cockatiels- need advice

CHoffman

Hello all,
Being a women who knows my limits I came across a deal I couldn't pass up but knew I couldn't do it soooo I'm passing them off to my grandma. She has had birds before and knows the basics but any advice would be great. We are getting 3 cockatiels with a large cage. The mom and dad are elderly and were rescued from a lady that was over breeding them. The mom was very stressed and has no hair on her head. The 3rd is their daughter and she is 6 months old. The daughter and dad are very healthy. The lady that has them now has had them for a year. She says the cage is big but not pretty and has rust on it, but it does have the removable bottom for easily cleaning and serves it purpose. She said she could give us some bamboo sticks for them to sit on.

My first question is :
Are there any good websites that tell you exactly how to take care of cockatiels, diet, bathing, needs and what not.

2nd: How big of a cage would 3 cockatiels need to be happy. I don't know how big of a cage they are in now but I want to make sure it's suitable. Also since it has rust would it be ok to put them in a different cage my grandma has for 1 day and paint the cage with like rustoleam or something?? or a certain kind of paint??

3rd: Any advise that you want to give me I'll be sooooo appreciative of. I'm VERY new to birds and I'm trying to learn as much as possible to help my grandma and these sweet little guys. Thanks so much.
 

CHoffman

bump
We are picking them up in an hour.
 

Lucy

Oh fun! Sorry I can't give you any advice on them.
 

CHoffman

Yes, I think it will be fun. The kids are super excited about them. We've gone over and over that we need to be calm and not touch them and not talk loudy, but we'll see what happens when they see them
 

Aquarist

Hello. I've had them over the years. Keep them in a nice warm spot and free from cold drafts. When it warms and stays warm you can even keep them on a porch (in the cage of course). They will adapt fairly quickly and you'll have them sitting on your shoulder and finger before long (depending on the age the younger the better when it comes to training). You should have someone (the Vet or groomers at a pet store)to clip the wings (you actually clip the part of the wings closest to the body) Please have someone show you before you try it yourself. This will keep them from getting in height if they decide to fly away. They usually will go straight down. I'm sure you'll enjoy them! Good luck. They love the seed that grows on sticks (sorry can't think of the name of it right off hand).
About bathing: They do like to take a bath from time to time. I had one on my shoulder while doing dishes and I was rinsing a pan (luckily the water was not hot but warm) and he crawled down my arm and jumped right into the pot and had himself a bath. LOVE IT!
 

gremlin

Cockatiels are a wonderful first 'parrot type' bird. When I was in grade school my Dad got a clutch of three that were only abour 3 days old from a friend of his. The parents abandoned the clutch and the owners could not raise them. They only wanted one of the birds for a friend of theirs, so he told my Dad that if we would raise them, we could have the other two. My Dad turned them over to me and my younger sister. So, care sheet for cockatiels...

Plenty of seed - limit the sunflower seed as it is high in fat. Millet, canary seed, safflower seed, basically a good finch or parakeet mix with a few sunflower seeds mixed in. You can increase the sunflower seeds during cold weather to help them maintain warmth. There are different types of millet seed. White Proso Millet is the basic seed for pretty much all seed mixes. Red millet comes in spray form - basically it is cut off the plant still in its seed head and sold as a millet spray.

Plenty of water - cockatiels are native to Australian grasslands so they may or may not drink a lot of water. Some will bathe in a container of water, some will prefer being misted slightly. Mine used to sit on the curtain rod when I got a shower and take advantage of the steam.

Calcium/minerals - especially for the older female. She will need plenty of calcium and protein in her diet to try to regrow her feathers. Get a cuttle bone and a mineral block in the cage for them to chew on. Cockatiels actually crack their seed so they do not need grit. Some will eat it anyway, so if you want to put a small dish in, you can. Get the oyster shell grit as it will also add calcium to their diet.

