How To Develop a Close Relationship with Your Pet Bird

Anyone who thinks owning a bird is like owning a fish is fooling themselves. There is more spark and personality in a bird than in any floppy old fish.

Side note: I am so sorry to any fish owners I am currently offending.

I got my cockatiel, Froley, because I wanted a pet that I could show affection to and who would show that affection back. And by golly, that’s what ended up happening. I have never had a pet who I love more than Froley. He is the cutest widdle bird in the whole wide world, and he’s more affectionate than I had originally hoped for.

However, getting to that point in your relationship with your pet bird can be difficult. It’s a long process, and it’s easy to feel disheartened about it. You don’t buy birds that automatically love you, especially if you’re buying it from a pet store.

Side note: Most bird help books recommend you purchase your new pet bird from a breeder, but given where you live, that isn’t always feasible. It sure wasn’t for me.

Despite that, it is possible to develop a close bond with your bird, and here are a few tips to get you started.

Side note: I have only ever owned one pet bird, and it is a cockatiel. Am I an authority? Kinda, maybe, sorta, not really.

Set up the cage before bringing them home.

It can be tempting to go on a spending splurge the day you get your new bird, buying them a cage, toys, food containers, cuttle bones etc., but you should definitely buy those things and set them up before you actually buy the bird. Your new pet is going to be super stressed as it is, arriving in this alien house that it isn’t used to. It doesn’t need to see or hear the clanging and banging of its cage being constructed. That’s like the opposite of a welcome mat.

Give your bird its space.

This was a tough one for me. As soon as I got Froley, I immediately wanted to start working on interacting with him. But you’ve got to give your birdie time to acclimate to its new surroundings. Let him or her have some space in those early days. It’s a simple piece of advice that can really help with getting your bird comfortable.

Make sure they watch you bringing food.

Birds are not dumb creatures, and they are really good at picking up visual and audio cues. As such, if you consistently bring them food in a certain manner at a certain time of day, they will learn to associate you with their yummy-yum time. And you want them to associate you with something they like. For a long time, that’s the only reason Froley really liked me. I brought him his pellets. He now knows the sound of the bag when I open it and the exact location of the tub I keep it in.

Hang out by their cage.

While you don’t want to immediately pressure your bird when you get it, you don’t want to just ignore it. If you just ignore it, it will become accustomed to being left alone. If you ever find yourself with some down time, whether you’re reading, chilling on your phone, or watching some Netflix, do it by your bird’s cage. Let them see you doing a quiet activity nearby. I used to read to Froley from my Cockatiels for Dummies book all the time. I don’t know if he appreciated it, but he did eventually learn to not be afraid of books.

Only buy a single bird.

If your bird has the option to turn to another bird for company, it will usually pick the bird over you. That’s why some pet owners purposefully purchase two birds. They want their birds to have each other for company. However, if your end objective is to share an incredibly close bond with your bird, it helps if you’re the only one they can turn to for a cuddle. I hate to sound like a cruel monster that kept Froley from other bird companions, but I know for a fact that he and I are only so close because I was the one creature who spent any amount of time with him.

Try using a treat for your first moment of physical contact.

When both you and your birdie are ready for the next step in closeness, have one of their favorite treats nearby to facilitate the contact. Froley and I started becoming closer when I tried hand-feeding him his seeds. He really seemed to like that, and it built up trust levels like you wouldn’t believe. Eventually, I used treats to coax him up onto my finger, and after that, the real treat became just hanging out with me.

Attempt to pet your bird shortly after it has molted.

When birds molt, their new feathers come out in these thin, white sheaths. These sheaths then crumble into dust revealing the new feather lying within. Normally, a bird can nibble away at their own sheaths in order to free them. However, they have a hard time reaching the ones on their head. That’s where other birds come in. Bird buddies will preen the sheaths off of their fellows’ heads for them. Without a bird buddy, that job is left undone. These sheaths are incredibly itchy for your bird, so if you want to ingratiate yourself to him or her while simultaneously worming your way into his or her affection, giving your bird scritches during this time period is ideal.

