It’s common to see cockatiels as household pets. A little parrot with a crest on its head and a rainbow of plumage.
They’re lovely people who also happen to be welcoming.
Cockatiels are easier to tame and care for than larger parrots because of their small size.
They have the ability to mimic human speech, albeit they may be challenging to understand.
These birds may be taught to whistle and sing along to the music.
COMMON NAMES: Cockatiel, tiel, quarrion (quarrian), weiro (weero)
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Nymphicus hollandicus
ADULT SIZE: 12 or 13 inches, weighing between 2 to 4 ounces
LIFE EXPECTANCY: 15 to 20 years with proper care, and sometimes as long as 30 years though this is rare
Origin and History
Cockatiels are the tiniest of the Cockatoo family of birds and can only be found in Australia.
These birds congregate in huge groups in the wild, but they have become popular household pets since the early 1900s thanks to their sociable natures and ease of reproduction.
Because of the thankfully prohibited practice of trapping and exporting Cockatiels from Australia, all Cockatiel pets today are born in captivity.
The cinnamon cockatoo is an artificial creation that was generated by breeders in captivity as a result of a genetic mutation.
Care & Feeding
A cockatiel needs a roomy cage with lots of room to spread its wings without striking anything.
With their tendency to fly away, it’s helpful to have a cage with a big opening in the front so you can put your cockatiel back in with relative ease.
If you want to encourage your cockatiel to exercise its foraging instincts, you can line the bottom of its cage with newspaper and sprinkle the floor with crushed treats or millet sprinkle seed.
Cockatiels are highly social birds who respond positively to gentle human interaction in the form of touching, talking, or even just being in the same room as their owner.
Commercially balanced diets, like Lafeber Premium Daily Diet Pellets, together with other food, fresh veggies, and some seed, are all part of a healthy cockatiel diet.
With the right kind of care, a cockatiel can outlive its owner by several decades.
Speech and Vocalizations
Cockatiels talk and whistle, however, their volume isn’t quite as high as that of other parrots.
Males are stereotypically thought to be better at imitating voices and whistles.
Female cockatiels, on the other hand, are not to be underestimated.
Both sexes are capable of mimicking household noises such as ringing phones, buzzing alarm clocks, and even the chirping of birds in the yard.
Cockatiel Colors and Markings
The wild cockatiel is primarily grey, but its face, crest, and cheek are each bright yellow.
A man’s face will have more vibrant coloring.
There are bars on the underside of the female’s tail feathers.
Several color mutations emerged as captive-bred animals were selectively bred for the lucrative pet market. Some of the most typical variants are:
- Albino: Lack of feather pigmentation
- Lutino: White bird with yellow mask, orange cheeks, and red eyes
- Pied: Typical wild cockatiel colors replaced with a yellow or off-white color
- Pearl, laced, or opaline: Spotting of various colors that creates tiny “pearls” along its feathers
- Cinnamon, fawn, or Isabelle: Gray feathers with a brown or warm tan color
- Silver: Recessive silver and dominant silver cockatiel mutation; recessives have cool gray feathers and red eyes; dominants have a warmer gray tone and dark eyes
Emerald, creamface, pastel face, whiteface, and yellow-cheek cockatiels are some of the other mutations that have occurred in this species.
Males and females can be distinguished from one another in a number of ways, and one of those is by their skin tone.
Especially with young birds, it might be difficult to tell the two sexes apart. Try genetic testing if you need a sure sex determination.
Common Health Problems
Malnutrition is the leading cause of death in cockatiels. They mostly subsist on seeds.
Malnutrition can be avoided with a regular intake of the vitamins and minerals provided by a diet rich in produce and pellets.
Fatty liver disease is commonly seen in cockatiels because of their high-energy diets, which are typically high in carbohydrates and fat, and their lack of movement.
Make sure your cockatiel has a varied diet and stays away from insecticides, pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables, and cleaning supply odors to lower the likelihood of your bird contracting this ailment.
Psittacosis is a dangerous bacterial infection that can manifest in birds as a variety of unpleasant respiratory symptoms, including wheezing, sneezing, coughing, and nasal discharge.
Take your bird to an avian vet as soon as you notice any symptoms of the disease. Responding quickly can save the life of your pet bird.
Diet and Nutrition
Any parrot, even cockatiels, needs a varied diet to thrive. Seeds are high in fat yet can be a healthy addition to the diet.
Only about 30 percent of a bird’s diet should consist of seeds.
Pelleted diets are frequently the best option because they are nutritionally balanced and birds cannot select their preferred seeds and leave the rest.
Give your bird a wide selection of fresh veggies and fruit to ensure it gets the vitamins and minerals it needs.
One spoonful of food per day is the standard diet for cockatiels. Because of this, the contents of that tablespoon are crucial.
Daily morning seed/pellet mixture feedings must be provided.
Just throw in as much food as the bird can handle.
The cockatiel bird is not prone to obesity. You can use a bowl or just distribute the food on the cage floor.
In the wild, these birds eat things like grass seeds, fruits, and plants.
Give them a bowl of raw vegetables and fruit. Do not continue feeding your bird spoiled food after an hour has passed.
Your pet bird may just eat seeds, so you’ll need to be patient if you want to introduce other foods to its diet.
In little amounts, you can get protein through foods like hard-boiled eggs, lentils, and cooked meats.
To further diversify your bird’s diet, try feeding it sprouted seeds. You should never give your bird avocados1, chocolate, coffee, or salt.
Cockatiels, like other parrots, benefit greatly from regular exercise and playtime.
Make sure the cage is big enough for the bird to fly around in if it has to spend most of its time inside.
Induce the bird’s innate desire to play by giving it a wide variety of toys.
There should be plenty of perches, ladders, and toys in the cage, but they shouldn’t be piled so high that the bird has trouble maneuvering.
Allow your cockatiel at least an hour of free time each day outside of its cage.
Socialization and exercise are both aided by time spent out of the cage, however, this is less important than it is with some other parrots.
- Smaller-sized parrot
- Quieter bird that can learn to talk
- Does not require a lot of outside-cage time
- Can nip if not hand-raised or well trained
- May not be affectionate or talk if housed with another cockatiel
Where to Adopt or Buy a Cockatiel
It’s ideal to pick a young bird that has been handled frequently or one that has been hand-fed as a baby.
Expect to spend a little more from a careful breeder, and keep in mind that prices will fluctuate based on hue.
Price estimates range from $100 to $300 for a healthy baby bird.
Cockatiels are commonly found at pet stores, however, the provenance of these birds is sometimes unclear.
Therefore, they may be more difficult to tame because they are older, have never been touched, or all three.
Find a bird that is attentive, energetic, and has a lot of personalities.
If a bird is sitting peacefully with its feathers puffed, it may be sick and should be avoided.
It’s ideal for the bird’s feathers to be glossy and silky, and to lie flat against its skin.
The area of feathers near the vent/cloaca (the orifice through which the bird urinates and defecates) should be kept dry, clean, and poop-free.
A healthy foot should have smooth scales. Check that its beak is well-shaped and that its nails are in good condition. It needs to have clean nostrils.