Other edibles - Fresh fruits and veggies such as apple, broccoli, cauliflower, oranges, carrots, squash, etc. are all good. Veggies can be fed raw or cooked. Do not give avocado, onion, or garlic. Pastas, beans, and rice are also good. Cheese is okay in small amounts. My Rascal (the cockatiel I got to keep) used to love to eat spaghettI and scrambled eggs with me. Twitters (the lovebird I just raised) simply adored brussell sprouts. Both of them liked carrot tops with some of the carrot still attached. You can also sprout some birdseed in a small pot and put that in the cage for them to devour. Parsley is a big hit with my finches, and Rascal used to eat it also.

Cage size - The larger the better, but for three you will probably need about a 2 foot by 3 foot by 4 foot cage if they are not going to have outside (the cage) time. The minimum size would be for each bird to be able to fully extend their wings without touching anything else in the cage. Since they are all getting along okay, one cage is fine, as long as it is large enough for them. If they have outside the cage time every day, then they could be in a slightly smaller cage. Depending on where you are and if you want them to be pets or aviary birds, you could set up an outdoor aviary for them.

Wing clipping - Cockatiels are strong fliers. The primary flight feathers are the ones that stick out farthest on each wing. The feathers that need to be clipped are the first 5-8 primary flight feathers clipped back to where the covert feathers cover the base of the flight feathers. You want to make sure you take off enough that the bird cannot fly up, but not so many that they go straight down. The bird should be able to glide down at about a 45 degree angle so they don't crash land. It is fairly simple to clip the wings, but have someone knowledgeable show you the first time. I never clipped Rascal's wings since she was my baby and fairly well trained. I could tell her to go to her cage and she would fly there from anywhere in the house, even with the door open. If the birds are not tame, and you do not care about taming them, then getting a larger flight cage for them and leaving their full wings would allow them to get sufficient exercise.
 

CHoffman

Thanks so much guys. We got them and They really don't look like they are in good shape. They all lived in a decent size cage together. I think it's like a 2 by 2 by 4. However they do not get along and it's apparent. I think that's why the mom is missing feathers. The dad is also missing feathers on top of his head. They all just bicker. All of them have sores on them from pecking each other, I checked them out as best I could and didn't see any red or swollen areas around the sores so I don't think any are infected. and they've not been fed a good diet. Just wild bird seed. They had no toys or entertainment and they are not tame. The lady smoked and the whole cage smells like it. We are in the process of getting 2 more cages and were going to separate them all and get them all back to healthy. We fed them, carrots and apples tonight hopefully they will eat them. I might end up bringing one of them here if they get to be to much for my grandma. But I really think we can turn this situation around with the proper enviroment, diet and care. Thank you soooo much for all your advice, it's priceless. I'll keep everyone updated and I'm sure I'll have more questions. I'm compelty new to this but I'm thankful that we ended up with them.
 

gremlin

At this point, I would not clip the wings. I would get each of them in their own cage and akeep them where they can still see and talk to each other, but not peck at each other. The poor feathers is probably a combination of the poor diet and the smoke. Spray them with a warm water mist once a day to encourage them to preen their feathers. This will also help the new feathers to grow in healthier with the extra moisture. Boil some eggs and give them the hard boiled egg yolk or scramble some eggs and see if they will eat that. The protein in the eggs will also help their new feathers grow in healthy. If they don't take slices of veggies, try grating them - and vice versa. It may take a while for them to realize that the veggies are food. You can take a thin slice of apple and press some seed into it so they taste the apple when they pick out the seeds. You can also chop up some of the veggies and scramble them with some egg to make sort of an omelet. Then sprinkle some of the seed on top of it so they taste the good food when they pick at the seed. I would not try to tame them down too much until they are healthier. In the meantime, just move slowly around them and sit and talk to them and let them get used to you.
 