Be patient.

This is the most important bit of advice I can give. I’m not gonna lie, I sometimes cried at the thought that Froley didn’t seem to care much for me in those first few weeks. I had read so much about bird affection before getting him that I felt really let down when things didn’t immediately turn out that way for me. But see, birds aren’t like cats or dogs. Both cats and dogs are predator animals, bred to work alongside humans as partners. Birds are prey animals, and fearfulness keeps them alive in the wild. Trust has to be earned with them so that they can learn to rely on you for their safety.

So give your bird the time required to build that trust. It took me over a month to get close to Froley. But the wait is well worth it. When you’re cuddling with a bird, and you can actually feel its tiny skull underneath your fingertips as you give it some little scritches, there is no other feeling like it in the world. It is a tiny life form that has entirely entrusted its well-being in the palm of your hand. It’s not even a tenth of your size, but it will hop onto your shoulder without a care once you have established that bond.

Side note: I feel incredibly lucky to have Froley in my life every day, and not a morning goes by where I don’t appreciate the magnitude of how implicitly he trusts me.

Froley’s Bird Buddies: Cheese and Mochi

Froley is a grumpy bird, and he doesn’t get along with anybody but me.

So, when you read the title of this post, and you see the word “buddies,” you might be a bit puzzled.

Just know that I’m speaking relatively.

After witnessing how awesome my relationship with Froley is, my sister decided to get some pet birds of her own. (I’m sorry, but you know it’s true, Alya.) Enter Cheese and Mochi.

Cheese is a Green-cheeked conure, and he’s a feisty little fella. He’s more curious than Froley is, to the point of putting himself in danger. He also likes to dip his beak into anything my sister is consuming, be it orange juice, a salad, a beer, or a pizza. He absolutely adores Alya. He flutters to her head when given the opportunity to be out of his cage. He doesn’t like me much, and I have no idea why. Alya thinks it’s because he can sense our closeness, and it makes him jealous.

Mochi is a different beast altogether.

Side note: Yes, my sister has a penchant for naming her pets after food…for some disturbing reason.

Mochi is an African grey parrot, and her intelligence is undeniable. She is the queen of wanton destruction and vocal exclamations. She was given to Alya secondhand, so she doesn’t exhibit such a large sense of closeness to my sister the way Cheese does. Mochi can perfectly mimic human language, and she puts this ability to frequent, if inopportune, use. She’s learned to say, “Okay, Google,” which is a bit of a problem since her cage is near the Google Home Speaker.

To be honest, Froley is not particularly close to either of these two birds. He doesn’t seek them out for company, and they don’t seem overly fond of him either.

But I like to think there’s a mutual content shared by the three of them when they’re stuck in their respective cages, side by side.

If Froley Was In A Movie

If Froley, my pet cockatiel, was a character in a movie or TV show, he’d have to be a strange mix of roles.

He’s like Carl Fredricksen from Up. He’s got the ornery soul of an old man who needs to learn to love other people aside from his significant other.

He’s like Drogon from Game of Thrones. He’s got the heart and fire of a massive dragon even though someone could accidentally sit on him.

He’s like Sonny Corleone from The Godfather. He’s a hotheaded, territorial bird who occasionally flies himself into trouble.

He’s like Raymond Babbitt from Rain Man. He’s got a touch of bird OCD; he doesn’t like it when things are out of order or patterns are not adhered to.

He’s like Pikachu from Pokemon. He’s got those little red cheek things. Come on.

He’s like Dufayel from Amelie. He likes to stare out the window at the lives of our neighborhood birds.

He’s like Romeo from Romeo and Juliet. He has no real, healthy concept of time.

He’s like Michael Scott from The Office. You can’t have him alone unsupervised or else he’ll make a mess of things.

