I have four normal grey cockatiels. I got the youngest one, Pretty, two years ago. Pretty was rescued from a flea market where the people who were selling him informed me that he was hand-raised, had molted and was a female. As it turned out, he was neither hand-raised nor a female. My avian vet gave him a clean bill of health. He is very fond of the other cockatiels, but they won’t tolerate him. I hold him on my shoulder and talk to him, which he seems to enjoy, but he looks longingly at the other birds. What can I do to make his life happier?
Birds will not become best buddies just because they live in the same house or because they’re the same species. Cockatiels are very tolerant overall, but they do have individual personalities, and not all cockatiels get along.
Try to work out the relationship between your birds so they can live together. Allow the birds to meet and interact on neutral territory. If you simply put a new pet bird into a cage in which existing birds have established their territories, trouble can arise.
Try this for a couple of weeks: Let all the cockatiels out in a place away from their cages. Try the back of the living room couch, a bathroom or a family room where a bird playgym is available. Give your cockatiels something to do, such as tear up fresh branches or strips of paper. If you provide food treats, make two or three containers of food available so that Pretty doesn’t get driven away.
Teach your other cockatiels that it is good to be around Pretty by rewarding them when he is near. If they eat a formulated diet, you could offer a few seeds as treats. If millet spray, sunflower seed or safflower seed is a part of their normal mix, take it out, and only offer it when Pretty is nearby.
When Pretty is out with the other cockatiels and they are behaving, give each a treat. When Pretty is not around, don’t offer treats. Don’t reward bad behavior. If they are hissing at Pretty or pecking his feet, do not give them your attention or a food treat. After a while, they should figure out that it’s good to have Pretty with them.
If your birds eventually do get along outside of their cages, you could introduce them to a new roomier cage and observe their interactions. Be sure there are multiple food and water dishes in the cage so everyone has the chance to eat and drink peacefully. If there is any discord, go back to separate cages.
Cockatiels do have preferences about their friends. If this does not work after a month or two, it is best to resign yourself to keeping the birds separate and provide Pretty with lots of one-on-one playtime and interaction.