Cockatiel Diary- March 16

Cricket’s been here since Feb 24 and I think he’s truly settled in. He’s full of songs, tweets, ramblings, his soft namesake “cri-cket”, and sometimes lo-o-oud whistles (when I’m not paying enough attention to him). He seems healthy and well adjusted, as far as I can tell as a new cockatiel owner.

Here are some unique things about him:

  • leaning all the way over, opening up both wings high above his head, spreading out his tail and “posturing” back and forth- the first time he did this it was after he dropped a triscuit bit. Now I notice he does it when he’s confronted with something especially frustrating- like when his house door is open and he hasn’t figured out a way to get out. Frustration? A show of bravado?

  • tilting his head under his raised shoulder and whistling softly. He does this when I come near or when I show him a triscuit. Is he flirting?

  • his beak looks a bit split - is this normal?

  • a couple times one of his nares seemed a little red, but no discharge or anything. Any idea what could cause this? He uses his beak a lot to climb around his cage- I wonder if maybe it gets irritated occasionally from pressing against the bars as he climbs around. No chemical fumes or anything around him- I remove him when the kitchen gets cleaned. I don’t use nonstick anymore.

  • his leg band. It says " 27 HAN CA 09" (27 & CA are turned on their side) Any ideas what that means? I don’t think it bothers him necessarily- I notice that when he cleans his feet/legs, he rotates it on his leg. Should I consider having it removed since I have no intentions of breeding him?

  • his diet. I give him mixed seed (no sunflower) and pellets. I’ve tried to crush up some of the pellets so that it’s closer to seed-size so that maybe he’ll “accidentally” eat some of it. I think he really tends to go for the seed. I’m not sure how else to get him to eat the pellets. Sometimes I also let the seed get a little “scarce” so that maybe he’ll be a little “forced” to eat the pellets. Any suggestions?

  • his water. I change it daily- I give him filtered water (not bottled) and add vitamin drops (pro-feda).

  • his cage. Too small? It’s 15W x 15D x 24H. I’ve been considering a bigger cage. He seems to move around more laterally and not so much up and down, plus, I’d like to get more activity-type things in there (like ladders and toys) - I don’t want him to be crowded. It needs to be able to fit on the shelving unit where it’s located now, so pretty much it can get wider than it is but not taller. Any suggestions or advice on how much room a cockatiel needs?

  • toys. He has a rubbery string with shells and crushed-shell-stars and a bell that he LOVES to chew on (and he also takes out frustration on it- chattering, squawking, and “attacking” it). He has a swing with mirrors that he loves to sit on and chatter with. He has a bird bathtub with a mirror on the bottom. This is the latest addition, so I don’t think he’s gotten it yet that he can bathe in it, but he does “argue” with his reflection so far. He also has a cuttle bone. What other kinds of toys do cockatiels love? I’d like to encourage him to chew on or shred something, to keep him busy when I can’t be right there to interact with him (like when I’m cooking dinner).

We’ve had more success this morning with “step-up” than ever before. He got on my finger (outside his cage) with little protest about 5 or 6 times. I gave him praise each time and let him rest there and I talked to him softly.

I just love this little guy!

Update: I got Cricket a new cage today. This one is shorter, but wider. It seems to be perfect for him. I put a short perch on the outside, which should help him to get out (the door on this one is different) so that he can climb up to play on the top. The shorter cage will allow him to have more fun on top, too (note the ability to put toys up there now!). He’ll dig that. I’m very satisfied with his new crib. He seems to like it too!

p.s. that toy you see on top is crack to this bird. It’s a rubbery “cord” with shells, crunchy stars, rubbery knots and a bell on it.

p.p.s. I’m in birdie heaven!

With that wire shelving, is there any chance to just enclose the whole shelf the cage is on and make that one big cage?

I’m so pleased you and Cricket are bonding so well.


The new cage looks good :slight_smile:

I’ve read that they don’t recommend the vitamin drops in the water. I forget the reason why.

Does he like greens? My budgies go crazy for a bunch of parsley, especially if it’s dripping wet, then they rub around all over it.

My tiels do that, too. It’s some sort of display - I’m not sure if it’s a “I’m ready to mate” or “I’m defending my territory” or both or something else.

Not sure.

Not exactly - access to a cuttlebone should help, but if it doesn’t get better or gets worse you’ll need to find a vet who can help with that.

It could be irritation from rubbing. It could also be that he gets a little overheated at times and his nose holes get flushed. Birds don’t sweat, they have to dump heat other ways. When they get hot their little feet flush, too, they’ll hold their wings out to the side and pant as well - at that point your really, really need to get them cooled off.

Those bands aren’t intended for removal. It’s also proof that he is a domestically bred bird. As long as it’s not causing a problem leave it alone.

