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How Much Does It Cost to Own a Cockatiel? (Updated in 2021)

Nicole Cosgrove

March 24, 2021

Introduction

Owning a cockatiel comes with many perks, as well as a few new responsibilities. One of the most important aspects to consider when adopting a bird is its lifespan. Although some of the costs they incur will be one-time only at the outset, others will continue for the next 10 to 15 years of their lives.

Beyond adopting the bird itself, you will need to invest in feeding them, getting new toys for them, and more. For medium-sized birds like cockatiels, investing in a great cage is crucial for keeping a happy, healthy parrot.

Before you adopt your cockatiel, make sure that you have enough of a budget put away to continue to care for them in the long run.

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Bringing Home a New Cockatiel: One-Time Costs

The initial costs when you adopt a new cockatiel will be the most expensive. The money you spend up front on the bird and their cage should not have to be spent again on the same cockatiel. Whether you decide on using a breeder to source your new feathered friend or adopt one from a friend, both of your continued happiness depends partially on their heritage.

Free

Sometimes, you might be able to adopt a cockatiel for free. This situation happens most commonly when you know someone with one of these birds and wants to rehome it.

When participating in such a transaction, it is best to ask them more questions about why they want to rehome their cockatiel. They should have a good reason, like they’re moving and can’t bring their bird with them or they can no longer afford to care for them.

Do not adopt a bird that hasn’t been trained well and has many behavioral problems. Unless you have a great deal of training experience, they will be challenging to live with.

cockatiel on a cage
Image Credit: Ramakrishna Rezende, Flickr

Adoption

  • $30-100

You can also adopt a cockatiel from a pet shelter. If someone has decided to rehome their cockatiel but needs to do so before a specific time, they may turn them over to an adoption shelter or agency. Look into your local shelter, and ask them about the cockatiel’s training and behavior. Most shelters will allow you several visits before you take them home for good.


Breeder

  • $80-250

Beyond adopting a rehomed cockatiel, you can also invest in one from a breeder. Birds from breeders are often taken from previous lines known for their friendliness and docile behavior. You are more likely to get a bird that is exceptionally well-behaved from a breeder than by adopting one from a pet store.

By adopting from a breeder, you can also check out their background and where the parents came from. Adopting from the pet store often means getting birds that were not produced with the best breeding and caring practices in mind.

There are not multiple species of cockatiels. Instead, they usually are sold with their color pattern in mind. Each of the birds below is a typical cockatiel, but various patterns and colorations can make them more valuable.

Lutino Cockatiel $150 to $250
Cinnamon Cockatiel $130 to $160
Pied Cockatiel  $110 to $170
Pearl Cockatiel: $150 to $200

Supplies

  • $10-25 per month

Once you equip their cage for the first time, cockatiels do not need much more setup. It is good to put away a few dollars each month just in case, though. Every once and a while, you will want to get them replacement bowls or perches. They also tend to work through their toys quickly because they love to pick and chew on things.

List of Cockatiel Care Supplies and Cost

ID Tag (Ankle band) $5
Spay/Neuter N/A
X-Ray Cost $45-$135
Ultrasound Cost N/A
Microchip N/A
Bed/Tank/Cage $90-$200
Backup/Travel Cage $50
Perches $20-$30
Toys $20
Food and Water Bowls $10

Annual Expenses

  • $175-215 per year

Once you have made the initial purchases of the bird and their cage, your annual expenses are bound to be a couple of hundred dollars each year. This cost can depend on the kind of food and toy investments you make.

It is also worth it to save extra money on top of this if something breaks and needs to be replaced or a medical emergency arises.


Health Care

  • $35-50 per year

Even if your cockatiel isn’t sick, they should be taken to an avian vet for an annual checkup. They do not have teeth, so they do not need dental care, and caged, domestic birds do not typically receive vaccinations. While these things don’t need to be kept up, it is still best to put a bit of money away monthly for possible emergencies. Even if they don’t happen often, it is better to be ready for them.

cockatiel on man's hand
Image Credit: Jean Mottershead, Flickr

Check-Ups

  • $35-50 per year

Most typical vets are not well-acquainted with birds and their potential diseases or illnesses. Instead, it is best to find a vet that specializes in avian species. Avian vets are not always easy to find, but since it should only be an annual trip, you should find someone capable of properly caring for them.

Typically, a check-up will be inexpensive and quick. It is best to train your birds for the kind of handling that they might experience in a vet’s office so they remain docile while they are there.


