Cockatiels make great pets, but there are some things you need to know before bringing one of these happy little birds home to your family.
It’s a good idea to do some research about the various mutations (types) of cockatiel. Knowing what a Pied, Cinnamon, Lutino and Gray are before you go shopping can make it easier to know if you’re looking at a healthy bird of that type. Also, some mutations are rarer and will cost more, and you’ll want to be sure they’re not trying to snow you on the price.
Birds require special care if they get sick or hurt, so be sure you have a vet that takes birds before you buy one.
Do some research on the reputation of your local pet shops in regards to birds. Make sure the pet store or breeder takes care of their animals and is knowledgeable about the species they sell. If the store has birds in small cages, too many to a cage or in dirty cages, go elsewhere. If the birds look ragged or like they’re balding in places, don’t buy there.
Decide whether you want a male or female, and make sure the pet store can tell the difference. Males are usually a bit louder and will often learn to mimic and speak. Females will whistle and sing a bit, but are usually quieter and calmer. Both can be wonderfully friendly and cute, it’s all a matter of training.
Make sure the bird looks healthy before you buy. Birds that are too young will look scraggly because their feathers aren’t ready yet. Sick birds may have bald patches, bleeding spots, discharge from the eyes or nostrils, crusty or sore feet. Excessive sneezing, feather picking and wobbling can also be signs of a sick bird. The only exception on bald spots is the Lutino, which often has a little balding near the crest. However, good breeding will leave very little bald space, while too much inbreeding will leave a large, often ugly bald spot on the head.
If possible, get a young bird that has been hand fed. They’ll be more friendly. Birds that aren’t hand fed are still great pets, they just take more time to train.
Be sure you know what goes into the care and feeding of your cockatiel. You’ll need a large enough cage (the ones they try to sell you are usually too small), you’ll need a healthy pellet food (Cockatiels do NOT live on seed alone), proper toys (no mirrors!) and plenty of time. Birds need to be trained and bonded with. You can’t just leave it in the cage 24/7 like a decoration. They are pets and require your attention every single day.