If you plan to get a cockatiel as a child’s pet, please remember that children in the primary grades need some help from their parents or from older siblings to care for any pet. Children in the intermediate grades should be ready for the responsibility of bird ownership with parental supervision. Or the bird can just be a family pet, with each family member being responsible for some aspect of the bird’s care. Even the youngest family members can help out by selecting healthy foods for the bird on a trip to the market or picking out a safe, colorful toy at the bird store.
Parents need to remind children of the following when they’re around birds:
• Approach the cage quietly. Birds don’t like to be surprised.
• Talk softly to the bird. Don’t scream or yell at him.
• Don’t shake or hit the cage.
• Don’t poke at the bird or his cage with your fingers, sticks, pencils, or any other items.
• If you’re allowed to take the bird out of his cage, handle him gently.
• Don’t take the bird outside. In unfamiliar surroundings, birds can become confused and fly away from their owners. Most are never recovered.
• Respect the bird’s need for quiet time.
I’d like to remind adults please not to give a live pet as a holiday present. Birthdays, Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, and other holidays are exciting but stressful times for both people and animals. A pet coming into a new home is under enough stress just by joining his new family; don’t add to his stress by bringing him home for a holiday. Instead, give your child pet-care accessories for the actual celebration and a gift certificate that will allow the child to select his or her pet (with parental supervision, of course) after the excitement of the special day has died down.