Cockatiels are considered to be medium sized birds, so given their wing span, the smallest cage it can fit in is fourteen square inches. You will want something a little larger than that, of course. Birds can get very unhappy and weak if they don’t have enough room to play or exercise. So get the best one you can afford (just measure your doorway or window before that, so at least you know you can get it into the house!).
Cockatiel Cages - Shape
As for shape, you should get a square cage. Cockatiels are not aggressive birds, and prefer hiding in a corner if they hear a loud sound or are overwhelmed by strangers.
It’s also better to get a wide cage, rather than a tall one. Cockatiels will spend a lot of time on the floor, since they’re ground feeders. It also gives you more space to put toys. Which brings us to another point: install a floor grate. Cockatiels have long tails, and you don’t want it dipping its feathers into its own droppings. Light-colored feathers also get stained by the ink of newspapers (which many owners use to line the cage).
When you buy a cage, remember that you will be placing objects in it: the feeding dish, toys, perches, and mineral blocks.
Cockatiel Cages - Perches
There should also be enough room for you to hang two perches, with space between them for the bird to hop up and down without the bars hitting its crest or tail. Some enthusiasts encourage three perches, preferably wooden with one placed to let the cockatiel trim its nails. Plastic perches are more affordable, but train the bird not to bite or chew it—the material is indigestible and may cause stomach problems. Try to get perches of different diameters so the bird can stretch its feet, so its feet won’t stiffen.
Cockatiel Cages - Bar Distance
Another important consideration is the bars. Ideally, they should be moderately thick, though in a pinch, you can use a budgie cage. These have thinner bars, but are still sturdy enough to handle a cockatiel’s biting.
The bars must be at least 5/8 to ¾ inches apart. You can get a cage with smaller spacing, but never one that’s wider. A curious bird can thrust out his head between them, and may not be able to figure out how to get unstuck.
Cockatiel Cages - Appearance
Some owners find the standard, welded cages to be boring or even ugly. Of course you’re free to find something pretty—there are quite a number of decorated cages—but don’t waste your money on anything made of bamboo. Bamboo is porous, so it’ll absorb scents, moisture and dirt. Very unhygienic, and can easily become a breeding place of bacteria, and disease.
Cockatiel Cages - Cleaning
Always clean a brand new cockatiel cage before you let your cockatiels “move in”. Some cages have paint that has zinc traces, which can make them sick (or poison them altogether). Just wash it thoroughly with a water and vinegar solution. (Be sure to disinfect the cage regularly.)