Cheat Sheet

Cockatiels For Dummies

From Cockatiels For Dummies by Diane Grindol

Cockatiels, those small, colorful members of the parrot family, can be excellent pets. They’re generally friendly, inquisitive, and charming. If you choose to include a cockatiel in your family, you want to keep your bird safe from toxic substances and plants and provide ongoing care for your feathered friend, especially in the wing and toenail departments.

When to Clip Your Cockatiel’s Wing Feathers

When you first get your cockatiel, you need to clip her wings for her safety and your good relationship. You’ll develop the closest relationship with your bird if she is easy for you to control and if she needs you. With clipped wings, your cockatiel needs your help to get off the floor and up to safer heights. She also needs you to go from room to room. When she needs to go somewhere, you’re the one who can get her there. She just has to figure out how to ask. That fosters trust and communication, especially when both of you are successfully getting your points across.

Other signs that say it’s time to clip your cockatiel’s wing feathers include:

  • When your friend is gliding about the room easily. That may mean there’s only one grown-out feather on each wing to trim, but that’s all it takes for a cockatiel to have a great deal of airlift.

  • When your cockatiel is at the end of one of her twice-a-year molts. She will have grown in new wing feathers. If you haven’t noticed, she may not have noticed, either. But eventually she’ll discover that she has the power of flight back again.

  • When your male cockatiel is being uppity with you. He can reach high heights and look down on you, but you can’t reach him. He’s snappy and controlling. Clipping his wings will make him rely on you again for transportation and will soften his tone.

  • If you need to trim back an occasional stray feather that grows in out of turn.

When to Clip Your Cockatiel’s Nails

Trimming your cockatiel’s toenails is an occasional duty that improves everyone’s life. You should clip your bird’s nails on an as-needed basis, but here’s how you know for sure when it’s time for a trim:

  • The youngest and oldest members of the family can’t hold the bird without getting scratched or bruised. Their skin is the most sensitive, and holding a cockatiel may be painful for these members of the family unless his nails are clipped.

  • The nails are getting snagged in your sweaters or in the carpeting. They’re just too long for the cockatiel’s own safety.

  • An errant nail is getting long and threatens to grow up into the pad of your cockatiel’s foot. Your cockatiel never kicks back and puts his feet up, so his feet need to be in excellent shape. If a long toenail or two threatens his comfort, then it’s time to take care of those nails.

  • You can see that the nails are too long. When he perches, they wrap around each other. When he walks on a flat surface, they force his feet up off the surface instead of just touching it.

  • Your cockatiel has a foot injury or defect that prevents him from perching normally. Without wear and perching, his nails may grow too long.

Plants Poisonous to Your Cockatiel

Birds live in trees, so you may wonder how plants can harm your cockatiel, but the fact remains that some plants are toxic to your pet, even if your bird doesn’t know it and may try to nibble it. The following listing shows plants to keep away from your cockatiel and vice versa.

Avocado Lobelia
Black locust Lupine
Clematis Oleander
Crown vetch Philodendron
Dieffenbachia Poinsettia
Eggplant Rhododendron
Foxglove Rhubarb leaves
Hemlock Virginia creeper
Lily of the valley Yew

Safe Houseplants for Your Cockatiel

Having a cockatiel doesn’t mean you can’t have houseplants, although some plants are toxic to birds. But, a whole nursery of plants can exist in perfect harmony with your feathered friend, including those in the following list:

African violet Monkey plant
Aloe Mother-in-law’s tongue
Baby’s tears Palms
Bamboo Peperomia
Begonia Pothos
Christmas cactus Purple passion vine
Ferns Schefflera
Ficus benjamina Spider plant
Figs Swedish ivy
Grape ivy Wandering Jew
Herbs Zebra plant

Substances Harmful to Your Cockatiel

Many of the cosmetics and cleaning products you use without thinking can be very harmful to your cockatiel. Being small creatures, birds are sensitive to even minute toxins in the air, so never expose your pet to any of the following substances:

Aerosol sprays New carpet odor
Smoke, including cigarette smoke Pesticides
Cleaners Room fresheners
Gas emitted from nonstick cookware when it’s overheated (over 530° F) Rug cleaner
Hair spray Scented candles
Natural gas leak Self-cleaning-oven spray
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