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Copyright © Linda S. Rubin | CockatielsPlusParrots.com
Companion Bird Articles
c. 2011 Robin Kulas
©2003 Linda S. Rubin

CF Genetics Consultant  
& Panel Judge
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Written permission required for reprints.

First published in the December 2003  issue of BIRD TIMES magazine
c. 2010 Joe Coelho
Adding a second cockatiel to the household can be a rewarding experience when it includes careful
planning and preparation.

Although both you and your companion cockatiel may be most anxious to obtain another cockatiel, it can
be risky to introduce a new bird without a period of quarantine. Because birds are experts at masking
symptoms of illness, which would make them easy prey to predators in the wild, new birds should be
quarantined separately to watch for signs of poor health.

Many avian veterinarians recommend a 90-day quarantine period, or a minimum period of 30 days.
Because some illnesses may not reveal their symptoms within 30 days, a longer 90-day quarantine
period is recommended, especially where there is risk of exposure to larger collections.

Ideally, a bird kept in quarantine should be maintained on a separate air system apart from other birds.
Homes lacking basements and separate air ducts may not be ideal for a vigilant quarantine. If a separate
air system is not accessible, a nearby neighbor, relative, or friend’s home – where no other birds are
present – may be used so long as the quarantined bird(s) progress can be checked every day.

Because this is an ideal opportunity to begin training, if necessary, do not rely upon others to provide
daily feed and care. Use discretion about removing a new bird from its cage for training if you do not
have control over the bird’s environment. Unexpected opened doors or windows can prove disastrous.  
However, if a separate air system just cannot be found, isolate the new bird in a separate bedroom with
the door kept closed.  

Never allow birds access to one another during quarantine by alighting on each others’ cage, or touching
another bird’s toys, equipment, feed, water vessels, or food items.  Because cockatiels frequently hear
each other’s calls, they often begin to frantically call back and forth, which may prove to be a distressing
time for owners to endure. However, for the health, safety and welfare of your existing bird(s), do not
cave in by allowing birds to visit one another before the quarantine period is over.

Follow strict protocols; always wash your hands between attending to your existing bird(s) and your new
bird. No exceptions! And, always wash up thoroughly after caring, touching, or playing with the new bird.  
Taking stringent measures greatly reduces the likelihood of passing along any hidden illness from the
newly acquired bird. If children are involved, carefully explain to them the importance of washing up
between visiting cages.

Once quarantine is over, bring the new bird to an avian veterinarian who specializes in birds for a health
check, before introducing the new bird to other birds. If the flight feathers have not yet been clipped to
help facilitate training, a painless wing-clip can be performed during this appointment.  The cost of a
veterinary appointment and any testing or treatments should be considered as part of the actual cost of
the bird itself. This expense may prevent further expenditures and/or heartache if a potential disease
process infects a new bird or other precious pets at home.

Once a clean bill of health is obtained from a veterinarian, the cages may be kept side-by-side, keeping
the birds housed separately in their own cages to remain comfortable in their respective, established

Provide separate playtime with each cockatiel, taking each bird outside the cage for separate sessions.
If the new cockatiel is not yet completely tame, continue its lessons, which you have begun during its
quarantine period. Once your new bird observes your loving interactions with your first cockatiel, it will
help to gain its confidence and facilitate hand training and the emotional bonding that will occur.

Eventually, allow the birds their daily exercise outside the cage during the same time. Once the cage
doors are open, the birds may climb out and eventually visit each other’s cages. One excellent method
of socialization is to place both birds on a cockatiel play stand, which will act as neutral territory, to
familiarize and play with one another.

A cockatiel should never be forced to share a cage with another cockatiel, who may perceive the
intrusion as a “threat.” We certainly wouldn’t be happy about a stranger suddenly sharing our bedroom
and neither would our birds. If a cockatiel should eventually choose to share a cage together with
another cockatiel, and harmony abounds, then it is possible to house the birds together.

Signs of incompatibility include hissing, screaming, lunging, biting, tail bending, feather pulling, and
other aggressive behaviors. Cockatiels that continuously demonstrate these behaviors should be given
separate cages and leave socializing to time spent outside the cage. Usually, males and females
socialize well, or two males may “buddy up” and become close pals.

Introducing your cockatiel to a new companion should be an exciting event for both of you when
common sense rules are followed.
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