Essential Knowledge

GENERAL/BEHAVIOURAL

  • Patience is key to everything! Never push a bird to do something it doesn’t want (unless it’s necessary or you will very quickly lose their trust.
  • Birds are super smart creatures who spend majority of their day searching for food (up to 8 hours)! Having readily available food on a bowl/in a dish gives them many hours with nothing to do. Buy/make your own foraging toys to make it harder for them and to keep them occupied.
  • Shredding toys – never enough!
  • The internet is a great resource for taming and training, but remember to be patient and take things as slow as your bird wants/needs.
  • Did you know not to pat your bird anywhere other than its head and sometimes neck? The rest of the body is erogenous and they will likely get angry and broody if you pat them there.
  • To tame your bub don’t pull away when they do hiss/bite. This teaches them that doing so will get them what they want (you to go away). When they do it simply freeze your hand – don’t move closer to them but don’t pull away (no matter how hard they bite). Just stay where you are and don’t give them any attention. Eventually they will be the one to step back. Find the distance that they are currently comfortable with and use millet or other treats to very slowly minimise that distance between your hand and them every day/two/three days – don’t rush it!

SAFETY

  • Human saliva is toxic to Cockatiels! No sloppy kisses!
  • Fibers from any rope/fabric, including toys, towels, cardboard and even our hair, do not digest and slowly build up in their stomachs. In the end if caught early enough, birds will most likely need surgery, but are not guaranteed to survive. This is one of the biggest killer of birds
  • One of the biggest killer of birds is Heavy Metal Poisoning, which they can get from chewing electrical cords, rusty cages/metal.
  • Other toxic chemicals: Incense, deodorants and aerosols, non-stick cookware, microwaves, fridges, aluminium, cleaning products (keep birds as far away from the kitchen as possible)
  • Birds want to chew EVERYTHING! Just like you would childproof a house for a new baby, you need to bird-proof your house. Walls, blinds and skirting boards are particular favourites!
  • ROPE TOYS are extremely dangerous and should never be used. The birds chew on them, ingest the fibers, and they get stuck in their crop or stomach and build up over time. If you’re lucky they’ll be able to remove the fibers in a very costly surgery. They are one of the biggest killers of pet birds – absolute no go!

HEALTH

  • Absolutely no caffeine, alcohol, salt, sugar, onions, garlic, avocado, mushrooms, and rhubarb!
  • A cockatiel’s diet should consist of approximately 65% pellets, 30% fresh foods (see healthy food list in files section), and 5-10% seeds.
  • Additionally, they should be given native branches and flowers as often as possible to help with their health and mind (always triple check to ensure they aren’t toxic). Grass and grass seed are great – the latter being a great source of protein. Ensure the plants are not at risk of having been poisoned/sprayed by anything. Your bird’s immune system is not as strong as a wild bird’s.
  • Your birds need at least 30 minutes of direct sunlight a week, though they should get at least 30 minutes a day.  Light through windows is not good enough because it filters out a lot of the UV rays. Vitamin D is important for healthy feathers, the liver, and a lack of it essentially makes the birds colour-blind, causing difficulties identifying a mate, food sources, and pretty much everything else.
  • Getting sunlight is the perfect time to give them a misting bath!

SICK BIRDS

  • Sitting at the bottom of the cage, fluffed up, not eating/drinking, barely moving, tail bobbing (difficulty breathing)
  • Birds hide their illnesses extremely well. By the time you notice these signs please take your bird to an avian vet ASAP (ideally within 8 hours)
  • A yellow tinge to the white stripe on their wings of their feathers (all mutations except white-face) indicates fatty liver disease. This is a slow process but please take your bird to the vet as soon as you have a chance.
  • If you notice a change in behaviour and/or poo colour/consistency it is likely your bird will need a trip to an avian vet as soon as possible. Things like age (under 2yrs), seasons, and whether they are moulting or not can affect their moods too though, so this is not always the case.
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