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Nikkie's Cockatiels

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Birdy 101


There is A LOT to know about owning a cockatiel. Or for that matter, any bird.  Its not like having a puppy or kitten.  Their needs are much different.  Before making the commitment to bird ownership, consider the lifespan capabilities. 

Budgies (parakeets) ARE part of the parrot family.  Though typically, the average lifespan is about ten years, they CAN live to be 20+ years old.  Cockatiels, (also parrots) average about 15 - 20 years, but with recent advances in aviaculture, cockatiels are living to be 25 and 30 years old! These are your "smaller" parrots, so imagine a Macaw or Amazon.  100+ years! 

Birds are highly intelligent.  Liken them to having a "toddler mentality", only they will not grow up.  That means, they are into everything and you must keep a sharp eye on them at all times.  Cockatiels, as with most bird species, like to chew.  Nothing is safe from inquinsitive beaks.  This includes wood window sills, electrical cords, food items left within reach, (some of which can be deadly!), sharp implements such as pencils or ballpoint pens, wallpaper, house plants.. the list goes on!  In other words, supervise outside of the cage play time.. at ALL times.  Your birds life depends on it!
They also have moods much like a toddler.  They can learn simple commands for behavior, but are also apt to "mis-behave".  You can't "punish" your bird! Time out is acceptable, but striking your bird is deadly.  Remember.. though they are intelligent, they are NOT human!


Your bird will be happy (and less apt to get into trouble) if you provide the following:
  • DO your homework! Research the right breed for you! Since birds have such long life expectancies, you want the right match.  There are too many birds in rescue shelters because their previous owners just had no idea what they were getting into.
  • DO check your area for an AVIAN vet.  If there is not a local AVIAN vet, at least find one who handles birds on a regular basis with good references.  I can't stress this enough! (Just ask my bird Neo!) Birds are much more delicate than dogs or cats.  The wrong medical treatment, or no medical treatment at all can cost your beloved pet its life. Even something as seemingly simple as a broken blood feather may need the expertice of an avian vet if its in the wrong place or bleeding profusely.  Please don't make the mistake of not having that all important emergency number on hand!
  • DO provide LOTS of toys! Toys inside and outside the cage! Rotating them frequently will keep your bird occupied and less apt to "find something" to get into.  Also, a well occupied bird will be less likely to resort to behaviors such as screaming.
  • DO provide LOTS of attention.  Don't lock your bird away for hours a day and expect your bird to be quiet.  They are flock animals and need interaction.  Place their cage in a part of the house where the family congregates frequently.  A bedroom is generally not optimal.  Make sure your bird gets to come out of his or her cage for several hours a day (even if the time is broken up .. an hour here, and hour there) so that proper exercise and interraction needs are met.
  • DO feed your bird fresh vegetables and fruit as well as pellets and seeds.  Just as you encourage children to eat their veggies, so must your birds. 
  • DO change their water every day and clean the cage.  Birds need a clean environment, moreso than any other pet you may own.  Their delicate respitory systems depend on it.
  • DO use common sense.  Don't boil water, leave water standing in the sink, cook, leave the toilet lid open, etc when your bird is out of the cage.  


