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11 Essential Cockatiel Supplies (2023 Product Guide)

Chantelle Fowler

By Chantelle Fowler

male cinnamon cockatiel perching

Cockatiels are extremely popular pet birds for a good reason. They’re highly affectionate, gentle, and playful, all qualities most humans find desirable in animal companions. So if you’re considering welcoming a cockatiel into your flock, you’ve made a great choice.

Bringing home a bird for the first time requires much research. In addition, they require a much different level of care than other domesticated pets, so make sure you’ve brushed up on proper bird husbandry before signing your adoption papers.

Once you have a basic idea of how to care for your cockatiel, you’ll need to invest in the essential supplies. Keep reading to find 11 items you’ll need to buy before you welcome your new avian friend home.

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The 11 Essential Supplies For Cockatiels

1. Carrier

  • Our Pick: Prevue Pet Products Travel Bird Cage

Prevue Pet Products Travel Bird Cage

A travel carrier is necessary as it’s difficult to transport your bird without one. You’ll not only need to get your bird home safely, but in the future, you’ll need a travel carrier to get your pet to and from vet visits.

We like the Prevue Pet Products Travel Bird Cage as its large access door allows you to safely get your cockatiel in and out. It also comes with cup holders so you can feed and water your pet if you’re traveling long distances and a perch so it will have somewhere to sit on your drive. You can also find soft-sided carriers, but we prefer this style as its pull-out debris tray makes cleaning a breeze.

2. Birdcage

  • Our Pick: Prevue Pet Products Wrought Iron Small & Medium Birds Flight Cage

Prevue Pet Products Wrought Iron Small & Medium Birds Flight Cage

A birdcage is likely to be your biggest investment in bird ownership, and we highly recommend not skimping out on it. Your cockatiel will spend significant time in its cage, so get one that’ll promote health, enrichment, and exercise.

Cockatiels are active and playful, so finding a cage accommodating their busy lifestyle is essential. It’s also important to consider your bird’s adult size. They can grow 12 inches long, so you’ll need a cage with plenty of space for their long tails.

Generally speaking, the bigger the cage you can buy, the better and more comfortable your bird will feel in it. The minimum size you should consider is 24″L x 18″W x 24″H, and that’s for a single bird. Another good rule of thumb is that the cage length should be at least 1.5 to 2 times the total wingspan of your bird.

We recommend the Prevue Pet Products Wrought Iron Small & Medium Birds Flight Cage. This large wrought iron flight cage measures 31″L x 20.5″W x 53″H inches and has an integrated storage shelf beneath it. Its large front doors provide easy access, and its pull-out grill makes cleaning easy.

3. Perches

  • Our Pick: Polly’s Pet Products Hardwood Bird Perches

Polly's Pet Products Hardwood Bird Perches

Perches are a non-negotiable supply for all pet birds. When your cockatiel isn’t flying, they are standing, so they need something to stand on. In addition, birds use their perches for climbing, chewing, rubbing, and playing, so it’s a worthwhile investment.

Perches come in a wide variety of sizes and materials. It’s best to have several different options in a size that matches your cockatiel’s size. Ideally, they should be able to wrap their toes around to grasp it, not stand on it with their toes spread wide. Having a variety of sizes allows for more exercise opportunities and reduces the likelihood that your cockatiel will develop sores on its feet. In addition, varying perch widths put pressure on different areas of their feet, making it easier for your bird to find a comfortable resting spot.

There are three main types of perches:
  • Wood perches
  • Rope perches
  • Ceramic or concrete perches

Wood Perches

Vets highly recommend wood perches as their naturally varying diameters allow for better pressure distribution. Birds also enjoy chewing on wood perches, providing enrichment for your pet while it’s in its cage. You can find natural manzanita wood perches in stores or make your own from the trees outside. If you opt for the store-bought route, we like Polly’s Pet Products Hardwood Bird Perches as they’re easy to grip and naturally durable.

If you decide to DIY your bird perch, choose branches from non-toxic trees. Before giving them to your bird, they must be washed and disinfected in the oven for 30 minutes at 200°F. Failure to disinfect the branch may mean introducing your bird to potentially toxic microscopic insects or fungi that call the branch home.

