By Dr. Laurie Hess, DVM, Diplomate ABVP (Avian Practice)
Cockatiels are very social, interactive birds that make great first pets for families with elementary school-aged children and older. They have big personalities trapped in little bird bodies. They can learn to talk and to do tricks and love to hang out with their human family members. They don’t take up much space and are not that loud, so they are good pets for people who live in small apartments or homes or who have nearby, noise-sensitive neighbors. They need as large a cage as possible, as well as a daily supply of fresh water, pellets, and a small amount of fresh produce for diet variety and foraging. They also need some time out of their cages every day to become socialized and comfortable with people. With proper daily attention, they can do well as single pets but also typically love to have cage-mates to hang out with.
Female cockatiels can lay eggs every other day, even when housed alone (the eggs are infertile), so if you’re going to have a female cockatiel as a pet, be prepared for endless egg-laying! Since they are such proliferative egg layers, female cockatiels can sometimes develop reproductive problems, such as egg-binding (in which the egg gets stuck inside). Therefore, if you’re going to have a pet cockatiel, be prepared to have some funds set aside for veterinary care. Regardless of their gender, all cockatiels should have annual check-ups and require regular grooming, including nail trimming.
Cockatiels are also long-lived birds, living 20+ years when cared for properly. So, if you’re ready to make a long-term commitment to a pet that requires a moderate level of care, including some time every day to socialize with you, a cockatiel might be right for you!