As visitors walk through the upper Palm Forest, the joyful chirping of birds greets them. The historic Aviary, home to parakeets and a male cockatiel, now has a new addition: a female cockatiel. The lone cockatiel had always captured my attention. With bright yellow feathers, orange Crayola-like circles on either side of his beak, and tufts of feathers protruding like a Trojan helmet from the top of his head, the cockatiel would often be perched in front of his bird-size mirror, staring at his reflection as if looking for his mate. Cockatiels are naturally social birds who cannot survive alone in the wild, so it was clear he needed a partner.
After several weeks of searching, Estate Caretaker Josh Johnston – who provides such good care to the animals at The Virginia Robinson Gardens – brought home a female cockatiel. Because the birds needed to be introduced gradually to each other, Josh had the new bird in a small cage and placed the cage in the Aviary. At the first sight of the bird being brought into the Aviary, the male cockatiel began chirping excitedly, clearly thrilled to find a new mate! He immediately perched himself on top of the small cage, eager to learn all about his new partner.
After a week, Josh released her from her small cage, and the two have been together ever since. The male has been working hard to court her, jutting, and stretching his feathers out and exhibiting other preening behaviors. The female seems to be shy and is taking her time to get to know her new mate. As for the parakeets? They have been curious of her, but when they get too close to her, the male cockatiel makes it clear to them to steer clear!
Post by Diane Sipos
Superintendent of The Virginia Robinson Gardens