Cockatiels have always enamored me. And, I am looking to get one. But, then I get into two moods on hearing my friends ramble about their bird problems. So, I thought, why not write a guide on how to acquire a cockatiel, and what does it entail to keep one? Hence, I quickly opened my laptop and searched all about it. Here is what I found out.
Where to buy a cockatiel?
There are a lot of places where you can buy a cockatiel. That includes pet shelters , bird expos, stores like Petco, PetSmart, and even local pet stores. People also sell their cockatiels on classified sites like Kijiji and Craigslist.
Places where you can get a cockatiel are:
- Local pet stores
- Private Breeders
- Bird rescues
- Online pet sites
Buying any cockatiel can result in buyer’s remorse. Hence you need to choose the right place and the right bird. Keep reading on to find out how.
Best place to buy a cockatiel?
Choosing the best place is slightly complicated. There are lots of factors that should be kept in mind.
Stores like Petco and PetSmart have been criticized for buying from bird bills. Hence, they are disliked by the community.
Most of the cockatiels found in pet stores, especially the big ones, are parent-raised. A parent raised/wild cockatiel is harder to adopt, and bond with than a hand raised/bonded cocktail. So, keep that in mind.
However, buying from Petco and PetSmart is easier, and they can be found in many locations.
The best place to buy a cockatiel would be from a rescue/shelter or bird expos. There you can not only get a cockatiel but sometimes they provide the bird with cages and extra supplies, saving you a lot of money.
If that’s not possible, the next best thing would be to buy from local breeders.
Breeders generally have a lot of knowledge and hand raise their tiels, so you don’t have to do it on your own. They also provide you a lot of information regarding caring and emergency help if you ask them to do so.
Before choosing any place to select your new bird, check out their environment. See how they are treating their birds. In which condition the birds are resting.
Ask some questions about the place to yourself:
- Are they clogged up in a small container?
- How clean is the place?
- Do you see dirt and gunk all over the place?
- Did they ask you to clean your hands before and after handling the birds?
All of these questions are highly important to judge whether the seller is serious about their birds, and that will allow you to choose the right place.
How much do cockatiels cost?
Cockatiels cost anywhere between $ 100-$ 200 depending on the location and the area. The cost can also vary based on the age, color, and accessories accompanying the tiel. Generally, cockatiels are way cheaper at bird expos and rescue centers than at big stores like Petco or PetSmart.
What does a cockatiel cost?
Cockatiel costs can vary a lot based on the seller. Let’s talk about each way one by one.
How much does a cockatiel cost at Petco?
The costs of a cockatiel at Petco can range from $80 to $150.  The variance is based on the sale and availability of the bird. Besides these, age can also be a factor. Also, pairs will cost slightly more. Pairs can be acquired at around $250.
How much does a cockatiel cost at PetSmart?
Costs of a cockatiel at PetSmart is similar to that at Petco – $100 to $150. The price depends on the area and how fancy the color of the bird is.
How much does a cockatiel cost at Pet stores?
The price of a pair of cockatiels can be around $80 to $200 at local pet stores. Sometimes in far-flung areas, they can charge you much more than that.
How much does a cockatiel cost at Craigslist/Kijiji?
Cockatiels can cost anywhere between $150 to $400 depending on the seller on sites like craigslist and Kijiji. These sites allow anyone to list their entries and hence the price depends on the seller. Also, buying from these sites is risky. So, you should keep your eyes open to various possibilities.
How much does a cockatiel cost at Private Breeders?
Private breeders are much costlier than normal pet stores and shelters. A cockatiel at a private breeder would cost you anywhere between $ 150-$ 250. However, cockatiels at these places are of very high quality, and they sometimes provide you with a lifetime guarantee in case there is a genetic disease.
How to choose a perfect cockatiel
To choose a perfect cockatiel for yourself, try to find the most energetic, enthusiastic, and playful young tiel out of the available. An energetic cockatiel would be fun to have and easier to bond with.
You can also let the cockatiel choose you. Place yourself near them and see which one likes to come near you, nibble you, and wants you to take him home, etc.
There are also tell-tell signs of whether a cockatiel is healthy or not. You don’t want to have an unhealthy bird in your home. So, closely look for these signs.
Check whether the cockatiel has:
- Clean big eyes and nostrils.
- There is no unusual discharge from anywhere.
- The area between their beaks and nostrils (cere) is clean.
- They are taking enough food and water at proper times.
- They are active and playful.
- They have proper poops and pees.
