How to adopt a cockatiel? (and how to take care of it)

In this article, we discuss how to adopt a cockatiel and how to take care of this bird. If you want to have a cockatiel as a pet, please read carefully through our guide. 

How to adopt a cockatiel? 

Our recommendation is to ask an avian veterinarian or search online for a reputable bird rescue and shelter organization in your area. Do not buy or adopt a bird from anyone willing to do so, so as not to encourage the sale and breeding of parrots for commercial purposes only.

Do your research, and choose a centre that follows the law and respects and loves birds. Visit the centre and ask for an adoption policy that you should read carefully to make sure that, first of all, you can take care of the cockatiel that you want to adopt.

Next comes the bureaucratic part, you have to sign an adoption agreement. Some centres may ask you to take a short course on how to take care of a bird in your home. And if all goes well, you will soon be able to bring your little friend home.

Cockatiels are the most affectionate and fun of the parrots out there. They can be endearing like children … but also chaotic if affection and good treatment are lacking at home.

Bird lovers will undoubtedly find it a luxury to have this creature from the southern jungle at home, a species with bearing and that chromatic crest that moves at will according to its mood – the main anatomical difference with other parrots. A cockatiel is active, playful, smarter than any other bird, who loves and can be trained as one of those exemplary actors in zoo shows.

Ingenious animals, it can invent games, surprise with some unexpected skill or imitation and, most attractive, reciprocate with as much affection as mammals.

But so many attractions carry a toll as compensation: responsibility.

Adopting a cockatoo is not like getting a canary. Depending on the species, they can live between two and six decades! And their capacity for understanding and emotional dependence requires that their human family is sure of the long-term decision.

Enjoying a cockatoo at its best, therefore, requires good training from the beginning. Both sides. It is best to acquire it very young when they still lack (bad) habits. In the garden centres, you will find hatchery cockatoos and only two or three months old, fed with mush and already used to human contact.

Before adopting a cockatiel

Before adopting a cockatiel you must be completely sure that this is the most suitable companion animal for you and your family. Birds do not always adapt to all lifestyles, since they are animals that require a great deal of free time, space, commitment and dedication. 

Living with a bird is not as simple as leaving it in its cage, giving it water and food, keep in mind that it is an animal that was born with wings and, as such, needs to fly. Likewise, they tend to be quite long-lived animals with adequate care, with the average lifespan of cockatoos being 20 years.

If you are looking for a calm animal, that makes little noise and does not get dirty, the cockatoo or any other bird of the order of the Psittaciformes is not the most suitable for you.

If finally, this is the animal that best fits you and your family and, therefore, you are determined to adopt it, read on and offer the best care to your cockatiel.

The cage of the cockatiel

As we pointed out in the previous section, birds were born to fly and, therefore, many are the experts who argue about the fact of keeping domestic birds in cages or not. However, at a minimum during the night, this is the best way to ensure the safety of the cockatiel.

What is the ideal cage size for the cockatiel?

The answer to this question is easy: bigger is better! Thus, although we cannot establish a maximum, we must establish a minimum, which is that the width of the cage must be large enough so that the adult cockatoo can open and flap without damaging its wings. 

Regarding the height, it must guarantee that the tail of the animal does not touch the ground when it is walking through the cage. On the other hand, priority should be given to cages with horizontal bars, as they allow the birds to climb and keep them stimulated since this is one of their favourite activities.

Where to place the cage?

The ideal cage location for the cockatiel depends on the personality of the bird. Most cockatoos are very sociable and, therefore, areas such as the living room are one of the best options to maximize social interaction with the people who are in that space.

On the other hand, more timid cockatiels may prefer quieter areas, such as a bedroom. In this way, we emphasize, the position of the cage depends on the character of the cockatiel since adapting its placement to the personality of the animal will enhance the feeling of security.

The alimentation of a cockatiel

Feeding is one of the most important points when offering the best care to the cockatiel, not only to ensure its well-being but also to avoid the development of some of the most common diseases of this bird. The best diet is one that meets all the nutritional needs of the cockatiel, offering the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc., that it needs.

In today’s market, we can find a wide variety of seed mixes made especially to feed domestic cockatiels. However, in recent years veterinarians specializing in this type of bird have recommended opting for a diet based on pellets suitable for them. 

Despite being more expensive, they are the best option, since it prevents the bird from selecting the seeds that it likes the most, discarding the rest and promoting a nutritional imbalance. 

The rations must be prepared according to the specific needs of each species and age of the animal, therefore when purchasing the food the package should be reviewed and the type of nymph taken into account. In case you want a change of diet or brand of it, it is essential to carry it out gradually.