He’s like Baymax from Big Hero Six. When you see him, you immediately want to cuddle with him.

He’s like the Xenomorph from Alien. No matter where I go, he’ll always try to find me.

He’s like the T. Rex from Jurassic Park. He has very distinct-sounding footsteps.

He’s like Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings. His loyalty to his one person knows no bounds.

So you see, Froley is like so many characters, it’d be hard to have him be just one.

Froley’s Miraculous Poop Story

My sister swears up and down that this is a true story.

I was asleep, so I can say nothing as to its veracity.

It was early morning, and Alya and I were sleeping in the same room, different beds. I had placed Froley’s bedtime cage next to my bed so he could sleep next to me. (We enjoy each other’s company that much.)

Anyway, the faintest of light was coming through the windows. I woke up briefly to take Froley out of his cage for a bit. This is a little ritual we do every time Froley sleeps in my bedroom. It’s like a second nap.

So I opened his cage door, got him on my finger, then deposited him on the roof of his bedtime cage. Then I went back to sleep.

Sometimes, Froley will stay on the roof and sleep like the fluffy flufferton he is. Other times, he’ll amble over to my bed, hop onto my pillow, then climb on my head/neck/shoulder. When he naps there, I can hear his content beak grinding right next to my ear.

So…

apparently, on this particular morning, Froley elected to sleep on my shoulder. Alya woke up and saw this, thinking it was the cutest thing ever. She tried taking a picture with her cell, but before she could, Froley stepped off of my shoulder and back onto the cage.

Disappointed, she put her cell phone away and cursed her bad luck.

However, to her utter astonishment, Froley did a little poop once he was on his bedtime cage, his messiness landing squarely on the poop-sheets below. Once done with his business, he waddled back onto my shoulder.

Alya thinks Froley is a secret genius now, thanks to his good judgment, consideration, and miraculous poop skills.

Froley Molting

Spring is here, and with it, some Froley nuisances as well.

Firstly, spring makes Froley more amorous than usual. All he seems to want to do is masturbate.

“Oh, ha ha, that’s so funny and adorable,” you might say.

I’m telling you right now, it’s not.

I have work to do, and having Froley waddle over to my hand every five seconds looking for some lovin’ is NOT conducive to that work.

As readers of this blog already know, Froley likes to masturbate on an open palm. When I am typing on the computer, he takes my outstretched fingers for an invitation.

Have you ever tried typing up an article while a little male cockatiel is pumping away on your knuckles?

It’s distracting, to say the least.

Springtime is also when Froley starts molting.

Molting is a natural process for birds to go through. Old feathers fall out to be replaced with new ones.

Froley’s a funny ole bird though. He freaks out when he sees one of his feathers is coming loose. First he gets all skinny with fright, then he starts flapping around the living room shrieking as if it’s the end times.

And that’s only the half of it.

When his feathers grow back, they come out in these thin keratin sheaths that eventually disintegrate into powder and allow the new feathers to settle into place. While these sheaths are coming out, Froley starts feeling really itchy. He can preen and scratch himself everywhere on his body except for his head.

Which means he expects lots of head scratches from me.

So not only do I have a horny Froley trying to get himself off on my hands, I have an irritable Froley who pecks at my face if I don’t cuddle with him.

And since he’s preening so much, I have dust all over my keyboard.

Ugh.

Spring.

A Sick Cockatiel: Froley Under the Weather

About two days ago (more by the time you read this post), Froley got really sick.

I first noticed he wasn’t feeling well close to noon. He had spent the morning with me acting completely normal. This was not a case of me not paying any attention to my darling. Since I work from home, I get to spend a lot of time with Froley nearby, so I am accustomed to all of his behaviors based purely on how much uninterrupted time I spend with him.

