Ask Lafeber

Question:

July 29, 2019

Cockatiel bonding, is it preventable?


Hello,
My boyfriend’s cockatiel is very bonded to him and they love spending time together. But when my boyfriend isn’t home or isn’t next to the cage/ in the cockatiel’s line of sight, he screeches nonstop (even if he’s out of his cage). Some days he screeches for a few hours at a time.
Not only does his screeching sounds cause us anxiety, we also worry if this is bad for the cockatiel’s emotional/physical health. We have been thinking about getting him a friend but my boyfriend doesn’t want to lose the bond he has with his cockatiel.
So, is it possible to get another cockatiel and still keep them tame IF they are kept in separate cages?


Answer:

Hi Carmen,

You can add another bird, in another cage, but it might just contribute to the noise. As long as they are in separate cages, they are not likely to form a close bond unless you allow them out together a lot. I think your boyfriend needs to understand what he is doing to the bird, by allowing such a close bond – he is behaving like a mate but can’t be a mate to a bird. He needs to change the way he interacts with the bird. This does not mean he can’t handle him, but he needs to handle him in a different way. He should limit any petting to head scratches. If he pets the bird on the body, this is something only a mate would be allowed to do. So the cockatiel’s hormones are triggered and the cockatiel is frustrated because a mate would not go away at times. He needs to keep the bird on his hand or a perch or play gym. If he is cuddling with the bird, allowing it to ride on his shoulder other other close handling, this is too much. The bird needs to learn to be independent and to treat your boyfriend like a flock member, not like a mate. If he can do this, other people should be able to handle the bird at some point. You should be able to handle him and alleviate the screaming when your boyfriend isn’t around. The bird needs toys to play with and a variety of foods to forage. I’ll provide some links to our pages with links to articles on bird care and feeding. If the bird’s obsession with your boyfriend continues, you are correct – the separation anxiety is not good for him in any way. You might even try giving him a mirror. Normally I don’t recommend letting a bird get obsessed with a mirror, but in this case it might help with the anxiety. Try some of these changes and see if it helps. Most importantly is to not react to the screaming. If you try to handle him, or yell at him, or you boyfriend comes back just to comfort him, these type reactions can enforce the behavior. You need to ignore the screaming and only speak to the bird or give him attention when he stops. He will learn the screaming does not get him any type of attention.

Here are the links:

Caring For Your Bird

Bird Food Guide

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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