Recently, my older cockatiel, Petey, passed away. Petey and Tootie were my first birds, ever, so Petey passing has opened a floodgate of questions. Tootie is the younger out of the duo, and he's been having a hard time with Petey's loss. Petey and Tootie were inseparable since I adopted them a few years ago (hence the hashtag Patootie), and I know this is a confusing time for my bird.
When I stopped at the Nebraska Humane Society to drop Petey off for private cremation, the lady at the counter told me she has parrots and we made small talk about them. I told her how Tootie has been crying for Petey (they have very loud calls when their mate is away from them) and I asked her if she had any words of wisdom to help him through the grieving process. She recommended I talk to Greater Omaha's Caged Bird Society, so here are some tips I got from them:
From what I read before contacting GOCBS, others said that Tootie will probably bond more with me now that Petey is gone. However, that usually happens when the birds are hand tamed. Neither Petey nor Tootie were, so this may not happen.
Tootie should go through his grieving process without having another bird around. I was advised that since he's having a hard time, he may see the other bird as a threat and attack it.
Much like dogs and cats, changing their dishes and toys when a mate has passed may help with grieving. A change in scenery, if you will, will give the bird something else to think about and new things to explore.
Playing music can also be helpful in times of grief or loneliness for your bird. This has helped Tootie already and he does cry for shorter periods with music playing while I'm gone. When I leave the house, I tell Alexa to "play something calming" for the dogs and other animals. It does seem to help.
Don't put a mirror in with your bird. I read that was a recommendation on one of the forums about bonded cockatiels. However, if you read more about mirrors, they can cause other problems like increased territoriality and create issues with the bird bonding with the "other" bird in the mirror.
I'll keep this post updated as Tootie and I try different things and learn more about the grieving process of birds. In the meantime, I hope this helps someone else that was at as much of a loss as I was.
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