Do cockatiels need a companion?

It’s very common for first time cockatiel owners to ask the questions “Should I get one or two cockatiels?” and “Do cockatiels need a companion or friend?”. Well cockatiels can get along fine with other cockatiels and they can also live quite happily on their own on condition that their owner is able to spend time with them every day. Cockatiels do need a companion and that companion can either be another bird or you.

How much free time do you have?

So the decision comes down to whether or not you have enough time to interact and play with your bird on a daily basis. Do you have 1-2 hours of free time per day to occupy your bird? If yes, then one cockatiel is fine and it won’t need another bird companion.

If you don’t think you’ll have enough time, then you should get more than one cockatiel so that they can keep each other company. You have to be really honest with yourself when making this decision. Most people buying a cockatiel for the first time are doing so in order to tame it and train it to talk. That is very exciting at the beginning and so it’s easy to overestimate how much time one is willing to spend per day with the bird. But what about in 6 months from now after the novelty of owning a cockatiel has worn off?

A cockatiel can live for over 20 years. What will be going in your life in 20 years? Will you still be able and willing to spend an hour or two per day interacting with your cockatiel? Be honest.

Do you want to tame and train your cockatiel?

If you want to tame a cockatiel and maybe even train it and teach it to talk, then the bird does not need another bird as a companion. The reason is that to tame and train a cockatiel, you will bond with the bird and therefore you become the bird’s companion.

When you have a single cockatiel, you will have its undivided attention and it will be much easier to tame and train it.

Futhermore, if you’re going to tame, train and therefore bond with a cockatiel, it’s a bad idea to have several cockatiels in the same cage due to potential problems of jealousy and aggression between the bonded bird and the other birds. There can also be problems of jealousy and aggression between the bonded bird and you when it sees you giving attention to the other birds. 

Cockatiels are social creatures

Pet birds aren’t like pet fish. You can put fish in an aquarium, feed them once a day and keep the aquarium clean but that’s it. The fish will occupy themselves and there is no social interaction with the owner. The fish can be left pretty much to their own devices. 

Pet cockatiels on the other hand, particularly single cockatiels in a cage are social creatures. They need much more from the owner than just food, water and a clean cage. They need attention from the owner in the form of talking to the bird, taking him out of the cage, holding him, playing with him.

A single cockatiel that is alone all day with no interaction with the owner will become neurotic and depressed. After a while it could start plucking its own feathers and screeching to try and get some attention.  If you can’t dedicate at least 1 hour per day interacting with your cockatiel, then you should not get a single bird – You should get him/her a companion.

What size cage do I need for 2 cockatiels?

A cage for a pair of cockatiels should be at least 39.5 x 23.5 x 23.5 inches (100 x 60 x 60 cm)

Can two male cockatiels live together?

Yes, two male cockatiels can live together without problems. You should try to get them at the same time to avoid any territorial issues. There is a misconception that males are overly aggressive and will fight with each other. That’s only really true when in the presence of females because they will compete for the females. But 2 males together without females would be fine. The advantage of getting 2 males is that they obviously won’t breed and you also won’t have any of the issues related to hens constantly laying eggs.

Can 2 female cockatiels live together?

Yes, two female cockatiels will get along and can live together in a cage without any problems. It’s better if you get them at the same time so they move into the cage at the same time. If they get on really well, they might even try mating with each other. Obviously that won’t result in breeding but both hens could well continue laying their unfertilized eggs so that’s something you should be aware of.

Summary

Cockatiels need companionship in some form or another, either through interaction with other birds or with their owner.

If you only intend on keeping one bird, you must be prepared to spend time with it every day and to provide it with plenty of toys.


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