Posted Jul 07, 2014
I used to own two cockatiels. I got the first, Cinnamon, from a breeder in Virginia when I was about eight years old, and the second, Sugar, from the same breeder about two years later. I was a responsible kid and an animal lover, so my parents believed that I was capable of caring for two birds with minimal supervision. And at first, I was-- I doted on Cinnamon and primed her to be sweet and docile. I've heard that it's easier to train a bird to be friendly when you raise it by itself as opposed to in the company of other birds. I don't know if this is true across the board, but it was certainly true with my birds; contrary to what their names would suggest, Cinnamon was sweet, whereas Sugar, who grew up around Cinnamon, hated people. She would bite me every time I tried to pet her head or take her out of her cage.
Eventually, I grew tired of my birds and began to neglect them. I didn't like taking them out of their cage because I found it stressful. I fed and cleaned up after them, of course, but I didn't give them the attention they deserved. Cinnamon grew visibly depressed and Sugar grew more and more unfriendly.
I finally realized that what I was doing was completely unfair to my birds-- pretty cruel, actually-- and that I needed to either give them more attention or give them away. I decided to give them away to a retired lady who lived nearby. I have no idea what happened to them after that.
Even writing about this makes me feel sad and guilty. The reason I've gone into detail is to convey that cockatiels require a lot of attention. It's not enough to just clean their cage and feed them-- you have to talk to them and take them out. Don't buy cockatiels just for decoration. They're loud, they're messy, and they can actually bite pretty hard! I'm not trying to cast cockatiels in a negative light-- they can be really awesome and sweet-- but rather, to warn others not to make the same mistake I did.
-Cockatiels aren't as vocal as some other birds, so don't expect your cockatiel to pick up English on its own. Teaching your cockatiel to talk takes a lot of training and it's not something I was ever able to do.
-A note on messiness: Like all birds, cockatiels bite down pretty hard when they chew, causing little pieces of whatever they're eating to fly everywhere. Be prepared to vacuum the area around your bird's cage very frequently.