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Lovebird and Cockatiel Care- Housing, Diet and behaviour

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Lovebirds are very curious and destructive little birds.  Watch out for the remote control buttons or that leather couch or purse, they also like to chew paper, so if you have a favourite book or magazine.. make sure to keep it away from your pet lovebird!

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Lovebird Care:

Lovebirds do equally well living alone or with their own lovebird friend. Your veterinarian should see your new lovebird for a check-up sometime within the first week of adoption. It is strongly recommended that you acquire a recently published book on lovebirds to learn all you can about your new little friend!  

HOUSING

Minimum cage size for a single lovebird is a wire cage 30 x 30 x 18. Bar spacing should not be more than of an inch apart. Lovebirds are active and need toys to keep them entertained. Cockatiel sized toys are most appropriate for your lovebird. Toys made for parakeets are often too small and flimsy for the industrious beak of the lovebird. You will soon find which toys your lovebird prefers to play with, including favorite colors and material types after spending some time with them. Perches of varied diameter work best (3/8 to 3/4 inches). The surface should be slightly irregular so it is easier to grip. Do not use sandpaper perch covers.  

It is important to keep the cage and accessories clean. Cage paper should be changed daily, and food and water bowls should be washed every day. Cages should be disinfected at least once every two weeks.

Placement of the cage should be well thought out.  It should be in a quiet part of an active room (like the family room) so your lovebird knows it is part of the flock, but also feels safe at the same time.  It is best to cover the cage at night.  

All birds have sensitive respiratory systems.  They breathe the same air at least twice. They should not be exposed to smoke, room deodorizers, scented candles, or any noticeable fumes. Teflon and other non-stick polymers will break down if overheated and create toxic fumes that can kill birds anywhere in your home.

DIET

You can choose between a seed base or pellet base diet for your lovebird.   Whatever you choose, it is vital that fresh fruits and veggies be part of that daily diet.   Apples, blueberries, blackberries, broccoli, cabbage, kale, carrots, parsley, and spinach seem to be favorites of lovebirds. It is important that all fruits and veggies are washed to remove any pesticides or chemicals.   Chopping the mix into small bits will make it easier for the birds to eat, plus you can refrigerate the extra in an airtight container for use during the rest of the week.  

GROOMING

Lovebirds like to bathe frequently. They will bathe in their water dishes if they are able. Use a shallow dish with inch of room temperature water in it 3 or more times a week for bath time. Some like to be misted with lukewarm water, some do not. Regular bathing helps keep their feathers in good condition.  

BEHAVIOR

Lovebirds are very social, just like other parrots. They will need lots of time spent interacting with you on a daily basis. Some lovebirds talk, some do not. They are noisy and what you will hear often is a variety of chirps, cheeps, peeps and squeaks. Lovebirds can be trained to do tricks and are very active.

SIGNS OF ILLNESS

Changes in behavior, ruffled feathers are ruffled, sits with eyes closed, watery or dull eyes, runny nose, sleeps a lot, tail bobbing, excessive scratching, sneezing or odd breathing. Any change in droppings could indicate a trip to the vet is needed.

Taking care of your Cockatiel:

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BASIC CARE

Cockatiels are social creatures, a characteristic that makes them such good pets. They are not good ornamental birds and should never be kept alone if the owner does not intend to interact with the bird. Strong emotional ties are essential for a cockatiel to lead a happy existence. If you want beautiful birds to enjoy from a distance, finches are a great choice. They go about their business without the need for much interaction and they will brighten your day with their beauty and antics.

A wild cockatiel lives as a member of a flock and wanders with it in search of food. They are indigenous to most of Australia and tend to be seen most where grassland and forested areas converge. They roost and nest near water and tend to choose for nesting cavities of trees that are standing in water or near it.

John Gould, an English naturalist is credited with first describing the wild cockatiel (1840) and subsequently did lithographs of them. One such is shown on the home page of this site. Gould brought back cockatiels to Europe and since then they have been bred in captivity mostly as aviary birds.

Buying a Cockatiel

The cockatiels available today are all captive bred birds as Australia has had strict laws banning the exportation of their wildlife since 1960. The best choice is a young hand-fed baby bought from a reputable breeder or pet shop.

