Bonding With a Cockatiel

The highly social cockatiel thrives on close bonds with the members of his flock. For the captive cockatiel, that's you. It's not a daunting challenge to strike up a friendship with your bird. but building a relationship with your cockatiel requires the same strong foundation as a human bond: time, trust, respect and mutual affection.

First Days

Allow your cockatiel a time to adjust to his new situation by allowing him to observe his new environment undisturbed. Speak to him softly. Don't put your hand in the cage except to feed him. Avoid making any loud noises or sudden movements. After a few days, begin offering him some seeds from your hand. If he refuses, offer them on a stick and gradually work up to hand-feeding. Once he accepts food from your hand, he is ready to start learning to climb onto your finger and start the bonding process.

Training

Teaching your cockatiel to step on or off your finger on command -- or return to his cage or sing a tune or dance on cue -- isn't just about learning the right actions. The time you spend teaching your bird to behave or do tricks helps him bond with you. Cockatiels are very intelligent; they often view training as a game. You aren't an opponent, however, but a partner in the exciting adventure. Training also teaches him that you are the dominant one in the partnership, allowing him to accept his role and spend time bonding instead of trying to establish a pecking order.

Petting and Cuddling

When two cockatiels form a bonded pair, they spend a lot of time grooming and snuggling with each other. Most cockatiels love to be stroked on the top of their heads. Establish a routine of petting your bird every day, particular if you have just one, who will need your stroking in lieu of that of a partner. The physical contact will help create a bond. since you are replicating a part of the behavior cockatiels use to bond with each other. Allow him to cuddle with you as he desires, but don't let him sit in a position above eye level -- he will start to think he is dominant.

Play

Observe the type of games your cockatiel likes to play, and then join him. For example, if one of his favorite activities is tossing toys with his beak, roll a small ball to him and let him toss it over and over. The mental stimulation of playing keeps your cockatiel happy and encourages him to bond.

Eating

Mealtime is a social time for cockatiels; a wild flock will usually eat together. You don't need to let your bird sit next to you at the dinner table or eat off of your plate, but feed him or give him a treat at the same time you eat so that he can feel like he's eating with you. If you want, you can share a snack with your bird by breaking off a small piece of fruit, like banana, in his presence and offering it to him while eating the rest of the banana near his cage.