Companion Cockatiels – Entertainment

Companion Cockatiels – Entertainment

I always had German Shepherds until I found myself living in inner city apartments ten years ago. When I met a couple who urgently needed to watch their two cockatiels for six weeks, I couldn’t resist the opportunity.

These birds, a female and a younger male, were a severe case. He didn’t always sit on my shoulder when I left the room, but she did, and when she and I left he would make a noise, then launch himself out of the cage and drop to the floor with a thud to march after me, screaming to his girlfriend all the way. Both had paper fetishes and cute little beak shapes made of whatever paper I was careless enough to keep on hand.

I now have two male cockatiels, Coriander and Bergamot (B&C). Cockatiels, as members of the parrot family, fall into the companion bird category. They want to be in your company and interact with you. They are affectionate, sensitive, surprisingly intelligent and downright comical.

They are very messy though and I am constantly cleaning up after them. The pulp is mostly shelled seeds, which the parrots seem to like to throw within a radius of at least one meter of their cage.

All parrots are gregarious birds and in the wild call to each other when separated from the flock. In captivity they do the same thing… except in captivity I represent the herd.

They want to know I’m within cooee and whistle at me periodically to make sure I’m still around. As long as I answer, they are happy. If I’m a little late in answering, they’ll come looking for me. I’ll be sitting at the computer typing madly when two little birds appear at the door and chirp. They cluster right at my feet and start climbing until they reach my shoulder, where they curl up, gurgling (like a cat purring) in contentment. If I sit next to their cage, they will crawl out and clumsily swing it over to sit on top of me.

B&C are free to be out of their cage when I’m home, but I lock them up to go out because they will go beak first at the nearest interesting looking thing. Telephone cables and electrical cables lead among the attractive items. They will destroy my plants for the sheer pleasure of tearing off the leaves. If it’s metal, they’ll find the weak link in seconds. Jupiter, a male cockatiel I once had, was sitting on my shoulder playing with my earring. He would then stick his head in front of my face to show me the tip he had just released from the hook, which would still be in my ear.

I learned this couple to say: You are a fool. Entertains visitors. I recently left them at the breeders for a few weeks. When I came back they were saying “Hi honey”. Both sing to the tune of Strauss waltzes conducted by Karajan. I leave a disc on repeat while I’m gone to serve as company and increase their repertoire. Bergamot annoyingly picked up the screech of a Mynah bird, and coriander echoes the sound of my mobile phone’s message beep. Have you ever heard the expression “let’s learn parrot fashion?” It means repetitive. This is how you teach birds to perceive new words and sounds.

B&C love Milk Arrowroot Biscuits as a treat. They used to be crazy about broccoli, but now they prefer silver beets. They are also partial to green beans, manuka, bottle brush, eucalyptus, pittasporum and willow. They pick them happily into pieces, which they gloriously shoot around. It keeps them busy as well as nourishes them. I push a folded piece of paper through the bars of their cage and they pull it for days. A small pine cone keeps them busy too.

In the wild, cockatiels spend approximately 80% of their time foraging, interspersed with rest periods. B&C will be as busy as summer bees, not singing, climbing around their cage, pulling branches and leaves aside, and then suddenly, there they are with their heads back, beaks buried in the feathers on their backs, and their eyes closed .

They like to be splashed with water every now and then and rub their heads against the perch, wings spread and up, leaning at crazy angles to take full advantage of the splash. I took Jupiter in the shower with me. When he’d had enough, he’d climb up my arm and I’d place him on the rail to preen while I washed.

B&C are still little at six months. I can expect to have the company of these adorable feathered clowns for twenty years or more.

#Companion #Cockatiels #Entertainment

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