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Pros and Cons of Cockatiels as Pets

I've owned a cockatiel since 2010. I love pets, horseback riding, music, and my family.

Cockatiels are cute, funny, and loving pets, but they require a lot of time and attention. Is this the right pet for you?

Cockatiels are cute, funny, and loving pets, but they require a lot of time and attention. Is this the right pet for you?

The Best and Worst Things About Owning a Cockatiel

In June of 2010, my family got a cockatiel and named him Rocky. In the time he's lived with us, he has learned a lot—and so have we! We love Rocky, and we give him a lot of attention and care.

I've written this article to help other people who are thinking about getting a pet bird. Of course, I would like to encourage people to get a cockatiel, but not if they can't handle the responsibility. It's important to understand all of the care, time, cleaning, and love it takes to keep a bird happy and healthy. Below, I'll go through a few aspects of having a pet cockatiel, with a look at the pros and cons of each one.

Is owning a cockatiel right for you? Compare the pros and cons.

ProCon

Fun

Cockatiels are fun and funny.

None!

Poop

Their poop is small.

It's sometimes hard to clean.

Company

They have long lives and make great companions.

None!

Size

They're small birds.

Their cage takes up space.

Feathers

Their plumage is beautiful.

They get feathers everywhere.

Chirping

Their chirps are lovely and show their personality.

They can be high-pitched and annoying.

Responsibility

They will teach their owners how to be responsible.

Their upkeep can be overwhelming.

Biting

Their bites are usually soft and don't hurt.

They can bite hard when they're mad!

Rocky makes hilarious faces!

Rocky makes hilarious faces!

Fun

Pros: Cockatiels do a lot of funny things, and they are very fun to watch. For example, Rocky makes a lot of weird faces (see the photo above). He does really weird things with his beak and feathers; one second he's sleek and trim, and the next second, he's all puffed up!

Watching him eat makes me smile, whether he's eating treats, regular food, or millet. He attacks all of his bird food! It's harder to get him to eat table food, like fresh fruits and vegetables. He sometimes eats watermelon, first pecking at it and then taking bigger bites. (Make sure to remove the rind from any melon before offering it to your bird.)

Rocky doesn't play with his toys very often, but when he does, it's amusing. He looks at them from the side and then pecks at them. Eventually, he starts attacking and biting them.

Cons: I don't have any cons for this one—cockatiels are just too much fun!

Here's what Rocky looks like as he eagerly pecks at a treat.

Here's what Rocky looks like as he eagerly pecks at a treat.

Poop

Pros: Bird poop is relatively small compared to other pet droppings. Cockatiel poop is generally pretty easy to clean up with a dry paper towel, especially from hard surfaces.

Cons: Although it's usually easy to clean, if you accidentally let the poop sit somewhere for too long, it will harden and become more difficult to remove. Also, if it gets on a couch or clothes or other fabric, it's harder to clean up without making a mess.

Cockatiels offer great company for people.

Cockatiels offer great company for people.

Company

Pros: Cockatiels will keep you company, especially if you live alone. Most of these birds are friendly and will want to hang out with you. They'll also be a lifelong best friend for you; cockatiels are known to live for at least 20 years (some into their 30s!), so they will be with you for a long time.

As long as you take good care of them, they will love you back. Since they live for so long, it's important to make their lives as happy as possible.

Cons: No cons here! We love Rocky's company, and he seems to love being with us, too.

Here's Rocky looking out of his cage. You can see his millet on the right.

Here's Rocky looking out of his cage. You can see his millet on the right.

Size

Pros: Cockatiels are small birds. They're not the absolute smallest bird, but they're definitely not the largest. Their cages are comparatively small and can easily fit in most rooms. Keep in mind that the amount of space your bird needs will depend on how large of a cage you buy, how many toys and pieces of exercise equipment your bird has, how you store their food, etc.

For example, Rocky has bags of seeds, pellets, treats, and millet, as well as seven toys (and counting). Those things don't take up too much space. We keep all of his food in a cabinet, and his toy basket fits neatly behind his cage.

Cons: Some people disagree and think that cockatiels do take up a lot of space, and it is true that a bird cage requires more room than something like a small fish tank. If your living space is small, you may want to carefully consider if you have enough room for a bird cage. Still, compared to pets like parrots or dogs, I think cockatiels have reasonable space requirements.

Rocky frequently fluffs up all his feathers.

Rocky frequently fluffs up all his feathers.

Feathers

Pros: Many people love cockatiel feathers and find them very beautiful (me included). Their feathers are very soft, especially if you give them bird baths, and some cockatiels enjoy cuddling. Watching them preen (clean their fathers) is fascinating and sometimes amusing.

Here's a fun fact about cockatiel feathers that you might not know: You can tell something about their emotions based on how they hold their crest (the name for the feathers on top of their head)!

Cons: When cockatiels preen, they usually shake tiny feathers into the air. A lot of people don't mind this, but for people with allergies to pet dander, it could be a problem. Also, you'll likely find larger feathers all over your house that you'll have to clean up.

Rocky likes to give a proud chirp when he lands on top of his cage.

Rocky likes to give a proud chirp when he lands on top of his cage.