- They should have clean feathers and with no ragged edges.
Parent raised vs. hand raised.
Hand raised cockatiels are way better than parent raised for being a pet. They are much closer to humans than the parent-raised ones. That is why they are easier to bond with. You can also bond with the parent raised ones, but they take a larger time to trust humans.
Male vs. female cockatiel?
Male cockatiels are generally more prone to be friendly than females, but they have a natural tendency to make noises to attract female birds.  On the other hand, females are shy and quiet and can take some time to bond with you.
Is it better to get 1 or 2 cockatiels?
Having 1 or 2 cockatiels is highly subjective. While a single cockatiel can live with his human parents and bond quite well, he may not be left alone for a long time. If you go out a lot and for long, you need a companion cockatiel.
If you have not bought a tiel yet, try to get a pair as they are extremely social and would love a companion to play with.
But there are problems there too.
Cockatiels can be territorial and can harm the other tiel if it is introduced later to the cage. Hand fed/human raised cockatiels have a problem in introducing to other birds. What you can do is to let the other cockatiel remain in a separate cage and then slowly introduce him to the old tiel at a neutral place.
If they play along well together, you can place their cages nearby. This is how they’ll understand and be tolerant of the other’s presence.
Once you’re sure that they get along well together, you can move both in the same cage.
What is the best age to buy a cockatiel?
Cockatiels wean at around 8 weeks. So, the best age to buy cockatiel is anywhere between 8 to 12 weeks. Any tiel younger than 6 weeks should not be taken to a new home.
Are cockatiels high maintenance?
Cockatiels are not high maintenance. The only costs are high at the beginning, but then they are very low on maintenance. You just need to invest at first for the basic accessories, but then it is just like keeping a cat or a dog and sometimes even cheaper.
What are the costs of owning a cockatiel?
The initial costs are about $100 to $100 based on the area of purchase, but then you don’t need to invest a lot.
First, let’s have a lot at the initial costs.
A cage (one-time purchase)
Cost – $50 to $100
The cage should be large enough for them to flap their wings and roam around a bit easier. A small cage can depress the bird as they feel stuck.
For the cage, buy an open wire cage. Sometimes people try to put the tiels in a glass cage, which’s not a good idea since glass can break airflow. The best size for a cage would be 24lx18wx24h, with not more than 5/8 inch spacing between the bars. If there is more spacing, they can get their head between them and create a problem for you. This one on amazon should fit all your needs.
Besides, a good cage having mineral blocks and a cuttlebone would be a good idea. They also need a constant supply of water all day. Cockatiels love to bathe in water, but not everyone likes to do it, so that you can use misting as well.
Toys (one time to yearly)
Thanks to Instagram user cockatrio (check original post here)
Cost – $30 to $40
Cockatiels can get lonely, and toys will definitely help in curbing that loneliness. Try rearranging the toys every week to give them more stimulus.
Perch (one time to yearly)
Cost- $0 to $20
Birds love to sit on branches or perches. You can either buy them from amazon or make one on your own.
So the initial costs are about $200 to $300.
After that, there are monthly costs and rare or emergency costs like vet visits.
Cockatiels need fresh veggies daily. Besides that, you need fresh fruit and a bag of pellets. Pellets are cheap since a 2 lbs. bag will last you 3 to 6 months at least. Check this one for example.
That’s fewer than $20 to $30 a month for monthly costs. Not bad, eh?
Rare and emergency costs
Vet visits are required at least once a year, and regular checkups would cost you around $100. However, if there is a serious medical issue, then you could be billed between $500 to $700. Also, avian vets are pricey compared to normal vets.
P.S Keep at least $500 in reserve for every cockatiel you own. Just to be safe!
What about the time?
You don’t need to spend a lot of time, but daily bonding is a must.
You need to play at least 1 hour with them to let them stay healthy and fit. It is of utmost importance because that much is required for bonding. The more, the better.
Can 2 male cockatiels be in the same cage?
Two male cockatiels can stay in the same cage with few exceptions. They need to be bought in the cage at the same time to get accompanied by each other. But if that’s not the situation, you need to make them tolerate e each other.
You can do so by keeping them in separate cages while provided some time to play and learn about each other at a neutral venue. Then, you can move their cage nearby each other, and if they show positive signs, you can move them together.
What do I need to know before buying a cockatiel?
There are a lot of things you need to know before owning a cockatiel. Let’s pass through each of them
- Cockatiels are not for everyone
Cockatiels are good for children but not for adults who spend all their time outside their homes.
