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Apache, Neo and Silver Welcome You To Their Nest!

I became acquainted with cockatiels when I was 12 years old.  My step-mother, Linda owned one named Chico who she later gave to my Aunt Leanne.  Chico was quite the character, as I remember.  He could say a few phrases, whistle up a storm and he used to feed me crackers while sitting on my shoulder.  He lived a good many years, dying when I was 28 years old.  Linda is an avid cockatiel lover and my Aunt Leanne became one too.  Both expanded their flocks as the years went by.  Jackie-bird, Lacey, Casey, Omlette, Diamond were a few of the tiels I met throughout the years.

As much as I enjoyed being around Linda and My Aunt's birds, I never gave much consideration to having a bird as pet myself until my friend suggested getting one as a pet for my daughter. She had a breeding pair of budgies (parakeets) and offered one of the babies if we were interested, as a gift to my daughter who is a genuine lover of ALL animals.

My friend's breeding pair had a little trouble getting started and my daughter was getting impatient. At ten years old, she was very excited and wanted her baby NOW!  I was a little dubious about letting her accept the resposibility of pet ownership at such a young age, so I thought we'd shop around in pet stores and select a bird for "both of us" to begin with, (aka, mommie's bird) for her to participate with, and then when she proved herself responsible enough, perhaps my friend's breeding pair would have a clutch of chicks and she could then have her pick.

My daughter, at age three, with a then rather elderly "Chico", my Step Mom and Aunt's Cockatiel on her shoulder.

Our First Baby! "Apache"

My husband, daughter and I were browsing in the pet shop one afternoon, looking at the Budgies.  My husband didn't seem impressed.  None of them seemed to be "the right one".  None of them seemed to "stand out" to my daughter either.  I heard an excited cry from across the bird room. "Mom, LOOK!!!" 
My daughter was pointing to a cockatiel, sitting alone in a cage.  Such a pretty bird, a pied, with the sweetest little expression.  I drifted over in a trance and said softly... "Oh... a cockatiel..... "  The price tag was quite a bit heftier than the budgies of course, but I didn't even have to turn "puppy dog" eyes on my husband.  He joined us at the cage and said "Now THAT is more like it.  If you want to get a bird.. get something more "parroty".  I reminded him that budgies ARE part of the parrot family but he sniffed and said "But that is more of what I had in mind!"  Excitedly, I called my friend on my cell phone and went down over a "health" checklist with her.  "Yes, the bird's feet were pink, vent was clean, nares were clean, not puffy, seems alert." (Honestly, I was grateful I had a friend who knew enough about birds so I could call her and check for signs of health before plunking down a chunk of money! A big THANKS to you! You know who you are!)
My husband and daughter were running up the isles to get a cage and accessories selected while a staff member met me at the checkout counter with my new "baby" in a tiny take home cage.  I named her "Apache" for her "mohawk" and her orange cheek patches. A-patch-ee.  Soon, Apache was settling into her new home and cockatiel mania in my home began! 
Not long after Apache came home, my friend called me with an offer I couldn't refuse!  She was interested in purchasing a breeding pair of cockatiels from a lady who had some for sale.  The lady was also selling this pair's 9 week old baby. She hoped my friend would buy all three birds with two cages (one for the parents and one for the baby) for one lump sum.  Since My son's birthday was right around the corner and Apache had become such a pleasure to have around, the thought of having a "friend" for Apache was very appealing!  My son (who was turning 13) was excited to add to our bird family and promised to help care for his new pet.  My daughter made up a welcome sign and taped it to the sliding glass door to welcome home our new arrival.  

Baby Neo

The baby had never been handled, nor had Jack and Ele. (the parents).  He'd never been away from his parents either.  He was so lonely for them at first, it nearly broke my heart.  He was extremely wary of people but with that little lemon yellow mohawk and his pied markings, how could we not just love him to bits.  After some deliberation on what to call him, my son decided his tummy looked like a bucket of swirled Neapolitan icecream.  It "stuck" and the name was quickly shortened to "Neo".

Neo's Parents

Jack and Ele wasted no time settling into their new home at my friend's house and quickly started a new family!  Within a month, they'd laid a clutch of four eggs, and 3 weeks later, 3 of the four hatched into healthy beautiful chicks!  They were almost identical triplets! By this time, my friend's budgies had finally had some clutches of chicks too, so she offered my daughter her choice. She could choose either a baby cockatiel or budgie.  Since we had two cockatiels already, my daughter decided she would like a tiel of her own.
While the babies grew, Kirsten (my daughter) received progress reports from my friend on how they were doing with frequent pictures and little stories.  9 weeks is a long time for a ten year old to wait for baby cockatiels to wean, but my daughter spent the time by preparing a cage, reading "cockatiel care books" and deciding which of the three was the "cutest".  It was too hard because they all three looked alike!  

Here Comes Silver!

Finally, the agonizing wait was over! The babies were weaned and ready for new homes! We made the 40 minute trip out to my friend's house one Saturday afternoon.  My daughter was in hog heaven as she surrounded herself with baby tiels.  One was just as cute as the next! Finally, she made her decision by which baby stayed perched on her finger the longest. 
Long and hard, Kirsten debated on a name.  She wanted a name that could suit either gender since (at 10 weeks old, there was no way to tell if it was a boy or a girl).  Finally, she decided on the name "Silver" because of the light gray coloring Silver inherited from "Whiteface Mom as opposed to Standard gray Dad's darker coloring". 
Silver came home and though friendly at my friend's house, seemed very shy in new surroundings. Although my daughter doted on Silver, it was obvious he missed his brothers and sisters and wasn't used to being alone in a cage.  We counted down the days of quarentine until Silver could join his new flockmates, Neo and Apache!

And Then There Were Three!

A month later, Silver was intoduced to his new flock mates, Neo and Apache.  Though Neo was "techincally" a big brother, he didn't seem overly thrilled with the new addition.  Apache didn't seem bothered one way or another.  Apache and Neo had grown accustomed to one another and shared a cage, and Silver's cage was seperate, placed next to theirs.  They played (or fought in Neo and Silver's case) together.  After a brief "who rules this roost" contest between Neo and Silver (who we believe to both be male), things settled down. 
Now they are caged together as a unit and get along fine. My family and I are learning how to interract with these wonderul parrots as indivuals, and as a flock.  Its fascinating to watch the "cage dynamics" develope.  Each bird is unique and I have a strong bond with each one.  I was told having multiple birds would decrease the amount of "people bonding" my birds would want with me, but I haven't found that to be the case. Sometimes, maintaining a level of personal interraction with each bird, seperate from the others is a challenge because they get jealous of each other.  Its amazing that such a small creature, with a brain so reletively small in comparison with ours, can be so intelligent!
The next pages are dedicated to each indivual bird.  Each one has a "story" that I only touched on briefly in the introduction and each has a personality so big, there's no way to sum it all up with one picture and a little paragraph!  I hope you enjoy reading about our birds as much as we enjoy spending time with them!