The Perfect Cockatiel Cage Setup: [A Comprehensive Guide]

Cockatiels have long tail feathers compared to most cockatoos, which make up about half of their total length. Because of this, these birds need a relatively spacious cage despite being medium. But how do you set up a cockatiel cage, and what do you need?

When setting up a cage for your cockatiel, you must consider its size and bar spacing. Then, you should find an excellent spot to put up the birdcage and add a liner at the bottom. Next, you must add accessories like food and water bowls, toys, bird baths, and perches.

What does a cockatiel need in its cage additionally to stay happy and healthy? You might want to keep reading to discover more about setting up a cockatiel cage.

How To Set Up A Cockatiel Cage: Step-By-Step Guide

If you plan on adopting a cockatiel, a proper cage setup can help the bird settle into your home quickly. So, below is a step-by-step guide on how to put up a cockatiels cage, so it feels safe and comfortable inside.

Step 1: Get the right cage size

Although cockatiels are not big birds, they need a roomy cage with a minimum size of 24-inches long, 18-inches wide, and 24-inches high. It should be rectangular or square-shaped and not rounded.

Also, make sure the cage has a maximum bar spacing of 1/2-inches. If the spacing is wide, your cockatiel’s head could get stuck in the bars. More so, choose a cage built from safe and sturdy materials like stainless steel, metal, or wire.

Step 2: Find a suitable location for the cage

Once you have the correct size cage, place it in the corner of the room, preferably near a window. This will give your bird an excellent outdoor view. However, the enclosure should not be in a spot where it will receive direct sunlight. This can cause your bird to overheat.

It would be best to put the cage at a stable and eye level spot where young children and other pets cannot access it. This is because they could stress your bird.

Step 3: Line the cage’s bottom

Next, get some paper towels or newspapers and line them along the bottom of your cockatiel’s cage. The lining makes cleaning your bird’s droppings easier. 

Step 4: Add food and water dishes

Get water and food bowls in any pet store near you. Then, hang the dishes on the cage side and at low heights for baby cockatiels. The food bowl should be at one end of the cage, and the water dish on the opposite end of the enclosure.

Step 5: Attach a water bath

Cockatiels are very dusty. Therefore, adding a bird bath in their cage will enable them to bathe regularly. This is because preening alone is not enough to keep their skin and feathers looking healthier.

Step 6: Include high and low-level perches

Perches allow your cockatiel to exercise its feet while offering a comfortable resting place. Therefore, add 3 to 4 perches of different sizes that attach securely to the cage. For baby cockatiels, the perches should be low hanging.

Step 7: Add safe toys

Toys are an essential part of your cockatiel’s cage. They help keep your bird stimulated throughout, preventing boredom and lousy behavior like feather-picking. You can add toys like:

  • Bells and balls
  • Foot toys
  • Swings and ropes
  • Ladders
  • Mirrors
  • Shredding and chewable toys

And that’s it! Your cockatiel’s cage is ready for it to be occupied.

What Does A Cockatiel Need In Its Cage?

Besides the food and water, mature and baby cockatiels need lots of enrichment toys inside their cage. This is because these birds are pretty active and intelligent. Therefore, they require regular mental stimulation to stay happy and avoid boredom. Your cockatiels need toys for:


Part of a cockatiel’s natural impulse is to shred or tear things apart using its beak. Besides keeping the beak sharp, shredding toys provide your bird with plenty of stimuli. You can give your bird newspapers or cardboard to shred.


Like shredding, cockatiels also have an innate need to chew. It helps keep their bill in perfect shape. So, you must provide your pet birds with safe chewing toys like rattles, pieces of wood, hard rubber chews, and balls.


Cockatiels love to forage for their food in their natural habitat. Foraging toys help stimulate your bird’s natural behavior. Some toys feature parts your cockatiel can pull or turn to get food or a treat.


Climbing toys promote an active playing environment for your cockatiels. The toys, including ladders, perches, sticks, and swings, help strengthen your bird’s muscles.

What Should I Put In The Bottom Of A Cockatiel Cage?

Most cockatiels cages have a removable pan at the bottom, allowing easy cleaning. But to make cleaning the cage even easier, you should line up some papers at the bottom to catch your bird’s droppings.