Plus, I’ll have you know that birds have a tendency to hide their symptoms when they’re sick. As prey animals, birds that look unwell are basically serving themselves up on a silver platter to predators. Domesticated birds have yet to evolutionarily realize that their owners kind of need to know when they feel sickie.

Side note: Sorry if I’m coming across as defensive. I guess I feel guilty for Froley getting sick in the first place, and I’m taking it out on you, my dear readers.

Anyways, after he accompanied me during my mid-morning shower, I noticed he was sitting abnormally on his shower perch. He wasn’t fluffed up and comfortable like he would normally be while waiting for me to step out of the bath. His eyes were bleary, he was swaying, and his feathers were too close to his body.

I worriedly offered him my finger when I was done, and when he stepped up, I could immediately tell that his feet were warm. Too warm.

I placed him back in his cage and observed his behavior for a bit. He continued to stay perched with a wobble, clearly fatigued. That’s when I decided to keep an eye on his poops.

For those of you who don’t own pet birds, you might not be aware of how important their poops are when it comes to gauging their health. Consistency and color are what it’s all about.

A healthy cockatiel’s poop should be brown-ish or green-ish, depending on his or her diet. The more seeds in a cockatiel’s diet, the greener the poops will be. The more pellets in their diet, the browner.

The consistency of a cockatiel’s poop should be like a paste, with some added liquid to boot. Their poop is made up of three things: the feces, the urine, and the uric acid.

Birds poop and pee at the same time, so it makes sense that their feces, the colored portion of their poop, comes out with a bit of liquid. The white stuff that you usually see all over your car’s roof when you park in a bad spot is the uric acid. Uric acid is nitrogenous waste birdies get rid of.

On that day, Froley was hardly pooping, and when he did, it was nothing but liquid.

No feces. No uric acid.

I felt incredibly anxious. Froley is normally such a rambunctious, particular little fella. His lethargic behavior was totally out of character. He seemed so weak. And the worst part was that even though he was clearly ill, he still desperately wanted to be near me. If given the option to sleep in his cage or with me, he’d flap over to my computer desk (where I was halfheartedly attempting to do some work) and sleep next to my keyboard.

Now, Froley has gotten sick before, twice so far in the ten years I’ve had him. Both times I took him to the local vet to get checked out, and both times, the vet told me that he was looking okay and that I should bring him back if he got any worse.

I know, not exactly $140 worth of advice.

So given my past experience, I decided to keep Froley at home and give him what care I could myself.

Side note: This goes against what every cockatiel forum I Googled told me to do.

Sick birds should try to avoid stress, and, the way I figured it, going to the vet would stress Froley out more than it would actually help him.

The first thing I did was replace all of his food. If something in his food had made him sick, it would be best not to continue to expose him to it.

The second thing I did was transform his bedtime cage into a hospital cage. I lowered his perches so that he would not have to climb too much to reach them. I moved his food and water bowls to this smaller cage. I also covered the floor of his cage with towels. These make for soft, comforting surfaces for Froley to step on. As an added bonus, I could better keep an eye on his poops since they stand out so much better on the towels.

After that, it was just watching and waiting. I gave him water, tried hand-feeding him his favorite foods. At around 5:45 p.m., he started throwing up.

When a bird vomits, one of two things can happen. If it comes out as a pasty mess, that means the food got digested a bit before coming back out through your poor bird’s beak. That is definitely not good. If you get whole chunks of food, like seeds and stuff, that means the food only got so far as the bird’s crop. That is not as bad.

Froley was regurgitating whole seeds.

Almost immediately after, I noticed the temperature of his feet went down, and he started behaving a bit more actively than he had been.

We still weren’t out of the woods though.

Froley began pooping goopy poops, with a booger-like consistency. I knew that meant he might be a bit dehydrated, so I offered him more water and leafy greens that were damp. Honestly, I was so glad there was some color to his poops, meaning he was getting some nutrition into his body.

At the end of the day, I put him into his room to sleep.

