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7 Things To Look For When Picking Out A Cockatiel

If you want a pet ‘tiel, look out for these 7 things to ensure you get a happy, healthy bird.

Diane Grindol

Cockatiels are one of the top pet birds, and are known for their whistling abilities.

1) How Old Is That 'Tiel In The Window?
It’s easiest to bond with a young cockatiel. Younger birds are easier to train as well. If you’re offered birds that are already mature, evident by coloring (e.g. gray males with yellow heads, whiteface males with white heads) and behavior (e.g. lots of whistling and talking, again, by males), then training might be more difficult. A friendly, mature bird can make a great pet, but one that is not tame can be more difficult to work with.

2) Is there a health guarantee?
Obvious signs of illness in birds are weepy eyes, a dirty vent and sitting puffed up on the bottom of the cage. You don’t really know if a cockatiel is healthy unless you have an avian veterinarian perform lab tests. Make sure the seller guarantees the health of their birds for a few days after purchase so you can do this.

3) Cleanliness Counts
Birds are susceptible to mold and bacteria, so your chances of acquiring a healthy bird is greater from a facility that is kept clean and tidy.

4) Customer Service
Is the breeder, or someone from the store or adoption organization available to answer your questions over the first few weeks that you have your bird? Did they send you home with reading material or a sheet of instructions on caring for your new cockatiel?


5) Hand-fed Or Parent-Raised?
Both hand-fed and parent-raised cockatiels can make good pets. The tamest chicks typically come from breeders who took the time to handle the chicks to socialize them to people.

6) Introduced To A Variety of Foods?
It can be quite a challenge to get a cockatiel to eat a wide variety of foods if it was weaned onto only one type of food. A bird weaned to a variety of foods typically continues to enjoy variety in its diet.

7) Staple Diet
Are you going home with some of the food the cockatiel is used to eating? Is that a formulated diet or seed with instructions on how to supplement it so that the bird gets balanced nutrition?

There’s nothing inherently good or bad about choosing a small or large cockatiel for a pet.
Why Are Cockatiels Different Sizes?
Just like people, cockatiels come in many sizes. There are both genetic and environmental reasons for this.

One of the influences on a cockatiel’s size can be if the bird comes from a lineage with closely related birds. Some cockatiel breeders breed for exhibition, where a big, showy bird is often appreciated by judges. If your local pet store sells babies from one of these breeders, the big birds can make the normal-sized birds look smaller.

Diet can also affect size. An unbalanced diet can lead to smaller-sized cockatiels over time, as generations don’t receive all the vitamins and nutrients they need to grow.

There are nutrient-rich hand-feeding formulas available to hand-raise cockatiels, but hand feeders must understand how much and how often to feed chicks.

Occasionally, inexperienced hand feeders will produce stunted birds. Stunted chicks are not only small, but they often have unusually large heads for their body size.

There’s nothing inherently good or bad about choosing a small or large cockatiel for a pet. If the bird was raised by a breeder who paired unrelated birds and it was raised on a wholesome diet, then it is a good choice. I’ve outlined in the sidebar some of the attributes to look for in a cockatiel and points to consider when purchasing a companion bird. 

Want to know more about cockatiels?

Top 10 Cockatiel Questions Answered
5 Ways To Play With Your Pet Cockatiel

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Posted: May 5, 2014, 3:45 p.m. PDT

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7 Things To Look For When Picking Out A Cockatiel

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Reader Comments
excellent basic information. tiels are wonderful pets.
Carol, Silver Spring, MD
Posted: 5/8/2014 6:59:57 PM
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