CHoffman

Thanks gremlin,
I went back over tonight and sat beside their cage. The dad came over to me and eventually they all were at the front of the cage doing a little dance and talking away. Everytime I would talk they would start..I honestly think they are just needing attention. When I got up and moved away they all chipped until I came back. They are very smart little things. They didnt touch the carrot or apple. We grated it so they could easily get to it and put chunks in...We'll just keep trying to they understand it's yummy food. We put some toys, a perch, mirror and swing in the cage and got them some quality seed. We now have 3 cages and we are going to separate them tomorrow but put them beside each other. Thanks for all the tips about the food. I would have NEVER thought about sticking seed on it so they would get a taste of it. I feel really bad for the mama...It just breaks my heart, she looks awful but is the sweetest thing. They all are. Poor things just were in a bad situation, for a long time too. It's like they know they are ok now..lol..They seem so much happier already. I won't attempt to clip the wings until I get them calm and used to being handled. I'm going to go very slow and earn their trust. Would it be bad if I brought the mom here away from the other too so I can really work with her??
 

gremlin

It would probably be okay - you can try it. If she seems too stressed being in such a totally new environment without the other two, then you know you will need to take her back.

I would not put a mirror in just yet. They have each other to look at and talk to, and sometimes the mirror can cause more problems than it solves. Males, (especially ones that have been used for breeding) have a tendency to be very possessive of the females and can hurt themselves attacking the "rival male" in the mirror. Besides, you want them to bond with you, not with their own reflections. As for toys, that is a great idea. Try to find at least a couple that are "preening" toys. They have rope or sisal or paper of some kind that the birds can chew, shred, and preen. It is a great stress reducer for them. Sounds like you are doing well even though this is the first day (or two) that you have them. Keep up the good work!
 

Aquarist

Good morning. Something else that your birds will need is a cuttlebone. Here is a link for you.
It provides calcium and helps to keep their beak trimmed and sharp at the same time. Very important to the birds health. Keep us posted. Millet seed. That's it! (seed on a stick) great for a treat. Egg shells are great.
 

CHoffman

Thanks guys. I'll have my grandma take the mirror out, I def don't want to be causing more problems. Our Walmart has pretty much nothing when it comes to birds, I'm going to be going to Petsmart on Saturday and get the things that you guys mentioned, for all 3 cages. My grandma said they did great last night. She thinks they seem happier too. . I printed off this thread and I'll give it to her today. I already told her about the food. I'll keep you guys posted on their progress. Thanks again.
 

gremlin

Good morning. Something else that your birds will need is a cuttlebone. Here is a link for you.
It provides calcium and helps to keep their beak trimmed and sharp at the same time. Very important to the birds health. Keep us posted. Millet seed. That's it! (seed on a stick) great for a treat. Egg shells are great.

Yes - egg shells are an eggcellent source of calcium . You can crunchle them up and bake them and put them in, or you can throw them in a blender with the whole egg (and whatever else you want to sneak in) and cook them in with the scrambled eggs/omelet. They do need to be cooked somewhat. That will reduce the chance of salmonella, and it changes the taste of the egg shell so the birds won't start eating their own eggs in the nest (I learned that from a friend of mine who has chickens).
 

CHoffman

Thanks. I let my grandma know. She got the daughter in 1 cage and the mom and dad in another. She's going to see how it goes. If she needs to she'll separate the mom and dad too but they seem pretty close. They are outside on her porch this afternoon and are chirping away. I think they love it. I really don't think they've ever been outside before. Kinda sad So far so good though. I was going to post pics but the mom looks soooo pitiful I didn't want to..I will when she gets to looking a little better. She looks more like a a vulture then a cocktiel.
 

gremlin

I was going to post pics but the mom looks soooo pitiful I didn't want to..I will when she gets to looking a little better. She looks more like a a vulture then a cocktiel.

I would like to see the before pic then the after pic when she is looking better. But, yes, I would like to see the before pics. Sometimes it helps with knowing what to suggest to help them recover.
 

