The lovely, friendly, snuggly, cockatiel. Everyone wants to have one of these Tiny parrots sitting on their knee, beak grinding and fluffed. Every cockatiel needs to feel safe and secure, before they will be such loving and gentle companions.
If your cockatiel is less than cooperative, stop for a minute. Ask yourself – how can I make him feel safer? Could I leave him in his cage, to come out on his own? Could I have a perch or branch on a table nearby that he could sit near the family? How about asking him to come toward YOU (rather than putting a hand in his space)? These are all great ideas for increasing the trust between you and your bird.
Start from a place of safety. Then ask yourself, why would he want to sit with me? What’s in it for him? If he doesn’t have any experience sitting with you, you will need to make it a pleasurable experience for him. I like to have millet available for when my tiels come out of their cage. Millet on my clothes. Millet on the sofa. Millet all over the table. That’s how you know it’s a cockatiel party!
It’s important to make their time with you pleasant and enjoyable from their point of view. The more they have a wonderful time, the more they will want to come over and have another ‘party’ with you in the future. It can be useful to only offer their regular diet in the cage, and save the millet as a special event food. Take a deeeeeep breath. Be patient. Let this Tiny Dragon decide, “Hey, that looks like a fun time, I think I’ll go check it out!”. Start from a place of trust and build from there.
Move slowly. Quick movements can be scary. And keep the party short, to keep the experience as pleasant as possible. After 5 minutes, your tiel will be full of millet, and should be encouraged to finish the treat inside his cage. Success! Your first party! Leave things be until tomorrow, and encourage another set of positive experiences for your tiel. It won’t take long before you (being paired with the best stuff in the world) become a person of value to your Tiny. Keep building up the trust and you will soon have a snuggle monster of your very own.