Getting your new cockatiel home
OK so you just purchased your new cockatiel from the pet store and you haven’t even given him a name yet. What’s the best way to get your cockatiel into its new home? Normally at the pet store you will be given a small box with air holes in to carry the cockatiel home in.
If there are no other birds in the cage or aviary you are putting the new bird into, then you should place the box on the bottom of the cage and open the flaps. Let the cockatiel come out in its own time, they will do when ready. Although, if it has been considerably long time and they still do not emerge from the box to get water, then you should tip the box gently ensuring not to harm the bird.
If you are bring the bird into an aviary or cage that already has birds in, it is a good idea to keep them separate by putting the new comer in its own small cage. This way you can keep your eye on the bird in case it is carrying any diseases that could be passed over to the other birds. One thing to look for is how the other birds react, do they bully the new bird, or does the new bird look like bullies themselves?
Cockatiels need a large cage, the larger the better. At least a cage that is 65 x 50 x 45cm in size, so it can freely spread its wings without hitting the cage. If your cage is too small, the bird could become unhealthy and put on excess weight from lack of exercise.
The spacing of the bars should be narrow enough so the cockatiel can’t poke its head through and get stuck. Having horizontal bars on 2 sides of the cage is good to let the cockatiel climb up the side of the cage.
Cages are normally made of metal for the bars and frame of the cage and a plastic for the bottom. Try to get a cage with a pull out bottom do that it can be cleaned quickly. On television you may have seen cages that are bamboo or constructed of timber. These cages should be avoided as they can house parasites and are difficult to keep clean, also the cockatiels beak can easily break through these materials.
You can keep your cockatiel outside in an outdoor aviary, you must ensure these conditions if you are to do so. An outdoor aviary needs to be draught free, dry, have an insulated room to shelter from shade and should face the sun.
If you keep an outdoor aviary you can buy different sand to the standard sand that is used in indoor cages. Coarse sand will allow you to be able to rake away the droppings and used for longer before it needs to be replaced. Alternatively you can use pea shingle, which can be hosed down regularly with water.
The mesh that makes up the walls of your aviary should be buried into the floor down to about 35cm to stop rodents from getting in. The gauge for the wire used in most aviaries is 19G.
The roof of the outdoor aviary should offer an open space where the cockatiels can bathe in light rain showers. It should also offer a good amount of shelter in case of heavy rain. Place all the food and water containers underneath the sheltered section. In extreme cold conditions the water in the containers can freeze, it is important to change water frequently or buy water containers with heating elements.
Cockatiel Cage Location
It is important to place your bird’s cage in the best position you can. Cockatiels want to be around you so try to place the cage where someone will always be in the house, like the living room. Make sure the area you put the cockatiel cage is draft and temp friendly and allow it offer some shade for the bird.
Unfortunately taking care of all of these considerations doesn’t leave most people with many choices as to where to put the cage so you may end up rearranging your living room to accustom the birds living quarters.
Do not keep the cage in the kitchen as the temperature fluctuates too much and there are too many hazards if let out to fly. Bedrooms are usually too quiet for the cage to be kept and a hallway is normally draughty, the best place to keep a bird in your home is normally always the living room.
In the living room the bird can hear or watch the television, the cage should be a few meters away from the television set and out of direct view; you will find your bird will enjoy listening to the sounds and watching the lights.
If you home gets cold at night, it is a good idea to cover the cage with a towel or blanket, ensuring that enough air is getting into the cage still. You can make a routine for the bird so it knows when bedtime is when the blanket comes up and covers the cage.
There are some things that a cockatiel will need in its cage; these include food containers, water bottles and cuttlefish bones. The best drinker to get is a plastic bottle that sits on the outside of the cage with its spout pointing into the cage for the cockatiel to drink from.
