As a cockatiel owner, it’s understandable to wonder if your cockatiel gets lonely. Does your cockatiel need a companion, or can it live alone?
Cockatiels can live alone with the proper care and attention, but owning more than one is normally better for them.
However, there are things that you can do to make sure they thrive alone with you. There are some things to watch out for and avoid when owning one cockatiel to be sure you’re providing your cockatiel with the best quality of care.
Do Cockatiels Live Alone in the Wild?
As pet owners, we try to emulate their innate nature as much as we can to make them comfortable and happy.
Along with plenty of space, entertainment, and healthy food, we need to focus on the attention and socialization they need.
Cockatiels are social birds and live in flocks. They typically bond with a mate and care for each other in the wild.
Cockatiels aren’t meant to live alone. Their instincts are primed to care for others, interact and bond with another cockatiel.
They live, eat, fly, and raise their young together. As social animals, they need social stimulation to thrive.
If you own one cockatiel, you would be the social interaction they need to be happy and healthy.
Advantages of Owning One Cockatiel
With the right amount of attention, one cockatiel can live happily alone. The care one cockatiel needs is a bit different than owning two.
There are some pros and cons to consider when owning one cockatiel.
Bonding With You
It is much easier to bond with your cockatiel if you only have one.
They need interaction, so as you care for your bird and build trust, they would be naturally inclined to consider you a member of their flock.
They can prefer your company over anyone else’s. Even in a home with more than one pet parent, cockatiels have only one mate and therefore need more time and attention from that person.
The special bond they form with one person can be lifelong and rewarding.
Easier To Train
As your cockatiel’s companion, it will crave attention from you. This makes it much easier to train them.
Cockatiels are a group of birds that can learn to mimic you in whistles or by talking. Owning just one cockatiel will encourage your bird to interact with you by communicating.
Cockatiels can also learn a variety of tricks. Some owners have taught theirs to dance, high-five, or spin in circles.
If you’re interested in being able to teach your bird tricks like these, it is easier to do when you only have one.
More Affectionate With You
Cockatiels are affectionate birds. They can enjoy cuddling, soft pets, and having their necks rubbed.
Since they are social birds that normally groom and are affectionate with one another, as your cockatiel’s sole companion, it will want affection from you.
Your cockatiel might try to show you love by fixing your hair, throwing its toys to play with you, or being excited when they see you. It can softly chirp at you to let you know it’s happy to be with you.
Disadvantages of Owning a Single Cockatiel
Behavioral Issues Due to Mating
As your cockatiels companion, your bird may potentially see you as a mate. This means hormonal behavior, like:
- screaming or
- becoming territorial.
Aggression likely shows up with the frustration of the cockatiel not receiving the reciprocal mating behavior they need.
This shows up in stressful behaviors, like being excessively loud, biting and hissing, and for females, laying eggs, which can lead to egg binding.
A Cockatiel Can Get Bored or Lonely
When a cockatiel feels it’s not receiving enough attention, it can get bored and lonely.
This can cause behavioral problems that are not only bothersome but can be potentially harmful to your cockatiel as they are also stressful and can cause health issues.
Risk and Health Problems
A bored or lonely cockatiel’s destructive behavior, like plucking out its feathers too much, shrieking loudly, becoming aggressive, or lethargic, may lower its immunity making them more susceptible to illnesses.
A lone cockatiel can also develop separation anxiety. This may trigger similar distressed behavior when their owner leaves or arrives.
Horizontal lines across growing feathers known as stress bars may also form.
Tips On Preventing Loneliness in a Single Cockatiel
Although it may be challenging to own one cockatiel, the rewards and bonding experience is like no other.
Keeping your bird healthy with the proper care is a leg up for it to live a long and happy life. Here are some tips to consider.
Give Your Cockatiel Lots of Attention
As a part of your cockatiel’s flock, you are expected by it to talk, interact, eat, and generally live with it all the time.
You can give your cockatiel attention in many different forms:
Tossing toys, chirping, and mimicking you keep it from feeling lonely and bored. Some owners love to play hide and seek with their birds, hiding behind furniture or blankets to entice their curiosity.
Music and dance
Bobbing your head up and down to get your cockatiel to copy you.
Normal care and routine
Bathing is a favorite bonding time for many cockatiel owners who enjoy watching their birds splash and play in the water.
Eat some healthy snacks together
Cockatiels like to try whatever they see you munching on and may enjoy a bowl of blueberries with you.
Your Cockatiel Stimulated
Cockatiels are intelligent birds, and some can be taught various tricks. Allured by a treat, they can learn to bow their heads, turn around, or even high-five.
Keeping them entertained with new toys keeps them busy when they spend time in their cages.
You can also encourage foraging by making them work for their food. Hiding their food in bird-safe containers are ways to make eating as interesting to them as it would be in the wild.
Be Proactive in Your Cockatiel’s Healthcare
Prevention can sometimes be the best way to keep cockatiels healthy. Providing the right size cage and ensuring their time outside of it is essential to keep them healthy.
They need space to move around and use their muscles since they don’t fly as often in captivity as in the wild.
The right diet with varied fruits and vegetables, pellets, and minimal seeds will prevent them from becoming obese or having other health-related issues. Regular checkups with the vet can be vital in keeping them well.
Birds are experts at hiding health problems, and your vet has a better chance of finding out if your bird is suffering from any illness with regular yearly visits.
How Long Can You Leave a Cockatiel Alone?
If you own one cockatiel, you may wonder how long you can leave it alone.
If it’s possible to leave your bird alone for an eight-hour work day, for example, is a common question among lone cockatiel bird owners.
You can leave it alone for about two hours. Any longer than that, and you risk your cockatiel developing separation anxiety.
They become fearful of being left alone, and the anxiety and stress may cause health problems to surface or exacerbate any they already had.
It’s important to consider this before deciding to own a cockatiel. Being able to leave for only two hours is a lifestyle change that needs to be accommodated to ensure your cockatiel thrives.
What To Do if Your Cockatiel Needs More Company?
Consider a New Companion
If, for any reason, you determine that your bird would be happier with a companion, there are some things to think about.
Firstly, your cockatiel might be happier with another bird if you’re gone a lot. It’ll have someone to keep it company while you’re gone, preventing boredom and loneliness.
Secondly, your cockatiel’s bond with you might change. Your bond might not be as strong with a new bird to engage with and spend more time with.
They may prefer the company of their new cockatiel mate over yours.
Get Another Cockatiel
If you’re getting another cockatiel, it’s best to get a cockatiel the same sex as the one you already own.
This will make them calmer and less likely to have any aggression due to hormonal changes.
Get A Bird That Can Live with Cockatiels
Cockatiels can live with other birds besides their species. The size and type of bird are important to match similar temperaments.
Cockatiels can live with parakeets.
It’s best if it’s just one parakeet to prevent any bullying behavior. They do have different nutritional needs but are similar enough to cage together. They will need separate feeding areas to ensure each one gets the right dietary needs.
Cockatiels can also get along with lorikeets.
They are similar in size and less likely to have aggression issues. Both also are native to the same place, Australia, and may be genetically predisposed to co-living together.
So, one final thought when owning a cockatiel is that your cockatiel can thrive alone with the right amount of care and attention.
While it might take a bit more work and time, owning one cockatiel can be a wonderful bonding experience.