I have to admit, I had a restless night that night. I fretted about the coming morning. I had fears that I would wake up, greet Froley, only to hear no happy chirp in reply. Instead, I’d find one dead little birdie at the bottom of the cage.

Morbid, I know.

Thank the ever-loving gods that he was as chirpy and as awake as ever. He was clearly doing better, but I kept him in his hospital cage for the whole day to make sure. His poops slowly came back to their usual state, and I breathed a little easier.

As of this writing, Froley is doing much better. He seems normal. However I’m eyeing him like a hawk for a while. (I mean, not as a source of food, but just really closely.)

Never thought I’d be so happy to be smearing bird poop around.

Froley’s Perch Madness

So, as my last post described to you guys, I went on a cabin trip with my sister and some other family members this winter.

Now, you may have been wondering what I did with Froley, my beloved pet cockatiel, while I was off living it up in the frigid snow.

Well…I left him at my sister’s house.

This might sound like a lackluster pet-owner decision, but it made sense. Just hear me out. The cabin was rented for two nights, meaning only three days would go by without Froley having me by his side for the majority of his time. And having him safely in a familiar domicile instead of in a wintry cabin was a no-brainer.

So I left Froley enough food and water for the time I was going to be gone, hung up one of his favorite toys in his traveling cage, and attached two of his favorite perches to the walls of the cage as well. One of these perches looks like a thick wooden stick. The other is mint green in color, and sandpaper-rough in texture.

I left him feeling reasonably confident that he would be okay until my return.

Well…

Once we made it back to my sister’s house, I rushed to Froley’s cage to see how he was doing. He was shrieking loudly in glee at my appearance. (The poor fella probably thought I had left him forever.) He was pacing back and forth on his mint-green perch in his eagerness to be let out so the cuddles could recommence.

Having had Froley for about ten years, I know that he paces whenever he really wants to be let out.

I wanted to oblige him, but, to my dismay, I noticed something wrong with his mint-green perch before I could take him out.

It was covered in blood.

Apparently, my little Froleybird decided to pace on the damn thing incessantly while I was gone, so much so that he cut up his feet with scrapes.

The little birdie fool.

The first thing I did was get rid of the blood-stained perch. Not only had it hurt Froley’s feet, it was hurting my heart to look at it. The second thing I did was cover every inch of Froley’s cage in Kleenex or paper towels so that no rough surface could reopen the wounds on his feet. The final thing I did was take Froley out of his cage, place him on my knee, and give him those head scratches he desired so much.

Don’t worry, he’s doing fine now. The scrapes are gone, and he’s back in his own home. Honestly, he didn’t even seem to care that he was cutting his feet to ribbons. It’s like he didn’t notice.

As of today, I have de-tissue-papered his cages. I believe his feet can handle it now.

But I have a big problem.

What am I supposed to do the next time I go on a trip?

Why a Cockatiel Might Be the Pet for You

The year was 2009, and I was disconsolate.

The last of my hermit crabs had passed away, and all I was left with were an empty tank and empty shells.

Admittedly, my hermit crabs had never shown me much affection, but I had prescribed personalities for them. These little guys had been my buddies for years. Elvis, Raven, Ringo, Kermit, Kamikaze, Hornet, Willie, Mr. Krabs, Kibbles, Bits, Hulk Hogan, and Sweeney the Cripple. They were all gone.

Yes, I had owned a lot of hermit crabs. I had started out with just five, but over time, people started to gift them to me. True story.

My parents noticed (how could they not) that I was distraught. So one day, my mom came to me and told me that she would get me another pet. Her only prerequisite was that it was not a dog or a cat or any other animal that could have the run of the house.

I was suitably enthusiastic about the idea. I’m one of those people that enjoys caring for critters and plants and living things like that. I like it when a pet needs me. It makes me feel useful. The perfect medicine for my loss was to give me something else to focus on.

