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The Cockatiels

by Orlando Bonnici

Through my years of experience with birds, I can firmly state that only few species can match the intelligence and character of this small parrot. Cockatiels originate from Australia and they have many qualities which make them one of the most popular pet birds. They have been bred for a very long time and today it is illegal to export wild species from their native land. Cockatiels have a life expectancy of around 15-20 years, but there are recorded cases of cockatiels that lived up to 40 years.

Although, cockatiels are widely known as hardy birds, ideal for beginner breeders, they need to be carefully cared after. Cockatiels need to be placed in quite a large cage. The general rule for a cockatielís cage is the bigger the better. They need some space which they can exercise their flight and in which they can stretch their wings.

Like all other birds cockatiels require a stable and comfortable temperature. If a temperature is good for you, it should be good also for your birds. Cockatiels enjoy company and are easily distressed by loneliness. If you intend to buy a cockatiel pet, make sure that you will spend a lot of time with him/her or else buy two birds which can make company to each other.

House your cockatiels in a room which is well lit and where there is no drought. Do not place the cages where there can be dangerous smoke like cigarette smoke, insecticides, hairspray and also non-stick cookware like Teflon. All these can be extremely dangerous and can kill your bird quickly. Cockatiels also enjoy water and use the water baths provided by their owners. Each cockatiel has its unique personality and while some birds might like water baths, others will enjoy being sprayed by their owners with spray bottles.

The cockatielís main diet is made of seeds but however seeds should not be given alone but should be part of a more complete nutritional diet. Seeds are high in fat and low in vitamins. If we compare it to a human diet, it is like a person eating only bread with butter. Other food must be given to cockatiels to ensure that your birds are getting all the nutrients necessary for a healthy life. Cereals and Grain like puffed rice, corn, oatmeal, cooked rice and wheat bread provide a good source of carbohydrates. Vegetables like carrots, beets, frozen mixed vegetables, spinach and other greens (not lettuce) are a good source of vitamins.

Avocado, chocolate, seeds of apple, peaches and cherries can be deadly since they are poisonous. Mineral blocks and cuttlebones should be provided as a good source of calcium. Additional Vitamin supplements which can be bought from any local pet shops must be administered to ensure healthy growth of any cockatiel.

Cockatiels breeding is not very difficult and any beginner can easily manage to breed a pair of cockatiels. Cockatiels are easily distinguishable in normal colour. The normal grey cock will have a yellow face with the typical orange dot on the chin which is found in both sexes. Other colour mutations can be more hard to distinguish as cocks and females are more similar in their colours. However males cockatiels will be more active and are more likely to mimic any human sound. Males will produce a more varied repertoire of sound and chirps which will distinguish him from any female partner.

A major rule in cockatiel breeding is to allow the birds to reach their maturity before allowing breeding. Males tend to be mature around 12 months old, although many breeders argue that a cockatiel should never be allowed to breed until 18 months old. In females, 18 months of age is a must since premature breeding may cause several (and usually fatal) complications such as egg binding and abnormal egg laying.

Cockatiels prefer to breed during the late spring and early summer period although they will breed at any time of the year if they think that the conditions are favourable. Cockatiels need a 12inch cube box with a front hole in the front in order to breed. I usually use peat and wood shavings as a base for the cockatiels. Do not worry about excessive nesting materials as the cock will alter the nest box to his own likings often wood pecking also the entrance and the inside of the nest box.

If mating occurs, the female will lay 4 to 5 eggs and these should hatch between 19 to 21 days after the third egg is laid. At this time cockatiels should be given a lot of soft food including greens, eggs and some fruits. These are especially important for the parents to rear their hatchlings in a healthy way. Never give only seed to cockatiels which are about to have babies since seeds will not have all the necessary nutrients needed for correct growth of the chicks.

Cockatiels are wonderful birds which make very good company to every human. Their friendly and playful nature makes them irresistible to any breeder. I strongly recommend cockatiels for any beginner since they are hardy birds that are not very expensive. If you follow the guidelines I have given you in this article you should not have any problems with this kind of bird. However if your pet cockatiel show some strange signs I recommend you to take him/her to a Vet immediately to ensure that your pet is healthy. I wish you all good luck with cockatiels and remember that pets are very like humans, they require love, care, attention and a lot of time to play with. Make sure you can give all of these before you get your own cockatiels from any pet store around the island. Take care and good luck to all.

Donated by Orlando Bonnici

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