New Jersey, United States
Posted Mar 02, 2014
Hawkeye, a beautiful little pearl cockatiel youngster was given to me as a birthday gift. He was large enough to be eating adult food, and easy to handle without fear of injury, but young enough to socialize and train. We had no issues with him squawking, biting, etc. He loved to be petted, and having his head scratched. I find that introducing human contact with a new animal (or bird, or reptile) is best done while feeding. Receiving food paired with touch links the two together as a positive experience. When I fed Hawkeye, I'd also talk to him and pat him on the head, or scratch behind his crest (he loved that!).
In addition to his regular cockatiel food he ate dried fruit, fruit/seed bars and millet stalks (his favorite). I also gave him a Romaine lettuce leaf every once in a while for something green.
Grit perch covers, some fun toys and a cuttlebone attached to the side of the cage took care of the basics, and having a nice big double cage with a pull-out tray made cleaning a breeze. I'd fill the tray with lots of layers of newspaper and then remove only the soiled layers--much easier than cutting a new set to fit the tray each time. An occasional bath is a great treat for them, too. Hawkeye loved his little bathtub.
Hawkeye lived in my workroom (I'm an artist) which is where I spend most of my time, so we were together a lot. He'd chatter, chirp, click and whistle but couldn't duplicate words. He could mimic any other sound I came up with, so I copied some of his sounds, and he copied some of mine. You could tell he liked when I spoke 'his' language because he would come down from his perch, right up to where I was standing and stare at me, tilting his head while repeating everything I did. I would introduce a new sound every once in a while, to make it more interesting. Fun times :-)
I discovered that he (and maybe all birds, I don't know) don't like change. One day, I walked into the room after taking a shower, and he jumped around, skittered back and forth and screeched like I'd never heard before. I had no idea what was wrong until I realized that the only thing different was that I had a huge white towel on my head. Who knows what that must have looked like to the poor little guy (maybe like a giant animal attacking me?) but as soon as I took the towel off my head and he was fine.
The same thing happened the first time I wore glasses in front of him, too. Something to keep in mind if this is a common trait.
Another sort of oddity, although it wasn't a real problem is that Hawkeye didn't like being out and about at all.
He perched on my hand easily, but for some reason was afraid to go far from his cage. I tried bringing him a little farther away each time, but he would always fly off my hand and into the cage again. Not to cause him any stress (and there was no reason to force this anyway), I let him be. Strange though, was that one time I opened the cage door to do something and he flew out and straight into the closed window, then fell down behind the radiator.
I was worried he was injured and I managed to reach behind there and get him out. He was a little stunned at first, but as soon as he saw that open cage door, he flew straight through it and back inside cage--and there he stayed.
Unfortunately, I only had the companionship of Hawkeye for about 7 years. I had a couple of cats at the time, and they never bothered or paid attention to him, and I never had to worry. But, one day I came home from work and noticed he was sitting at the bottom of the cage, something he never did. I asked my mother and son what was wrong with him, because he was fine when I left that morning. They said that one of the cats climbed up and laid down on top of the cage and when they jumped off, the cage fell over. The dish or something in he cage must have hit him in the head, because as I was checking him out, he staggered for a few inches and then just fell over and passed :-(
I would like to get another cockatiel one day soon, and will make sure the cage is bolted down or otherwise attached securely to a wall or shelf. That is the one bit of advice that I feel is most important. My cats didn't mean any harm, but did cause an accident with bad consequences nonetheless.