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Life With Senior Cockatiels

Readers share the tips and tricks on how they care of their older cockatiels.

BirdChannel Editors
Posted: April 23, 2013, 1:30 p.m. PDT

Margaret Madison's Mr. Buttons lived to be 26 years old. 
Each Day With Your Birds Is A Gift
By Margaret Madison, Michigan

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.

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.

CockatielLady, a cockatiel, has become less active as she's gotten older, but still likes to play.
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.

Looking for more senior bird tips? Check out these articles!

Changes In Senior Birds

Help Your Senior Pet Bird Thrive With Age

Senior Parrots: What To Expect

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Life With Senior Cockatiels

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Reader Comments
I went on line to try to find out the age of my bird in human years. Chip was hatched from an egg at my sisters place and has been with me 23 years now. I just want Chip to live the rest of his life in peace. Some of the tips you give like a platform to perch on is great since poor Chip doesn't t have the balance he use to. So thank for the tips. I love my old bird-life won t be the same without out him ??
Joan, Waterloo, NY
Posted: 3/29/2016 5:07:09 PM
My sweet cockatiel passed away this morning. I left him to go to work but I knew today was his day to die.....He was just shy of his 34th birthday. I am devastated...we grew up together. I will miss him dearly. RIP my sweet Pepe Nicky!
AJ, Plantation, FL
Posted: 9/9/2015 8:21:36 PM
My cockatiel Echo just died last might. He would have been 32 next month - July 2015
Graham, International
Posted: 6/12/2015 10:30:02 AM
My bird is 19 years old, He is very sweet but now that he's older he is easily startled and flies into things. I'm afraid he'll hurt himself so I keep him in the cage right by my desk and talk to him. He won't let me pet him anymore because he is half blind. He sleeps a lot more then he used to. I moved his perches lower and moved his toys to his sighted side and he seemed fine until recently. He sleeps noticeably more and seems to have trouble eating. He's just not himself. When he looks at me I just get this feeling that he's going to die soon...I only hope it will a be quick and painless natural death, If he is suffering I will have to take him to the vet to be put down and I know how frightened he will be and I can't bare it! I have loved him for so long...
Hannah, International
Posted: 7/1/2014 1:43:58 PM
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