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'Tiel Time

By Laura Doering

Ever wonder if your cockatiel is normal? It’s a funny question, but many of us with cockatiels have seen some downright perplexing behaviors from time to time (check out “Normal or Hormonal?” on Page 22 for the answer to that question). I got my first bird when I was 9, a normal gray cockatiel named Elvis. When he started to head bang, whistle, hop, and then whistle more, I thought I had a certifiably crazy bird on my hands, and I was sure all that banging would break his beak.

That was until I noticed that my friend’s ’tiel was a head banger, too, and just as enthusiastic in his whistle and dance. After that, I gave Elvis a stage fit for a cockatiel king: our orange countertop that ran the length of our long hallway.

Elvis had a 20-foot catwalk to strut his stuff. He did two or three hops past his mirror before turning around and going back to his mirror. I would walk his mirror down the length of the counter top, and he would walk or hop after it. I’m sure this helped him stay in shape, because he was one energetic bird.

I don’t know if I can claim to have target-trained Elvis, but he would fly to his mirror no matter who was holding it or where he was. My brother and I used to play a trick on my mom by asking her to hold the mirror, and soon Elvis would take flight and make a beeline for his mirror. I imagine I could have set his mirror in a lion’s mouth, and Elvis would fly over to it.

I was fortunate to have shared 21 years of adventure with Elvis. I saved his mirror, which was mine before Elvis took it over, and now my cockatiel Gracie does his song and dance in front of it. Hearing Gracie’s head-banging, beak-tapping, whistle act (while ear-piercing at times) makes me smile. You can’t hold back a ’tiel's genuine love of life ... and love for itself.

 **To read the entire issue, pick up the April 2011 issue of BIRD TALK at your local retailer or by purchasing a PDF download here.**

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