Pair Bonding in Cockatiels by Tricia
ABOVE PICTURE OF SEXY BOY AND SOME OF HIS GIRLFRIENDS!!!!!!
Cockatiels usually form a very strong bond with their “Mate’ whether it is another bird or a human. They usually mate for “life” which in my experience with cockatiels of having kept and bred them for about twenty years appears very true. I’ve had hundreds of pairs of these wonderful little parrots and bred and handraised quite a large number. I have not been breeding any now for a few years so they are in retirement
Mating for life is just that for the life of the mate -if that mate dies and they see that mate dead they very quickly accept death and quickly take a new mate to replace the one that has died. But the sad part and to my regret I didn’t know about this extraordinary bond is that if they are separated from their mate e.g. it flies away they can pine for the rest of their life for this love to return to them.
Take “Cheeky” a pied hen pet of mine she bonded and mated at a early age with a lovely young pied male and they were very much in love. I wanted them to breed but the eggs were always infertile. A vet tested him and said he was infertile so I gave him away not knowing the consequences –Poor Cheeky has pined for his return for over twenty years now never taking another mate and ignoring the flirtations of other suitors.
This I’ve found is the common result of separation. You can’t tell them that their mate is never going to return –for example if it has flown away.
The male will scream out in distress at being separated from his mate and this can go on for days while the female will sit quietly for their mate to return.
If you have a bonded pair and one mate dies place the body in the cage near the other bird and let the other bird have a good look at the body and leave it there for maybe a couple of hours then take it away. For a start the living bird will probably “talk” it’s mate and investigate it then I think reality sinks in and they accept it’s dead. If they call out in distress when you remove the body return it for a bit longer and soon they accept the death.
The next part is very important if you want the living bird to pair up with another bird immediately put this bird in the cage or next to the cage for them to associate. I have found that the bird that lost its mate will usually bond quickly to a bird of a similar colour it’s dead mate and even more probably to a bird it originally “knew” even if it’s the same sex!
Cockatiels will also form a “menage a trios”- I’ve got a few males with two girlfriends and they all happily co-habit usually the two girls sharing the same nestbox and bringing up the babies together and sit around and preen each other without a sign of jealousy.
I’ve rarely seen the female unfaithful but the males will sometimes mate with a spare hen in the aviary while the “wife” is in the nest box! Very naughty!
A male pet cockatiel of ours “Sexy Boy” is an example of a “playboy” cockatiel -he has at least six girlfriends at last count and none of them are jealous of the other – he certainly lived up to his name! But his number one girlfriend a beautiful cinnamon cockatiel by the name of “Peachy Girl” I think got feed up with his unfaithful ways and ran off with “Andy Boy” after he determedly wooed her for weeks on end! Even though “Sexy Boy” has all these girlfriends he still loves us. He’s even trying to add our Sulphur Crested Cockatoo to his “harem”- every chance he gets he tries to woe her with his best performance and she seems very impressed she dances and calls to him “Here Boy” but I don’t think the “friendship” will go any further especially in that the Cockatoo could easily kill a cockatiel with one bite with the size difference-so we always have the bars of her cage between them-but that doesn’t stop “Sexy Boy” trying to win her affections! If you want to separate pairs do that at a early age so they learn that that is normal and accept that their “mate’ is going to return. Cockatiels adjust quickly to circumstances if used to it when they are young.
It is very important for the owners of pet cockatiels to understand the strength of this bonding as most pet cockatiels will bond with one particular member of the household whether it’s the same or opposite sex and probably it’s best for the person that really wants the cockatiel to be their pet handle it the most in the first few months of ownership so that bird will focus on that person.
A cockatiel “family” needs to accept that in all probability the bird being either male or female will just “like” that one person and could be aggressive to another member of it’s “flock” that is not it’s “mate” just as in human couples two’s company but threes a crowd!
Female cockatiels are usually more accepting of a number of people handling it and giving it “love” and scratches but males can be territorial and that of includes it’s “human mate”.
For this reason I definitely prefer the girls they are usually much more affectionate and loving and would have you scratch and love them for hours just contentedly sitting on the shoulder whereas the males usually don’t crave this affection but can be much more entertaining and usually talk a lot more.
I really recommend that if someone isn’t home all day every day you don’t just keep one cockatiel by itself –it will fret being left by itself as this is totally intolerable to a flock bird such as they are.
Having two of the same sex is probably the best choice if you want pets that way they won’t because totally bonded to the other bird and both should interact more with their human mate/s.
I have large number of “pets” that live in the house -some are paired with the opposite sex but still love us too but with some of the “girls” that I want just bonded to me I keep separated from the “boys” most of the time in their own cage when not out.
I hope this gives some perspective into the deep and emotional bonds these marvellous intelligent little parrots can form with one of their own kind or their “human” mate/s.