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Life With Senior Cockatiels

Cockatiel owners share stories of their experiences living with senior birds.

Senior Bird Story - Each Day With Your Birds Is A Gift
By Margaret Madison, Michigan

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Mr. Buttons, a cockatiel
Mr. Buttons, a cockatiel 

As my birds become older it gets more difficult for them to perch. I like to offer them little perching platforms so they can get a rest from having to grip a perch. You also need to move slowly and steadily when you’ve got them perched on you, as they can’t hold on like the younger parrots can.

My senior birds also prefer an area that is less rowdy than hanging out with the youngsters on playgyms or cage tops. I try to make sure that they get a peaceful place to rest away from the younger birds, as they like to nap more often now.

My oldest cockatiel, Mr. Buttons, passed away recently at age 26. He had the most beautiful song of all my cockatiels and luckily I had the opportunity to record it a few years before he passed away. He would sing to his foot and hold his foot up almost as if he had an invisible miniature microphone in his foot. I had one young male cockatiel pick up that habit, but I don’t see him doing it as often as Mr. Buttons used to do it. Mr. Buttons was a very sweet and gentle bird. The only time he was a little cranky was occasionally when you’d ask him to Step up. I knew it was because his feet were a little stiff and painful for him.

My oldest bird now is also a cockatiel and she is going on 20 (hatched in 1989). I adopted Lula Belle about 8 years ago. She was a rescue bird. She loves her fresh healthy foods, and even though she isn’t the prettiest cockatiel I have, she almost always has constant squinty eyes (the closest thing you can get to a birdie smile). For the most part she doesn’t seek direct human attention, but she is always cooperative when we are moving her from place to place. She has had a younger male cockatiel boyfriend here who is about half her age. A few years ago when that male was raising his first clutch with a younger hen, Lula Belle stepped in to show the new parents what to do. Without Lula Belle, an experienced ex-breeder, I would have had to step in. Thank goodness for Lula Belle. She may have been too old to have any more of her own chicks, but she wasn’t too old to be a “nanny bird”.

Every day you have with your precious birds, regardless of their age, is a gift and should be treasured.

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Lady, a cockatiel
Lady, a cockatiel 

Senior Bird Story - An Irreplaceable Member Of The Family
By Hannah Prosch, Minnesota

I adopted Lady from a family who no longer had time for her when she was about 3 years old. Now, 10 years later, she is still young at 13. She is one of my first birds and has taught me so much. There is no other bird like her.
Since Lady has aged and I have added perches to her cage that are easier for her to grip, such as cotton rope perches and pedicure perches. She also has a few powder-coated landings in her cage that she likes to sleep on so it is easier to keep her balance. She seems to enjoy soft, cuddly toys more than she used to, so fleece and cotton toys are important.
Lady's diet hasn't changed much over the years. She still gets her pellets, veggies and cooked meals. She doesn't get much seed anymore because she gains weight easily. Now that she is older, I weigh her more often for health reasons. Since Lady can gain weight rapidly, she needs exercise daily. I have a bird gym set up for her with ladders, swings and toys to promote activity.
Living with Lady now isn't much different than when she was young. She still likes to play and eat, which are her two favorite past times. She does like to cuddle more and she isn't as active as when she was younger, but I think I love her more now. She is an irreplaceable member of the family and I don't know what I'd do without her.

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Reader Comments
We have Rockie (short for Rock and Roll)I got him when he was just a fledgling 21 years ago. when he heard music he would dance all over in his cage so hence the name. He has been a biter all his life but now only bites when upset. He fakes biting my arm and thinks its funny. He'll nibble then run in to his cage and snicker. When my feet hit the floor in the morning he squakes until I go into the den and talk to him and rub his head. If you got a loose thread on your clothing fix it fast or he will find it and pull it out. we play basketball he has a little ball that he can grip with his beak. I hold it in my hand he grabs it and throws it. when he tosses it into one of the dishes I give him a congrads and two points. When I look in on him and the ball is either in the water or food dish it means he wants fresh water or more food. He dont fly any more and once in a while he jumps out to the floor and then yells help help help" his toes get caught in the carpet and waits until I come and free him. goofest Bird I ever saw. He is our 2nd one the first one died at six years. Rocky is our only pet now. when we take him for a car ride he squakes until we put in a Johnny Cash CD.
Robert, Appleton, WI
Posted: 12/15/2012 2:50:42 AM
I want to talk to more cockateil owners. I have my Tippie who is over 25 yrs old and blind in one eye and going blind in the other. I am afraid to leave the house anymore. He is my Bud..My friend. He is an Australian Cockateil. He no longer whistles or talks. What can I do to make him more comfortable? I took him to the vet and got eye drops (Gentak) for the eye that is gone. Can I save the other for the time he has left? Avian Vet said NO.
Karen, Riverside, CA
Posted: 10/12/2012 5:20:22 PM
Interesting article and comments. My cockatiel, Sonny, will be 25 this November. She has only 1 foot (the other was broken by a larger bird nearly 10 years ago while she was boarding and was not salvageable), and she still perches well, even with the "nub." Recently she developed a cataract in the left eye and can no longer see from that side, but she still manages to get around quite well. Flying is no longer an option because her navigation is gone with the limited vision. I'm hoping for another several years with her.
Jonathan, Greenville, SC
Posted: 6/20/2012 9:51:17 PM
Hi, I found this comforting. My baby is now 32 years old (I hand raised him from hatching)and he just stopped perching all together-I'm at a lost as to how to keep him comfortable. I moved all his food and water dishes to the floor of his cage so he doesn't have to climb.I keep checking his feet for signs of soreness, ect. Thanks again
Fran, Sault Ste Marie, MI
Posted: 2/4/2012 6:03:08 PM
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