The best wood to use is from the following trees:
  • Apple
  • Elm
  • Ash
  • Maple
  • Willow
  • Birch
  • Poplar
  • Dogwood

Rope Perches

Rope perches are made of hemp or untreated cotton. They are great as they’re soft and comfortable, especially for older or arthritic birds. However, this perch type needs to be monitored often as they will begin wearing down over time. When the fabric becomes tattered, your cockatiel may try to eat it or their toes can become entangled in the fibers.

The JW Pet Medium Comfy Bird Perch is our recommended rope perch. It comes in several lengths and its bright colors are a hit with most cockatiels.

Ceramic or Concrete Perches

You can use ceramic or concrete perches in addition to others in your cage, but you shouldn’t ever only have this type available. They can be abrasive to the bottoms of your bird’s feet, leading to irritation and sores.

We like the Living World Pedi-Perch Cement Bird Perch as it’s naturally durable and can help your bird trim and file its nails.

4. Toys

  • Our Pick: SunGrow Bird Chew ToySunGrow Bird Chew Toy, Medium & Large Parrot Foraging Blocks for Cage

Cockatiels are highly active birds that need toys just like any other pet. Providing toys in your bird’s cage will ensure your pet stays happy, healthy, engaged, and enriched. Lack of activity can often lead to abnormal, self-destructive behaviors, so the more you encourage play, the better.

We recommend starting with three or four toys and adding more as your budget allows. Having more toys will enable you to switch them out weekly to prevent boredom for your cockatiel.

Cockatiel toys can be broken down into several categories:
  • Chew toys
  • Preening toys
  • Foraging toys

Chew Toys

Cockatiels love to chew, so providing them with bird-safe chewable toys is the best way to prevent unwanted and destructive chewing of objects in your home.

We recommend the SunGrow Bird Chew Toy as it’s designed to provide both mental and physical stimulation. This colorful toy is made of multiple shapes and colors to keep your cockatiel interested and engaged. In addition, it features wooden blocks and cotton ropes your bird can chew and destroy to its heart’s content.

Preening Toys

Preening is an essential part of a cockatiel’s daily routine. Preening toys provide domesticated birds with fun activities that distract them from feather-damaging behaviors.

We like the Planet Pleasures Fan Preener Bird Toy as it’s a simple and affordable toy that supports healthy chewing and foraging habits. It also provides endless entertainment and encourages your cockatiel to preen so it can look its best.

Foraging Toys

Wild birds spend much of their day searching for food. Once they’ve found food, it most often needs to be peeled or cracked open. Your pet bird will not have to hunt for its food as you’ll be reliably providing it, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t challenge your cockatiel to work to get its food.

Foraging toys are those you can hide food in, providing your bird with a rewarding enrichment activity.

We recommend the Planet Pleasures Pineapple Foraging Bird Toy as it’s made with natural materials your birds’ wild counterparts might find in their natural habitat. It has hiding spots between each spike to encourage foraging and is made of shreddable materials to ease stress in cockatiels that might have anxiety.

5. Pellets

  • Our Pick: ZuPreem FruitBlend

ZuPreem FruitBlend Flavor with Natural Flavors Daily Medium Bird Food

Pellets are highly recommended as a complete and balanced food source for domesticated birds. They are the ideal diet, so it’s best to get your cockatiel started on them as soon as possible. If you’ve adopted a mature bird, converting it to pellets can be a challenge, but it’s in your pet’s best interest to do so. Pellets should represent 75% to 80% of your cockatiel’s diet.

We recommend ZuPreem FruitBlend pellets as they’re designed specifically for medium birds like cockatiels. This food is made in the United States with natural fruit flavoring most birds take to immediately. It provides a balanced diet to meet your bird’s nutritional needs.

6. Vitamins & Supplements

  • Our Pick: The Caitec Featherland Paradise Cuttlefish Bone

Caitec Featherland Paradise Cuttlefish Bone Bird Toy

A healthy cockatiel should get most of the vitamins and minerals it needs from its pelleted diet. Still, there may come a time in your bird’s life when additional supplementation is necessary. For example, egg-laying female cockatiels should have calcium supplements for healthy egg production and minimize the risk of it becoming egg-bound.

Cuttlebones are great to have at all times in your cockatiel’s cage. The Caitec Featherland Paradise Cuttlefish Bone is just a few dollars and provides a hefty dose of calcium to help your cockatiel thrive. This cuttlefish-derived product will also offer enrichment as most birds love pecking away at them.