Chirping

Pros: Cockatiels can make beautiful noises, like happy chirping and whistling. Their sounds can be funny; for example, when Rocky flies to his cage and lands on top, he gives a really loud chirp as if to announce, "I did it!" Rocky usually chirps when he is lonely, mad, proud, or happy. After you've had your cockatiel for a while, you'll be able to tell the difference between types of chirps.

Cons: Okay, the chirping can also be annoying! Sometimes it's really loud and high-pitched. For example, if Rocky is out of his cage and left alone for a minute or two, he starts doing what we call his "separation anxiety chirp." He also makes this noise when he's locked up in his cage and wants to get out.

Here's Rocky being silly outside his cage.

Here's Rocky being silly outside his cage.

Responsibility

Pros: Taking care of a cockatiel is a huge responsibility. These birds need a lot of love and care so they stay happy and healthy. Rather than being a downside, I see this as a challenge and a way to become more responsible and nurturing. Also, if you have kids, caring for a pet bird can help teach them about responsibility (as long as you know they can handle the bird's needs).

Cons: The responsibility can sometimes be overwhelming. All of the feeding and cleaning might be too much for some people. It is important to understand how much work goes into owning a bird: They need to be fed, given water, cleaned up after, and loved. They need a lot of attention from you, and they need to be able to trust you. So, if you want to get a cockatiel, make sure you are up for the challenge! If it sounds like too much work, you might want to consider a different pet.

Rocky usually only gives us soft nips with his beak, but cockatiels are capable of a hard bite if they're upset.

Rocky usually only gives us soft nips with his beak, but cockatiels are capable of a hard bite if they're upset.

Biting

Pros: Cockatiel bites are usually small and painless. When Rocky is mad or annoyed, he bites us, but he doesn't want to hurt us, so he does it really softly.

Cons: Either way, it's still a bite, and sometimes it does hurt. When cockatiels get angry or annoyed, they can bite pretty hard, and you have to watch them to make sure they don't accidentally peck at your eyes. Some people may not want a pet that nips at you.

Why I Recommend Pet Cockatiels

A cockatiel is a terrific pet for all kinds of people, from those who live alone to those who live with their family. If you're a couple looking for a small pet that's fairly easy to care for, a bird would be a good choice. If your kids are begging for a pet, cockatiels are loving animals and would love to join your home (as long as your kids are gentle). Consider your living situation, the bird's needs, and the pros and cons listed above, and see if a cockatiel is right for you!

Questions? Comments? Concerns? - about this page, Rocky, or cockatiels?

anonymous on March 14, 2020:

ive heard that cockatiels nap most of the time, so is that true?

i want to get one and the website "MyBird" which is a great site, always tells me to get a cinnamon or a pied cockatiel but imma stick with a cinnamon cockatiel buut i dont really want a bird that naps for a long time because i want to spend time with it. ive been doing my fair share of research on green cheeked conures too and i really like them too.

anon on January 16, 2020:

i love cockatiles and ur cockatiels is really cute (sorry english is not my first alnguate

anonymous on May 05, 2013:

Hi, been trying to decide which breed of bird to buy, and you have made my mind up!!! Brilliant insight into Cockatiels - Thank you!

RedPanda25 (author) on April 04, 2013:

@anonymous: I got him from a pet shop in New Jersey. Many local pet shops or even "big name" pet stores (Like Petsmart, etc) will have cockatiels. They don't always have them in stock though, so you might want to call before you make the trip! We actually couldn't find any cockatiels in pet stores near us, so we went out of state (not too far) to get Rocky. I hope this helps, and if you're trying to find your own cockatiel, I wish you the best of luck!

anonymous on April 04, 2013:

i want to know where u got him from! thanks

anonymous on January 27, 2013:

Wow! This was very helpful!Thank you!

anonymous on January 27, 2013:

Cockatiels ideal pet for someone living in high rise apartments. Best personality of any bird love my one to death.

RedPanda25 (author) on September 15, 2012:

@anonymous: Thank you so much! I hope you enjoy your new cockatiel!

anonymous on September 15, 2012:

I am going to get a cockatiel today I have already had one before and this was GREAT advice!

RedPanda25 (author) on August 29, 2012:

@anonymous: Rocky is still a fairly young cockatiel, especially at the time when I took these pictures. Many male cockatiels look like females before they grow in their more masculine feathers. Plus, when we took him to the vet after he got hurt, they confirmed that he was a boy. I hope that clears everything up...

anonymous on August 28, 2012:

yes rocky looks like a girl

RedPanda25 (author) on December 17, 2011:

@anonymous: Oh, whoops. I'm sorry! Definitely a typo. Thanks for catching that for me. ;)

anonymous on December 16, 2011:

I'm quite confused. In the "Company & long life best friend" section, it says "But since they live for so long, you shouldn't make their lives as happy as possible."

Is that a typo?

Other than that, good, well informative article :)

anonymous on September 30, 2011:

rocky is a young bird and will come into his adult plumage after a moult

anonymous on September 14, 2011:

Are you sure Rocky is male? Cause from the facial coloration he actually is colored like a female.