Marc answers questions about cockatoos, cockatiels, and parakeets.

I have an umbrella cockatoo named Taco, and I'd like to get a macaw. Will they get along?

As a general rule, it isn't a good idea to mix birds. Which is not to say you shouldn't get a macaw, just that the two birds will need to be kept in separate cages.

How can you figure out the sex of a cockatiel?

The patterning of the feathers is the best indicator of a cockatiel's sex. Adult males have solid-colored wing and tail feathers, while females will exhibit a row of yellow dots running down the center of the feathers. Young birds of both sexes share the same coloring, so until they're at least six months old, it will be difficult to distinguish a male from a female.

I just adopted three cockatiels. I've heard they like cooked vegetables and pasta. Is this true? The person I got them from used to give them cheese curls -- is this okay?

Cooked vegetables and whole-grain pasta are both great for birds. Processed foods, like cheese curls, aren't really good for anyone, but it's okay if you use them as an occasional treat.

I have a blue parakeet who sometimes gets really moody and tries to bite me. What should I do? Also, should I leave the radio or TV on for him when I'm at school?

Birds make up their own rules as to when they want to be touched. There's not much you can do to change its mind -- just respect their wishes. As for television, birds are auditory and visual creatures who like to watch TV. However, if the television is left on all day, it just becomes background noise to a bird. Try putting it on a timer so your pet gets about three hours of viewing time a day.

My parakeet's nose is clogged up and she sneezes a lot. What does this mean and what can I do?

When birds are sick, they tend to mask the symptoms until the illness has progressed to a serious point. Take your bird to a veterinarian as soon as you possibly can.


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