Cockatiel Dust and Health

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Cockatiels are the smallest member of the Cacatuidae (or Cockatoo family), originally from Australia. These birds come from dry country and they are very dusty themselves. When they fly or ruffle their feathers, puffs of dust come off. These delightful and friendly charmers do require regular housework to keep their cage area tidy.

We are happy to have two male cockatiels, named Sparky and Guapo, recently adopted from Mickaboo – Companion Bird Rescue. We have had three other cockatiels over the years, two of them also adopted from Mickaboo.

Soon after our family adopts a new bird, we take it for a veterinary checkup. We have noticed similar health problems identified in birds coming to us from someplace which keeps several birds in one closed, dusty room. These include: red mouth and throat, sore tongue, damp ears, and lower weight. Our vet’s advice has been consistent:

  • Feed them only:
    • Washed greens and vegetables (especially cilantro)
    • LaFeber’s Nutri-an Cakes – Foraging and Weight Maintenance – Premium Bird Food for Parakeets, Cockatiels, Lovebirds, & Conures (in the Blue Package)
    • Ample fresh clean water
  • Keep chemicals away –
    • Offer only natural fiber untreated safe toys
    • Keep birds from nibbling on synthetic fibers (like many curtains and rugs) or chemically treated objects (like furniture)
    • Have a safe cage of stainless or powder coated steel or other safe material
    • Get rid of Teflon pans which produce fumes which can kill birds
  • Spritz birds with clean water several times a day or let them take a bath – to keep down the dust and encourage grooming
  • Birds need to be in the sun daily – our boys’ cage is up against a sunny window
  • Have the cage by an open window – fresh air flow blows away bird dust. Our window has a bug screen which needs to be sprayed clean of bird dust from time-to-time.
  • Encourage exercise

After a few months of following this simple advice, our birds are healthier, at a good weight, and they seem happier too.

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Images by Katy Dickinson, Copyright 2010

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