The story of one Cockatiel Pair: 
Petri: The Father

Petri is a cinnamon cockatiel split to pied, split to pearl.  He was purchased from a pet store that breeds its own cockatiels.  He was one of three in a clutch: He being a light gray, his brother being a darker normal gray, and his sister being pearl.  He was the smallest of the three.  He is a very talented whistler and likes to put his beak against my cheek.  He was about 6 months old when I purchased him singly and he was kept on his own for about 2 months.  At which point, I purchased a baby lovebird to keep him company in a neighboring cage.  I built the cage Petri is pictured in within the first month I had him, and he has lived in it alone for about a year and a half.

Clarice: The Mother

Clarice is also a cinnamon split to pied, though you will be able to tell these two cockatiels apart in pictures by the bright yellow in Petri's face and the gray in Clarice's face.  Clarice also has more pearling in her lower back, stomach, and tail feathers.  She was purchased by a friend of mine at another pet store that breeds their own birds.  She was only a couple months old when she was purchased and lived singly in a home that has finches as well as dogs.  She has a very sweet disposition, often greeting strangers with kisses and putting her head down so she can get her neck scratched.  She is also very curious and loves to get into trouble to find new things to play with.  Fearless is also another great way to describe her as she scares away the dogs and taunts the little finches she lives alongside!

The Set Up:


Petri has gotten a new cage since the description above, which is featured in this photo.

The set up is quite simple and it was very easy to adapt Petri's cockatiel cage into a comfortable breeding location. 

I added a breeding box with carefresh bedding in it to one of the top corners and added another source their normal food and water near the box. 

Clarice loving her fresh foods!

Additional types of food were also added to make sure they were getting a complete diet and would be accustom to food that they would require to feed the babies.  These were pellet foods, fried free-range chicken egg with shell, greens and sprouted seed fresh mixture, and moist corn bread.  (These are not pictured in top picture, but were added to the front-top corner by the nesting box and by the other yellow dish that can be seen.) 

I also provided a dish of water in the bottom of the cage for bathing, though neither of the birds currently likes to bathe.  They are supposed to keep the humidity level height in their nesting box for the development of the eggs and to ease their hatching, and naturally bathe more to do this. 

I've also added a light to the top of my cage, though this may be somewhat unnecessary.  I turn on a red bulb (25w) at night so there is just a bit of light.  The reason for this is so that the parents can see their way back to the nest at all times and yet not have their sleeping pattern disrupted by too much light.

The Mating:

My friend and I never seriously considered mating our pets when she first purchased her female.  She would bring Clarice over to my place to have play dates with Petri.  

Clarice really didn't think much of Petri when she first met him.  She would rather find something on the floor to play with or be in the company of the humans in the room instead of play with him.  

Petri on the other hand was instantly dedicated.  He would follow her anywhere and had sudden drastic mood changes whenever she was around.  He seemed to turn practically wild and would become very protective of her, even though she wanted nothing to do with him.  He would try to catch her attention by whistling to her or stealing her toy and making her chase him to get it back.

They spent time together maybe twice a month for a few hours only each visit.  I hadn't even attached the breeding box a this point.  One day my friend and I decided to go on a bit of a trip, so she brought Clarice over and we left - leaving the cockatiels alone together for the first extended period of time.  We knew that they knew each other well enough that it wouldn't be a problem and the cage was so large that if they wanted to get away from each other, they had plenty of space to do that. 

After a long conversation about responsibility and how we were going to go about making sure we could do the best for any babies created, I decided to attach the breeding box.  My main reason for doing it at this point was that Petri is somewhat prone to anxiety and doesn't like new things.  I figured I would attach it now and give him time to get used to it.  

He reacted completely differently than I had expected!  It was as if he knew exactly what it was... He wanted to play in it immediately, running into the wire of his cage walls where I had hung the box temporarily before cutting the hole, while I was researching and deciding where it should be placed.  