I immediately set to work researching the kind of pet I would want. I liked the notion of an intelligent pet, one that could understand the rudimentary notions of affection. The hermit crabs had not fitted that bill precisely, so I was eager to pick a pet that was a step up in the love department. I settled on three options: a bird, a lizard, or a rat.

As you can see by the header image of my blog, I chose the bird.

On July 9, 2009, I went down to the pet store and got my very first cockatiel.

And that cockatiel was Froley.

I did not half-ass making my selection. I researched cockatiels thoroughly, bought books about them, prepared a lodging for my bird before purchasing it.

I had never owned a bird before. I was uncertain about whether or not I could make it. Would it be everything I hoped for?

It was and is.

So, do you want to know if a cockatiel is the pet for you?

Let’s start with the home. Your bird needs space. It might be the smallest of parakeets, but this is an animal that likes to fly. Make sure its home is appropriately sized. Froley’s big cage (his main one) is larger than you would think a little guy like him would need, but I wanted him to have space. One day, I’ll buy him a birdie mansion. You know, one of those deluxe bird cages? There are some that even come on wheels. So if you want a cockatiel, be sure to have space for a big enough cage.

Cockatiels are also extremely social. They like to be a part of the hubbub of the house. So the cage should be somewhere that people like to spend a lot of time in. Side rooms are not the best place for a bird. They get lonesome.

Cockatiels also eat a lot. And they can be messy. Froley is on a healthy diet of bird pellets, which all cockatiel books suggest you place your bird on. Apparently, seeds are like junk food for cockatiels. Froley therefore enjoys the occasional seed fests I allow him. I also give him fresh veggies from time to time. Unfortunately, Froley crunches his pellets to the point that they shoot out from his beak and land on the floor around his cage. I have to constantly vacuum the area around his cage. Or at least lint-roll. Be prepared for a messy pet.

His cage is also covered with poop papers. The bottom layer is necessary to catch his poops. You should clean this out regularly.

If you want a cockatiel, you can’t be afraid of bird poop. Looking at Froley’s poop is one of the ways I gauge his well-being. If it is loose, that means he either had a lot of water or he’s feeling very stressed. The color of his poops are also indicators of his health. Froley got sick one time after eating something he shouldn’t have off the floor, and his poops were a different color from the normal tan-green.

But cockatiels aren’t all labor and no fun.

Cockatiels need interaction and diversion. They are not like fish. They are curious little birdies that enjoy exploring the world around them. Froley loves to walk around the house on his “lonesome,” chirping all the while like a radar ping. I spend as much time with him as I can. Even if I have busy-work to do, I’ll try and do it next to him.

When I first got him, I’d even read to him from my cockatiel-help books.

Birds can also have personalities that are unique. No two cockatiels are alike. I should know. My sister had a cockatiel once named Butter (may she rest in peace). Butter was the sweetest cockatiel I had ever met. She was gentle, slightly nervous, and not the best flier. She would let anyone pick her up and would get comfortable immediately.

Froley is not like that. He’s picky and loud. He tries to bite people that get too close if they’re not me. He is a grumpy thing. He likes things to be his way.

So if you are thinking about getting a cockatiel, be prepared to put in effort in getting acquainted with them. I remember being discouraged that Froley did not warm to me immediately the way the books described a cockatiel relationship being like. However, it just took time. Froley slowly got used to me. And now he and I are the closest of friends.

A cockatiel might be the pet for you if you are looking for a bundle of personality in a small package, you want to build a pet relationship on trust, and you don’t mind getting bird droppings on you.

The Sound of Froley

Froley in Front of a Mirror

I have spent years getting to know my bird. As time has gone by, I have learned to read Froley’s emotions and intentions more easily than I can read another person’s. (It’s kind of sad, now that I think about it, but oh well, what can you do?)

It’s amazing how quickly you can forget how amazing it is to have a pet. Here you are, two entirely separate species, but you can communicate with each other just fine. It is more staggering than we admit on a daily basis.