Keep the drinker cleans by cleaning it regularly to remove the algae that grow naturally inside of it. Try not to place drinking water on the bottom of the cage as it can easily get dropping inside which could cause contamination and make your bird ill. The drinking water should be changed twice a day to stop bacteria from multiplying. If the water is dirty then the cockatiel could refuse to drink it and get dehydrated.
Get a small bathing container to place inside the cage, don’t make the water too cold, room temperature is best and remember to change it every day. It is so fun watching your cockatiel bath itself and flick water onto its feathers, once you see your bird has bathed itself, you should remove the bath to prevent the cage getting any wetter.
Clip a cuttlefish bone to the side of the cage for your cockatiel to trim its beak with, the cuttlefish also serves a good source for calcium and phosphorus.
When you walk down the bird alley in your local pet store, you have probably noticed the myriad of extravagant toys available to your bird. Do you really need them? While they may look like fun, the reality is they could take up too much room in your cage, if you do buy huge bulky toys for your bird, try to remove them from the cage and only introduce them at a set time when they can play with their toy.
Sand and Grit
In its natural environment, a cockatiel will feed from the ground most of the time, this is where they find grass seeds which make up the majority of their diet. Ensure that your cockatiel has easy access to the ground of their cage. Some pet stores sell metal grills that cover the bottom of the cage to aid in cleaning but these are not really recommended for a cockatiel.
Most sands contain small pieces of eggshells and mussel that cockatiels eat from the ground to help with the bird’s mineral metabolism. You can get gravel paper, which is just paper with sand and seeds glued to it, this type of floor covering will not satisfy the cockatiels natural desire to pick at and scratch the ground. This type of covering also makes the bottom of the cage very hard, so if the bird was to fall off its perch it could hurt itself. *Bird sand is always recommended as being better than gravel paper, so try to get it if you can.
When cages are manufactured, the perches are made to standard diameter and are usually made from plastic or timber. It is a good idea to replace the standard cockatiel perches with natural branches. A cockatiels perch should vary from around 0.4 to 0.18cm in diameter and let’s your parrot or bird naturally grow a healthy set of little cute feet and this forces the cockatiels toe muscles to adjust constantly allwhile helping their feet from becoming cramped and damaged.
Trees to look for cockatiel branches are deciduous trees like willow, elm, fruit, and larch and beech trees. Do not use branches that have come from shrubs or trees with toxic branches, bark or fruit. Ensure that the branch is free from any other bird droppings from wild birds and wash it before you put it in the cage.
Cockatiels will gnaw at the bark on a branch in their cage and it can serve as a good part of the bird’s diet as it contains nutrients that are good for the bird. Once the cockatiel has destroyed the branch by chewing at it or it is covered in a lot of droppings, replace the branch with a new one.
The perches or branches inside the cockatiel cage should be arranged in such a way as to provide maximum freedom of movement for the bird, especially when it stretches its wings. Try to place the perches about 45cm apart so the cockatiel has to use its wings to get from one to the other. Make sure there is enough space for the bird not to always have their tail feather touching the cage. Do not put any perches above food or water containers in case its droppings fall into them causing them to become contaminated.
Cleaning a Cockatiel Cage
A cockatiels cage and furnishings need to be cleaned regularly in order to ensure good hygiene. An aviary that contains lots of birds will need to be cleaned much more frequently as they contain many more birds.
A modern cage is easier to clean as opposed to a bamboo or timber cage. If you are looking to buy a cockatiel cage, get one with a plastic bottom that pulls out as a draw.
You can use your vacuum to clean up excess dirty, feathers and food that has dropped out of the side of the cage, the amount of food that will spill out of most cockatiel cages is mind blowing, you have to own one to realize and why seed guards are a must although not a 100% prevention – trust me, nothing is.
You should soak the cage bottom in detergent for up to 24hrs. Clean the wire on the cage with a brush and water. If you have an outdoor aviary to clean, it is recommended to use a steam cleaner.
All materials that you have cleaned will need to be dried thoroughly and finally disinfect the cage with a popular disinfectant available from your pet shop or chemist.