You could use old newspapers, paper towels, butcher paper, or even paper bags. This way, once your bird passes stool, you remove the lining and add clean paper. However, you must never use wood shavings, wood chips or sand as linings. These materials can be toxic to your bird.

Do Cockatiels Prefer Wide Or Tall Cages?

The best cage for your cockatiel should be wide enough to allow your bird to stretch and flap its wings comfortably. Your cockatiels may also appreciate a wider aviary because of their long tail. A wide cage enables them to maneuver inside without smashing up against anything.

Additionally, a wide cage makes it easy for your birds to fly. This is because cockatiels usually fly horizontally instead of vertically. So, as a general rule of thumb, you should get a minimum cage of 24 x 18 x 24-inches.

Do Cockatiels Need A Nest In Their Cage?

Yes. It will help if you put a nesting box in your cockatiel’s cage before the start of breeding. However, a single cockatiel does not need a nest box. You should only add the nest if you have a male and female bird you are trying to breed.

Typically, the minimum size nesting box you need is 12 by 12 inches, which you can affix inside or outside the birdcage. You also must add nesting materials inside, such as molted feathers, shredded paper, or paper towels.

Do Cockatiels Need A Separate Cage For Sleeping?

No. However, there is no problem with having two cages, including a day and sleep cage. A separate sleeping cage comes in handy when the surroundings around their daytime cage cannot be quiet for approximately 10–12 hours a night.

A sleeping cage keeps your cockatiels away from the family commotion when it is bedtime. But if you cannot afford two birdcages, you cover the enclosure to stop the sounds and light.

Read More: Why is my cockatiel sleeping so much?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below, you can find answers to frequently asked questions about an adult and baby cockatiel cage setup.

How long does it take for a cockatiel to get used to its cage?

If the cage is appropriately set up, your cockatiel may take a few days to two weeks to get used to it. Just make sure the enclosure is comfortable and with a variety of toys.

What should I not put in my cockatiels cage?

It would be best not to put corncob bedding, cat litter, wood chips, clay, and wood shavings. These materials may obstruct your cockatiel’s gastrointestinal tract when ingested since they are not digestible.

What size cage is best for a cockatiel?

Cockatiels need a spacious cage that allows them to fly and move around freely. The minimum recommended cage size is 20 inches long, 20 inches wide, and 24 inches tall. However, a larger cage is always better.

What type of bedding should I use in my cockatiel’s cage?

Cockatiels need a clean and dry environment, so it’s best to use a paper-based bedding or a sandpaper-like material at the bottom of their cage. Avoid using cedar or pine shavings as they can be harmful to birds.

How often should I clean my cockatiel’s cage?

Cockatiel cages should be cleaned daily to remove droppings and leftover food. A deep cleaning once a week is also recommended, where you should remove all the bedding and accessories and clean the cage with a bird-safe cleaner.

Can I keep two cockatiels in the same cage?

Yes, cockatiels are social birds and enjoy the company of their own kind. However, the cage must be large enough to accommodate both birds comfortably, and you should introduce them gradually to avoid fights.

Where should I place my cockatiel’s cage in my home?

Cockatiels should be kept in a quiet and draft-free area away from direct sunlight, air conditioning or heating vents, and other household pets. They also need access to natural daylight for optimal health.

How can I make my cockatiel’s cage more comfortable?

You can make your cockatiel’s cage more comfortable by adding soft perches, a cozy nest box, and a variety of toys for mental stimulation. You can also provide a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and a cuttlebone or mineral block for beak and nail health.

Do I need to cover my cockatiel’s cage at night?

It’s not necessary to cover your cockatiel’s cage at night, but some birds may appreciate the sense of security and darkness that a cover provides. If you do use a cover, make sure it’s made of breathable material and doesn’t block airflow in the cage.

How often should I change my cockatiel’s food and water?

Cockatiels should have fresh food and water available at all times. Food and water dishes should be cleaned and refilled daily to ensure your bird is getting the freshest and healthiest diet possible.

Wrapping Up

Setting up a cage for your adult or baby cockatiel is easy if you know what you need. But of course, getting the right size cage is more crucial. And once you have the birdcage, you can add the perches and all the essential toys your bird needs. But remember, if your cockatiel is breeding, you must add a nesting box too.

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