On the other hand, the consumption of pellets must be complemented with the intake of fruits and vegetables, the ideal being the following proportion: 75% pellets, 20% fruits and vegetables, and the remaining 5% dedicated to rewards, such as nuts.

Of course, clean and fresh water should never be lacking, which should be changed every day.

Vitamin supplements for cockatiels

Most veterinarians advise against the use of vitamin supplements, except in cases of previously diagnosed vitamin deficiency. Why is it discouraged? Most of the supplements require dissolution in water and it is practically impossible to control the amount of water that the animal ingests, so there is a high risk of nutritional excess or deficiency. 

Several cases of birds have been reported that, due to an excess of vitamin D supplements, have developed hypercalcemia.

Does the cockatiel need to bathe?

Yes! Allowing the cockatiel to bathe stimulates its natural behaviour, promotes well-being and contributes to better feather maintenance. Now, how do you bathe a cockatiel? There are several options!

Water container. Place a container covering 2/3 of its capacity with fresh, clean water in its cage. Remember to change the water daily or when you finish bathing.

Aerosol. Put water in a spray bottle and moisten your cockatiel keeping a certain distance to simulate the effect of rain.

Rain. On days with light rain, you can take the opportunity to place the cage outside for a few minutes and let the cockatiel enjoy a natural bath. Many birds love this method, as they represent a wild environment.

Shower. Some birds enjoy bathing with their human companions, even selling suction cup shower perches in bird accessories stores. Of course, it is necessary to pay attention to the temperature of the water so that it is neither too cold nor too hot.

The important thing is to ensure that the cockatiel bathes regularly, weekly or daily, depending on its tastes and needs. Thus, observe the behaviour of your bird and, if you see that she feels uncomfortable or nervous, do not insist or force her, just try another day. 

After bathing, it is essential that the bird dry, clean and grooms in a warm environment without drafts.

Ideal toys for the cockatiel

Environmental enrichment is essential to keep the cockatiel happy and well stimulated. In this sense, toys are the easiest and most used for this purpose. Ideally, have a few toys inside the cage, no more than three, to be exchanged regularly and avoid boredom.

There are several types of toys available for nymphs on the market, the following being the most recommended:

  • Strings
  • Bells
  • Stairs
  • Rockers
  • Mirrors

Likewise, you can also build your toys using natural branches, for example. The ideal toys are those that offer the cockatiel the challenge of looking for and getting food since in the wild this task would occupy 70% of its day. 

As we said, the easiest way to simulate this state and keep the bird stimulated is by distributing the toys and creating an environment that is as natural as possible, which encourages the cockatiel to discover how to manage the environment to reach its reward, which can be nuts or its favourite seeds.

The importance of social interaction for a cockatiel

As we pointed out at the beginning of the article, social interaction is an essential factor in the day-to-day life of the cockatiel. If the bird does not have a mate, it must be her human family who takes on this role and interacts with the bird. 

To do this, you can include the cockatiel in various family activities, you can talk to it, whistle and even try to educate it. When the bird has left for many hours alone and confined in its cage, it tends to develop behavioural problems and disorders such as stress or anxiety if it does not have any stimulus. In this sense, a good stimulus can be the reproduction of the sound of other birds so it feels that is accompanied.

On the other hand, the cockatiel must have freedom outside the cage to promote the practice of physical exercise, essential to guarantee their well-being. Remember what we said at the beginning: it is a bird that was born to fly, and it needs to fly.


In this article, we discussed how to adopt a cockatiel and how to take care of this bird. Cockatiels are really special birds and anyone would be lucky to have them as pets. 

Cockatiels are extremely intelligent birds, and when they live under our roof, we are responsible for everything around them. It is our duty not only to provide water and food but also to offer a stimulating environment commensurate with the cognitive abilities of this bird if we want to ensure the best care of our cockatiel.

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

FAQ on How to adopt a cockatiel?

Are cockatiels good pets for beginners?

Yes, cockatiels are very good pets for beginners, especially children who love them. Cockatiels are very intelligent and funny birds, they can learn to do various tricks, to play with humans and even to talk!

How long does it take for a cockatiel to get used to a new home?

It takes a cockatiel about two weeks to get used to a new home environment. Make sure you have everything ready in the house before adopting the bird. 

Are cockatiels messy?

Cockatiels like all parrots can be messy, especially when they eat. You cannot train your parrot to eat less messy, as searching for their food and eating is what they do 70% of their time!

What you need to know before getting a cockatiel?

Before getting a cockatiel you should know that they are not quiet birds and have a huge personality. Social interaction is very important for cockatiels and they can live up to 6 decades. 


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