Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Are you ready to become a cockatiel owner?

Cockatiels can be the most loving little pets; however, they do require plenty of attention and interaction with their owner. If you do not have at least 2 1/2 hours a day to be with them and
have them out of their cages, I do not recommend getting a cockatiel. Don't get me wrong, cockatiels are easy to maintain but they need attention; it is essential to their health and well-being. Cockatiels who do not get enough love become depressed and pluck out their feathers. The 2 1/2 hours does not have to be constant play time with the bird. Simply having them out of their cage, possibly on your shoulder works. Loki often sits on my shoulder while I go about doing my homework. You can also let your bird roam around on the floor, but make sure to keep an eye on them. Another option to keep them active and occupied is to buy a "playpen." These are awesome! I actually just bought one for Loki and she loves it. These playpens are little fun stations for your bird. They come in many different styles and most include a mirror, bright coloring, a place to put treats, swings, and other ladder-like toys.

Loki loves her playpen, but she loves me more! When given a choice between the two, she chooses me.

Cockatiels are relatively inexpensive to buy, running from $35 to $45 for a normal gray cockatiel. They are also not very expensive to maintain, but the amount spent really depends on the owner. Cockatiels can be modestly kept for around $493 ($45 for bird, $200 for a cage, $100 for biannual veterinarian visits, $50 on toys, $65 for food and treats, and $33 for wing and toe nail clipping) for the first year and around $248 for each additional year. This figure is based on only one cockatiel, so if figuring for two double the amount. Also, an outdoor aviary will be far more expensive to maintain. And, if your cockatiel does become sick it can be rather expensive, which is another reason to keep your bird healthy. I recently spent $125 for a vet visit, a fecal gram test, and medicine for Loki because she got worms. This was most likely my fault because I was not cleaning her cage weekly. This brings up another important point: if you do not have the time to clean a bird's cage once a week, I do not recommend getting a cockatiel. I now clean Loki's cage once a week joyfully, knowing I will not have to spend $125 again on a vet visit!

Cockatiels are lifelong friends, living between 12 to 15 years. There have even been some cockatiels who have made it to 25 years old! If you are not prepared to have a cockatiel for a large portion of your life, they may not be the pet for you.

Other considerations before getting a cockatiel include:
  • Cockatiels are messy...seeds will be scattered around the cage. If you do not like a mess, do not get a cockatiel.
  • Their food and water dishes need to be cleaned daily and refilled with new food and water.
  • Their cages need to be cleaned once a week and disinfected every two weeks.
  • You need someone to look after them while you are away.
  • Do you have other pets which could pose a danger to the bird? A good majority of cockatiel fatalities are due to cat and dog attacks (Do not be completely discouraged if you already own a cat or dog, as long as you have adequate time to spend with the bird away from the other pet(s) they should not be an issue).
If you cannot fulfill these requirements I do not recommend becoming a cockatiel owner.

Cockatiel ownership may sound daunting, but I feel that the rewards of companionship and constant love far outweigh the maintenance of these awesome animals! I came into the world of cockatiel ownership without a clue and I have managed just fine. I was not really sure what to expect, never having owned a bird, but now I would not trade Loki for a million dollars! The work is 150 percent worth it and remember you get out what you put in!


  1. The underside of my Cockatiel is normal NOOOO HORIZONTAL STRIPES

  2. I have a 7-month old lutino which we thought at first to be a boy, but have been told it might be a girl. There are no bars on the underside of the tail, but a white barring on the outside top tail feather and barring on the wings. She seems to like nesting in things (which we were told to discourage) and will chirp once in awhile, but not in a tune. She also loves to have her head scratched (loving and affectionate).

    What do you think?