After I attached it and gave them access to it, they didn't exactly follow the traditional actions as far as had read...  He did go in it first, but before he really had much of a chance to try to convince her to come in also, she had already come to the hole and pretty much pushed him out of the way to check it out.

Clarice coming out of the box

He let her in and after the thrill of "a new toy" wore off a bit for her over the next few days, he then proceeded to dance and sing for her from inside the box.

Clarice went home for a few days, at which point Petri immediately went back to being his cheery, clingy, loving self.  While she was gone, he would play in the box by himself and even took naps in it.  He and I would do our whistling duets together and he'd take his place on my shoulder where ever he got the opportunity.  The only evidence that he might be missing her a bit was that he was more needy of us and wanted to be out of his cage and on my shoulder most of the time.

My friend brought Clarice back again the following weekend to let her spend a few days.  This is when the first mating actually occurred.  

I was shocked that they actually "got together" because Clarice seemed to show no sign one way or the other as to how she felt about Petri.  I told my friend about it and she of course agreed to leave her at my place to see if they would successfully mate.

Clarice is 10 months old and Petri is two years and 3 months old.

Breeding Pets

My friend and I had heard from breeders that it is harder to get pet cockatiels to mate.  Perhaps this is because they don't have the same social behaviors of more wild cockatiels?  Or being that they were brought up by humans, they don't have the learned parenting behaviors they should from growing up in a nest with their parents attending them?

Playing together

We actually found that being pet cockatiels had no significance at all in our situation.  However, it may be that we just got lucky with our individual birds.  On the other hand, our cockatiels might have actually been more attracted to each other because they were not around other cockatiels.  I guess only they know the reasons!

They also both jumped into their parenting rolls amazingly, though they were possibly a bit unconventional.  Clarice insisted on sitting on the nest the majority of the time rather than giving Petri half of the work.  They both shared in the responsibility of feeding the young chicks, but did not sit with them to keep them warm after the oldest was about 11 day old.  Because of this, the young were more acclimated to colder conditions and were not as sensitive.  Even this didn't seem to make much difference though as far as we could tell.  A very experienced breeder might have noticed things we did not though.

Back to Being Pets

4-19-09: The separation actually went pretty smoothly.  Around 8:30 my friend came over to see the babies and take Clarice home.  When she got here, we placed the twins in the nursery and took down the breeding box.  Petri was a bit confused when the nesting box was taken down; he paced the wall a bit but soon got over it. 

Clarice hardly noticed her babies were gone even though she was doing the majority of the feeding and attending!  She was very excited to see her "Mommy" (my friend) and she went to her immediately.  She is already showing signs that she will be back to her sweet self very soon.  She will also be going home to a new cage mate (another female cockatiel ~ Starling) which will hopefully help her in this transition.

Clarice and Petri never really acted like mated birds are supposed to; they never cuddled or cleaned each other like mated birds are said to.  They actually fought a bit as well, never hurting each other but arguing and fighting over food (the one who would give up would go and eat at the other dispenser across the cage).  I think the fact that they never really connected in that way, helped the separation as well.  Clarice and Petri hardly even called to each other when Clarice was leaving.

Petri can still hear his babies in the other room, but doesn't seem to care much and hasn't tried flying there to investigate.  He has been a bit more needy, which was to be expected.  He circles the room every once in a while and calls to us from his cage.  It's easy to see that he is a bit lonely, but he will soon be back to his old self.  He has gone back to wanting to be on my shoulder a lot, but likes to be in his cage as well even when the door is open.

Over all, the separation went well and everyone is doing great! 

4-22-09: Petri has begun to talk and sing again!  After Clarice left, he refused to talk or whistle with me, only making his calling sound.  Today, out of no where he started up again.  He seems to be completely back to his old self again.  I also talked with Clarice's "mom" and she says that Clarice is doing great.  She and her cage mate get along really well and don't even fight like Clarice and Petri did, haha.