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You've decided a cockatiel is a good fit for your family, and you're ready to find your perfect bird and bring them home. (read more)
WHAT ARE HAND RAISED BIRDS
A hand raised bird is a bird that has been at least partially raised by a person. The bird may live in the cage with its parents, but it has been handled, fed, and cared for by a person.
The upside of buying a hand raised bird is that when it comes time for you to purchase the bird, it's already used to people. You will still have a "getting to know you" period where the bird gets comfortable with its new family, but you won't have a bird that is terrified of people and wants nothing to do with you.
If you look online for videos or posts about, "How to hand tame a cockatiel", or, "How to hand tame a bird", you'll see that a lot of people are trying to deal with a bird that wants nothing to do with them.
This can be a big issue for owners of pet shop birds. They want the bird to be a part of the family, but it's a long, drawn out process because you're asking a bird to become part of a human flock when the bird has never really been around humans.
Hand taming a cockatiel can take months, if not longer, and you may never get a bird that really feels comfortable with your proximity.
CAN YOU LEAVE YOUR BIRD HOME FOR A WEEK WHILE YOU'RE ON VACATION?
HAND FED VS PARENT RAISED BIRDS
When a cockatiel hatches, it bonds with its parents and its flock. It does see humans, but probably not more than long enough to get fed and watered each day.
When it is finally taken from its flock, it's upsetting to the bird. Not only is the bird no longer around its family, but it's thrust into a brightly lit, noisy place with other birds it does not know, and loud people tapping on the glass of its unfamiliar, tiny, cage.
While my son and I were looking for a cockatiel as a pet for him, we visited many pet stores and saw many birds. Without fail the pet store birds looked terrified, lonely, and some looked downright ill.
We couldn't interact with them at all, and more than one employee told us that they birds were unhappy, would not vocalize, and often had to be separated when other birds began targeting the bird seen as the weakest in the flock.
At one store (all were big chain stores) we saw a budgie that had been plucked bald in places. It was sitting alone on a perch, doing its best to stay far away from the other birds in the glass box. The employee told us the bird was being bullied.
It was heartbreaking.
But, people do buy birds from a pet store, likely because they aren't sure where else to go, and because they don't realize there will be such a difference in the temperament of the bird.
I almost bought one from a pet store myself, but I called my sister first. She has always had birds, so I thought she'd have some suggestions.
"Do not get one from a pet store, whatever you do."
And that's how I figured out that, just like dogs and cats, there are wonderful breeders out there who care as much about their animals as you do.
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WHERE TO BUY HAND RAISED COCKATIELS
Once we knew for sure we would not be buying a cockatiel from a pet store, we just hand to figure out where to buy hand raised birds.
Turns out, it was as simple as typing in, "hand raised cockatiels for sale near me" in my search engine.
I'm not saying there were a lot of people selling hand raised birds, and they definitely weren't close by since we live in the sticks, but there were at least three within an hour drive.
All three were advertising hand raised birds for sale on Craigslist, and since they all put their phone number in their advertisement, I just set about texting them to ask about their birds.
One guy got back with me right away, answered a bunch of my questions, sent me pictures of the different male birds he had available, and in general made me feel like he really cared about the birds he was raising.
My husband and son made the long drive to his house, got to see his breeding area, meet all the birds, and pick out their favorite one.
My son told me he wanted a bird that would whistle, so he just stood there and listened for the one making the most noise. Let me tell you, he did a great job, Tuko is definitely NOT quiet.
My husband told me the cages were clean, the birds were healthy and friendly, and the guy even showed them the area where he kept the little baby birds, which, by the way, were apparently quite ugly.
This is the bird we ended up with, he's awesome, our constant companion, and other than a few days where he had to get to know us, he's been a part of the family.
If we're up, he's out of his cage and hanging with us. He loves to be a part of whatever we're doing, and he not only tolerates attention, but demands it.
WHAT DO YOU NEED BEFORE YOU BRING A BIRD HOME? HERE'S OUR CHECK LIST.
Here he is hanging out with me in the morning while I sit on the couch after breakfast.
And here he is getting kisses, which I'm sure is somehow bad, but whatever, bird kisses are the best kisses.
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HOW MUCH IS A HAND RAISED COCKATIEL?
How much do hand raised Cockatiels cost?
The cost is going to vary by location, I'm sure, but to give you an idea, our bird was $100 from the breeder, and would have been $70 at the pet store.
We definitely think he was worth the extra $30.
WE TRIED GREENLIGHT - THE DEBIT CARD FOR KIDS
I hope this post has helped you in your quest to find your perfect bird.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out. I am more than happy to help if I can. I've also put together a list of the stuff we bought when we got Tuko. If you'd like to check it out, click that button below.