Has your cockatiel flown away without notice? Or are you just considering the idea of releasing it into the wild?
Whatever the case, the release of a domesticated parrot such as the pet cockatiel into the wild should not be considered.
This is because the conditions that parrots with no wildlife experience are exposed to can be quite cruel and unfriendly.
So, can a cockatiel survive in the wild?
A cockatiel has little chance of surviving in the wild as they face the real pressures of starvation, getting eaten by predators, being poached or hunted, encountering extreme weather, and being placed in an environment that is completely unlike anything they have ever experienced.
Pet cockatiel has little chance of surviving in the wild as they lack the training, experience, and knowledge of the practices needed to survive.
However, they are more likely to survive if their release is monitored under well-managed programs, most of which cannot be undertaken by individual parrot caregivers.
Also, cockatiels with the highest probability of survival are those that have been hatched in the wild and have only recently been captured or those birds that have been properly prepared for a life in the wild and bred in captivity in carefully managed environments.
Indeed, cockatiels that might stand a chance of survival would need the right climate, the right conditions, and a lot of luck to survive.
So, for a cockatiel that is new to wildlife, life becomes almost impossible to live.
Most people who are considering getting a parrot as a pet are not aware of the commitment involved.
The parrot is a bird species that is different from other birds in terms of intelligence and emotional capabilities.
Since the chances of domesticated cockatiel surviving in the wild are slim, let’s take a look at why they usually have difficulty surviving.
Why cockatiels can’t survive in the wild
Reasons why pet cockatiels can’t survive in the wild:
The climate may not be right
Cockatiels are not commonly found all over the world. The majority of their species are found in arid or semi-arid regions but always close to water.
Largely nomadic, the species will move to where food and water are available.
Cockatiels like other parrots prefer tropical and subtropical regions with warm climates.
So, when they are released in the wild, they face the very real pressures of extreme weather conditions.
As a result, they can only survive in certain regions of the world.
These species prefer hotter weather and will run from cold environments.
Releasing a cockatiel outside of its natural habitat would surely provide the bird with additional challenges.
Remember that pet parrots are used to human temperatures.
So, they are more likely to prefer an indoor environment with less wind, constant temperature, and little chance of getting wet.
They are likely to experience stress
If you’re a lover of parrots, you’re probably aware that pet cockatiels require constant attention and company for survival in captivity.
On the other hand, they rely on their flock for survival in the wild.
Your pet bird won’t be able to stay afloat in the wild unless it finds a herd of the same species, and is accepted by the flock.
The lifespan of a wild cockatiel is estimated to be between 10 to 15 years. However, social isolation can greatly reduce the parrot’s lifespan.
A parrot’s mental condition becomes distorted as a result of the stress caused by loneliness.
The bird is unable to care for itself in this state, so it begins to develop strange behaviors such as;
- Excessive squawking
- Unnecessary biting
Although your parrot may find a flock in the wild, this display of aggression will eliminate any chance of its acceptance.
Domesticated cockatiels have weak bodies
A caged cockatiel raised under the supervision of a human has a weaker body.
They are different from cockatiels raised in their natural habitat (wild).
For example, wild cockatiels are strong enough to travel long distances as they are adept at flying.
Wild cockatiels also have stronger beaks than cockatiels in captivity as they use their beaks for several tasks, including:
- For attacking and defending themselves from predators
- For crushing the bones of small animals
- For climbing up high places such as trees
Pet cockatiels, on the other hand, have the privilege of living in a safe environment without the threat of predators.
As a result, their beaks and wings are underdeveloped since they don’t need to use their beaks to hunt for food, protection, or survival.
Their owners provide them with toys to hold and play with, but most of them are made from soft materials.
Also, most pet cockatiels are kept in cages. They are not used to long-distance travel.
As a result, they cannot fly like their wild counterparts.
They have no experience living in flocks
Even a wild cockatiel can’t live on its own for very long as parrots need to belong to a group to survive in the wild.
Those who are shunned from their flock need companionship as quickly as possible or their health will begin to decline. Worst still, they may be killed by a predator.
