First steps with your new cockatiel
When bringing the first or a new bird to your home, you must remember, that it can be really stressful for the bird to lose the familiar surroundings and be brought to a strange place. It has lost its friends, and can’t hear their familiar calls anymore. The cage is new, and everything on the other side of the bars is strange, and the new arrival may be tired because of traveling.
Let the cockatiel calm down in its new home before the first flight.Needless causes of stress must be eliminated. The cage shouldn’t be moved around once the bird has been put in, and if there are other animals in the household, you have to make sure that they don’t stare at the new arrival for too long. Also, make sure that your dog doesn’t bark outside the door and don’t play music too loud in the next few days. Just like it isn’t necessary to introduce the new bird to other animals right away, it is wise to wait at least until the bird has settled in until you let other people see it.
The bird can spend at least the first week in its cage, so it has time to get used to its new surroundings and learns, that the cage is now its new home and a safe place. You should disturb the cockatiel as little as possible and only on the bird’s conditions, so it feels safe enough. Needless handling has to be avoided. Calming down is essential, so the bird doesn’t harm itself. Handfed fledglings make an exception, though – many of them can be let out of its cage to explore the surroundings even in the first few days. In most cases, a handfed bird doesn’t even want to stay in its cage for long, and demands to be let out. It’s also not wise to leave a tamed bird alone for long periods of time, for it can be just as stressful as giving too much attention to a timid bird.
Furthermore, pay attention to your room temperature. Try to keep it as stable as you can and if possible, a little higher than usual because a stressed bird is very vulnerable to disease. After the first few weeks, you can gradually lower the temperature.
Supply food and water day and night, but don’t give the bird any sand under no circumstances. A stressful situation can make the bird to eat the sand so voraciously, that it leads to other problems, like an intestinal blockage or crop infection.
Cockatiel should spend the first week inside the cage before the first flying attempt. This is important especially if the bird is shy and haven’t been tamed. By letting the bird get used to the cage you can teach that a cage is a safe place and no-one bothers there. Your cockatiel will also learn that the cage has food. These things help the cockatiel later to be motivated to also return to the cage.
Before opening the door of the cage, cover the windows to prevent stumbling. The cockatiel might not have the courage to come out in the first place – or then it might rush out with excitement. If the bird is a bit shy to come out, you can place some miller at the cage door. When the bird lifts its body up, finally using the flying ability, either it may fly very fluently, or it may panic and be very clumsy. If the bird stumbles somewhere, don’t run there instantly. Give the cockatiel a moment to catch its breath. It usually stands up fast, looks a bit confused and then tries again. But if you go there and try to take a hold on to the bird it may associate you with the accident and start to be afraid of you. So just let the bird show you if it is okay. If not, then you can interfere – and then be fast. Usually, cockatiels won’t harm themselves even if they stumble. Little clumsiness is often caused by too little flying experience or too short time in the cage. So a little failure is not a proper reason to preclude your cockatiel’s flying moments.
“Should I get worried…?”
When the cockatiel moves to a new place, it might behave slightly different. Partly due to stress, partly because of the other confusion and new surroundings. Sometimes the newcomer won’t eat. But this shouldn’t take longer than a day or two in maximum. Keep seeds in the cage because while the bird eats them, it drops the husks. From the empty husks you can easily tell if your cockatiel has been eating behind your back. They can be a bit shy at first to eat under the owner’s eyes. If it seems like that the cockatiel isn’t going to eat from the cup, offer seeds also from the cage floor. This is usually a familiar way for cockatiels since they sometimes land to their cage floor to implement their natural behavior as ground eaters. You can also monitor the cockatiel’s excrements. Normal cockatiel excrement is about a size of a woman’s little fingertip. If the poo is more like the ball of the pin, it may be that the bird doesn’t eat enough. If the bird is healthy, it won’t let itself starve. So if there’s nothing wrong the cockatiel will start to eat in a couple of days. If it doesn’t, call your parrot specialist veterinarian.
You can sometimes notice that especially a shy bird’s stomach feathers may shiver when you are walking closer. It’s not of too much worry, but pay attention to your body language and try to make yourself appear as less threatening as possible. Shivering might also be caused just because it’s a new place or because the air is a bit cold. But in this kind of case where you have a new bird, it would refer to slight stress.
Photo: Make sure that your cockatiel eats and drinks.
Fear and the new situation may cause extra urine to be excreted, making the excrement lose and wet. The symptoms of the stress caused by the transfer, move and new surroundings may remind of what an ill cockatiel would show and on that score many new owners get worried. Naturally, it is good to monitor your newcomer’s health in case it actually is sick and not just stressed. And remember that the stress can predispose the bird to new illnesses.
Stock photo: Shutterstock / Omepl1