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New cockatiel owner

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New cockatiel owner

Postby Winstonsdad » Sun Jul 12, 2020 11:49 am

Hi, we became new cockatiel owners because one was in our tree “lost” outside one day. He flew to the neighbor and was with him for a while but they found they couldn't handle the bird with their dog and kids-it was too much. They also had tried very hard to locate the previous owner since clearly the bird was lost. No success with that online or with flyers and they asked us if we wanted the poor thing and we couldn’t say no. He is the sweetest bird you could imagine. He gravitates to people and being outside the cage. He’s very inquisitive and playful and loves affection. We couldn’t be more happy and we have had several parakeets in the past so it wasn’t that big of a learning curve.

So a few general questions. Is there any way to guess the approximate age of a cockatiel? We want to take him to our vet who is very bird friendly but covid-19 has restrictions and he isn’t sick or injured thankfully. Even after being lost for an unknown amount of time, he seems healthy and happy and eating, drinking, flying, preening and pooping normally. We have to wait on seeing the vet. I’m just curious as he seems to have an “old” looking face. We’re pretty sure he’s male based on coloring.

He also doesn’t seem to eat much. He loves millet but we try to limit it and offer high quality seeds which he won’t eat much. We then got pellets and he ate a few but has shunned that for the most part. I’ve offered healthy people food from a list I found online and he’ll eat a few bites sometimes but not much. He likes chicken but again, just a tiny bite. I’m just not sure if he’s eating enough and I don’t know what his favorite food is aside from millet. I have found him sitting on his food dish at night when it’s dark and I assume he’s eating since it gets all over the floor every day but should I worry?

Poor bird has been through a lot. A few people in our neighborhood have recently moved and I wonder if he was let out deliberately. He absolutely loves people and is bonded to males very well. The male voice makes him so happy. It seems to me he wouldn’t have gotten lost that easily because he comes so easily to you when you put your hand out and he wouldn’t leave the male neighbor who found him initially. It’s pretty sad to think he lost his fam. But we love him. He’s such a gift. He’s the nicest bird, doesn’t bite. Only hisses if you approach his cage in the dark.

Any input appreciated. Thank you!
Winstonsdad
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 3
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Cockatiel
Flight: Yes

Re: New cockatiel owner

Postby Pajarita » Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:57 am

Welcome to the forum, Winston and Dad and thank you so much for taking him in! First and just as an FYI, the way you can tell if a tiel is male or female is not so much because of coloring because they have been bred for mutation and color for so long that the phenotype dimorphism has pretty much disappeared in most cases BUT what is always different is the vocalization. If the bird only makes a one or two tone whistle is a female - if it does more notes, it's a male. Also, females that have mates never make a single sound - a detail that you cannot use as you only have one and females will call out (sometimes incessantly) for a male when alone and hormonal. Which brings me to another piece of info: cockatiels are aviary parrots and not companion parrots so in order for them to be really content in their lives with humans, they need to have, at the very least, a mate. I hope you take this into consideration. As to his age, I am afraid that there is no way to know if the bird does not have a closed leg band. Faces, plumage, energy, etc does not change at all as they get older (as long as they are healthy and getting the right diet, flight, etc.) what does change (but only when they are very old) is their feet and legs. Their toes get a bit crooked, sometimes there is a nail missing and the skin becomes more 'scaly'. And I hear you on the Covid19 vet problem! My own avian vet is actually open but the whole thing is a federal project and they don't even let you go in - you have to wait your turn (after making an appt that takes weeks!) sitting in your car in the parking lot and, when they call you, you can only pass them the carrier and cannot go in with the animal - which I would not like to do for any of my dogs or cats and would not even begin to consider with my birds! But, if the bird is eating, drinking, pooping, behaving normally and is a strong flier, chances are, the bird is OK.

Now, as to diet. PLEASE NO CHCKEN OR ANY OTHER KIND OF ANIMAL PROTEIN!!!!! Cockatiels are classified as granivores so they did not evolve to eat any type of animal protein which is real bad for them (bad cholesterol, different type of protein than vegetal protein and too much fat). Animal protein destroys their liver and kidneys and these two are the number one and two causes of death for cockatiels (because you can't free-feed protein food, either). They are not big on fruit or veggies but they do love their greens. I don't have any tiels right now but I had a flock of over 30 for years and they loved their fresh greens so much that they would not even wait for me to put them down, they would start eating them out of my hand. They also love whole grains -which need to be cooked at a hard 'al dente' and, if you mix the whole grains with finely chopped veggies, they will eat them (which is VERY healthy for them). My tiels ate gloop (you will find several recipes in the diet section) with raw produce in the am and a budgie mix during the winter/cockatiel mix during the spring at dusk - which is, in reality, the way all parrots and not only cockatiels should be fed.

