Housing your Cockatiel
A big part of being a responsible bird owner means identfying eliminating and managing the risks and dangers found in our homes and making responsible informed decisions on the many aspects of bird ownership. Here are some of the more important considerations to be made while housing your Cockatiel.
Cage selection is simple. Get the biggest cage your circumstances allow, wider is better than taller, and remember to avoid overcrowding. Keeping a bird in a cage that is too small can lead to undesirable behaviours such as screaming, biting, psychological disorders, and feather plucking. If money allows, stainless steel is by far the best option. Wire spacing should be suitable for the type of bird, a curious bird could put his head trough a small opening and get stuck. In the case of Cockatiels recommended bar spacing is no more than 15mm or 5/8 to 1/2 inch.
Cage position/Night frights
The position of your cage is important. Your cockatiel will want to be in the center of the action through the day, and in a quiet corner through the night. The ideal position of your birds cage through the day will unlikely be the best position for through the night, preference should be for a separate day and night cage. Cages should be positioned away from doors in a well ventilated and lit location but out of drafts. Night time position should be in a quiet corner of a quiet room, consideration should be given to avoiding night frights caused by passing traffic, other pets and shadows. The cage should be partially covered on three sides, the open side towards a night light positioned to eliminate shadows. The cage should be in a room with a self closing door with no direct access to the outside environment.
Perches should be natural hard wood timber of suitable varying diameter. Wooden and plastic dowels should be avoided. Safe woods include Banksia, Bottlebrush, Gum....
Food and water bowls
How you feed is as important as what you feed, stainless steel forage trays and water bowls are the best option. If you birds are going to be left alone for an extended period then specialised feeders should be considered. Foraging should be encouraged.
Toys and accessories
Most people tend to over do the toys, natural flowers, grasses, roots. seaweed and other plant material can provide nutrition, mental stimulation and ensure good beak health. There are lots of low cost alternatives to expensive toys available at your pet store. Avoid Happy huts, rope perches and cheap imported toys as they are often the cause of crop impact, heavy metal poisoning, entanglement and strangulation.
Cage set up
Position food and water bowls, forage areas, perches so as to prevent contamination from droppings. The water bowl should be high in the cage and a clear flight path should be available through the center of the cage. In most cases 2 to 4 "natural hard wood" perches a swing will be sufficient. A perch high in the back corner of the cage should be provided as a retreat should the bird feel threatened.
Cleaning your birds food containers, cage perches and the cage itself is a never ending chore. Disused food should be removed before the spoil in the case of some foods (eggs, strawberry ect) this can be as little as 30 minutes most watery and high sugar foods should be removed in 4hr. The cage should have a wipe down daily and all faeces and discarded food removed from toys, perches, grill and the bottom of the cage. The cage should be thoroughly cleaned down monthly. It is important to maintain a ridged cleaning regime.
Personal hygiene is also important. Always wash your hands before handling your bird, avoid cigarette smoke, perfumes and some cosmetics. Be aware that humans carry gram negative bacteria that are harmful to birds. The other consideration is staff infections birds and humans can carry staff often with no symptoms for that reason its important to avoid any broken skin from scratches and bites. Treat any scratch seriously.
Fresh air and sunshine
Nothing can replace fresh air and sunshine your bird should be given outside time as little as 30 minutes direct sunlight can make a huge difference to the health of your bird. Avian sun lamps do not replace real sunlight. If you can not supply direct sunlight then vitamin D supplements should be provided.
Allergic Alveolitus other wise known as Parakeet Dander Pneumoconiosis may be avoided by regular misting, providing access to fresh air. Consideration should be given to using air filters to remove dust and dander from your and your birds environment.