Cockatiel has gone quiet after introducing a second one

Ariela

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Feb 3, 2020
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Hello everyone!
I have two cockatiels, Cheeky (almost 5 y.o.) :yellow1: and Mango (almost a year old) :grey: Both are males. Cheeky was my first pet; I got him when he was 3 m.o., and back then I used to spend the entire day with him on my shoulder, so he got extremely attached to me. He learnt how to talk, sing, and dance. As he got older, I had to limit the time spent with him, and he started screaming for attention. He never did that when he was alone with other family members, although he was still very vocal.

Last August I decided to get him a feathery companion, so I bought a 6 m.o. chick (Mango) which I mistakenly thought was female. I got a bigger cage, put Mango in it, gradually introduced them, then finally moved Cheeky to Mango's cage. Initially, Mango was very quiet, and Cheeky would teach him how to sing and talk. He also stopped screaming for attention.

As Mango grew up, he became more and more vocal with time, actually much more than Cheeky has ever been (that's when it became clear that Mango is a male). Cheeky, on the other hand, has become very quiet. Mango constantly follows Cheeky everywhere and becomes frantic when he loses sight of him, while Cheeky seems to be indifferent towards Mango.

Now what bothers me is that whenever Mango is around, Cheeky is always quiet. On the rare occasion that he does try to sing, Mango immediately joins in, and he stops. As soon as I remove Cheeky from the cage, Mango starts screaming, and Cheeky becomes very tense. When I take Cheeky to another room where he can't hear Mango, he starts singing, although for a short time and not as energetically as before.

I haven't been able to figure out the reason for this behavioral change in Cheeky. The only reason I see is that Mango is much more active that Cheeky, so I guess he must be higher in the pecking order...but is that possible if he's 4 years younger? I wonder if something is wrong with Cheeky, if he's depressed or unhappy with having such a clingy companion... I'd really appreciate your opinions and advice.
 
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Welcome to you, Cheeky, and Mango!

There are no guarantees two birds will like or even tolerate each other. Thankfully they are not hostile, but you have identified subtle behavioral patterns. An underlying issue may be your relationship with Cheeky. Has your level of bonding and interaction changed since Mango's arrival? If you were closely bonded, there was a risk of Mango dislodging the relationship. This does not appear to be the case, perhaps Cheeky views Mango as interloper with a louder demeanor. Have you tried giving Cheeky more one-on-one time in Mango's absence?

Age is not always the determinant of pecking order. Physical size and personality give advantages. Perhaps members more familiar with cockatiels can better assess these behaviors.
 
Some birds get along great outside of the cage. But when caged together it can be stressful for one or both. Sometimes birds can be caged together for a long time, and then decide they aren't happy with that anymore.

I would suggest seperate cages side by side. Gives them their own space to call home, and a break from their freind. But they can still be out together.

My GCC is a female, and she and my male Quaker are very bonded. They stay together out of the cage, preen eachother, feed eachother, and mate. But they can't be housed together, huge fights happen, and my Quaker drives her to the bottom of the cage, or keeps her from the food. They also both want one on one time from me. As do all my birds, sometimes I can hang out with one while the others are busy, sometimes I have to lock up the others so I can have one on one time with each.
 
Some birds get along great outside of the cage. But when caged together it can be stressful for one or both. Sometimes birds can be caged together for a long time, and then decide they aren't happy with that anymore.

I would suggest seperate cages side by side. Gives them their own space to call home, and a break from their freind. But they can still be out together.

My GCC is a female, and she and my male Quaker are very bonded. They stay together out of the cage, preen eachother, feed eachother, and mate. But they can't be housed together, huge fights happen, and my Quaker drives her to the bottom of the cage, or keeps her from the food. They also both want one on one time from me. As do all my birds, sometimes I can hang out with one while the others are busy, sometimes I have to lock up the others so I can have one on one time with each.

I coudnt agree more with this post!!:57:
 
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Hi Scott!

Thank you for the warm welcome and the reply.