A parrot may be considered unfit for the flock for several reasons.
The most common reason is the violation of the social or dominant hierarchy of the flock.
Dominant hierarchy also called the pecking order is when one bird tends to stand above the rest. This call to power often comes with many benefits.
So, whether captive or wild, parrots adhere to a strict pecking order.
They keep anyone or anything they dislike at the bottom of their pecking order.
For pet parrots, humans are the primary source of comfort and their favorite humans remain at the top of their pecking order.
However, some pet parrots place themselves at the top of their pecking order (above their favorite human), making them demanding.
They believe it is their right to have your constant attention.
The little bird can expect servitude from people they regard as lower than them.
So, hand-reared cockatiels are unable to join a flock of wild parrots because of this behavior.
This can be disastrous for the pet cockatiel as membership in a flock plays an important part in ensuring their safety and improving their chances of survival, especially from attacks by predators.
Pet cockatiels have not been trained to respect their fellow parrots. As a result, they are rarely accepted by wild flocks.
Danger of predators
Parrots like cockatiels are prey animals, which means that other predators in the wild, such as hawks, snakes, cats, monkeys, etc are looking to make them into a meal.
This one factor influences the behavior of cockatiels in captivity more than any other.
Domestic cockatiels don’t have to worry about life-threatening attacks.
While some households might have cats or dogs, most owners know how to keep the birds safe.
Plus, the cockatiel knows it can return to its cage at any time in case of any potential danger.
Wild Cockatiels lack this luxury, and they sometimes don’t know how to defend themselves.
They also don’t know what other predators are out there watching them.
So, without any help from their human or flock mates, they have a slim chance of surviving.
If a hungry predator doesn’t kill it, starvation and disease might.
They lack the skills needed to find food
Pet cockatiels face the very real pressure of starvation when released into the wild.
Humans are responsible for the care of domestic cockatiels. They don’t have to go hunting for food like their wild brothers.
If pet parrots are hungry, they only need to repeat some words or squawk, and they will be fed.
And because their food is often processed, they are probably unaware of what food for wild parrots looks like.
This is why most pet birds struggle to find food in the wild as they have no way of knowing what is edible and what is not.
These skills are taught to wild parrots by their parents.
Hand-reared cockatiels are unable to hunt and gather, and so they may end up consuming something that will make them sick.
Many escaped cockatiels live in parks, where they are fed seeds and bread by friendly humans.
However, this is insufficient to meet their nutritional requirements. They require a lot more to avoid any health problems.
How long do cockatiels last in the wild?
Generally, wild cockatiels live for as long as 10 to 14 years in the wild. However, pet cockatiel may not be able to survive for that long depending on the climate, diet, predators, and level of socialization.
The most common factors that affect a cockatiels’ lifespan are size, diet, environment, socialization, social isolation, veterinary care, and mental health.
Because cockatiels living in the wild are affected by many of these factors, they tend to have a shorter lifespan than cockatiels in captivity.
Often, wild cockatiels don’t even reach the reproductive stage.
The reason for this is obvious – life in the wild is harder than in captivity.
When kept as pets, cockatiels are fed in cages, but in the wild, they have to find food on their own, which is quite difficult.
They must also avoid drawing the attention of predators when searching for food.
How to find my lost cockatiel
To find your lost cockatiel, here are some of the things you should do:
- Place the bird’s cage outside, filled with fresh water and its favorite treats. Leave the door wide open.
- Call the bird’s name as you walk around the neighborhood.
- If you have a recording of the bird or a similar species’ voice, stroll around your area with portable speakers playing the call. According to Mickaboo, this may assist your bird in locating its “flock.”
- Inform your neighbors that you have lost your bird.
- Post fliers with a picture and detailed description of your bird.
- Distribute your flier to the local veterinarians.
- Offer a reward for the bird’s safe return.
- Place an ad in the local paper.
- Report your missing bird to local animal shelters and check in with them regularly to see if it has been found.
- Use websites like Mickaboo, Birdhotline, and 911parrotalert to list your bird as missing.