Cage, aviary or bird room?
Your cockatiel needs a home which offers peace and protection. Most often this home is the cage. A cage is a place where your cockatiel may eat, sleep or just retreat to have some own peace if it feels like it.
An aviary and two-floor breeding cage.
According to Finnish recommendations, a cockatiel needs a cage that has the surface minimum of 0,75 m². Each cockatiel added to the flock makes a 0,10 m² add to the cage surface size demand. The shortest wall width is minimum of 55 cm (= ~22 inches), and the height of the cage should be at least 80 cm (31,5 inches). But the bigger, the better. Buy the largest you can afford.
Cages meant for larger parrots have too wide bar spaces. Cockatiels might get their head stuck between the bars so you must be careful not to choose a cage meant for larger parrots. A suitable bar distance is about 15-20 mm (0,60-0,79 inches).
You can count the surface measurements by multiplicating the width (depth) and length – the measurements of two walls standing next to each other.
So if your cage is 80 cm high, 65 cm deep and 97 cm long you can count the surface in following way:
0,65 x 0,97 = 0,63 m².
Since the suitable surface would be 0,75m², this cage would be too small even for one cockatiel.
Due to hygiene reasons, the floor should not be barred. At least some of the cage wall bars must be in a horizontal position so that the cockatiel can climb more easily.
The best shape is a cube or cuboid. The cage should not be round since it can make the bird more nervous and since the bar distance gets thinner towards the cage ceiling the cockatiel’s toes or nails might get stuck.
You can use old newspapers or wood chips as bedding. The papers should be old enough – about a couple of weeks – so that the ink has dried and evaporated well in case the cockatiel would start to chew on the papers. Wood chips and linen bedding are very handy and also look esthetical, but you still must remember to clean it regularly to avoid any growth of bacteria.
Placement of the cockatiel cage
This cage is used only as a temporary cage or traveling cage and is not suitable as a permanent cage of your cockatiel.
The best place for a cockatiel cage is the kind of room where people visit often but which isn’t in the center of your party life. If you decide to place the cage in the living room make sure that your bird has the sleeping peace; you just can’t let your TV yell all night long. Then again, if you place the cage in a visitor room or some other room where you won’t often visit or spend the time, you will miss many interesting activities of your birds. The more contact you have with your cockatiels, the better they stay tame.
The cage should be in a well-enlighted place but not in direct sunlight. Room corners are usually a good option. Don’t place the cage right next to your bed since this may predispose you to get allergic to bird dust particles. The kitchen is probably the worst solution since there are many severe dangers like the stove and the kitchen sink. And what you should know is that if overheated, Teflon produces poisonous gasses that are fatal to parrots.
Parrots enjoy of sitting as high as possible, and the cage should be placed so that the birds get at least to the level of your eyes – and higher, if possible. Putting the cage quite high is also a way to prevent other animals or younger kids reaching the parrot cage.
Cockatiels are fine with the same temperatures that we humans enjoy, too. They also adapt very well to higher or lower temperatures, and they can even tolerate little moments of frost if they are kept away from rain, wind, and draft. But if the temperature changes too fast it may cause problems. And, if your bird gets ill it uses part of its energy keeping the body heated and thus, keeping the temperature higher you can help the bird to spend the energy on more important things.
Building a cockatiel cage
Factory-made cages are often expensive and too small. The owner wins in price a lot by building the cage by him/herself. Building a cage isn’t actually as hard as it may sound – even I I can do it! 😉 It is often enough if you know how to choose the material and how to use a hammer and screwdriver. A small factory-made cage often costs more than the self-made aviary. A good side of a self-made cage is also the variety of options. You get to create the cage exactly for your needs, fitting the plan of your house or flat. You get to decide the shape, where to put the doors and you can build it all to suit your views.
At its simplest, the cage can be created by screwing the edge of the net between two wooden lists and thereby forming a wall. Separatable walls are useful also because the cage is easier to disassemble and clean up.
When starting to build a cage, you must consider which materials to use. When choosing a proper metal net, avoid zinc and chrome. Especially zinc might be poisonous. Zinc can be used only if it’s electroplated. But hot-dip galvanized will release too much zinc and it may lead to poisoning.