The thing is that even before Mango, there were times when I didn't interact with Cheeky for days (I used to leave him at my grandma's place) and he still used to enjoy himself, singing and talking twice a day. As long as I wasn't around, he didn't scream for attention, didn't even want to get out of the cage and seemed totally content.
So the interaction rate hasn't changed much, and I guess the problem isn't that Cheeky misses me, but rather that he might feel stressed in Mango's presence. On the other hand he eats, drinks, sleeps and preens normally, which indicates that he is healthy and not depressed; it's just that the singing has stopped. I'm wondering if it's possible that Mango's vocalizations are too exhausting for Cheeky and he doesn't feel like singing after listening to Mango for hours, or maybe he is afraid that Mango will interrupt him.
 
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Hi Laurasea!

They get on quite well together in the cage; they both eat, drink and sleep well. It's only the singing. Moreover, when I remove Cheeky from the cage, Mango becomes excessively anxious as he has bonded with Cheeky strongly. I have tried to place Cheeky in his former cage for a day; when I did this, Cheeky started screaming for my attention again. By the way, their behavior towards each other doesn't change outside of the cage either. Mango keeps following Cheeky and frantically avoiding me, and Cheeky walks away from him and explores the room, which he always used to do, even without Mango. The only change is that now he doesn't sing or talk anymore.
 
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There might be an adjustment period. But I really think they would be happier in seperate cages.

Two birds usually means twice the noise. Both should be making happy noise. Mango is dominating Cheeky I think. I believe there is stress in sharing the cage.
 
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The thing is, even in separate cages, Cheeky still doesn't make happy noises. He doesn't even make them when they're out of the cage together. It's more about Mango's presence, not sharing the cage. On the other hand, he doesn't scream for attention when he is with Mango, which probably means that he's not lonely anymore.
By the way, do you think it's possible that Mango's vocalizations are simply too exhausting for Cheeky and he doesn't feel like singing after listening to Mango for hours, or maybe he is afraid that Mango will interrupt him? Usually, as soon as Cheeky hears someone else singing, he stops.
I'm doubtful that Mango is dominating because Cheeky doesn't look depressed at all: he looks very healthy indeed, save for the quietness. Additionally, Mango is not aggressive towards Cheeky but rather clingy and affectionate instead. They have even sung together a couple of times, but that was literally only a couple of times, so still not enough. And I have even noticed Cheeky bending his head for Mango to preen, but again, that has also happened just once or twice.
 
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No I don't think Cheeky isn't singing because he is tired if hearing Mango.

I can only offer my options, as you asked.

My Budgies would love to cling to other birds, but they don't enjoy it. Just because one wantsts to be buddy buddy, and the other doesn't fight, doesn't mean he enjoys the attention.

Birds hide being sick. Not saying yours is. A great habit is to weigh your bird with a kitchen gram scale, once weekly at the same time if day, and keep a log of weights.
 
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I'm not saying Cheeky enjoys Mango's companionship. I mean, can we consider that Mango is dominating Cheeky if he is affectionate and not aggressive? Doesn't dominating mean aggressive behavior?
 
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Oh, I see. I'm afraid placing them in different cages doesn't help though, as the issue is with Mango's presence generally... I would have to place them in different rooms, but I don't have the opportunity... Would it be better to re-home Mango in this case? Or is he likely to miss Cheeky and feel stressed? I just want both of them to be happy :)
P.S. Mango's not attached to me at all.
 
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Don't rehome. Try and spend one on one time with each. Try having one caged for a couple of hours, then switching. See if that changes anything.
 
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By the way, here's a photo of Cheeky (left) and Mango (right).:)
 

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They are gorgeous, a pic is worth a thousand words. Perhaps I'm reading too much into the pose, but Mango and Cheeky's body language reads dominance and submission. (I realize it is one snapshot in time!)
 
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I think it's just because Cheeky is sitting further down my arm, but yes, usually Cheeky is usually slouched while Mango is not (it may also be because Cheeky is comfortable while Mango is always scared and alert).
 
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Thank you! I still think it might be dominance, because Mango interrupts him. It's really hard to tell))
 
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Hi Laurasea! Thanks for the wonderful advice you gave me :) I am keeping them in separate cages now, as well as giving them plenty of out-of-cage time, and Cheeky has started singing and talking again!
 

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