How to Take Care of a Cockatiel

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Cockatiel on a swing
Photo by Sultan on Unsplash

Cockatiel birds are great for beginners. Like dogs, they are great at learning commands. They get along very well in pairs and can be quite the life of the party. However, there are certain precautions of cockatiel care that need to be exercised at all times.

Cage for a Cockatiel

How to take care of a cockatiel cage

The first step in proper cockatiel care is getting the right cage. When it comes to cockatiel cages, we recommend getting one at least twice the size of their wing span. At least 20-by-20-by-20 inches. Other experts recommend at least 20-by-20-by-24 inches. If you are planning to get at least a pair of cockatiels, you need to expand your cage accordingly. The cage bars should be horizontal and spaced at least ½ inch apart to prevent cramping and injuries.

Some cockatiels love to climb ladders. If that’s the case with yours, we recommend investing in something like the Yaheetech, which comes with a rope ladder on the inside and a sturdy one on its rooftop.

Other Basic Cage Safety Protocols

  • Cockatiels are very sensitive to strong odors and air drafts. As a result, it’s best to keep their cages away from the kitchen and any windows. In fact, if you own Teflon pans, the fumes can actually kill cockatiels. The living room, den or a bedroom is usually best.
  • Be sure to include a variety of perches at varying heights, textures and thickness.
  • Never put any perches directly above a cockatiel’s food or water dish.
  • Be sure to line the bottom of the cage with recycled paper bedding or lining. Change it at least every other day.
  • Disinfect the cage with a non-toxic solution at least weekly. Be sure to include the perches and all other equipment.

Other Basics of How To Take Care of a Cockatiel


Proper cockatiel care includes providing an adequate diet. We recommend using veggie pellets to make up to about 80 percent of your cockatiel’s diet. The other 20 percent should include fruits, vegetables and seeds. They’re known for eating seeds in the wild. However, seeds by themselves don’t contain the complete nutritional value that they need.

If they’re not given the proper diet, cockatiels are prone to health issues, such obesity and iodine deficiency. Here are some foods that should be avoided at all costs:

  • Avocados
  • Fruit seeds
  • Garlic
  • Chocolate
  • Anything else containing sugar or caffeine
  • Onions

Bathing and Grooming

A pet cockatiel needs to be bathed about two or three times a week. It’s a good idea to put a water bowl in the cage that’s heavy enough to prevent any tipping. However, some prefer to be gently misted. Either way, be sure that the water is warm.

Always make sure that the sprays are gentle. Strong sprays on a cockatiel is the equivalent of a fire hose on one of us.

Antibacterial soaps are not recommended. They can cause dryness and irritation. There are some bird-friendly cleansers available in some pet shops. However, we recommend consulting with a local veterinarian first.


Cockatiels need nail grooming once every few weeks to a few months to prevent injury. We recommend having someone who’s trained show you how to do it before attempting it yourself. Beaks don’t need regular trimming unless your bird has a disease that triggers abnormal growth.

When done right, clipping the five outermost feathers can help prevent injury and escaping. It’s best to consult with a veterinarian before attempting this yourself.


Adequate cockatiel care includes providing the right amount of stimulation. Cockatiels do best when played with and rewarded on a regular basis. Toys that hide treats are often excellent choices. Also, be sure to let your bird out of its cage to play on a regular basis.

Cockatiels are great for pet owners of every level. As long as you exercise the precautions above, your bird should have a healthy, fulfilling life. Cockatiels live for about 15 years, which is the same as some large dogs.

About the Author

Cockatiel on a swing

Brett Gee

Brett Gee is a marketing and advertising professional who has been working in advertising messaging, copy writing and content development for the better part of his 30+ year career. His experience spans across a variety of industries, markets and channels. Among his personal and professional interests is, of course, pets and animals. Aside from his[...] Author Details

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