Parakeets are gregarious birds and they like to live together. However, the arrival of a new bird, such as the cockatiel, can cause some dissatisfaction among those who were there first, especially if the group consists of only one or two birds.
However, the good news is that yes, it is possible to have these two species of birds cohabit together in the same cage. In fact, the cockatiel accepts other species relatively easily; it is therefore quite easy to make them cohabit with parakeets. However, you will need to take a few precautions and proceed slowly to avoid any sudden changes that could unnecessarily stress your two charming little birds.
How to House Cockatiels and Parakeets Together
1. Place the newcomer in quarantine
Each newcomer (be it a parakeet or a cockatiel) will have to undergo a period of quarantine to ensure that they have no health problems but also for the birds to get used to each other. During the first four weeks, the new parakeet should remain in an individual cage near that of the other birds. They will thus be able to familiarize themselves with each other. After this period, you can put the two cages together so the birds can indulge in their first beak-to-beak contact.
2. Make the first physical contact
Keep this arrangement until the birds seem comfortable with each other. The first physical contact without bars must take place in the cage where the birds are brought together. If this is already the birds’ territory that arrived first, change the interior elements and accessories to make it different and make it a neutral space. For example, place bowls on both sides of the cage to allow your parakeet and cockatiel to feed separately if desired.
Do not panic if you see your birds hissing or puffing their wings; this is perfectly normal, as long as they do not engage in violent behavior. The situation should calm down once the hierarchy is established. Besides, you could offer your birds millet: this treat to eat in groups will allow them to create a bond and make them forget their conflicts.
If your birds fight a lot, you may need to keep them in separate cages and retry a week later. The larger the cage, the easier the transition will be to set up.
3. Make sure you have enough space
This step is especially important if you choose to put more than two birds together.
You must give each bird a place of its own to isolate itself from noise and bustle. The birds must be able to fly and explore every corner of the cage without bumping into it or being systematically stolen from their place on the perches. A bird harassed by its fellows will also need a place to retreat until things calm down: a high perch, a box, a quiet corner. All of this takes up space and it will be easier to keep your birds happy if they live in an outdoor aviary.
4. Respect the specific dietary needs of both species
It is also important to take into account the different diets: parakeets, like cockatiels, have their own nutritional needs. All occupants of the cage or aviary must be satisfied and sated. You will need to observe their behavior closely, in case, for example, a greedy cockatiel steals a specific seed in the parakeet’s food.
In addition, the cockatiel needs to ingest large amounts of oily seeds like sunflower seed and while an occasional little tasting won’t make your parakeet sick, you will need to be careful that she does not eat too much, at the risk of developing obesity or liver problems.
5. Monitor your birds’ behavior
Parakeets and cockatiels are smart birds, but this intelligence is double-edged: it makes them very interesting pets but also makes each individual very different. Thus, depending on its personality, a parakeet can be outgoing or shy, sympathetic or slightly aggressive. Naturally, these temperaments will have an influence on the overall balance within the cage.
The worst-case scenario would be to have an easily intimidated parakeet coexist with a more dominant cockatiel. In such circumstances, you will have no choice but to intervene, for the good of all occupants of the cage.
This is why you must keep free cages available in case cohabitation is impossible. Note that these cohabitation problems are very rare in practice, but it is better to be prepared for any eventuality.
Featured Image Credit: Stanislavskyi, Shutterstock