As a bird, one of the main ways that Froley communicates is through his voice. He makes a variety of sounds that I have learned to interpret. It’s scary how much more attuned to him I am than to other birds. I’ve seen countless videos of cockatiels online, and I can distinguish between Froley and those other plebeian birds any day of the week.

So today’s post is going to be dedicated to all the delightful noises my darling Froley utters.

His Morning Shriek: If I decide to sleep in longer than Froley deems acceptable, he will begin to chirp loudly. He sleeps in his Bedtime Cage, which is kept in a separate room from his regular cage at night. As such, Froley chirps extra piercingly so that he can be sure I hear him.

His Babbling: Cockatiels can do a pretty good job of mimicking human speech. They are not as proficient at it as an African Grey, but they can sound more or less intelligible. Froley can say a few words himself, and they are the words he hears most often. When he’s feeling especially proud of himself, he will garble out, “Who’s a pretty bird? Froley is a pretty bird.”

His Pretty Whistles: When he is feeling exuberant, Froley can whistle as sweetly and as victoriously as one of those cartoon birds in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Also, if he wants to be let out of his cage, he will whistle desperate sweet nothings in the hopes you will feel sorry for him.

His Don’t-Leave-Me Chirps: Froley is a needy bird, and he hates to be left behind. His definition of being “left behind” includes me stepping out of the room for a quick second.

His Injustice Squawks: Sometimes I have to do things for Froley’s own good, even if he doesn’t see it that way. For example, I have to scoop him up like a baseball so that he can get used to getting held in case of an emergency trip to the vet. He does not appreciate my efforts to prepare him for the worst, and when he’s displeased, he will squawk at me.

His Beak Grinding: Any bird owner worth their salt (and who owns the kind of bird who does this) knows what beak grinding is. It’s a scritchy-scratchy sound that your bird will make when he or she is utterly content. This sound will usually emit from your bird right before they’re about to take a nap. A lot of bird owners think that beak grinding sounds like nails on a chalkboard, but I’ve grown to become quite fond of it. Actually, I’ve kind of had to become fond of it because Froley likes to take naps on my shoulder.

His I’m-A-Snake Hiss: Froley can hiss like a snake when he is severely pissed. I think it is an instinctive behavior born of trying to camouflage his fear. If Froley were to ever bite someone, he would hiss right before he did it.

His Cute Clicks: In the morning, when he’s in front of a mirror, or when I’ve come home after a day of being out, Froley will greet me with the most adorable clicks as he paces back and forth in his cage. As soon as I let him out, he will hop right in front of my face and start clicking to my nose. I click back at him using my tongue to tap against the back of my front teeth. He seems to like that.

His Purrs: Yes, Froley purrs. When he does his Cute Clicks, he’ll intersperse a few purrs among them too. It’s more like a trill, I suppose. Honestly, I don’t know how to describe this noise. Oh god, and I call myself a writer? I’m failing right now.

His Chuffles: I call Froley’s erratic breathing when he masturbates a chuffle. He sounds out of breath, but the noise is not so deep or throaty to be called a breath. And “chuffles” just sounds cuter, doesn’t it?

His Cheeps: When everything is right with the world (according to Froley), he occasionally lets out a soft cheep to let me know he’s alive and well and to check out how I’m doing. These cheeps are not as frantic as his chirps or as drawn-out as his whistles. They’re quieter and shorter. They’re one of the more common noises I’ll hear from him on a day-to-day basis, but that does not stop me from appreciating them.

Any bird owner will tell you that a bird is a very vocal creature, More than a dog or a cat, a bird relies on its different noises to let its fellow flock members know what’s the haps. I’m 99.99% certain Froley considers me a part of his flock, so learning his vocalizations has been instrumental to me in figuring out what he wants and how he is feeling. If you’re thinking about getting a bird, I highly recommend preparing yourself and your ears for quite the adventure.

