Do you have any advice for first time cockatiel owners?
Hmmm. I guess! But anything that I tell you isn’t something you wouldn’t find via Google! Which is something I am trying to say politely, because there are many avid crazy bird people out there who know a lot more than I do.
Cockatiels are pretty cool low-maintenance pets that may easily become your little buddies like Nacho here. They can be noisy but they’re not that loud, they’re colorful (in appearance and in personality!), and they’re easy to clean up after and stuff. I like them because they’re a step up from parakeets and have that just slightly larger brain which is why I think they’re a little bit more active in their interactions with humans—like, parakeets are super smart and can learn to talk and mimic like crazy (Pinto can already say his name!) but you can’t cuddle and manhandle them like I do with my cockatiels. But they’re also not as large or intelligent as conures, for example, which are already much more of an investment of your efforts and money.
All birds are flock animals which means they need their buddies, whether it’s people or other birds. If you want a bird to be dependent on you and super friendly around people, raise it solo at first. Handfeeding really helps, so look into your classified ads or craigslist or something for a local breeder who handfeeds. Definitely avoid chain pet stores because they’ll overcharge you and often those birds are really sad and unhealthy. Getting a bird comfortable in a new environment and with people requires a lot of time and effort so if you don’t want to spend those things, get two birds so they’ll at least have each other to interact with if you’re not around all the time. It’s possible to have two birds and get them both to be friendly with people, but they’ll also still be dependent on each other.
My experiences with “breaking” a bird have varied—I think with Nacho, who was probably about eight weeks old when I got him, it took about three or four months (nearly two with no other birds around) for him to be super friendly? Friendly being in the sense that he’d always want to sit on my shoulder and accept head pets and stuff. You just have to play with them every day. This is all advice that doesn’t cover things like their food, how much space they need, and how to keep them healthy and all that, but that stuff’s pretty easy because it’s a bird, not a dog. Or a human baby.
Okay I guess I had some advice! Sorry I don’t have any online bird resources to give you, it’s been a while since I’ve really nerded out about birds, but I’ve grown up with cockatiels my whole life, so I’m just used to them! Hope some of this helped.