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Creating a Safe and Happy Home For Your Bird

Updated: Apr 28, 2019

Copyright © 2005 by Margaret Madison All Rights Reserved

The minimum size cage for one cockatiel should be 18 inches square and of course, the

larger dimensions the better.  The bird should ideally be able to spread its wings in all directions inside the cage.  Bar spacing should be such so that the bird doesn’t get its head stuck in the cage bars.  For cockatiels the bars shouldn’t be more than ¾”.  Your bird should have room in his cage for a few toys and a variety of perches. 

Plenty of mental and physical stimulation, and socialization.

A variety of toys can provide mental stimulation, beak exercise and something to help fight boredom.  Perches of different materials and different diameters can help your bird find a comfortable foot position, exercise their legs and feet, and help stave off arthritis and other

foot problems later in life.  Some perches are also good for helping keep your bird’s nails under control and their beak in good condition as well.  Perches are important for your bird because they do spend most all of their life on their feet. 

Many birds like sleeping in an upper corner of their cage farthest away from the door so if you can position a perch in a corner up high away from the door, your bird would probably appreciate it.  I also believe that square cages help to make a bird feel more secure, they have a corner to retreat to.  In round cages you have no little corner to seek shelter in.  Covering your cage at night helps give your bird privacy and creates a safe, secure environment in which your bird can rest.  In the wild birds will seek shelter and protection in which to sleep and feel safe.  Make sure your bird receives 10-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night or else you can have a cranky, uncooperative bird in the daytime.  Over time, lack of sleep can cause undue stress on your bird and may make them more susceptible to getting sick.  Some cockatiels who are especially prone to night frights do well if there is a night light left on so if they awaken suddenly they can see things around them and they know they are all right.  A little bit of “white noise” can help too and I like to leave my HEPA air filter running 24/7.  It creates a little “hum” so little noises during the night (the click-click or jingle of a dog walking past to get a drink of water, or you walking past to let dogs go potty at night, the furnace kicking on, etc…) doesn’t cause a huge stir within the flock and send them fluttering and flapping into a “night fright”.


Place your bird’s cage where he will feel like part of the family and be able to see everyone most of the time.  Put the cage where the people usually hang out in the home.  Keep the cage away from any immediate area in which you don’t want his little beak to find and chew (think of walls, trim, furniture, anything hanging on your walls, curtains, etc…).  Place the cage in an area that is easily cleaned and away from drafts.  If a TV is available during some of the day, that can help pass the time.  A nice view out the window, but not necessarily

directly in front of the window can provide something interesting for the bird to watch.  If he was right near the window, the bird should have an area in the cage to retreat to if he didn’t want the outdoor view right in his face or if the sun got too hot.  Leaving a cage corner partially covered with a perch he can retreat to can help.

Lutino Cockatiel

Keep your bird safe from household dangers and never let him out of his cage unsupervised, especially around other pets.  Many household accidents can also be avoided if you keep your pet cockatiel’s flight feathers trimmed and his nails trimmed so that they are not snagging on material or carpeting.  Having flight feathers trimmed can help keep your bird in one location, such as on his play gym, which not only keeps him from dangers but also helps control the location of his mess.  With full flight ability, the bird flying loose inside the home can meet serious consequences if they fly into an uncovered window or mirror, a ceiling fan, or if they flew right out of an open door or window.

Other Common Household Dangers

Fumes/Toxins – paint fumes, cooking fumes (burned oils, etc..), smoke, chemicals/cleaners, car exhaust, over-heated non-stick cookware, space heaters, self cleaning ovens, glue guns, new carpet and carpet powders, tobacco, cigar/cigarette smoke.

Metals - Curtain weights, jewelry, pewter items, paint, varnishes, twist ties and many hardware fixtures, even some cages and toys contain toxic metals.

Household Plants – research your particular house plants and if in doubt, keep them away from your bird.

Electrocution – chewing cords and wires.

Crushing – sitting on or stepping on your bird, closing it in a door.

Drowning – open toilets, sink full of dishwater.

Burning – hot stoves/ovens, hot pans/pots, hot light bulbs.

Foods – avocado, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, salt, human “junk” food

Other Pets - bacteria from cat saliva or their claws, even a mild mannered dog might snap at a bird that is biting or teasing it.

Unsupervised Children – they don’t realize how rough they are or how fragile a bird can be with their air sacs and air filled bones.

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