Cockatiels sleep for 12-14 hours with 2-3 small naps during the day. If they don’t get their sleep at the right time, they may get cranky and even get ill if it continues for long. So, you’ll need to either keep them in a different room or sleep according to the normal daily schedule.
- Birds require some time and attention.
Birds are fragile creatures, and hence you’ll need to look after them. They aren’t dogs.
To have a bird, you have to change in routines. Birds like to sleep and dusk and walk early in the morning. If you keep them up late at night, they might not get enough sleep, which is quite unhealthy for them.
- You’ll need to birdproof your house.
You will need to parakeet proof your home as free-roaming birds can get themselves in a lot of problems, especially with fast-moving things like a ceiling fan. Also, don’t keep windows or bathroom doors open. They get drowned in the water.
Cockatiels also can’t handle air conditioning. Keep your windows closed in winter, so they don’t get ill.
- Work will be required for bonding.
At least 2-4 hours is required to bond with a cockatiel. If you don’t have much time, try to get an accompanying bird to help them settle together.
All tiels don’t behave in the same way. Each bird has different behavior and that’s why each of them takes a different time to bond. New birds can get stressed in a new environment, especially if you try to bond to hard with them. If they are plucking their hair or a sudden hair fall due to stress, consult a vet immediately.
- They need accessories and other things.
They also need a good cage and toys to play with. Cockatiels are not made to live in cold environments, so in winter, U.V. lightbulbs and even humidifiers are needed.
Toys are a must-have to stimulate their brains. You can both make them or buy them online. You can also add different kinds of perches, ladders, and bells to give even more stimulation.
- They can make noises and sometimes frightening ones.
Cockatiels are noisy creatures, and they could disturb you just to get your attention. They whistle and cry when they don’t see you. If you keep giving them what they want, they’ll keep repeating the behavior. They are also quite chatty and can learn different sounds like other parrots.
Cockatiels can disturb your night time sometimes if you like to sleep if your lights on. They can get night fright. We have written in detail about it here.
- You’ll need to make a salad every day.
A lot of people just provide seeds to their parrots, which is not a good idea. Seeds have a lot of oil and not much else. Pellets are a much better option than seeds. You will also need to provide them with fresh vegetables and some fresh fruit.
Provide pellets to veggies in a 40:60 ratio.
Do not provide alcohol/caffeine/avocados as they could harm your bird. Don’t cook in Teflon ware either.
- Cleaning is a must with birds like cockatiels.
You will need to change their water daily. Also, the water dishes need to be cleaned as they can get infected with bacteria, especially if they’re plastic.
Birds and their environment need to be cleaned at least once a day as they poop and pee everywhere they like, and it’s not that easy to poopy train them. They also shed a lot of dust, and hence vacuuming is a must. You will need to scrub the cage monthly as well.
Use a Water sponge to clean their cages and stuff.
- They are a long-term commitment.
Cockatiels live for a long time (10-12 years), and therefore you’ll have to make long-term commitments with them. There are a lot of things that happen in our life: college, marriage, transfers. You’ll have to think about where you’ll keep your bird when you have problems.
- There can be emergencies sometimes.
You will have to get a checkup just after buying the bird to check out whether everything is all right.
Sticking to the bottom of the cage, runny eyes, colored poop, bloody poop: these are all signs of illness. And, if you see these, immediately visit a nearby avian vet to treat them out.
Green poop is only bad if there is nothing green in the intake. Chalky white poop can result from a liver problem, and if they are urinating a lot, it is likely a sign of intestinal or kidney problems.
How long do cockatiels live?
Cockatiels live for up to 10 years in the wild, but they can live up to 15-20 years when kept indoors. There have been reports of tiels living over 30 years.
Are cockatiels good pets?
Cockatiels are good pets to have. They are a fairly popular parrot in the U.S. as they are low on maintenance, and their bites rarely hurt. They are also extremely social and easy to bond with compared to other parrots like cockatoos.
Do cockatiels only like one person?
Cockatiels can bond with more than one person — not as close bond but as friends. However, to be friends with a cockatiel requires daily interactions, playing with them, and giving them treats.
Sometimes family members only interact with once or twice a month and then hope the tiel would be friendly to them, which will likely not happen.
Can a person with asthma keep a cockatiel?
A person with asthma should not keep a cockatiel. They are a part of the cockatoo parrot family and therefore exhibit similar behaviors like having dust etc.