The Featured Pet for this week is: The Grey Cockatiel!
Have you ever known anyone who owned a cockatiel, or seen one in pet stores? Chances are, you have! The Grey Cockatiel in particular is the most common variety of cockatiel available and is very popular as a pet bird. They are delightful birds and are very personable – not only are they sociable and somewhat easy to care for, but they are also well-known for their train-ability. If you are wanting a pet bird, cockatiels can be a great first choice.
Here is a funny story. When I was little, and before I really started to keep pets, I saw an ad in the paper for a cockatiel that came with a cage and all accessories. I got so excited and ran in to see my parents, telling them I just had to have this dog that was advertised! I thought that cockatiels were dogs, not birds! We all had a good laugh and I continued on my search for a pet.
Cockatiels are considered wonderful pet birds for many reasons. They are not generally very noisy, which is a big plus because many people stay away from pet birds due to their stereotype of being noisy. They are also hardy birds, relatively small, easy to breed, and can handle changes in their environments relatively well. They also fare well when they must be left alone for long periods of time with little to no interaction.
The Grey Cockatiel is the most common and is not a variation or mutation of the wild birds. In the wild, the Grey Cockatiels are the rule and their coloring is usually gray with white along the outside edges of the wings. Other variations are bred in captivity – such as the lutinos, pearls, cinnamons, etc. Cockatiels are considered parrots, which is indicated by their beak shape. However, they do have long tails, which is uncharacteristic for parrots and is more similar to the parakeets. They are not large birds either, only reaching 12 inches in length and weighing only 3 to 4 ounces.
Even though cockatiels are hardy birds, they still need an optimum environment to thrive. You will want to make sure they have a large enough cage that they can roam around in, or that they have a regular playpen or area that they are let out to during the day. Keep the playpen and cage areas clean and provide your cockatiel with plenty of fresh water and nutrient-rich food. Their food should consist of such things as nuts, fruits, vegetables, and seeds. Commercially prepared foods made specifically for cockatiels or small parrots generally work well and contain all the necessary vitamins and minerals they need. You may also want to supply them with a cuttle bone to keep their beaks strong and trimmed. Keeping a large dish of water at the bottom of their cage (and cleaning it regularly) encourages them to take baths, which they love! You will also want to trim their wings regularly – so that they don’t accidentally fly away through an open window or door.
One of the best attributes of cockatiels is their intelligence and ability to be trained! Cockatiels that have been handled since they were babies are generally very sociable and love attention and are easy to train. Younger ones (between 12-14 weeks) are the easiest to train. The most basic tricks include stepping up on your fingers and switching from hand to hand. After that is established, other neat tricks include whistling, ringing bells, climbing ladders, and spreading their wings on cue.
If you would like to learn more about keeping Grey Cockatiels as pets check out the Grey Cockatiel page!
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.