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Dr. Pat
Dr. Pat, Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 4244
Experience:  25+ years working primarily or exclusively with birds
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My cockatiel is 37 years old, I have had him for 3 years since

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My cockatiel is 37 years old, I have had him for 3 years since his previous owners died. Initially he wouldn't leave his cage and seemed unable to fly, however, now he only goes into it to sleep and eat, preferring to be near to myself and family; over the last few weeks he has become very difficult, he hates being on his own. When I leave the house he gets very distressed screaming and flying around towards my head. It is a real problem s I work. He seems to have become 'over confident', he expects to eat when we do, he exhibits some sexual behaviour on the cushion repeatedly and my whole family seem to dislike him now as he flies at their heads too.
My sister would care for him when I go away but he has become too difficult for her now. it seems as if he is trying to assert himself in an aggressive way, any ideas why or how he could best be helped ?

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I dont know what further information you need. Please explain.


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Thank you for your patience,

Greetings, I am Dr. Pat. I have worked with birds for many years. I will do my best to help you.

A couple things might help. First, if he is uncomfortable or irritated in anyway, this may be his only way to ask for help. I know to a human it does not make sense, but it is a very bird-logical way.

First the bird needs to have a complete check up and health screen. There may actually be a real physical reason for this behavior. At 35 it is a MUST.

Second, even at 35 he can have a very active set of hormones. There are some very specific things that will help:
1) a very strict 14 hour sleep time AT NIGHT. Dark, quiet, uninterrupted, no family noise, etc. He may need to be put in a guest room or area where the family does not go during his "night time". A long photoperiod triggers reproductive activity. Anything less than 12 hours of sleep is deprivation in a bird--and sleep deprivation can lead to all kinds of bad behavior.

2) very strict diet. Seeds=fat=high reproductive hormones. AND to poor nutrition, which contributes to ill health, which can make him insecure and uncomfortable, and demanding of your attention.

3) drama! NO DRAMA ALLOWED! even if he flies at people and is aggressive, the worst response is drama.

It may sound silly, but you all may need to seek behavioral counseling IN PERSON, family members and bird. There are some very serious issues developing here, and the family reactions are inappropriate. This is not an easy set of problems to correct, and the humans are mainly at fault and therefore the ones in need of behavior modification. I always have the entire family plus bird come in for at least an hour-long consult; it is much easier to do in person and evaluate everyone's non-verbal relationships. So online I can only give general suggestions and urge that you seek proper consult at home. There are a number of people who do this, but you may have to call around and check with a number of avian-experienced vets to find a reputable behavior person. THIS REALLY WORKS.

Online you can check to see if this is available; it has some practical solutions to common behavioral problems. There are a number of "Idiots Guide to..." books and the parrot or cockatiels do have some good insights.

He needs something to do with his mind. You can read children's books to him, point out the pictures, show him garden catalogs, teach him to count, anything to make him educated. He needs to learn to play by himself with the assurance that he has not been left out or left behind.

Talk to him like an 8 year old kid. If he doesn't want to step up, explain that he needs to cooperate. NO DRAMA. walk away if he doesn't. Then come back and ask if he wants to step up, again. Use the same command and be consistent, not afraid, gently assertive, and NO DRAMA. Did I mention NO DRAMA?

I really must stress that you need a bird-experienced person, and not just a vet who advertises that they care for birds.

You need to take your bird to see an avian-experienced veterinarian ASAP for complete examination, diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Check

n Jones Bird Vet
Web Address:
Phone: 07787 507 427
Address: c/o The British Wildlife Centre, eastbourne Road
City: Lingfield, Surrey Zip: RH7 6LF
Comments: Alan is now semi-retired but holds surgeries at the following locations below
Avian Vet? Yes

CJ Hall Veterianry Surgeons - Dr. Matthew Fiddes BVScHons CertZooMed MRCVS
Web Address:
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Address: 15 Temple Sheen Road
City: East Sheen, London Zip: SW14 7PY
Comments: Other information: 80% of patenits are avian and exotics. The practice set up for this purpose. All vets and nurses are qualified and professional. They are always willing to help and you will be greeted with a smile.
Avian Vet? Yes

Eastbourne Road(A22), Newchapel,
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01342 835 000
By appointment only Tuesdays & alternate Friday/Saturdays.