Birds like seeds better than pellets. Given a chance they’ll eat the seeds first. Gradually reduce the seeds to get him to eat more pellets.

Tiels can also eat fresh fruits and vegetables (no avocado! No chocolate!) so share corn, peas, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, etc. They can also have small bits of chicken, beef, fish, whatever - they aren’t vegetarians, but as domestic animals they don’t have access to the bugs and stuff they’d eat in the wild. And stuff like rice, whole grain bread, etc. You should feed them some of that, just don’t overdo it.

If they’re getting pellets and some fresh food they probably don’t need the vitamins in their water.

From the bird’s point of view, the more the better (as long as he has a safe space to retreat to). I think the cage you have is adequate, especially if he gets a couple of hours of play time outside of it every day.

Birds vary, of course. I’ve had some birds that love to shred the cardboard tubes that toilet paper and paper towels come on, but those have been girls and Cricket is a boy bird. If he’s gibbering at mirrors and playing with the toys he has he might be entertained enough. My birds also spend time just watching me do stuff, which they can find either totally fascinating or totally boring, depending on their mood.

When I make a salad I offer the birds bits of lettuce, carrot, radish, etc. Sometimes they just shred it up and play with it, sometimes they eat it. Birds do like to make messes.

Just for the record it looks like cricket is a male pied cockatiel. His beak is normal, just give him some small pieces of wood to chew and he will keep it worn down properly. If I remember correctly his band is saying the he is the 27 hatchling of the 2009 breeding season from a breeder named Han in California. His new cage is a lot better than his old one just make sure that the bars are spaced less than 1/2 inch apart or it can turn into a deathtrap. All in all it sounds like cricket is settling in nicely and is turning out to be a well socialised companion parrot. Fresh foods to try are whole kernal corn,green peas, green beans,whole wheat bread/toast and cooked plain white/brown rice, my flock of feathered chainsaws goes nuts for these foods. Don’t put vitamin drops in his water dish, they promote the growth of bacteria in the dish, just give him a mineral block or a cuttlefish bone and he will be fine and healthy.

This is a very bad idea, the wire shelving is galvanised with zinc which is very toxic to birds. Ingesting just a small flake of zinc off a wire is enough to kill a parrot. Cages made of galvanised wire must be powder coated before use by birds.

Speaking of galvanized metal, you know the real wood perches you can get with the big screw and 2 big washers for attaching to a cage? Are the screw/washers made of galvanized metal, I wonder? Having a perch attached to the outside of his cage puts the screw inside the cage and he’s curious about it- maybe this isn’t a good idea? I guess I’m not really sure what galvanized metal is…

So far, he is so frakking addicted to triscuits (the super healthy low-salt, low-fat kashi brand) that he seems not to be interested in anything else I give him (eggs, chicken, bread, broccoli, so far) I should probably put a little separate dish in his house for these things and let him try them when he’s ready.

If the pearches are made by a good manufacturer they won’t use cheap galvanized hardware on them instead using stainless steel or cadmium plated steel (not as bad as galvanized but still not good).
Galvanized steel is the metal steel that has been given a anti-corrosian coating of zinc by dipping the steel in a bath of molten zinc while running a electric current between the them.

Some of my birds are more willing to try new things than others. For the picky eaters, I keep offering it to them. Usually they’ll start playing with it before they actually start eating it, but eventually they often do start eating new things.

Birds are individuals, so they have individual likes and dislikes, just like people.

Yeah, I’d discontinue the vitamin drops (I think it can lead to bacteria growing in the water, but I know it’s not recommended). Filtered water is a great idea; we give ours Brita.

Cage looks acceptable if he gets “out time” every night, which sounds like what you’re doing.

One thing you can do for him is to give him toys that he has to dig a treat out of. Various commercial products exist, but you can make them yourself – wrap clean, stiff paper around a spray of millet, for example, then cut some very small V shaped cuts into it with scissors here and there, and peel back the resulting little paper triangle enough to show there’s millet inside. He will have to tear out the paper with his beak to expose the millet – they love biting paper.

There’s also a great toy called Shredders which most stores carry; it’s made form palm fronds and you just roll out a length of it, snip it, and weave it through the bars of the cage until it stays. Cockatiels will have a ball chewing those things up, and they’re cheap.

Things to avoid – don’t let him play in cavities like boxes, holes, or nests. They resemble a nesting space (cocaktiels nest in holes in trees) and there’s a chance he may get obsessed with such spaces, become hormonal and bad-tempered, and bite anyone who comes near his “nest.” Don’t panic if he goes into a box or something; just don’t decide it’s “cute” and encourage him to spend time in such places.

Good snacks/treats: freeze-dried corn, peas, and other veggies are great. Also fresh frozen versions that you warm up (DO NOT let him eat hot ones!) If you use a microwave to heat them, heat them in water and drain the water off and make sure the veggies are only a little warmer to the touch than room temperature before feeding. Also boiled pasta (spaghetti noodles are a favorite) – without sauce, of course – and steamed rice, once it’s cool enough.