The safest net materials are steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. When cutting the net into suitable pieces, remember to check out that any sharp spikes are removed. The best frame material of the cage is some light metal such as aluminum. Although untreated wood frame is good for indoor use, the birds may nibble the wood over time to shreds. When thick enough, wooden frame, however, is lasting a surprisingly long – but it still isn’t eternal.
If you have the possibility, you can decorate a full room for your cockatiels. You just have to make it bird safe, line some bedding areas and decorate the room with bird trees and other perches. You can also screw hooks to the ceiling to add even higher perches or hanging robe swings.
You may need to use your brains a bit more when deciding the suitable place to offer the foods. Since cockatiels are ground eaters, you could serve the food from the floor. Just remember not to place any perches right above the food dishes. When it comes to treats, creatively use the space and hide millets in different places. This is how your cockatiel must work a bit to get to the goodies.
Don’t make the room too crowded with decorations. Leave the highest space near to the ceiling emptier so that there’s plenty of space to fly. If there are too many perches and bird trees, the birds may not be able to take advantage of the large area as well as they could.
One tip is to create the door so that it’s half wire net. This how you get to see inside the cage even without opening the door. However, a fully closed door might be better for you if you are a person who needs your own space and peace at times. If your bird room has a window, use Venetian blinds to protect the birds from stumbling to the glass and also set some blackout curtains to make the room dark as night, if needed. This may be handy especially during summer time when the sun rises early and wakes up the birds earlier than you would like to wake up yourself.
Outdoor cages and aviaries for cockatiels
Aviary means a cage that is so large that the birds can fly inside the cage. You can usually name the cage as an aviary when at least one of the surface measures is 2 meters (~7 ft) long. Especially in warmer countries, outdoor aviaries are one of the most popular ways of keeping cockatiel flocks. Outdoor aviaries are often placed in a garden, to the fresh air. Such outdoor aviaries are usually so large that the cockatiels can easily spend their life there, with the constant possibility to fly whenever needed.
In Australian deserts, the temperature can sometimes low down radically in the night time. Therefore cockatiels can take quite well short periods of a bit colder weather. If the outdoor aviaries are protected from wind, draft, and rain, they can even last shorter moments in -20 degrees in Celcius scale. But of course, this isn’t recommendable. And for example, the Finnish winter lasts so long that there is no chance for cockatiels to spend their whole life outside. One thing to consider is also the humidity. If the humidity levels are too high, as a dry climate birds cockatiels may feel uncomfortable. And whereas the eggs may dry to dead in too dry climate they can also die because of remarkably high humidity.
A shed or such little hut forms a great structural frame for outdoor cages or bird house. If space is big enough and it can offer protection, why not! If you decide to build a new shed just remember to make sure that there are no laws that would forbid it. In some countries, you may need a building license. It is also polite to have respect for your neighbors ears: cockatiel whistling and screams will carry over your property fences.
An ideal place is such where you can see the outdoor cages inside your own house. This how you can faster notice if something is wrong, even when you are enjoying your morning coffee at the kitchen window. But it would be better for the cages not to be visible to the public street since that might lure thieves.
You need to protect the outdoor aviary from rain, wind, and draft but also from direct sunlight. You can help the space to look a bit lighter by painting the walls with white (non-toxic) paint. If there isn’t enough sunlight, you need to put bird lamps into to the darker corners of the cage. It is a good idea to arrange the cleaning equipment like the water hose near. This is how you make things easier for yourself. Serve the food so that you can tell with just a quick look if the dishes have been emptied. When you plan things carefully, it makes your cockatiel hobby much more pleasant. If all the management means that you have to trot back and forth, you will get irritated, at least if you are in a hurry.
…And then one important thing: Keeping the birds outside means that they get easier different sort of parasites. Common parasites are for example red mites and Cnemidocoptes pilae. Therefore you need to offer your cockatiels parasite eviction cure every now and then. Choose the banishing spray carefully so that it’s ment for birds! For example, bug poisons meant for human might be poisonous to cockatiels.
An outdoor aviary is built from the floor, the roof, flying space and a vestibule. The vestibule is a safety system: if a bird escapes from the aviary, it reaches the vestibule and can still be caught easily. In this photo, you can see German breeder Otto Lutz’s aviaries.