Getting a cockatiel in practice
When you have concluded that the cockatiel would suit you and that you would suit a cockatiel as an owner – it’s time to seize the ideas into action.
One of my breedlings, Nabla. Nabla is a whiteface single factor dominant silver pied.
The process in short
1) Decide what you want from your parrot hobby; decide what kind of bird do you want
2) Find a breeder. Ask recommendations from societies and hobbyists. Make sure that you support ethical sellers.
3) If you get your tiel from a breeder, be in contact with her/him in early time! If possible, visit the breeder at first. Make sure he/she is trustworthy.
4) Start to get the equipment and plan the space of the cockatiel.
5) Implement your plan and build them bird safe.
6) Agree on the date when you are going to get your bird.
7) See that you have everything ready: cage, safe house, food, bird lamp…
8) Get the bird! Remember to sign the bill of sale and if possible, ask the breeder to give you a birth certificate.
The following things are needed when getting a cockatiel:
– Birdsafe home so they can fly freely
– A cage
– Traveling cage
– Magazines or some other allowed dry bedding for the floor of the cage
– Cups for food and water
– Seeds, pellets and other nutrients
– Calcium block, mineral block, cuttlebone and also possible vitamins
– Heat lamp for first aid in cases of possible sickness
– Towel and gloves for your own protection when you have to handle untamed bird when it’s really necessary
– Clippers for talons
– Uv-lamp if the cockatiel is kept inside
Cockatiels are often available in pet stores. Whether they are potential pets or not depends on their source, how the shop treats them and how old are they. Sadly, in many cases, the salesmen rarely know about the backgrounds of their birds, especially if the birds come from wholesale. Minus side of the pet shop is also that other customers may cause the birds stress and bad experiences of people. Pet shop cockatiels are often a bit older, and due to all this, it will be harder for them to become tame. If you decide to purchase your cockatiel from a pet shop to be a tame pet, you should seek for a young individual, about three months of age or a bit younger (but make sure it’s fully weaned!). If you have no experience in taming a bird, I would not recommend you to buy a cockatiel that is six months or older. During that time they start to go through their puberty, reaching for sexual maturity, and after that taming gets a bit harder – or much harder if the bird has been traumatized by force caught and other unpleasant events.
The quality of a pet store differs a lot. Different countries have different standards for animal keeping, and in some countries, the pet stores don’t seem to have them at all. In Finland, we have excellent pet stores compared to many countries what I’ve seen and heard, but even our pet stores are much criticized. Mostly, because parrots often need more than the shop can afford. Birds also demand space that is limited. In many cases, pet store indeed isn’t a good place for a parrot to be. Fortunately, there are also some exceptions. Not every shop is bad. But don’t buy your cockatiel from a store that is dirty and keeps its animals in way too limited spaces.
The good side of the pet store is that you get the bird right away and there’s a lot of selection for you to take a look. On the other hand, quite rare of the merchants know the backgrounds of their birds. If you are searching for a breeding bird, it would be wiser to buy it from somewhere where you can find out more information about your cockatiel.
A breeder is a person who breeds his or her cockatiels. In Finland, we have two different terms for breeders. A true breeder, “kasvattaja,” is a person who breeds the cockatiels regularly, planning it carefully and aiming towards some positive results. A breeder knows the special needs of the species and knows how to act so that these requirements will be fulfilled. A breeder understands the importance of the genetical diversity and knows how to keep it wide, avoiding inbreeding if there isn’t a good reason for it.
We also have another word, “pesittäjä,” that could be translated as “nester.” A nester is a private person who has let the birds nest but who doesn’t mean to breed regularly. He or she may not yet have as much experience, and any knowledge about genetics isn’t demanded. You could say that also nesters are breeders, but many Finnish hobbyists have felt the urge to separate these two breeder types to avoid confusion. For a Finnish person, the term breeder should be a guarantee that the birds are treated well with ethical methods and that the person who breeds them knows what she or he is doing – and if doesn’t, he or she also knows to ask help.
Both breeders and “nesters” may be good options when searching for a pet bird. Sometimes a nester can be a great option since people who have for example their first clutch are usually so enthusiastic that they spend so much time with the babies that the chicks get easily tame in any case. Of course, it’s not always like that – and there are many lovely breeders who always tame their cockatiel babies a bit. Even if many breeders have their stock birds in outdoor aviaries, they may keep some of the birds indoors so that they get used to the family life.
If you are searching for a breeding bird, it might be wiser to turn to a breeder. Personally, I want to support ethical breeders. When trying to find a suitable breeder, you should ask for recommendations from other hobbyists. Usually, if you hear from several sources that a particular breeder isn’t trustworthy, the rumors might be true. But be skeptical and use your brains also when making a judgment.
Whether you decide to get your bird from a breeder or a “nester,” ask them to give you a bill of sale and a birth certificate. They are not a necessity but may help you in the future. Especially the birth certificate can be helpful if you need to sell your bird later or decide to let it breed. A birth certificate is a good reminder about the backgrounds, colors that your tiel carries, date of birth and other relevant information.
Should I take a home switcher?