They are partial ground foragers so, if you serve the gloop on a paper plate at the bottom of the cage and the lettuce or whatever green you are giving him that day (vary them so he gets a wider range of nutrients) high in the cage AND at dawn, he will eat much better.

They do not eat at night so he is perching on the side of the bowl for some other reason... I suggest you re-evaluate the placement of the cage, the light and the perches. The cage should be placed near a window so it can get the exposure to dawn and dusk they need to keep a solar schedule (research avian photoperiodism, avian endocrine system and avian reproduction system - or ask us to elaborate because this is important :D ) and there should be no artificial light whatsoever shining into his cage at night - and the perches should never be dowels, they need to be natural tree branches with one of them placed catty corner at the top of the cage (leaving enough room for the bird's height).
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 17145
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: New cockatiel owner

Postby Winstonsdad » Thu Jul 16, 2020 8:36 am

Thanks so much for the great reply. I’ll keep this short. I think it’s a male then. He’s quite vocal when he’s relaxed and comfortable. He likes music and that seems to prompt him to vocalize, also noisy when he hears birds chirping outside. It’s funny because he hears the hawks outside and you see his posture change and he gets quiet. Excellent hearing! We have hawks in the area multiple times a day. They’re red shouldered hawks and I’m frankly surprised he survived lost outside at all because they sit in our big trees and on our fence and we see them on lampposts every morning. They are beautiful and seem quite comfortable in our suburban setting. Im never worried walking right under them on the street but the bird got lucky, I think.

All the nutrition info is noted. He doesn’t seem to like greens but I’ll keep trying. I think whomever had him before spoiled him with a lot of people food. He does seem to be eating more of the seed and pellets now. I have both in the cage just so he’ll eat something and I put a paper plate on the floor of his cage every morning with his fresh greens, some cooked sweet potato and whole grain rice. Sometimes he checks it out but most times he ignores it all. We have a routine where I let him out early in the morning, clean his cage and he gets to see what I’ve got for him on the counter. He likes whole grain toast outside the cage but not inside. I let him out several times a day but he really has to be caged at times for safety. I haven’t killed him yet, lol. Trying hard to help him have the best life possible. His feet seem “younger” then. I’ll have to replace his perches for sure since he has dowels.
I’ve added some toys but he ignores them for the most part. I’m not sure about getting a mate for him. It would be smart, I guess. It’s just nice he loves his humans. He’s hanging out on the laptop right now.

Have a great day and thanks again!!
Winstonsdad
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 3
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Cockatiel
Flight: Yes

Re: New cockatiel owner

Postby Pajarita » Thu Jul 16, 2020 9:03 am

Yes, indeed, he was VERY lucky! First of all, thank you so much for trying so hard to give him a good life and a better diet! But, please do not give him US brown rice (it has too much arsenic in it). Red rice (like Lundberg's Wehani) is the most nutritious but black rice is good, too (like Lundberg's Japonica or Forbidden rice from the Orient). If you have your heart set on brown rice, get the Brown Basmati grown in India or Indonesia, those are safe. But whole grains other than rice are much more nutritious and easy to find nowadays: kamut, oat groats (EXCELLENT for captive birds), wheat kernels. hulled barley, millet, etc. And don't forget cooked lentils - they like them a lot. And mix them with finely chopped or very small veggies (like corn, baby peas, diced carrots, chopped broccoli) because seeds, grains and a bit of green is not going to do it in terms of nutrition. And don't forget to add a multivitamin/mineral to its water because although pellets have them, if he only eats a tiny bit of them, it's not going to be enough.

Also, do not put his greens on the bottom of the cage, stick a whole leaf (or a portion of it) between the bars of his cage, next to a perch and all the way up. And put it there while still dripping water from washing it.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 17145
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: New cockatiel owner

Postby Winstonsdad » Sat Jul 25, 2020 10:33 am

Thanks very much for the great advice. I screen captured your replies so I can reference them. I’m excited to try new healthy foods. He’s been enjoying his seed a bit more. Lol we enjoy him so much. :cockatoo:
Winstonsdad
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 3
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Cockatiel
Flight: Yes

Re: New cockatiel owner

Postby Pajarita » Sat Jul 25, 2020 10:36 am

My pleasure. Cockatiels are wonderful, wonderful birds and, sadly, usually underappreciated. They are the sweetest-tempered of ALL the parrot species, beautiful little things, graceful and very smart and, to put the icing on the cake, not hard to take care of at all!
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 17145
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes


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