Cockatiels are a great choice although the price is higher. I would recommend searching until you find a handfed baby, preferably around 8 or 9 weeks old, and that has been eating on its own for at least a week. You should be able to find one for about $40. to $100. , depending on the mutation (color variety) and availability in your area.
A handfed cockatiel may be one of the sweetest birds you'll ever see. I tell people who come here for a bird that if they want the friendliest one, we'll open up the cage door and see who comes out first. That is invariably the one with the best temperament. Usually when handfeeding a clutch of cockatiels, I find there is one sweetheart, one rather obnoxious one, and the rest fall somewhere in between.
Cockatiels are bigger than budgies, but still only about 12" long including the very long, tapered tail. So again, you won't need a huge cage, especially if this is a tame bird that will be coming out and getting exercise every day.
Cockatiels can be taught to talk, although a male is more likely to than a female. I believe they speak a little plainer than budgies, although it's still a bit on the squeaky side. Cockatiels pick up on whistles very easily, and it's best not to teach any if you are also going to try to teach words, because quite often they will focus only on the whistling.
13 WEEK OLD LUTINO WHITEFACE COCKATIEL,
WHICH HAS THE APPEARANCE OF BEING AN ALBINO
People often ask whether they should get a male or a female. It's a bit of a trade off. Among handfed birds, females are usually friendlier but males are generally prettier (not in all color mutations) and definitely more likely to talk. If you're buying a very young bird, you probably won't know the sex unless it's a sure thing due to the breeding of a sex-linked colored parent. We can usually begin to sex the male babies at 10 to 12 weeks of age, when the young males begin their "chortling". This is a sound unique to the males. (Females have a limited one or two note call.) Some of my males sound as if they are saying "uppity uppity uppity uppity..." often accompanied by a strutting pose with the wings held out slightly from the body.
Cockatiels come in many color mutations, the most common being the normal, cinnamon, lutino, pied, and pearl. Newer mutations include the whitefaced and yellow cheeked, and combinations of two or more mutations. You should be able to see many of these, and certainly all of the most common, if you visit several pet shops or breeders. There is really no difference in behavior based on color, so pick the color you find most appealing and search among those for the one with the best personality.
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Anita M. Golden
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