Can cockatiels live outside?

Most pet cockatiels live in a cage indoors but you’re probably wondering if cockatiels can also live outside? Yes, cockatiels can live outside if the conditions are right. Having said that, just because cockatiels can live outside doesn’t mean that’s the best place for them.

There are lots of things to consider when making this decision. Let’s look at each of them.

Ideal climate for cockatiels

Cockatiels are originally from Australia. They can be found living wild in all parts of Australia except for the coastal regions. In the wild, cockatiels can live comfortably in temperatures that range from 40°F (4°C) to about 100°F (38°C).

In captivity, cockatiels can live comfortably in temperatures between about 40°F (4°C) and about 80°F (27°C).  So it really depends on where you live. You should check the year round temperatures where you live to see if they fall within that range. Cockatiels don’t like big and sudden fluctuations in temperature. So, if it goes from extreme cold at night to scorching hot during the day, your poor cockatiel is going to suffer.

Understand that temperature doesn’t tell the whole story. You need to take into account other conditions like cold winds, frequency of storms, hurricanes, tornadoes etc. The temperature on the thermometer might read 50°F, but a cold wind can make it feel much colder outside.

To help you make the decision about whether to keep cockatiels outside year-round, you should contact your local bird clubs to see if the climate in your particular area is suitable or not. They will know if their members keep birds outside or not. If the answer is yes, they will be able to give you plenty of advice for how to house them. 

Outdoor living birds are hard to tame

If you want to tame your cockatiel, bond with it and maybe even train it to talk, then that is going to be very difficult if your birds are living outside. Taming and bonding with a cockatiel takes time and requires regular contact and communication between the owner and bird. A bond is more likely to form between the owner and one or two cockatiels living indoors in a cage compared to with birds living in an aviary outside and out of sight. Birds living outside will bond with each other more easily than with the owner. If bonding with you bird and having a “pet” is important to you, putting your cockatiel(s) outside is a very bad idea.

Also, if you already own a bird that lives indoors in a cage and has bonded with you, you should not be considering putting it outside in an aviary. Your cockatiel will miss you and get depressed.  So you need to make the decision right from the start before you even acquire the birds. Before you acquire a bird, decide between indoors or outdoors. If you want to house them outdoors, install or build the aviary and then house them in it right from the start.

Cockatiels in an outdoor aviary

Birds should not be permanently housed in cages when outside. Cages are usually for indoor use only and can rust due to the humidity in the air. Rust is toxic for birds. Cages are fine for taking a bird outside for a few hours per day, but not when housed all year round.

Birds that are to be housed outside should be housed in an outdoor aviary. Before you go out and buy or build an outdoor aviary, you should find out if you require a local building permit. In addition, due to the noise that cockatiels can make, you may also require special permits depending on the zoning of your community. So check out all your local regulations before spending any money or time on this.

An outdoor aviary has 2 parts: An area for flying, appropriately called a “flight” and a shelter for feeding and to protect the birds from the elements.

The aviary should also provide a means to keep the cockatiels off the ground. This is essential in order to avoid the risk of parasites, rodents and chlamydiosis from infected wild free-flying birds. The best way to keep your cockatiels off the ground is to use a suspended aviary or flight, which is essentially an outdoor cage that stands on 4 legs approximately 3 feet (1 meter) off the ground.

If it gets very cold in the winter or at night, you should install heat lamps in the shelter area. If it gets very hot, you should install “misters” – These are devices that will spray your birds in a very fine mist of water.

Taking a cockatiel outside temporarily

If you decide against your cockatiel living outside all year round, a good compromise would be to house him permanently in a cage indoors but to take him outside for an hour or two when the weather is good. This is probably the best solution for owners who want to bond with their bird but who also want it to enjoy the outdoors.

There are lots of benefits to taking your cockatiel outside. – It’s good stimulation for your bird due to the change in environment and it also helps him produce vitamin D3, essential for good health.

Your cockatiel’s wings should be clipped before even thinking of taking your bird outdoors. Once that is done, you need to understand that even with clipped wings, a bird can fly away and not come back so you have 2 choices – Either you take your bird outside while still in its cage or you use a bird harness and leash to prevent him from escaping.

If you decide to take it outside while still in its cage, you should put the cage in the shade, out of direct sunlight so that your cockatiel doesn’t overheat. Make sure the cage door is properly shut, that the bottom of the cage is firmly attached and that there is no risk of the cage falling over or being knocked over by a cat, dog or person.

Keep a close eye on your cockatiel when outdoors, especially the first few times.  If he shows any signs of stress or of being too cold or too hot, then you should take him back indoors.

I hope you found this article useful. Please feel free to check out our other articles on caring for cockatiels.


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