The premises where you buy should be very clean. Someone with a shabby unkept bird room doen't take good care of their flock. Look for a very alert, bright eyed bird that moves around the cage energetically and has a fat sleek appearance. The nares (nostrils) should be clean and dry without any sign of mucus, redness or inflammation. The vent should be absolutely clean dry and free from any sort of staining. If you see any birds that are puffed up, lethargic and have nasal discharge or a wet pasty rear end, do not buy anything from the establishment. At the very least a responsible breeder or shop would immediately quarantine and treat any such bird. If one bird is diseased, in all probability they all are. Some birds are really good at hiding illness.

A male cockatiel is much vocal than a female. If you like your quiet, chose a hen. She will be vocal at times, but generally speaking they make subdued sounds. A cockbird will make all sorts of little calls, develop a courting song and pick up all the little noises in their environment. Some of mine have mastered the telephone rings, both house and cell, the bell on the microwave oven and the doorbell. They can be taught to whistle songs and are overall very entertaining.

Cockatiels are available in many color combinations and all have engaging personalities.

Caging

The best cage for the pet cockatiel is rectangular, wider than it is tall. A good sized cockatiel is 14 inches long, plus the crest. It should be 24 inches tall and deep enough for him to spread his wings fully. 2'x2'x3' wide is just about the minimum size for a pair. Buy a cage with at most 3/4" wire spacing and cross supports at no more than 3" intervals. Your bird's tail will stay in much better shape. There should be a grate to keep your bird from being able to get to the seed and poop that fall to the bottom. It's useful to put paper toweling in the tray under the grate to facilitate cleaning. Black wire has a way of disappearing as you look at the bird inside, while white shows dirt well and is useful in that way. Avoid round cages, as cockatiels don't like them. Place the cage in a spot near a sunny window, but never in direct sunlight. If you want to sun your bird take the cage outside for no more than an hour. Your bird can easily overheat in full blazing sun.

Diet

The water and food containers that come with the average cockatiel cage are adequate, but you should have a second set besides. I heartily recommend clear plastic or glass as these types of vessels allow you to be sure they are clean. Every day remove the dishes in use and replace them with clean ones. How clean is clean? If you wold not drink the water in that dish, it is not clean enough for your bird to drink either. Wash the dish thoroughly and scrub it with a rough paper towel and rinse all traces of soap away. Let the vessels air dry over night until they are ready to be put back into service.

Besides clean water daily, a cockatiel should have a good fortified seed mix available at all times supplemented by vegetables and grains. My personal preference is to feed brocolli, thawed mixed vegetables , whole grain bread and cockatiel pellets. Some of my cockatiels will eat pellets and others reject them. I don't like to use processed feed, but they contain all a cockatiel needs, so they have the option. I use a powdered vitamin and protein supplement all the time sprinkled onto frozen millet sprays. Moisture tends to cling to the millet as it thaws and the vitamin powder adheres nicely. I leave "wet food" in the cage for two hours and then it is thrown away. It is useful to remove water from the cage two hours before feeding veggies. A broccoli floret won't last long in front of a thirsty cockatiel.

Sun flower seeds, millet, vegetables, fruits..
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Majestic
     click on the product number for a complete description

Product number Name Suggested birds
B-4010 Hagen Majestic "Casino" Flight/Storage Cage cockatiel, budgie, caique, lovebirds, lory, conure 
B-4017 Hagen Majestic "Casino" Flight/Storage Cage cockatiel, budgie, caique, lovebirds, lory, conure 
B-4020 Hagen Majestic "Casino" Flight/Storage Cage cockatiel, budgie, caique, lovebirds, lory, conure 
B-4050 Hagen Majestic "Motel" Cockatiel Cage cockatiel, budgie, canary, finch, lovebird 
B-4060 Hagen Majestic "Motel" Cockatiel Cage cockatiel, budgie, canary, finch, lovebird 
B-4080 Hagen Majestic "Hotel" Parrot Cage caique, pionus,quaker, small lories and conures 
B-4090 Hagen Majestic "Hotel" Parrot Cage caique, pionus,quaker, small lories and conures