Much of this list pertains to a birds delicate respitory system. Since their sinuses lead directly into their bone structure, (and their bones have  hollow pockets allowing for flight, but are also breeding grounds for infections if one sets in), a respitory infection or toxic inhalation can be fatal to your bird in a very short time. A bird's metabolism is extremely fast due to their small size.  They can't tolerate the levels of toxicicity that we can, and because birds are often "prey", they hide symptoms of illness VERY well, often until they are nearly on death's doorstep, to avoid being picked off by predators.  That is why it is vital to have an avian vet's phone number handy for emergencies and avoid potential hazards by following some health precautions.
  • DON'T use "Teflon" or any other non-stick type cookware. The fumes from these products if overheated are toxic and DEADLY to birds. I'M NOT KIDDING! There are other products that have teflon in it.  Learn to read lables.  Non-stick irons, some carpet steam cleaners, self cleaning ovens, some hairdryers, portable heaters, curling irons, cooking appliances such as griddles, coffee pots, George Foreman Grills... the list goes on. 
  • DON'T use Glade Plug ins or ANY OTHER air freshner products such as Lysol, Febreze, Wizard, Pine Scented Hanging Car Air Freshners (or any other scent), or scented candles. (the exception seems to be Yankee Brand Candles).  One word.. DEADLY!
  • DON'T spray any cleaning product in the air or even on surfaces to clean the floor, counters, etc. unless your birds are out of the room.  Its safe for the birds to come back into the room when the smell no longer lingers.
  • DON'T clean your bird cage with heavy duty cleaners.  Apple cider vinegar is a good and safe sanitizer, as is bleach and water (provided the bleach has been rinsed off completely and DRIED) before the birds are allowed back into the environment.
  • DON'T spray hairspray around your bird or allow him to preen your hair when you have haircare products in your hair.
  • DON'T place ANY kind of metal in your bird's cage unless you KNOW its bird safe. (Bird toys sold in stores are bird safe). Birds are sensitive to metal and many deaths have occurred from heavy metal poisoning.  Allowing your bird to chew on jewelry, exposed metal nails in walls, lead based paint, home-made aviary wire that is not made of bird-safe materials is a death sentence.  Zinc and Lead are the main culprits, but brass, other metals are also unsafe. If you're not sure about what kind of metal something is made of, don't risk it! If you know what it is, but aren't sure its safe, there is a wealth of information on the web available, or CALL and ASK your AVIAN VET!
  • DON'T allow your cat or dog become "buddies" with your bird.  Although it may seem cute, your other pets have dangerous bacteria called Pasturella in their saliva (and cats in their claws as well).  One bite or scratch will kill your bird in 24 - 48 hours if not treated by antibiotics.  Even if your bird ingests this bacteria by "preening" your cat or dog's fur or eating from your pet's dish, you're putting your bird at risk.  So, no matter how adorable, RESIST the temptation!
  • DON'T feed your bird the following: Alcoholic beverages, foods high in salt or sugar (their livers cannot process these things the way we can), chocolate, AVACADO, (including guacamole dip), eggplant, rhubarb, coffee or any caffinated beverage such as sodapop or tea, the pits of apples, pears, peaches, cherries or citrus, or milk. These things are TOXIC, some in lower levels (like salt or sugar), but if fed in high quanties over time, they WILL contribute to death.  Others, like avacado and rhubarb are nasty customers for birds.  House plants are also something to conern yourself with.  The unsafe ones far outnumber the safe ones, so as a rule of thumb, keep your plants and your birds seperate. For a more comprehensive list of what's safe and what's not, please visit Sqawk and Howl's page. The link is provided below.


My daughter found this cartoon in her "Kind News" publication that her teacher passed out in class today. She brought it to me and I had to include it in my webpage!  Can you find the 12 bird hazards in the room?


Answers: (1) Antique birdcages often contain lead, which can make birds sick (2) Ribbons and (3) Plastic wrap can choke or strangle birds, (4) Electrical cords are a hazard as well, Fumes from (5) self-cleaning ovens and (6) nonstick-fying pans and (7) pine sparys can be deadly to birds.  So can common foods and spices such as (8) chocolate chips, (9) coffee (10) tea, (11) salt, (12), onions.


There's much more to know and one web page can't possibly cover it all.  Besides the "do's and don'ts", there are training tips, behavior modification and many other topics that I can't possibly begin to touch upon! If you have spent THIS much time reading my pages, then you either HAVE birds or are seriously considering getting one! They are very rewarding for the dedicated bird enthusiast!
A few of the links are informative links and you will find just about everything from A to Z about Cockatiels specifically, as well as other birds. But.. I can't go without giving a HUGE thanks to my friend Christy, who I've mentioned about 1000 times in my website.  Without her, I never would have met Apache, Neo and Silver! So, with a warm hug, I dedicate this site to you!
Just click on the lil birdy to go to your chosen destination! Thanks for stopping by!

Christy's Tiels
Cockatiel Cottage
Sqawk & Howl
Tailfeathers Community
Exotic Pet Vet Net

Keep Current with the Flock! You can read all about Patchie, Neo, Silver, Taxi, Teika, Trinity & Buzz at Tiel Tales, their very own, up to the minute BLOG!

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