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Can cockatiels live alone?

Sarah Rose

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I've had Clover for around three months now, and she seems to enjoy being with me. We have a somewhat strong bond, and she loves coming out of her cage to hang out, get head scritches, and train.

I've heard that cockatiels are "flock birds" and need another friend of their same species in order to thrive. I've also heard that they will most likely bond to each other, and ignore me?

Her cage is somewhat large (24 x 22 x 33 inches) and is located in the "animal room" or "office" where our guinea pigs are and where my parents work at home. My mom will occasionally take her out during the day while I'm at school, but thats the only time she's out of the cage during the day. Once I get home from school, she spends about 4-5 hours out of the cage. I try to dedicate at least 1-2 hours of that time as quality time, but sometimes I have so much homework or am so stressed out that I'm not able to spend as much quality time as I'd like with her.

Recently we took her to the vet because she was hanging out on the floor so we were concerned she might have a respiratory infection or be nesting. Our vet said that she was healthy, but she could start to be one of the "egg layers" if she continued to exhibit nesting behavior or even if we got her a friend.

What do you guys think? Is she fine on her own, or would it be best to get her a friend? I want to do whats best for her. If we got her a friend, I would want to get a female, not a male (no babies!), but I've heard that even two females will bond to each other. Please let me know!
 

Tiel Feathers

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Clover sounds like a cutie! If she is imprinted on humans, then having another bird around might ease loneliness just a little bit. What a human imprinted bird really wants is people, and another tiel is just a distraction until you get home. (Albeit a good distraction.) However, if your bird knows she’s a bird, then she would probably really enjoy the company of another tiel. Even if this is the case, however, there is no guarantee that they will like each other. One of my tiels, Sunset, really doesn’t like another of my tiels, Cappuccino. They could never share a cage together because Sunset really gets stressed out by Cappuccino. Niko, another of my tiels, tolerates them both, but really she just wants people. They are all females and all have their own cages. If you do get another bird, they can both be very close and bonded to you, even if they really like each other. To help encourage this it’s good to spend time with them individually as well as together. I would say only get another bird if you really want one and have enough space and money to care for them both properly, including vet bills.

I wouldn’t let Clover spend time on the floor, and discourage her from finding nesting sites. I’m not sure I understand your vets comment, however. Getting her a friend won’t influence if she lays eggs or not, and exhibiting nesting behavior doesn’t mean she will become a chronic egg layer. There are various things you can do to help her from getting overly hormonal like don’t pet her back, rearrange her cage often, take away any nesting areas, and shorten daylight hours.
 

Sarah Rose

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Thanks for the reply! I might get her a friend sometime in the future but currently I don’t think I have the money or room for another large cage if they don’t get along. I also want to completely switch Clover to a pelleted diet before we have to undergo the possible stress of introducing a friend to her.

I think our vet meant that if the two birds bond to each other as mates, they might make a nest and then Clover might have issues with laying eggs. However, it’s been a while since she was last seen on the floor of her cage and we keep a lamp next to her cage so there are no dark places that she might consider a good “nest spot”.
 

cassiesdad

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Tiels are such an easy going species. We've had single tiels, other tiels that have bonded together, and tiels that have "bonded" with people. Some of these instances happened at the same time. Most of the tiels were male. One female...Goalie.. kept watch over two males at the same time..didn't mate with either, and kind of evolved into a "Mom" to them. If the boys would squabble over something, Goalie would run right between the two, bang her beak a few times and hiss at them...they would immediately stop fighting and cower down to her. ;)

If a tiel "imprints" on humans, they probably won't care if there is another tiel around or not. We have an example of that right now...Sunshine Tiel. He wants nothing to do with the other tiels who were in the neighboring cage...Sunshine will seek out any human that he sees for interaction.

Again, most of our tiel experience has been with boys...I always say that female tiels are the sweetest birds you can have...we've been lucky over the years to have three girls that were just that...
 