IF he’ll eat it, try to get him to eat fresh steamed broccoli and clean, washed salad greens (no avocados, as you know). Ours have never liked fresh leafy greens, but it would be good if they did.
edit: one secret to getting him to try new stuff is to eat it yourself, or pretend to, and make a fuss over it. Anything “the flock” is eating he will want to try!

Cricket is sooooo cute!

A friend of mine had a cockatiel; she was the smartest animal I have ever know. My friend left left her cage door unlocked. She would go in at night and close the door behind her. She would fly to you if you called her name from another room.

If I were you I would put a piece of plastic or some other protection under Cricket’s cage–you’re going to wind up with poop and other debris (seeds shells, feathers, water) on your books. :smiley:

Another thing I notice about Cricket is that he can climb up but he cannot figure out how to climb down- it positively baffles and scares him. I was in a pet store yesterday and saw a cockatiel hopping up and down from perches, and it seemed so easy. My poor guy climbs all the way around the cage to his food dish and backs his way verrry gingerly down, feeling around with his foot intil he finds a surface he can stand on. He just can’t seem to go head-down to get from one perch to another.

How can I help him learn to climb down? (Or even hop? : )

He is still young and unsure of himself, he will figure it out on his own soon enough. Was he allowed to learn how to fly before his primary flight feathers were clipped? If not then you might think about holding off on the next wing clip and giving him a chance to learn how to use his wings. How are his feathers clipped, all the primarys, just the primarys on one wing or did you leave him about three primarys on each wing? All 10 of my fids are fully flighted, feathered and are allowed to fly around the room almost at will, I am just very carefull about opening the door when they are out of their cages and have hung a bead curtain in front on the only door to act as a “air/bird lock”.
Enjoy Your New Friend And Master.

The lady that did his wings last time left three or so primaries on one side, and I don’t know if she wasn’t paying attention or what, but all his primaries are clipped on the other side (makes me sad- doesn’t look all purty and symmetrical!) Maybe she did that on purpose or something- I have no idea.

Anyway- there are a couple reasons I’m hesitant to allow him full flight. One is safety- related, and one is kinda selfish:

His house is in the kitchen, so probably not being able to make it all the way to the stove is probably WAY in his favor, and we also have a dog. I won’t even elaborate on why that scares me! We quarantine the dog to the patio or upstairs when Cricket is out, but if Cricket were to fly in the vicinity of the dog (who is capable of listening to me, but who also has a built-in prey drive), well, that just scares me…

The selfish reason is that I wonder if he never knows what flying really is, maybe he won’t become one of those wing-flappers that blow their feathers/dander/seed chaff all over tarnation. Am I way off on that theory?

I hate it when someone does a one wing clip, it gives the bird just enough lift to be dangerious but not enough control to stay out of trouble. As much as I like dogs and cats when it comes to birds the the best thing to do is keep then as far apart as possible, and if a cat even touches your bird get him to a vet ASAP, cats have an enzime in their saliva that is super toxic to birds. I still think that learning to fly is important to a birds mental heath and confidence, and being flighted won’t reduce his bonding with you, when mine are out they are almost impossible to keep off of me. You have not lived till you have 3-4 of your fids perching on your shoulders and one standing on your head fighting with his brother who is hovering above you and trying knock him off of your head or when a couple of them decide to preen the hair in your ears while plucking all the grey ones in the process. No matter what you do they are going to flap their wings for exercise, if you don’t want a mess don’t keep parrots. Has Cricket given you the “hot foot” yet? If he is sitting on you and all of a sudden his feet get hot enough to be borderline uncomfortable don’t freak out about it its just his way of showing that he is relaxed and comfortable. Kitchens are a bad place to keep a bird, too many toxins and cleaners plus the smoke/fumes from cooking are bad for his lung ( they only have one lung ) ditto for scented candles/incense/air fresheners/teflon cookware and smoking. Have you located an Avian vet in your area yet? If you think that your bird might be sick get him to the vet, by the time he looks sick he will be real sick and on deaths doorstep, birds hide it when they feel ill to prevent being forced out of the flock where it is safe.
Enjoy your new friend and give him a head scratch from me.

Oh wow, I didn’t know that. Is that the case for most birds or just cockatiels?

:eek: so that’s what that is!!

I assume it’s the same with budgies because sometimes when she’s sitting on my finger I just can NOT believe how hot her feet feel!

I can’t say about all birds as my experence has only been with hookbills (Parrots ) but as far as I know its true with parrots, just like they only have one gonad and kidney. Flying is hard work and the more weight you carry the harder you have to work to fly, so birds have evolved to do without some of the backup systems that land animals have.