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Make Friends With Your Cockatiel

Does your cockatiel act up or ignore you when the person or bird she likes more than you shows up? Find out how you can make friends with your 'tiel.

Sally Blanchard

Cockatiel bonding with owner

Q) I have a 1-year-old male cockatiel that gets really nasty and then is a sweetheart. He could be sweet as pie, hanging out and then, all of a sudden, he snaps. His wings go out, he lunges and then attacks. He is normal again right after that. He is also very protective and wants to be close to our male quaker parrot. Why does he do this?

A) There can be many factors influencing your cockatiel’s behavior. He may become overly excited and, if you watch him carefully, you may notice changes in his body language as he begins the transition from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. When you notice these changes, you need to simply stop trying to handle him and let him calm down. His aggression can also be related to the quaker parrot. Cockatiels are often mild-mannered little companions, but under some circumstances, they can be aggressive. One important aspect is consistent handling. I find that when a cockatiel starts acting out it is often because it is receiving sporadic attention.

Q) I have three cockatiels: Spike, Sunny, and Hootie. If my boyfriend is not home, they will play with me. As soon as Spike hears my boyfriend’s voice or sees him, she will immediately fly to him. I feel bad because my birds, especially Spike, want nothing to do with me when my boyfriend is home. I am the one who takes care of them (I feed them and clean their cages). I guess I am lucky that my birds play with me when my boyfriend is not home. Any suggestions on how to get my birds to play with me when he is home?

A) As the saying goes, there is no accounting for taste. This is a very common question to which there is not an easy answer. Trying to understand the whys of a parrot family bird bonding to one human is difficult. Most likely it is as complex as trying to understand why certain people fall in love with each other.

Some companion birds are attracted to highly active people, while others prefer a calm person. Pay close attention to the way your boyfriend interacts with the birds and try to exhibit some of that behavior. For example, if he sings to them, see if your singing wins them over. If he is very relaxed and they just use him as a glorified playgym, try to be calmer with them.

Another suggestion is for the both of you to play the same games with the birds. For example, because your cockatiels fly, encourage them to fly back and forth to each of you by making an enthusiastic game out of it.

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Posted: March 14. 2014., 5:45 p.m. PDT

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