Serin

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I think all birds should have another bird to bond with, this is really important as they mature and as hormones become part of the mix. An unpaired tiel will adopt you as its mate, and may become aggressive as a human does not respond as a mate should. Single tiels will also be very clingy, to a sometimes unhealthy extent where they will not play or eat or do anything alone and will only pace the cage begging to come out again.

My first tiel was like this. I vowed I'd never keep one tiel by itself again after him (he was old, and was raised alone and wouldn't accept other birds at his age.) My tiels after him were raised with other tiels and also with budgies and they were much happier and more adjusted and they stayed tame. But, I was not their world. They had their own lives, and I was just part of it. I prefer that sort of bond. If you want a very strong one on one bond, you don't have that with a pair of birds. But I don't think that is the best situation for the bird.
 

Awalker1750

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Single tiels will also be very clingy, to a sometimes unhealthy extent where they will not play or eat or do anything alone and will only pace the cage begging to come out again.
I see signs of this happening with my GCC. The only thing she does in her cage is sleep. And take revenge baths. She was raised with 5 siblings and goes nuts if she hears or sees other birds, especially the doves in the backyard, she calls and calls, and paces by the window. I have been considering getting a tiel as a companion for her. The breeder I got her from also raises tiels and when I would visit her before I brought her home she played with them as much as she did with her siblings.

What Serin said really should be considered, and I have seen quite a few people who say that budgies get along with cockatiels fairly well, so you wouldn’t necessarily have to stick with another cockatiel, especially if space is a consideration. A finch might also be a good companion to consider. You would need separate cages of course for the other bird, but not as big as for a cockatiel.
 

Serin

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A finch wouldn't be a good option. The behavior of the two birds is too different for any bonding to occur. Budgies work out well if you find a gentle enough budgie, some will beat the tiel up, males are a better bet than females. And it works best if they grow up together.
 

Sarah Rose

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I think that I’m just going to get another cockatiel. I’ve heard stories of cockatiels being bullied by other species of birds because they are so mellow. I want to do what’s best for Clover, and if she would do better with a friend, we’ll get her a friend. There’s a nice female cockatiel at the bird rescue we’re interested in!
Here’s a picture:
 

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Tiel Feathers

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What a cutie!:heart: How exciting, I hope it works out. Also, we need more photos of Clover when you get a chance!
 

Tiel Feathers

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Oh she’s just stunning!:faint: I just love that middle photo of her!:heart:
 

finchly

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She's really beautiful. I think she would enjoy another bird, even if they live in separate cages and just see/talk to each other. And maybe have out of cage time together. I do not think every bird has to have a same-species friend; many of ours have not liked their friend that we bought them! Especially if they were hand raised and imprinted on humans, they have no use for that "intruder."

Maybe her having a friend would take some of the pressure off you.

I have never known cockatiels to become aggressive except maybe a tiny bit when they're hormonal. Not real aggression. I have 2 females now, and one rescued male who is a recent addition. both girls like me but looooove my husband. The 2 girls let the new male hang out with them but not inside their cage. One of them (Torrie) sits on a perch that's attached to the outside of his cage, right by his door. Which is open. But she doesn't go in, except I put a tray of water in there for a bath and he was squealing so Torrie went in, took a bath, and came out again. Like "this is what we do with water trays."
 

Laurul Feather Cat

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My Gracie Tiel was my first handtame bird. She picked me at the breeders and was my first heart bird. Totally white, what they referred to as an albino. Hand fed, human oriented. She lived to 16 and had eventually bonded to a cock, Chip, and surprised the crap out of me when they eventually mated and produced chicks.

Single tiels need hours and hours of human one on one time and Gracie got it and lived it. Gracie witnessed the event of 9/11 with me. I was working night shift and spent every morning with her after work, but I was afraid she was bored and lonely during the day when I slept. So about a year after I got her, I got Chip to keep her company. Over the next few months they bonded and became mates. Gracie remained bonded to me despite raising several clutches of eggs and living with Chip. It was a perfect human/Parrot relationship.

Cockatiel form huge flocks in the wild, perching on grass stalks, shrubs and trees and feeding on the ground and the grasses. They really do need at least one of their species around. I adore watching my 14 strong flock.
 
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