This article focuses on the new bird enthusiast and choosing their first bird to own. In this article I will explain why I think the cockatiel is my overall pick for the new bird owner and why. I will also give important comparisons between the cockatiel and other parrot breeds such as the African Grey, Eclectus, Conure, and others.
There are lots and lots of different breeds of parrots out there. Some are very good for petting; some are not. However, for many people who haven’t own any pet parrot or any pet birds, many will feel that the cockatiel is an excellent starter bird in the parrot family. Cockatiels are usually associated with having a good personality, very friendly, good talkers, a bird you can cuddle with some what. They also make very good companions.
Cockatiels have been kept and breed successfully in many countries all around the world. Cockatiels can be considered as the most widely kept parrot other than parakeet or budgie (budgerigar). There are lots of research material available and many experts on cockatiels. The learning curve for the care and up-keep of cockatiels is minor and many keepers of them become experts of the cockatiel bird and their care rather quickly.
Of all of the breeds of parrots the cockatiel is the most likely bird to satisfy the new bird owner almost immediately. Other breeds of parrots can be very nippy, biting parrots. Most tend to bond with a single individual and sometimes are even rude to people other than the owner or person they bond with. The cockatiel generally doesn’t portray any of these traits, although some might, it is rare.
Okay, given the above information about cockatiels I don’t want to say that all bird owners should start with a cockatiel or even imply that all bird owners should own one. What I do want to say is that if you are new to birds as pets you really should consider the cockatiel as a first bird because they are so easy to afford, take care of, and enjoy.
Often price is the deciding factor for the potential new bird owner. Every new bird enthusiast dreams of owning their dream parrot but that new pet can be very costly; sometimes in the thousands of dollars to own.
In the US, and most other countries around the world, the price of a cockatiel is very small compared to say a conure or one of the larger parrots such as the African grey. Prices for cockatiels range anywhere from as low as $30 to start with, or slightly higher for hand fed babies that are meticulously cared for by their breeders.
Of course one should realize that with birds, as is other pets, the more popular color mutation or rarity of the color can raise the price of a cockatiel. Also a cockatiel that has been hand fed will bring a higher selling price because the breeder has spent much of their time caring for the infant bird. Compared to “parent fed” cockatiels hand fed birds are usually about 30 to 50 percent higher in selling price. I will note though if you have the choice between parent fed and hand fed, can afford the hand fed bird, get the hand fed bird. The reason being is that the breeder has given you an excellent head start in getting the most enjoyment out of owning a bird because they have had so much interaction with them.
All birds make noise. Some very little and then some make a lot of noise. One of the first things a new bird owner realizes right away is that all birds are “vocal” to some point. By this I mean that all birds make noise. Generally a good rule of thumb is the larger the bird the more noise that is possible from the bird.
Now, granted that the cockatiel will be possibly noisier than say a finche, parakeet, or even a pair of love birds, they will in no way compare to the noise level of a Macaw or Amazon parrot. This fact should be taken into consideration especially if the new owner lives in a apartment housing unit or any area where noise level among neighbors could be a problem.
Every new bird owner would like to have a bird that can talk, but even that can be an annoyance with some of the larger birds. The African Grey, which is by far the nest talker of the parrot species, is known to be able mimic or say just about anything it hears often enough. I remember a friend of mine had an African Grey that could mimic the sound of his old analog dial phone ringing. While it was cute at first it quickly became annoying if you spent very much time with the bird.
For the most part cockatiels can live in complete harmony in just about any community environment. There are exceptions but generally cockatiels are low volume and usually only “speak” or mimic when they are first awakened or seeking attention for food or affection from their owners.
No parrot really talks, rather they mimic what they have heard enough and are able to mimic. A bird can not carry on a conversation with a human. Although some of the best talkers of the parrot species can do a real impressive job of making it appear as they can. I once knew a friend that had an Eclectus that could sing “I want to be a cowboy” by Kid Rock and did it so well if he had a band playing the musical part you would swear it was Kid Rock singing the song himself.
The bigger the parrot the better it will be able to mimic. The African Grey, Eclectus, and Amazon parrots are the best at talking. They have the best clarity to their voices, if you will, than any other breed of parrots. A cockatiel can do an excellent job of mimicking too. Although, their voice tends to be a lot more rough or scratchy than the bigger parrots, they are easily understood at what they do master in mimicking.
Now one should also keep in mind that not all cockatiels will mimic. Most will to some extent, but not all will. It is common for the bird to say “Hello” or other small phrases, but it is also common for them to never utter a discernable word. If having a talking bird is your prime goal you might consider a larger parrot before getting a cockatiel.
One thing to note is that it seems that hand fed cockatiels are more likely to talk than the parent fed ones. I guess this would all stem back to the early human intervention in their young lives and their willingness to adapt to pleasing the human they are most in contact with.
As a rule cockatiels are very well behaved when handled or when left alone for long periods of time. While any bird will bite or nip at you if they feel threatened, it is rare for a cockatiel to display such aggressions. As mentioned earlier in this article cockatiels are most often willing to cuddle with their human partners and actually crave this kind of attention in some cases.
They are also very good with children. The only problem with cockatiels and children is that often children do not realize how fragile the bird is and can often hurt them very badly or even kill them if handled too roughly.
Cockatiels are rarely moody or quick tempered. They will bite as any bird will when they feel threatened or defensive, but they bite for the most part is harmless. I suppose to a small child it may hurt a little more but to most all adults the fear of being bitten will be worse than the bite should you ever be bitten by one.
Compact in size
One of the biggest advantages of owning a cockatiel first is the low cost of housing them and their up-keep. Since they usually no bigger than the average man’s fist even a small to medium size cage is enough room for them to live in. This in turn translates into a smaller foot print of the cage size being needed for placement in the home. For many new owners this part of ownership doesn’t dawn on them until they get the bird home and find out you have to put the cage somewhere.
Of course being a smaller bird means they eat less and drink less water. This in turn means they make less mess with their food and water. Yet another plus to the neophyte bird owner. The big parrots have large appetites and often meticulous ones and they will definitely make a bigger mess with their food and water.
I would have to say that out of all of the parrots I believe the cockatiel to be the most widely accepted as a new bird owners first parrot. Add to that they even make a good “upgrade” so to speak for the budgie and parakeet owners. There are pros and cons to any species of bird but for the most part the pros far out weigh the cons when it comes to cockatiel ownership.
Parrots have been kept in captivity for a long time but only the parakeet and cockatiel have adapted to it so well. The bigger parrots many of them are caught out in the wild and can be very troublesome to deal with for a long time and possibly the whole time you have them. Cockatiels even the parent fed ones are the absolute easiest to get along with of the parrot species. I highly recommend a cockatiel to any bird owner or especially to the first time parrot owner.