About a week ago, my wife and I became sitters for a male cockatiel named Cinnamon. Cinnamon's owner had to make an emergency trip to a hospital in Wichita and, since he doesn't have family living in the Pratt area, asked if I would take care of the bird. I have never owned or kept […]

About a week ago, my wife and I became sitters for a male cockatiel named Cinnamon. Cinnamon's owner had to make an emergency trip to a hospital in Wichita and, since he doesn't have family living in the Pratt area, asked if I would take care of the bird.
I have never owned or kept a bird previously. The first week was spent, more or less, getting to know each other, with me trying to make sure Cinnamon was comfortable.
The adjustment to this new space is still ongoing, which makes sense since he's 23 years old. Initially, there was a lot of chirping and biting on the metal cage bars. When I would walk by the cage, his crest feathers (on his head) lowered and he opened his beak a bit aggressively. I learned through online research that when the crest feathers are lying flat the bird is upset and may be aggressive.
He had about the same reaction when I decided to clean out his cage, carefully removing the catch tray, food and water dishes. He moved to the back of the cage, eyeing me warily at times with his beak open if my hand approached too close to him.
My goal is for Cinnamon's crest feathers to be neither up nor down, which will indicate that he is happy. I guess it's also okay if his crest feathers are straight up, which may indicate curiosity.
I am doing my best to help Cinnamon adjust to his temporary residence by walking slowly past his cage and also not looking directly into his face, unless I'm at or below his eye level. We also leave the curtain behind his cage open during the day so he can gaze out into our backyard and watch his wilder brothers and sisters flying between the ground, feeders and bird bath.
The only time Cinnamon seems to become overly agitated is when the sun is going down. Initially, I thought, since I work in the aging field, Sundowners in birds? My research revealed that this was called 'night fright,' a frantic flapping of the wings accompanied by vocalization. Fortunately, it only seems to last a short time, and then the bird calms down and is quiet all night long.
Cockatiels are a native of Australia, where they are found in the wild. The birds were discovered several centuries ago by James Cook, a British sailor and explorer, who brought one back home with him. The bird became very popular in Europe. In 1894, Australia banned the export of all native birds. Subsequently, all cockatiels found in Europe and North America today are descendants of those native birds imported back in the 1800s.