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Thread: Newbie with questions about cockatiel habitats and diet!

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    Newbie with questions about cockatiel habitats and diet!

    Hi! I discovered this site as I was researching the differences between cockatiels, parakeets/budgies, and lovebirds. I learned so much from the forum and bird info page, so I decided to sign up!

    I'm now considering getting my first cockatiel. Preferably male since they seem to talk/sing more, but the most important thing is that we have a special connection when I meet it. I live in Maryland, USA, so there are several of mom-and-pop-shops with hand-raised birds and supplies in the DMV area. There seems to be only one pair of bonded cockatiels available for rescue, but I just want one bird.

    First, what do you all consider to be "habitat essentials?" I saw that three perches of different varieties are good to exercise their feet, as well as a rotating three toys at a time to keep them stimulated. What kind/brand of mineral block should I look for? Are water bottles better than water dishes? I saw a couple sites saying it's cleaner so they don't get stuff in their water. Also, one video I saw said mirrors can cause psychological problems in rare cases, I guess because they believe it's actually a real bird in the reflection, so are mirrors good or bad?

    Second, I want my cockatiel to be on the best diet possible. What are the best brands of food pellets/seed for cockatiels? What's the best percentage of fresh fruits/veggies to pellets/seeds? They seem to really like millet, but should it be part of their diet or given as high-value treats only?

    Lastly, is it true that I can cut down on dander by lightly spraying it with warm water? Does the spray cause them to groom and get the dander out? Does a bird bath or shower reduce dander?

    Thanks!
    Last edited by all.tiel.no.shade; 10-21-2019 at 09:11 PM.

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    Re: Newbie with questions about cockatiel habitats and diet!

    Hi, and welcome to the community. I feel you will have a great friendship with a male cockatiel. Females are very loving and docile, but, even without a male mate, they can lay eggs, and often times a hen can become a chronic egg layer, and that is a danger to her health because egg laying is stressful for a hen. By chronic, I mean, laying eggs all of the time. I have had hens in the past, and do love them, but I did have one single hen who became chronic, and it was impossible to stop her. Once a hen begins laying eggs, they always will lay them. There are birth control options that an avian vet could do, but, in my view, they are dangerous for the bird, and the bird sometimes dies. So, I think you will have a much better journey with a male.

    The cage should be good size. Check out cages on line. Or, visit pet shops. Often times you can get a better price on line. You can decide what toys to buy. You do not need many. Cockatiels usually have a couple of favorites. You can get a few, and change them out every now and then, for variety. Cockatiels should not have mirrors. Both male and female will have hormone challenges once they get to be about 9-12 months old, and mirrors just make them more aggressive during the hormone cycle. It lasts for a few weeks, about twice a year, usually spring and fall.

    Personally, I do not feed pellets, because I am from what I call the "old school", having had birds in my home for many, many years, and have gotten along well over the years feeding my birds a good quality seed mix, and fresh veggies and fruits, and giving bird vitamins on occasion. But, you certainly can feed them, if you prefer, the only suggestion I would have is to feed a combination of 20% pellets, and 80% of a good quality cockatiel seed, along with the fresh foods. Any mineral block or cuttlebone is fine. And millet is a great treat for them. As to the water cup, I have always used them, and I clean them and the seed cup everyday. I have seen the tube water cups, and I think they would work as well. It is important to clean the food and water cups each day, and provide clean papers on cage bottom. I take out the grate on the cage bottom, if the cage has one, and use white paper towel for bird droppings. Papers need to be changed every day as well.

    Check your area, and on line, for bird adoption agencies, and bird rescues. It is not imperative that you get a baby bird, who usually is about 3-4 months old when you get them at a bird breeder or petshop. There are some birds waiting in a rescue or adoption agency that are waiting for a new home that would be a fine pet. Both rescues and adoption agencies take great care to have their birds vet checked, provide them with good diets, and rehabilitate them before sending them to a new home.

    Male birds are people birds, and are very intelligent and entertaining. They can whistle, mimic sounds, whistle tunes, and learn things you could only imagine. Currently, I have an almost two year old male, who is quite the bird. I love music, and so does he. I taught him to whistle the Mickey Mouse Song, and also taught him to be a "drummer" with his beak. He actually does different rhythms on the food cup, or on the cage floor. And he loves Seasme Street!!

    Cockatiels have a white powder like dander, and it is necessary to dust the home often. Some folks get an air cleaner or purifier, which helps a lot to tamp down the powder. You can spritz the bird with tepid warm water or give them a bath, on occasion, but the powder will always be present in the home. Like all allergies, some folks are allergic to bird dust. But the air cleaners and dusting the home often, do help.


    I hope this info will be of help to you. We welcome your posts anytime. When you find the perfect match for you, let us know. Good luck!!
    Last edited by maxollie; 10-22-2019 at 10:30 AM.

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    Re: Newbie with questions about cockatiel habitats and diet!

    Thank you for the info, maxollie!

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    Re: Newbie with questions about cockatiel habitats and diet!

    Welcome to the forum! Maxollie gave great advice to you and I just wanted to add a few things. If you do want to feed a pellet I highly recommend the TOPS pellets (Totally Organic Pellets). They are all human grade and Tikki my daughters Conure loves them as much my little Boomer did. You can get them off Amazon or if your lucky one of the bird stores or even feed stores in your area will sell them. The company is in the Sacramento valley below my house so I get them from our vets office or some of the better bird stores in town. Birds love them and they are a amazing pellet. Tikki loves the Volkman Science Diet made for cockatiels and my sisters big amazon and cockatoo love Science diet for big birds. Its natural and a good clean seed mix.
    Fly Free Boomer, we will forever love you.

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    Re: Newbie with questions about cockatiel habitats and diet!

    Thanks, boomer girl!

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    Re: Newbie with questions about cockatiel habitats and diet!

    Hey there and welcome to the community.
    Both Ellen and Deanna gave you some very sound advice. I have a cockatiel right now and I have had kept them since the 70's. They are great birds and if this is going to be your first pet bird, this is a great choice. I too prefer males over the females because of what maxollie mentioned. Chronic egg laying can take a toll on a birds health. I currently have a male and he rules the roost at our home.

    One thing I would like to chime in on.. The cage!! Please make sure to know what your cage is constructed with.. Whether if it's galvanized, stainless steel, etc. I had a cage that was powder coated and not all the area's were coated properly. My bird got his beak onto the metal which contained zinc. Zinc is a no-no and can make your bird ill or it can be fatal. My bird had irritable bowels for about a year and it cost us over $3K in vet bills. I prefer the stainless steel and you will pay a bit more for it but it will not harm your bird as he grabs the ribs of the cage to navigate around. The cage I had was a Pre-Vue powder coated, but the metal was galvanized. Please inspect the cage before placing the bird in it if you go that route. All the metal should be covered.

    Please let us know when you bring the cockatiel home.
    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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