The popularity of the pet cockatiel remains high because these cheerful, intelligent birds are friendly and easy to keep. Pet bird owners know the key to healthy, happy birds is to attend to their physical and mental health through a varied diet and a stimulating environment.
Nutritional needs of cockatiels have been carefully studied and while these birds will subsist just fine on a diet of seeds and water, top physical conditioning comes form a wide range of foods and a balanced approach to seeds. Fruits, vegetables, sprouts and seed mixtures will round out the cockatiel diet.
Balance the Bird Seeds
Cereal seeds and oil-based seeds offer different nutrients. Cereal seeds contain a higher proportion of carbohydrates and lower levels of fats and proteins. Oil-based seeds like sunflower and hemp are rich in fats and lower in carbohydrates and offer essential amino acids but birds whose diets are heavy on oil-based seeds can become obese, leading to other health issues.
Do Include Pelleted Foods
Bird pellet feed is usually nutritionally balanced, offering daily recommended servings of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Introduce pellets to seed eaters by placing the pellets in the seed dish until the birds become familiar with them. Then slowly reduce the amount of seed. One caution with pellets – they are very dry. Be sure to keep fresh water available so cockatiels do not suffer kidney damage.
Offer Fresh Green Foods
Cockatiels love fruits and vegetables, which are rich in Vitamin A, and the easiest to offer are fresh chopped spinach leaves, shredded carrots and diced (peeled) apples.
Some greens such as wild chickweed, plantain and meadow grass are easily picked from the lawn. Although avoid picking any wild plants that may have been treated with chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
Another way to offer green foods is to soak the feed seeds and allow them to sprout. Cockatiels will enjoy the tender green shoots of millet, canary grass and sunflowers grown in a kitchen window box. When feeding fresh green foods, remove any uneaten food quickly before it becomes soiled or moldy.
Hang Cuttlefish Bone
Cockatiels need calcium particularly during breeding season. Most seeds are low in calcium and cuttlefish bone is an ideal source for this ingredient that is important for strong eggshells. Most pet shops sell cuttlefish bones with hangers for the cage. Place them near perches so the birds can access them comfortably at will.
Cockatiel Bird Cage
More is better when considering how much cage space to have. Cockatiels are active and will spend a great deal of time stretching wings and flying. Unlike other parrots, cockatiels prefer to fly rather than climb around their enclosure. A rectangular cage is a better choice than a round one – it offers more flight room and allows more interior design flexibility.
Perches and Toys
Providing a variety of perch sizes and shapes inside of the cage allows cockatiels to exercise their feet. When possible choose wooden perches over plastic ones as cockatiels will naturally chew the wood to file down their beaks. These can be purchased or made from tree branches. When using natural wood, consider using the branches of apple, sycamore or elder trees because of the relatively soft texture.
Rearrange perches and replace bird toys frequently. Cockatiels are intelligent and curious birds that need a stimulating environment to remain psychologically healthy. The best choice is a companion or two – cockatiels are social birds and are readily accepting of new cage-mates.
In addition to feathered friends, cockatiels enjoy shiny, reflective toys, mirrored objects and ladders. They will explore small hollows in logs (especially if they are rewarded by finding an unexpected treat inside) and enjoy rolling a ping-pong ball around. They are not prone to using swings as often as other birds but will appreciate new perches. Playing music for the birds often results in their learning and repeating their favorite musical phrases.
Every cockatiel has unique personality traits which make them fascinating pets. Owning and caring for cockatiels is a rewarding experience and the relationship can last 15 to 20 years. Feeding cockatiels a well-rounded diet, allowing them room to exercise and, engaging their active minds will ensure those years are healthy, happy and productive ones.