Vaccinations

  • N/A

There are vaccines that are available for domesticated birds. The most common one to get your bird is the polyomavirus vaccine. However, it is not required and can be quite a traumatic experience for such a small creature. If you feel like you need to get your bird vaccinated, it is best to speak with your vet about your concerns first.


Dental

  • N/A

Since cockatiels nor other parrots have teeth, they do not need dental care. As long as a cockatiel has safe toys that they can chew on and something they can scrape their beak on to keep it trimmed, there is not much more you need to do for them. These adjacent costs are integrated into the supply costs.

cockatiel on cage
Image Credit: Steven Dobres, Flickr

Treatments for Parasites

  • $50-100 per year

It is not typical for a pet bird that is kept indoors to suffer from a parasite infection. If you give your bird fresh fruits or vegetables, make sure that they have been cleaned thoroughly. Otherwise, if you source your bird from a reputable store, you shouldn’t have a problem.

If you believe that your bird is suffering from a parasite infection, take them to your vet. They will be able to test them and prescribe them the right medication to take care of the issue quickly.


Emergencies

  • $50-150 per year

Saving for a medical emergency is the best way to guarantee that you are ready for unanticipated costs. It is best to put at least $10 away each month so if the time does come that you need to rush your bird to the vet, you can easily pay for it without compromising the rest of your bird budget.


Medications for On-Going Conditions

  • $50-120 per year

As your bird ages, it is more likely that their bodies will stop processing food in the same ways. They may start to need certain supplements to keep them in good shape or medications to stay healthy.

cockatiel close up
Image Credit: waka, Flickr

Insurance

  • $120-1,000 per year

Insurance for an exotic pet like a cockatiel does not always have to be so expensive. However, it depends on the bird’s breeding, age, health condition, and rarity. The insurance will only go up for birds like cockatiels if they are a rare color mutation or pattern. It is best to shop around before finalizing your insurance decision.


Food

  • $120-240 per year

Cockatiels, like any other bird, need a varied and healthy diet. They will primarily eat foods like seed mixes or pellets from pet stores. Ensure that the food is well sourced from whatever company you buy. You can also give them treats of fresh fruits and vegetables that are safe for them and supply them with all the necessary vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy.


Environment Maintenance

  • $15-25 per year

A cockatiel’s cage is where they will spend the vast majority of their time. Making it somewhere fun and exciting will help them stay healthy. Cockatiels tend to be messy birds, but they do prefer a clean environment.

Change out the liner on the bottom of the cage multiple times a week. Many people use old newspapers or recycled paper. You should thoroughly clean the cage with bird-safe chemical cleaners at least once a month.

Cage liners or newspaper $5/month
Cleaning wipes: $5/month

Entertainment

  • $120-240 per year

Toys for cockatiels are essential. They need things that will keep them engaged, so they do not become too bored. These birds are affectionate and need plenty of time around people. If they do not get this or are left in an unstimulating area for too long, they will exhibit self-destructive behaviors.

cockatiel playing toys
Image Credit: Chrisad, Pixabay

Total Annual Cost of Owning a Cockatiel

  • $215-350 per year

The total annual cost of owning a cockatiel doesn’t have anything to do with the first cost of buying the cage and the bird. Once those initial costs are out of the way, you can expect to pay between $200 and $300 each year.

This cost includes maintaining their cage, buying them toys, feeding them, and paying any annual medical expenses.

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Owning a Cockatiel On a Budget

It is possible to own a cockatiel on a budget. However, what you don’t spend on them in money often needs to be spent in the form of time.

One of the only areas that you can skimp on if you want to spend less money each month is getting new toys or features for their enclosures. If you do not get them these things, though, they can become self-destructive and begin to pull out their feathers and pick at their skin.

You will need to keep them company more often if they don’t have things to play with during the day.

Saving Money on Cockatiel Care

You can save money by not replacing their toys immediately after they finish with them or by removing them before they destroy them. Bird toys are often made to be pulled apart or pecked at. It is in a bird’s nature to want to forage and pull things apart to explore or build nests.

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Conclusion

Depending on how you decide to adopt your cockatiel, you can be looking at a couple of dollars to hundreds of dollars. You will also want to invest in a high-quality cage because it is likely to be their home for a decade. These initial costs can often be more than $400 to do right by the bird from the beginning.

From there, the annual costs for caring for a cockatiel properly are closer to $200-$350. The range mostly has to do with the amount that you spend on toys and treats. Nothing else is very negotiable regarding their care.

Remember that the bird is not meant to be an ornament; as their caretaker, you have responsibility for their quality of life. Do what you can do to make their lives better.


Featured Image: jggrz, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.