originally Posted by rk100 View Post
    Hi, I'm new here and am interested in learning more about cockatiels.

    I've got experience with budgies, finches, and canaries, and even some less common species (rehabbing wild birds), but have never been around a cockatiel. I'm much more familiar with passerines than parrots, as my only hookbill experience involves budgies. I'm interested in a companion parrot of some kind in the not so distant future and I've been researching all I can. I also plan to go and spend time with various species in person, but if possible I'd like some input on some specific topics from people with experience.

    1. How bad is the dust? Is an air purifier, frequent baths, and an occasional wiping down of surfaces enough to manage it, or would there constantly be a blanket of white all over every surface in the room? How frequently would one have to dust wipe? I clean and dust every day.

    2. Molts. How frequent are their molts? Do they seem to molt every month or every other month in massive feathery explosions like budgies are prone to? Does photoperiod or diet appear to affect their molts?the first molt is the most stressful for them, but cockatiels usually molt 2 to 3 times a year.

    3. About poop -- Do they tend to have any preferences regarding where they poop? Will they poop right where they eat and sleep like budgies will? Do they seem to have any awareness of their own bowel movements? How frequent would you say that they poop? Do most cockatiels poop on you without concern? (My reason for asking about this isn't because I'm squeamish about bird poop... I'm a veteran where that's concerned my clothes will attest to that... it's simply that if possible I would prefer a species that has a little more desire to keep their poops away from their eating/sleeping areas.) They poop the same as any other bird. Just keep foods in a cage where when they can't poop in their food or water.


    4. I know this is a difficult topic, but how emotionally intelligent do you feel cockatiels are? As in, do they seem to experience moods and have preferences and quirks in the way that conures and larger parrots do, or are they more like budgies? (Note: I'm not saying budgies don't do any of these things or that they're not intelligent! It's just that in my experience they're very easily contented and if strongly bonded to others of their own species, it's difficult to notice the same level of personality depth that larger birds tend to display.) In my opinion, males and females have different personalities. Females are more social than the males. Regarding gender, they are intelligent birds

    5. Do most cockatiels play with toys, climb, or otherwise clown around, or are they perch potatoes? My cockatiel likes his bells and I do swap his toys about every two weeks just so he isn't bored. Mine at times can be a perch potato, but otherwise, he is social for a male. We do bring him out of his cage to interact with us for about 1-1/2 hours a day

    6. Do your cockatiels talk to you? I don't mean in human language, but rather do they communicate their wants/needs with specific sounds and/or body language? Males are the ones that usually talk

    7. Do you think it's possible for most cockatiels to learn to wear a harness with proper patience or is this a rarity? I wouldn't force a bird to wear a harness. You need to earn the animals trust. I wouldn't take it outside without a carrier.

    8. How strong a bond do most handfed cockatiels form with a human? Is it comparable to conures and larger parrots? Depends on the bird. I have had both hand fed and parent fed. Never had issues with bonding with my cockatiels

    9. Lastly, from what I've researched cockatiels are basically the most even-tempered and least aggressive of the hookbills and less prone to major personality shifts after puberty... is this true in your experience? How well do they get along with other species? Can they 'share' their human with others? Cockatiels are docile birds. Like Ellen mentioned, if you do plan on getting one, please keep it in it's own cage. My cockatiel gets along well with me and my husband. We are the only ones in the household, and he is the King

    Thanks. I'd really appreciate any input you're willing to give.
    This is what we are here for. Please let us know if you decide to have one in your life. They do make great pets.
    Tango / White Faced Pied Male: Hatched on October 09, 2011 - Homed on April 28, 2012.

    Tiels:
    Bows / Normal Gray Hen: 1976 - 1984
    Caesar / Normal Gray Male: 1977 - 1994
    Piper / Lutino Hen: 1994 - 2010
    Woodstock / Normal Gray Male: 2004 - 2011

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    Re: Some specific questions about cockatiels

    Thanks PipersMom. I appreciate your response.

    I will certainly let you know if I decide to bring one into my life. I'm not rushing into anything and am taking my time preparing and learning everything I can. I don't think I'm ready to expand my flock just yet and it may be months or even a year before I'm really ready, but I enjoy researching.

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    Re: Some specific questions about cockatiels

    In the parrot species, I feel no matter which one they all tend to consider us their mate. Some are more determined than others, when it comes to hormone activity with us. I try to never encourage it, because, in my own view, it just frustrates them more since we may be a substitute but we are not a bird!

    I also feel that every owner and their flock are unique. Some flocks have no problem at all with a new addition. Others will not gravitate to the new fid on the block at all. An owner, if he or she chooses to get an addition, just has to have confidence and try it, whatever species they may choose. You will soon know if there is going to be upheaval with other flock members. However, there are many single birds out there that adapt well to their own cage! They enjoy the pampering, and being top bird of their own bird world. We will watch for updates!

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