Acquired: Breeder (non-professional, hobby breeder)
Posted May 20, 2014
My family got Kiwi when I was pretty young, and I grew up with her. She was only four months old when we brought her home. She was a beautiful bird, with her orange cheeks and yellow crest, and was extremely sweet and loved to show off. In general, cockatiels are very smart and social birds, but I've had friends who've owned birds that weren't as friendly as Kiwi. My guess is because they weren't handled properly as babies.
Many people desire cockatiels for their mimicking abilities. She couldn't say complex phrases, but she did have a few words. When we whistled she could whistle the same tune, and she also mimicked the intonation of our words. Their mimicry can be very entertaining and crowd-pleasing, and anyone who visited loved to interact with her. She loved to climb on her perch and pull herself all around the bars on the outside of her cage. She was a good companion and especially fond of my mom. She would step right up on our hands, walk up to our shoulders, and just hang out there. She even gave me "kisses" sometimes and was very affectionate.
The birds themselves are fairly inexpensive, but they need certain equipment to make them the most comfortable. Do your research about how much effort and equipment is required to raise them. If you purchase a cockatiel, hang out with him, chat with him, and give yourselves time to get used to each other. Sit by their cage and whistle at them and see if they'll copy you. You'll want a spacious cage with several perches and bars that are no more than 3/4 inches apart, so that you don't have issues with your cockatiel escaping. They can be quite messy, so you'll have to clean the cage often. They also chatter quite a bit as I previously noted, so they might wake you up in the morning. If you have a small house or apartment, this might be annoying. She also tended to be a bit nippy, especially early on and with new people, but this went away over time.
Cockatiels require stimulation with a good amount of toys. Kiwi had a basket of toys and she would bore easily when playing with the same one for too long. If you work long hours and wish to have this type of bird, I would recommend getting two so that they don't get lonely. They can be very affectionate with each other - a friend of mine owned a pair, and they groomed each other and touched their beaks to kiss.
With the proper care, cockatiels can live to twenty or even thirty. Ours had liver issues later in life, but she still made it to eighteen. If you've never had a bird before, you might want to start with a canary or a finch, but if you're ready for the commitment and have the ability to take care of them, cockatiels make awesome pets.
Image: By Kelly2357 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons