Myth: Babies you finish weaning out yourself make better pets.
Fact: There is absolutely no fact or evidence for this. In fact, by selling to inexperienced handfeeders can result in crop burns, infections, starvation, and perhaps death.
Myth: Cockatiels need grit to digest their food.
Fact: Cockatiels hull their seeds, there is no reason to feed them grit. It can actually impact their crop, and lead to starvation.
Myth: Seed is the best diet for my bird, it's what they get in the wild!
Fact: Seeds are high in fat. Birds on an all seed diet have high cholesterol and are more prone to disease and cancer. Birds on seed diets generally have shorter lifespans than those on a varied diet. Though the argument "it's more natural!" has been used, often people forget that wild birds spend a lot of their time just in search of food! They receive far more exercise than our house pets. Also, birds in the wild eat more than just seeds - they eat greens, fruits, nuts, and flowers too! A good diet for your pet bird will include pellets (60-75%), veggies, fruits, pasta and rice, and a VERY small amount of seed (<10%).
Myth: Cockatiels don't need baths, because they groom themselves.
Fact: Birds naturally take baths in the wild, most do it daily. Misting your bird helps to relieve itchy skin when it is molting season, as well as controlling dander. It makes the feather sheaths soft, easier to remove, and more comfortable for your pet. Baths also improve the overall feather condition of your bird.
Myth: Clipping one wing on the cockatiel is better than clipping both.
Fact: How did this ever get started? Clipping one wing will make your bird lopsided. If you remove one wing off of an airplane, what happens? It does a spiraling nose dive. Same with cockatiels. Clip both wings evenly, which will allow the bird to glide to the ground, instead of bonking into it beak first.
Myth: It is cruel to clip a bird's wings.
Fact: Not only does it not hurt the bird (it's like a person getting a haircut), it helps keep you more in control of your bird.
Myth: Birds need mite protectors on their cage.
Fact: They need a mite protector as much as you need an open box of mothballs right beside your bed. Cockatiels don't usually carry mites unless they are exposed to outdoor birds.
Myth: Vitamins should be added directly to the water!
Fact: Adding vitamins to your bird's drinking water is an open buffet for bacteria. If vitamins must be added, and only if your avian vet recommends them, add them to their daily pellets. Try and offer them a variety of veggies and other foods instead of using vitamins.
Myth: Cockatiels are parrots, thus great talkers.
Fact: Many males can talk, but it is usually not very clear and is limited. If you're buying a bird purely for talking ability, you should consider a larger parrot such as the African Grey.
Myth: Cockatiels don't get lonely.
Fact: 'Tiels are social animals, and thrive on attention. If you neglect your bird, you will end up with a much different creature than the sweet one you originally had! Cockatiels can easily become feather pickers, screamers, or just plain mean if not handled and stimulated daily.
Myth: You can sex a young cockatiel by the dots on its wings, bars, etc.
Fact: The only way to sex a young cockatiel (before its first molt), other than through genetics, is by a DNA or surgical test. Until their first molt, baby cockatiels all look like females. There are some mutations, such as the lutino, where the male and female look exactly the same.
Myth: You can sex a young cockatiel by swinging a pendulum over it (pendulum sexing).
Fact: Does this even need to be explained? This is an old wives tale, with no reasoning behind it whatsoever. It doesn't work, though many people will claim it has never failed them. Ahem.
Myth: My birds won't breed if I don't provide them a nestbox.
Fact: They'll lay their eggs in their food bowls or on the bottom of the cage. The only foolproof way to prevent your birds from breeding is by separating them.
Myth: When my bird screams, I should flick it in the head.
Fact: Never, ever hit a bird. Flicking the bird will only make it angry and possibly violent. First, figure out what's wrong, then just ignore the screaming. Reacting will only make the bird continue, because it has learned that through this negative behavior, it gets attention.
Myth: Squirting with water is an effective training method.
Fact: Your bird will never allow you to mist it again.
Myth: When your bird lays an egg, if you take it away, she'll stop laying.
Fact: If you take away your bird's egg, she will lay more to make up for it. Best let her sit on it until she gets tired of it, or remove it and replace with a "dummy" egg.
Myth: You should completely cover a bird's cage at night so it will be quiet and get a good night's sleep.
Fact: Birds need to be able to see at night, to watch for "predators," as they do in the wild. Keeping them completely covered may lead to night frights, where the bird thrashes around wildly and can injure itself. (Aviary note - I had to take a bird to the avian vet because her night frights were so bad, she would bleed all over the cage. Haven't had a problem since.)