Sometimes a cockatiel might have to search for a new home. It would be more than nice if you can offer a new home for a bird like that! There can be many reasons behind the home switch. Common reasons are life tragedies, financial problems and sometimes allergies. But at times there may be some problem behavior in the background. Mostly the problems are caused by a human without the owner being aware of it or acknowledging it. If the home switch isn’t a problem screamer or problem biter, it might be a great pet, and it is often already tamed. But if you are unsure whether there is something suspicious on the back or not, a home switcher might be a better solution for a more experienced hobbyist.
Fully weaned cockatiel has all the feathers. It can fly, eat and preen without any help from the parents. The baby of this picture is about 3-week-old and hasn’t left the nest yet. A cockatiel looking like this would be way too young to sell.
Does cockatiel need some papers?
In Finnish law, when it comes to cockatiels, none of the paper bureaucracy is necessary – but it still is highly recommendable. Here are some examples of papers you might want to have when buying a cockatiel.
Bill of sale
Bill of sale is a prove of those things that the seller and buyer have agreed to the sale concerning the bird. The name, sex, age, identification markings, contact information, price and other terms of trade. The bill of sale is at the same time the receipt. And actually, an average receipt can be the official bill of sale if you buy your cockatiel from a pet store.
Even though the bill of sale isn’t demanded, you probably still wanna do it. This how you have some evidence of the trade. You should do the bill of sale even if you buy a bird from a friend.
The birth certificate can be somewhat similar to the bill of sale, but it contains often more information concerning the bird and its origins, for example, the date of the hatch, information about the parents and siblings, the color of the bird and sometimes more. I tend to attach to my cockatiel birth certificates also a baby picture of the bird and sometimes other memorable dates.
You won’t usually get a birth certificate when buying a cockatiel from a pet store – but you can ask it from a breeder. The birth certificate also works as the certificate of Origin for those species which need it to be legally kept. But for cockatiels, it’s not a necessity.
CITES comes from the words Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild flora and fauna. It regulates the trade of several endangered animal and plan species.
CITES-agreement has appendices depending on the level of the endangerment. Those species that are part of the CITES system are separated to these appendices which set some rules for the trade. Cockatiels are not part of the CITES system, meaning that cockatiels don’t need any CITES certificates.
The moment of purchase
When you are finally in the moment of purchasing your cockatiel, you need to take a close look at your future bird. It should be a lively one, and there should be no secretions draining from the nose or eyes. The plumage should be in good condition and the bird should not show marks of deficiency. If the cockatiel is sleeping on both feet, looking melancholy, keeping the feathers fluffed, the bird might be ill. Do not buy any birds out of pity! If you suspect the bird’s health, talk to the seller. You can cancel the trade there, but after taking the cockatiel home, it might no longer help to tell that the cockatiel was sick before you bough it, if you didn’t say anything.
Before you take the cockatiel home, see that everything is ready: cage is furnished, the room must be bird safe, food must be completed and so on. The cockatiel can travel in a cardboard box for a short time, as long as you ensure that the bird can get enough oxygen. You can do this by making some air holes. The holes should not be too large, and the box has to be robust so that the cockatiel can’t tear it to pieces. You can also do the transportation with a small transport cage or a cat carrier box. It might be wise to take with also a blanket, which can mask the cage if needed, as the darkness calms the birds. Also, consider the weather. In cold wintertime, the car needs to be warm, and on a hot day, you need to make sure that the cockatiel won’t suffer from the heat.
When bringing the new cockatiel home, you need to be patient. It must be remembered that the change of the familiar habitat may be initially shocking. Flock members have disappeared, and their familiar cries of invitation can no longer be heard. Cage is new, and the outside surroundings are unfamiliar. Some cockatiels initially refuse to eat, but that shouldn’t take more than a day or two. Delete all the causes of stress: The cage should not be removed for a while and if you have cat’s or dogs as your family members, do not allow them to disturb the cockatiel, not even by staring the bird.
Cockatiels can be transported in small traveling cages or for shorter trips, cardboard boxes. Pet shops usually provide you with a box, but when getting a bird from a breeder, you may want to negotiate whether he or she gives you a traveling cage/box or will you bring your own. If your journey back home is gonna be long, a cage is a better solution. But it’s important that the traveling equipment isn’t too large since the cockatiel can be nervous and try to fly, bouncing from wall to wall, and if the space is too large it may harm itself. Later when your bird has settled down and gotten used traveling a bit more, you can provide it with a larger traveling cage, too. But at first, you will want to take things slow and careful
For a longer journey, you should offer some food and water and a couple of strong perches that are easy to take grip from. In the summertime, you must see that the cockatiel won’t get too hot. You may not leave it alone in the car under heat without protection. And if it’s a cold winter you should warm the car before bringing the bird inside the vehicle. There is a small risk of the cockatiel catching a cold during winter time traveling, but actually, it’s not the cold that is the main danger – but the draft. Cockatiels can even take some short periods of mild frost, but draft makes them easily ill. So cover the traveling cage with a blanket in wintertime to prevent cold draft to making your bird sick.