XXXXXbr/> Thornton Heath, Surrey
By appointment only, Tuesday mornings, once every four weeks.

The Old Corn Store
London Road
Westerham, Kent
TN16 1DR
By appointment only, Every Friday, alternating mornings and afternoons.

Newham Court Shopping Village
Bearsted Road
Maidstone, Kent
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Open session, first come first served, Wednesday afternoons from 4 - 5.30 pm, once every four weeks.

Beddington Park
By appointment only, Tuesday afternoons once every four weeks.

If this were my patient, and money no object, I would start with complete fecal analysis and direct smear,
stained with Sedi-stain and unstained for multiple parasites, fungi, spirals; direct smear stained with Sedi-stain and unstained of the oral cavity; bacterial culture and sensitivity of the feces and choana. Depending on the case I might do a fungal culture. Routine blood work is necessary to rule out other issues. There are MANY DNA/RNA tests for bird diseases. Ultrasound is often more informative than radiographs and does not require anesthesia (ask your vet about this option). Generally I start them out on medications as indicated by the tests.

Your bird may need injectable fluids, calcium, antibiotics and many other medications. Act quickly and good luck.

Here are a few suggestions that I give everyone: important!

The following guidelines help with basic issues such as nutrition, obesity, good immune status. Surprising how the following can make a bird healthy, and how infrequently birds are ill if they are on the following regimen. No amount of medicine is going to work if the birds' basic needs are not met.

AAV Guidelines

Birds should be on a high-quality, preferably prescription, pelleted diet: I prefer High-potency Harrison's



In addition, they should be offered dark leafy greens, cooked sweet potatoes, yams, squash, pumpkin; entire (tops and bottoms) fresh carrots and so forth. No seeds (and that means a mix, or millet, or sprays, etc. etc.) and only healthy, low-fat high fiber people food. A dietary change should be closely monitored and supervised by your avian vet.

Daily Maintenance

Birds should get 12-14 hours dark, quiet, uninterrupted sleep at night. Any less and they can suffer from sleep deprivation and associated illnesses. They should be covered or their cage placed in a dark room that is not used after they go to bed.

The cage material should be cleaned everyday, and twice a day if the bird is really messy. Paper towels, newspaper, bath towels are ok. Never use corn cob, sawdust, wood chips, or walnut shell.
Food and water dishes should be cleaned and changed daily. Keep one set cleaned while the other is in use.

Fresh, perishable food should be placed in separate food bowls. Remove fresh food from the cage after a couple of hours to avoid spoilage.

Change cage papers daily, and clean the grate and tray weekly.

Clean food debris or droppings from toys and perches as needed (which can be as often as once a day).

Grit is not necessary for birds, and will cause digestive problems and death. The best sources of minerals (and vitamins) are leafy greens. Never give grit, gravel sandpaper or cement perches. A bird will eat those to excess when it is not feeling well or if there is a nutritional deficiency. They do not need it at all (an old myth from the poultry days, even poultry do not need it). It can cause an impaction and lead to serious or fatal consequences.
Dr. Pat, Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 4244
Experience: 25+ years working primarily or exclusively with birds
Dr. Pat and other Bird Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you so very much. Having a strategy has really reduced the stress. I am sure he must have been overtired and already by putting him in a quiet place to sleep for much longer has improved things. i will get an appointment to have him checked out with an avian vet and alter his diet as advised.

My grandson is looking forward to teaching him to count in Spanish !

once again Thank You.

Good news. Sleep is so important to birds, and so overlooked as a cause for behavioral issues (in people as well, I think). Good luck with him.