Cockatiels are one of the most adorable birds you can actually keep as a pet. Apart from being super friendly, amazingly cute and relatively clean, there's not much to put them down with. The one thing that is essential to keeping a cockatiel is the fact that you need to care for it properly and well.
As with any pet, cockatiels make good companions, but need to be respected. You see, the thing with cockatiels is that they are effectively prisoners in your house. With dogs and cats, they are "free to go" if they so wish because they can actually get outside and run away. Cockatiels however need to be kept in a cage or in a sealed house to prevent them from escaping. This means that they need to be given the right living conditions and much love and attention to make their lives as happy as possible.
To provide this quality of life to your cockatiel, you need to be able to provide points of quality for it. These points come in the form of food, housing (cages), grooming and rest. Here's the basics of each point:
In the wild, cockatiels normally survive on a diet of seeds and vegetation such as fruit. As pets, its entirely up to you what they eat and so its in your best interest to give them what they enjoy the most.
You see, as with humans, not all cockatiels will enjoy the same foods. Yes they will be healthier and such but they do have a sense of taste which means they will not eat foods they don't like.
This means that its best to "experiment" with what they like to eat. This is best done by getting some cockatiel food from your local pet store and testing them with that. After they are settled with that food, start to introduce more varying food to their diet. This can even be in the form of scraps from the table if they show an interest!
The number one rule for feeding your cockatiel is basically to not give them salty, greasy or sugary foods. This upsets their digestive system and so you mightn't have a cockatiel if you feed it recklessly.
Cockatiels are very sociable creatures and so when they are mature enough you can actually let them out around the house, however you will always need a suitable cage for them. The cage is seen as their "house" where they get their food, go the toilet and make friends with the other cockatiels you might have.
I'm not going to go into the different sizes and styles of cages here, because I've got a page devoted for that at: Cockatiel Cages. Instead, I'm going to talk about how you should keep your cage clean and where you should keep it.
When getting a cockatiel cage, be sure to get one with a removable base. This means that every couple of weeks, you can simply remove the base and clean it out. And discarded food and waste will end up on this base and will be where 90% of all your cockatiel's mess will gather. Therefore simply removing it and hosing it down saves you a lot of time and annoyance.
You should also put the cage in a place where direct sunlight does not hit. This means that you will not be able to put it by a window or door simply because the cockatiel will become very distressed if a lot of direct sunlight is falling on it with no chance of it taking cover.
Cockatiels need a lot of grooming and their feathers need care to keep them pristine. This is mostly done by the cockatiel itself but cockatiels love to be sprayed with a light mist to allow any grease or oils to run off their feathers.
To stop your cockatiel from flying away you must trim its wing feathers. If you don't feel comfortable doing this then any local pet shop or vet can help you out.
Like most animals, cockatiels need time to sleep. This is normally in the form of 10-12 hours at night like most humans. It's important to get the cockatiel into a rhythm of going to sleep so that you can rely on it not to make a huge noise when you go to bed and its awake still.