12 Ways To Quickly Bond With New Cockatiels
So, you’ve just brought your adopted cockatiel home and they’re settling down in their new environment…
How do you start bonding with this cockatiel and gaining its trust?
Perhaps it’s already acting friendly towards you, but most likely not.
Either way, the 12 tips below will help you start a beautiful, decades-long friendship with your cockatiel while avoiding the most common taming mistakes.
1. No Sudden Or Quick Movements
One thing that will scare an already skittish cockatiel is sudden movements from a creature 5x their size.
Always move slowly and with caution near your cockatiel. This won’t necessarily increase the bond between you, but it’ll definitely help ensure they aren’t scared of you, which will naturally make them easier to bond with.
Even if they’re inside the cage, they can still get shocked by sudden movements.
2. Always Speak In A Soft/Low Volume Voice
Cockatiels are loud, but that doesn’t mean you should be loud in response.
You should definitely avoid shouting, screaming, or yelling near your cockatiel as they could think you’re angry or trying to intimidate them. When first building trust and bonding with your cockatiel, always speak in a soft, low-volume voice to show them that you’re actually a gentle giant.
3. Simply Be Near The Cockatiel For A Few Hours Daily
One of the most powerful bonding activities you can do early on in the taming process is simply hanging out with your cockatiel without directly interacting with them.
BirdNerdSophie, a helpful bird YouTuber, calls this the “passive interaction” method.
Sit down near the cage for a few hours daily and your cockatiel will soon learn that you’re a non-threat.
Super simple, yet super effective trust-building and bonding method.
4. Offer Their Favourite Foods
Just think, what’s the best way to get on any bird’s good side?
Offer them some tasty snacks!
This technique works especially well when the food you offer is the cockatiel’s favourite, which will be millet and sunflower seeds for most individuals. However, some tiels enjoy fruits, vegetables, or even just regular pellets over typical treats.
Either way, your cockatiel will soon love you if you regularly drop treats in their food bowl or attach it to the cage.
If they trust you enough, you can offer the treat directly from your hand.
If they’re still a bit skittish, hold a longer branch of millet at the opposite end of the cage and wait for them to come over voluntarily.
5. Don’t Force Interactions (Seriously)
Forcing any type of interaction onto your cockatiel is not irredeemable, but it will definitely delay the overall bonding and trust-building process.
Don’t force pets, don’t chase them with food, and do not forcefully grab your cockatiel.
Doing any of the above will not only lead to a nasty bite but will also make your bird fearful of you and sceptical of your intentions.
Try to understand your new cockatiels’ boundaries and then respect them.
6. Whistle To Your Cockatiel!
Although cockatiels can learn to talk, they mostly prefer to whistle and sing.
If you can closely imitate cockatiel sounds through whistling, your bird will see this as a positive from you, which will increase the overall bond and trust.
Whenever I start whistling, my cockatiel likes to sing along and sometimes even imitates me.
This shows that they actually like being serenaded and see it as a positive social gesture.
7. Be Patient With The Bonding Process
No matter what you do to bond with your cockatiel, you must have patience.
Some cockatiels take a day or two to bond with their owners, and others may take a few weeks. However long it takes for you, giving them the time they need is essential.
Trying to rush the bonding process will likely break any trust and friendship already built.
Go slow, take it easy, and give your bird the chance to tell you when they’re ready to become your companion!
8. Don’t Tower Over Your Cockatiel
Looking down at your cockatiel from an elevated position may be perceived as predatory behaviour.
Ideally, you want to keep at equal eye level to your cockatiel. There’s nothing wrong with slight towering, just don’t do it while staring intensely at them or for long periods of time.
Remember, you’re trying to bond with your cockatiel, you’re not a lion stalking its prey.
And since cockatiels are natural prey, an intense stare from a towering position with predatory eyes (like the forward-facing eyes of cats and humans) may instinctively frighten them.
9. Start Target Training
Target training is great for mental stimulation while also serving as a fun, bonding activity.
Once your cockatiel is comfortable enough to take treats from your hand without being scared, you can start target training. The activity of learning a behaviour while also receiving delicious treats will make your cockatiel see you as a friendly teacher, as well as a food source.
Overall, target training is nothing but positivity in your tiels mind!
10. Provide Enriching Toys & Activities
Cockatiels love playing with toys, so they’ll love you if you place some in their cage!
There are plenty of great toys on Amazon, Chewy.com, and other online stores. You also have the choice to make your own high-quality bird toys using regular household items.
Both those types of toys offer the most mental and physical stimulation to your cockatiel, which will keep them busy and happy.
11. Provide A Comfortable Living Space
Cockatiels won’t be in the mood to bond with their owners unless they’re in a comfortable living space.
Their living space includes both their cage and the surrounding area.
Firstly, a cockatiels cage should be large enough for them to spread their wings all the out without hitting the cage bars.
Bare minimum cockatiel cage size: 29″ L x 19″ W x 26″ H
Secondly, the cage should be customised with a variety of perches and toys to keep the bird happy.
Natural wood perches, rope perches, and flat perches are great for a parrot’s feet.
If you can provide an excellent cage environment for your cockatiel, they’ll simply be in a better position to start trusting, socialising, and bonding with their owners.
12. Show Yourself Interacting With Your Other Birds
If you have other birds, you might be able to earn some easy trust points by showing your new cockatiel how well you handle and interact with your other birds. The idea here is that once they see this, they’ll feel more comfortable interacting with you because they’ve seen other birds interacting with you, which is when you can continue nurturing the bond.
Show yourself training, feeding, and overall being friendly to your other birds.
To build a stronger bond with your cockatiel, you can also try hanging out or training with them away from the flock.
This will help strengthen the 1 on 1 bond between you.
Signs That Your Cockatiel is Bonding With You
When your cockatiel begins to trust you or starts to see you as a valued flock member, they’ll show some behaviours that will be different to when they didn’t see you as a friend.
Some of those bonding signs include:
- Keeping a calm or steady demeanour when you approach
- Singing or chirping in your presence or towards you
- Preening when you’re nearby
- Taking food from your hands without hesitation
- Pacing to get out of the cage to interact with you
- Bowing their heads for a scratch (won’t happen until you’re BEST friends)
If your cockatiel shows any of the above bonding signs, give yourself a pat on the back as you’re making great progress!
How Long Does It Take To Bond With An Untamed Cockatiel?
How long the bonding process takes depends on the individual cockatiel and their experiences with humans.
Baby or juvenile cockatiels are fairly easy to bond with as they’ve only had little experience with humans.
However, an older cockatiel might be a little difficult to build trust and bond with.
I say “might” because older cockatiels can either be extremely easy or extremely hard to bond with depending on what type of treatment they received from other people.
So, how long will it take for you?
Well, you just have to keep building trust, doing the right things, and trying to bond with your cockatiel and wait until they begin to open up to you.
How To Prevent “One-Person Bird Syndrome”
I’ve already written a post on “one-person bird syndrome” so I’ll only discuss it briefly here…
Basically, a one-person bird is overly attached to just one person and is usually aggressive towards other household members.
You can already see how this is a problem.
And it’s pretty easy to accidentally turn your bird into a problematic one-person bird.
So, how do you prevent this with your cockatiel?
Simply encourage all household members to equally interact, feed, and care for the bird every day.
Doing so will allow the cockatiel to grow attached to all family members instead of just one, which is beneficial to everyone involved!
Hopefully, you got some value from this article and have a few bonding tricks up your sleeve that you can use with your cockatiel.
Good luck with your tiel and thank you for reading 🙂