7. Water & Food Dishes

  • Our Pick: JW Pet InSight Clean Cup Bird Feed & Water Cup

JW Pet InSight Clean Cup Bird Feed & Water Cup

All living creatures need food and water to thrive; your cockatiel is no different. Therefore, high-quality food and water dishes are necessary to keep your bird hydrated and well-nourished.

We like the JW Pet InSight Clean Cup Bird Feed & Water Cup as it’s easy to remove, refill, and clean. It has a clear plastic guard to prevent your bird from making too big of a mess and is designed to fit all bird cages. If you like this water cup, you can buy a second one for a food dish, too. Otherwise, we recommend Caitec’s Featherland Paradise Sure-Lock Cup Bird Cage Feeder, as its space-saving design leaves more space in your bird’s cage for it to play and move about.

8. Cage Cover

  • Our Pick: Prevue Pet Products Good Night Bird Cage Cover

Prevue Pet Products Good Night Bird Cage Cover

While it’s not necessary to cover your bird’s cage at night, you might find that your cockatiel prefers it that way.

Nighttime can be stressful for some birds, and having a cover on the cage can provide a feeling of safety. It gives them protection from the outside world and makes them feel less vulnerable.

Some bird owners find a cage cover useful as it indicates to their bird that it’s time to sleep. They’ll become accustomed to the cover over time and know that it’s time to wind down when you pull it out.

If you decide to use one, we recommend the Prevue Pet Products Good Night Bird Cage Cover. This lightweight cover can create a calming environment to promote better sleep hygiene for your cockatiel. While the material is breathable, we recommend leaving one side open to ensure optimal breathability throughout the night.

9. Treats

  • Our Pick: Kaytee’s Forti-Diet Pro Health Oat Groats Bird Treats

Kaytee Forti-Diet Pro Health Oat Groats Bird Treats

Okay, so treats aren’t necessary on day one, but they’re still nice to have as they can encourage bonding and help you create a close relationship with your cockatiel.

The best treats are healthy ones, such as fresh fruit (e.g., bananas, apples, grapes, strawberries) or veggies (e.g., leafy greens, sweet potatoes, carrots). But if you’re having difficulty getting your cockatiel interested in such treats, you can find commercially produced ones in your local pet store.

We like Kaytee’s Forti-Diet Pro Health Oat Groats Bird Treats as they’re a great source of protein and nutrients for your cockatiel. The container is full of differently sized and textured treats to encourage foraging.

10. Cage Cleaning Supplies

  • Our Pick: Nature’s Miracle Bird Cage Cleaner

Nature's Miracle Bird Cage Cleaner

If there’s one thing you should know before you bring your cockatiel home, it’s that they have highly sensitive respiratory systems. As a result, certain household items you might use daily without thinking (e.g., candles, air fresheners, cleaners) can be extremely toxic for birds. Therefore, you can’t use any household cleaner on your bird’s cage.

Vinegar and warm water are our preferred cleaning supplies. Use diluted white or apple cider vinegar as an effective bird cage cleaner.

You can find bird-safe cleaners in the store, though. We recommend Nature’s Miracle Bird Cage Cleaner if you don’t like cleaning with vinegar. This solution can tackle strong odors and remove caked-on debris. Please read the instructions thoroughly before using them in your bird’s cage.

11. Styptic Powder or Cornstarch

  • Our Pick: Miracle Care Kwik-Stop Styptic Powder

Miracle Care Kwik-Stop Styptic Powder for Dogs

You never want to be in the midst of an emergency and not have the right supplies on hand. Blood loss can get scary fast, so having some styptic powder or cornstarch in your home is never a bad idea.

Your cockatiel may start bleeding for many reasons, such as broken nails, beak injuries, or broken blood feathers. If the blood loss is greater than what your pet can tolerate, it may go into shock.

Styptic powder is a cornstarch mix designed to stop animal bleeding. When it’s pressed firmly against a wound, it will clot the blood and stop the bleeding. We like Miracle Care Kwik-Stop Styptic Powder as it can not only stop the bleeding, but the inclusion of Benzocaine will also ease pain and itching.

Some people prefer cornstarch as it’s more likely you already have that on hand, and it performs the same function as styptic powder.

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Final Thoughts

Once you have these 11 items at your disposal, you’re ready to welcome your cockatiel home. But before you sign the adoption papers, ensure you’ve brushed up on your bird knowledge, so you know how to take care of your new pet. Cockatiels are popular and rewarding birds to own, but they require a specialized level of care you must be ready to commit to.

Featured Image Credit: ONGUSHI, Shutterstock

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