If you want to see more of me and Froley, feel free to follow me on Instagram right here.

Froley and His Eating Habits

Before buying myself a pet bird, I went all out researching exactly what I would need to do to provide the best household for my new cockatiel. I scrolled through every online cockatiel forum I could find (there’s actually quite a few). I bought books on what to do and what not to do while caring for a cockatiel. I purchased the cage and the toys and the food containers and the water bowls all before I ever got Froley.

Of course, when I finally invited Froley into the house, he was absolutely terrified of me. He was such a baby bird. I bought him from a Petco store, so he wasn’t used to human handling the way a bird from a breeder would have been.

One of the ways I tried to acquaint myself with him was by gathering all the literature I had collected on cockatiel care, plonking myself down next to his big cage, and reading them out loud to him.

Aside from helping me bond with Froley, those books also introduced to me the idea of enlivening Froley’s diet. (I mean, once he was more comfortable with me, that is.)

The diet of a cockatiel should consist mainly of pellets and fresh foods. Seeds, unlike what most people might believe, are not the best things for your cockatiel. They’re high in fat, so unless you want an overweight Froley, only give seeds to your bird sparingly. But the book I was reading, and actually every source I looked this up on, was happy to give fresh options of foods that you could share with your pet cockatiel.

I was so excited, you guys.

In my mind, I had visions of Froley and I nibbling at strawberries together, munching on a salad together, and pecking at a carrot together.

Of course, first I had to get Froley to like me, but after that, I knew in my heart that the sky would be the limit for my and Froley’s culinary exploits.

*Sigh*

Froley is such a gosh-darned picky eater. He does not like to try new things. He is such a stick in the mud.

(Yes, mom, I’m aware I’m the same way, but it’s not like Froley is mimicking my personality…right?)

What follows is a list of Froley’s favorite foods…and that’s it: 

  • Romaine Lettuce: He only likes the dark green part. He’ll avoid the clearer-colored spine of the leaf. He also likes it when I wet the piece I tear off for him. (Though honestly, you should thoroughly wash every vegetable you buy from the grocery store.) He also will only eat it if I’m holding it up for him. I can cheat the system a little bit by taking a magnetic clip from the fridge door and sticking the leaf in it and then placing it on top of his cage.
  • Celery Leaves: Let’s get this straight. He likes the leaves of celery. Not the stalk. He won’t touch that shit.
  • Broccoli: He likes to eat the buds of broccoli. Broccoli is the one food Froley once regurgitated to share with me. That was an experience.
  • Cilantro: I’m actually really happy Froley likes cilantro. It has such a fresh smell, and his breath always smells that way after he eats it.
  • Wheat Toast: I noticed he liked this when I made a toasted ham and cheese sandwich one time. Froley flew over to where I was eating, scared the bejesus out of me, and then he started picking at the bread crumbs on my plate. Now, whenever I make a sandwich, he wants to eat it with me.
  • Popcorn: Froley goes ga-ga for popcorn. If I make myself some popcorn and he sees me, he’ll start pacing back and forth in his cage and shrieking at me.

Sadly, I have not found any fruits that Froley likes, which is such a shame because I am a total fruit person. I adore fruit. Froley hates it. I’ve tried giving him nearly every fruit under the sun (that’s good for him), but none of them have taken. He’ll just taste it, shake his head, and walk away.

And why doesn’t he like carrots?! It’s like if the vegetable isn’t green, he’s not going to eat it.

But he is adorable, and I love him. Despite his weird food quirks.

(Note: Some foods I don’t like are mustard, fresh onions, bell peppers, fish, shrimp, lobster, crab, papaya, muffins, grapefruits, maraschino cherries, steak, mushrooms, jalapeños, pistachios, spicy sausages, corn bread, cake [with a few exceptions], dried figs, fresh spinach, baked beans, and pickles.)