Before you decide to bring a cockatiel into your life, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions. Do you like animals? Do you have time to care for one properly? Can you have pets where you live? Can you live with a little mess in your home (seed hulls, feathers, discarded food)?
If you answered yes to all these questions, you’re a good candidate for bird ownership. Now think harder. Do you mind a little noise (cockatiels sometimes greet the dawn and bid adieu to the sunset with a song) as part of your daily routine? Are you allergic to dust and dander (some people find that cockatiels make them sneeze)? If the answer is no, a cockatiel may be just the bird for you! Your next question might be, “Why do I want a bird?” Here are some of the answers.
Birds are relatively quiet pets. Unless you have a particularly vocal macaw or cockatoo, most birds aren’t likely to annoy the neighbors the way a barking dog can. In the case of cockatiels, you’d need quite a large flock to disturb your neighbors because cockatiels have quiet, chirpy little voices. In many rental leases, birds may not even be considered pets because they are kept in a cage much of the time. This means you may be able to keep them without having to surrender a sizable security deposit to your landlord. Birds interact well with their owners. Although a bird isn’t as blindly loyal as the average dog, he is far more interactive than a fish, a hamster, or even a guinea pig. As an added bonus, many birds can learn to whistle or talk, which is unique among pets and which many bird owners find amusing and entertaining.
Birds are long-lived pets. A cockatoo named King Tut greeted visitors at the San Diego Zoo for seventy years, and Bird Talk magazine reported a 106-year-old Amazon parrot in Alaska. Many bird owners I know have made provisions for their larger parrots in their wills. Smaller birds can live long lives, too; the Guinness Book of Records lists an almost thirty-year old parakeet in Great Britain.
Birds require consistent, but not constant, attention. This can be a plus for today’s busy single people and families. While birds can’t be ignored all day, they are content to entertain themselves for part of the day while their owners are busy elsewhere. The needs and companionship of a bird provide a reason to get up in the morning. The value of this cannot be overestimated for older bird owners and single people who are on their own. Birds provide all the benefits of the human animal bond, including lower blood pressure and reduced levels of stress.
Finally, birds are intelligent pets. Whoever coined the phrase “birdbrain” didn’t appreciate how smart some birds are. On intelligence tests, some larger parrots have scored at levels comparable to chimpanzees, dolphins, and preschool-age children.