Acquired: Worked with pet (didn’t own)
Posted Aug 21, 2014
I've never owned a bird.
In high school my best friend and her family bred (accidentally) cockatiels. They had an entire flock of them - all females except the father, Big Daddy. All the girls were sweet-natured and calm, feathered in your standard white and grey. Big Daddy was fearful, irritable, mean... and gorgeous! All white and yellow with big red Pikachu cheeks.
My friend's family planned to spend one summer at their cottage and enlisted me and my Mother with birdy babysitting. Neither my Mother or I had ever had birds or really knew what to do, but we were confident! We visited every day to change their water, food, clean up after them and pay them some attention. These tasks were fairly easy even though the birds weren't familiar with us. They'd freak out a little bit when we stuck our hands in the cages to grab their food dishes, but that was the worst of it. Except for Big Daddy.
Big Daddy liked to sit on the floor of his cage and stare up at us with an open beak and wide, incredulous eyes. He'd hiss like a goose and lunge at our hands! We started cleaning his cage wearing an oven mitt.
One day while Big Daddy was making it soooo easy to clean his cage - he escaped. He flew past my Mother's oven mitt and onto the china hutch in the living room. He spread his wings, lording over the room - screeching like a Ringwraith. As my Mother steadied herself on a dining room chair, oven mitt hand poised in attack, Big Daddy dive bombed me and swooped back up to terrorize my Mother with his wings and claws. Cue two women trying to grab a flying cockatiel with newspapers over their heads and oven mitts on for 30 minutes.
We did eventually get Big Daddy back in his cage (a witness would suggest Big Daddy simply flew back into his cage when he decided our punishment had been severe enough, but my Mother and I stand by our valiant story of catching him ourselves). And we were extra careful the rest of the summer to never let that happen again.
I'm not sure if I would recommend cockatiels to anyone, let alone complete bird novices, but don't let Big Daddy sway you from owning one!