Aquarist

I think what you're doing for them is wonderful. If I remember correctly, when they get stressed they may pull their own feather out (may be partly why Mom looks like she does) Too, some birds will use or steel others feathers to go in a nest. Glad they're doing better.
 

CHoffman

Thanks guys,
I'll get some pics of all of them. My grandma said they are just singing away. They are on their swings..lol..I'll go over there this evening and get some pics.
I do hate to post them when they look so bad but I understand how it could be beneficial to you all and helping me...Plus the before and after will be a great thing to see. I think it's the other two birds not her that was picking the feathers out because I saw them picking at her bald areas before we separated them. and it's on top of her and and neck..I dont' think she could get to her head..and she has little sores from being pecked. The dad has a little hair loss on his head too. I just think the daughter was causing stress. but we'll see how things work out. Thanks again guys for all your help. I'm going Sat to get them all kinds of goodies.
 

Fishies-for-me

to get them to eat veggies try mincing them quite fine in a food processor. For my parrotlet and budgie I use broccoli, carrots, peas, corn, green beans, apples, etc. They love them. To get them to try it sprinkle a few seeds on top and mix a few into the chopped veggies. That way the birds have to pick thru the veggies to get at the sprouts. Cooked and chopped whole grain pasta is also good for them. Sprouted grains and seeds are also a good source of nutrients for birds. I bought an easy sprouter and an organic bird seed sprout mix for my birds. It takes about a day and 1/2 to get sprouts and my birds love them. I belong to a site called talkparrotlets.com and it has a sister site called talkcockatiels.com that may have some useful info for you if you are still looking for it. Good luck.
 

CHoffman

OHHHHH my. Ok so the female laid an egg today. The male and female are in the cage together. Now what???
 

gremlin

First, do they have a nest box? Where did she lay the egg? Do you want them to raise babies or not? What condition is the female in? Has she recouped from her previous ordeal? (still waiting on pics)
 

CHoffman

I know, sorry I never got pics..I never remember to take my camera with me when I go over there. The female has not grown her hair back..It's slowly coming back, she has a few patches here and there of tuffs. They are eating great and very active. Whistle all the time andthe male has even learned some songs..lol...They do not have a nest box. She laid the egg on the bottom of the cage. My grandma isn't against having a baby and learning what she needs to do to care for it. They don't seem to be taking care of the egg. At least they weren't when I was over there today. She just laid it this morning.
 

gremlin

If the female is not in top condition, then it would be better for them to not raise a clutch right now. Increase the amount of calcium in their diet - crushed eggshell, hardboiled egg yolk, or just pulverize the whole egg and scramble it. You can also scrape a cuttlebone and mix that in with the egg to add an extra dose of calcium. Leave the egg where it is for now. If she is in the mood to lay a full clutch, she will lay between 2 and 6 eggs total - laying one egg every other day (sometimes every day). Once she is done laying, she will start to sit on the clutch. I would leave the eggs in until she is done laying. If she starts to sit, then I would replace the real eggs with dummy eggs. White marbles worked for my female when she wanted to sit. If you take away the eggs before she has a chance to finish laying a full clutch, she may continue to lay eggs. This will deplete her reserves of calcium even more and can make her sick. After she sits for 2 - 2 1/2 weeks on the dummy eggs and they don't hatch, she will abandon the nest. It would be best for her to have a rest from raising babies for now. She needs a chance to regrow her feathers and build up her body reserves. It could also be that she is just in the habit of laying eggs and really has no desire to nest. In that case, she may or may not lay any more eggs. If she does not lay anymore eggs or show any interest in sitting on the egg she has laid, then you could remove that egg in about 4-5 days.
 

CHoffman

Thanks so much Gremlin. I'll pass the info onto my grandma. I'll let ya know how it goes.
 

gremlin

with pics I hope . . . (now, back to Survivor Finale!)
 

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