About Cockatiels: Cages and Cage Accessories
| You may or may not have noticed that there is a wide variety
of cockatiel cages available. What they don't tell you is that the spacing
between the bars must be 5/8" to no more than 3/4". This is primarily for
the bird's safety. A large spacing could allow the cockatiel to stick its
head through, and become stuck. Birds don't like to be in a situation where
they feel "stuck," and will thrash about, more than likely breaking its
The cage itself needs to be wider than it is long. Cockatiels
do not fly straight up and down. Unfortunately, most "beginner kits" are
with a tall cage. I personally recommend the Prevue Playpen Cage, which
is available at PetsMart for $70,
or you can buy it online at their website
for about $20 less. This cage is only big enough for ONE cockatiel!
Another cage I've used the Prevue Two Tone cage, which is a bit more pricey,
and is the same size. The Playpen Cage expands to include 2 ladders above
the cage, which can be closed when you don't want the bird to get out.
The perches are a bit small, but they work. You can buy ones that are a
bit bigger (I recommend 5/8") in diameter later for a few dollars.
Whatever cage you choose, make sure it includes a grille
and a pull out drawer. The grille is essential for the health of the cockatiel,
keeping it safely away from its excrement. The pull out drawer is so convenient
I don't know if they even make cages without it anymore. You can line the
drawer with newspaper. Don't use any pine shavings, or cedar, or that silly
grit they keep trying to market. Grit actually does more harm than good,
impacting your cockatiel's crop and basically starving it to death. Using
shavings is just silly. After you change the drawer a few times, you'll
figure out why.
Perches have somewhat of a debate going on. The cement
perches, and those sand covers you can put on regular perches, are thought
to cause sores on birds' feet. It makes sense, standing around on sandpaper
all day doesn't sound too comfortable to me! Plastic perches are just fine,
again, in the 5/8" diameter. 3/4" is fine too. There are adjustable cloth
perches you can buy, which I think are great for anyone who wants to rearrange
the cage a lot. They are also nice because the birds love to pick at them,
and serve as a passtime. A few negative things are that you don't want
your bird to swallow little strings, so you must keep an eye on it, they
cost a bit more, they aren't so easy to clean, and they don't naturally
trim your bird's claws. You will have to clip them yourself if the main
perch is made of cloth.
Toys are the fun part in planning your bird's cage. There
is a nice selection on the market today. I try to buy toys with bells,
because they fascinate the bird no end, and leather or wood. I'd rather
have the cockatiel nibble on the leather than on my fingers. Toys don't
have to be expensive to be played with. The one toy that all my birds like
is a "Sun, Moon, and Stars" toy I get a Kroger for $0.99. I have seen other
toys go into the $15 range. A nice $5 leather toy will last your bird a
while. You should keep many toys on hand, to continually rotate into the
cage every few weeks. We don't want the bird to get bored, so keep changing
one of the toys every so often. If they have a definite favorite, you don't
have to remove it. You're just trying to supply a little variety.
Now we come to food cups and water bowls. If you use what
comes with the Prevue Playpen Cage, you'll be okay. For other cages, try
to find deep cups for food, to prevent the horrible mess birds can make.
I have one food bowl, one water bowl, and one treat bowl for veggies and
fruits for one cockatiel. The numbers change slightly as you increase the
number of birds. For water bowls, you can use nearly any kind of crock.
I don't recommend the ones that automatically refill themselves, because
they aren't necessary, and supply a breeding ground for bacteria. Parrots
don't drink a lot of water, and those types of waterers allow you to change
the water less often, and the quality of the water decreases. For a treat
bowl, you can use a regular food bowl, or you can get the kind that are
partitioned off so that you may separate each treat into its own section.
A cuttlebone and/or a mineral block should be available
to your bird. The provide necessary nutrients that they may not be getting
through their diet. Do not buy or use cockatiel vitamin drops. These drops
are supposed to be used in the water, at a very high concentration, since
cockatiels do not drink a lot of water. This is like a Thanksgiving dinner
to bacteria! Vitamins should be provided in the bird's diet, with a lot
of leafy greens and other fruits and vegetables.