Cockatiels: Everything You Need To Know

cockatiel

Are you interested in raising cockatiels? If so, this guide will tell you everything you need to know to do so successfully.

If you’re looking for a new pet, or want to add another bird to your flock, then cockatiels are a perfect choice.

They come in a variety of colors and patterns with different personalities that will match any home.

If you are interested in raising cockatiels, then this post is a must-read for you! There are a lot of helpful tips that will make the process much easier.

You’ll learn how to feed them, what to look out for, and even some fun facts about cockatiels.

Cockatiel

Cockatiel Appearance

Cockatiels are slender Australian parrots that are prized for their bold, cuddly personalities and appearances.

With a lifespan of up to 20 years, these social birds are smaller than many other kinds of pet birds you can raise.

Cockatiels belong to their own genus but are closely related to cockatoos. Because of this, you may see some similarities in their appearances.

Gray cockatiels have the same coloration as cockatiels found in the wild, with males distinguishable from females because their colors are richer. Males also have bright orange cheek feathers.

A female’s coloration is more sedated, but it will also have some bearing on her under tail feathers.

Otherwise, you’ll find that cockatiels come in all kinds of color and cross mutations, including yellow, pearl, and pied options. There are even albino and whiteface varieties!

If you’re hoping to distinguish your male cockatiels from females easily, you may want to invest in the classic gray.

It can be hard to distinguish males from females if you have mutations visually.

Fun fact – some types of cockatiels have a mutation known as the Lution mutation. This causes the birds to develop bald spots on the back of their heads!

While some bird specialists consider this to be a genetic flaw, it doesn’t have much of an impact on the health of those birds who are affected – it just looks a bit odd!

Cockatiel Personality and Behavior

Cockatiels are charming, entertaining little birds – part of the reason why they are ranked as the top pet bird species in all of America!

Sas talented whistlers, these birds are known for their voices.

Male cockatiels, in particular, offer a distinct whistling serenade that can be directed at a favored person, an object, or even their own reflection in the mirror!

Cockatiels are friendly and busy little birds, spending most of their days zooming around the cage or foraging for food.

However, they also enjoy a little bit of downtime, preferring to snuggle up on their owners’ shoulders.

These birds are unique because you can tell their personalities just by looking at their crest feathers!

Feathers positioned straight-up can indicate that the birds are startled or curious, while defensive cockatiels might hold their crest features flattened close to their heads.

Another sign of stress is hissing.

Cockatiels who are relaxed will hold their feathers back somewhat, while their cheek features remain fluffed. Contented cockatiels might even grind their beaks a bit.

Toys For Your Cockatiel

It’s a great idea to provide your cockatiels with lots of toys to keep them entertained – this is especially important for pet bird owners who will be out of the house for much of the day.

You can provide toys like pieces of paper, nontoxic rawhide, or even bits of softwood or cardboard.

Toys with hard plastic elements that can be manipulated work well, too.

Although female cockatiels might not pay them much attention, mirrors are a great addition to a cage for male cockatiels.

They enjoy whistling at mirrors and other similar reflective items.

Cockatiels need plenty of time outside the cage each day. It would help if you did this wisely, so you don’t risk injuring your bird.

Be careful whenever your bird is not in the cage, so you don’t accidentally step on it – and only allow it to “free-range” in places where other pets, like dogs and cats, can’t reach it.

If left to their own devices, female cockatiels may seek out areas for nesting. These areas are generally those that are dark and enclosed, like behind furniture or cabinet corners.

A common misconception is that these behaviors will not occur if there is no male cockatiel present – but females will do this regardless.

Otherwise, cockatiels’ behaviors are easy to predict and even easier to enjoy! They can even be taught to whistle back to you on cue, though they aren’t known for many other tricks.

Cockatiel

Where are Cockatiels From?

Cockatiels are native to the semi-arid regions of Australia. Typically found living near open expanses of land, these birds don’t have the same piercing scream that parrots living in the rainforest do.

In the native lands of Australia, cockatiels are often referred to as quarians and weirdos. All are members of the cockatoo family.

First classified in 1793, these birds were first named Psittacus hollandicus before being classified within the Nymphicus genus in 1832.

They breed readily in the wild and fly around the ground to forage for food.

They are also relatively easy to breed in captivity, so it is so easy to find cockatiels for sale as pets, often at a lower cost than what you might purchase other pet bird species at.

In the wild, cockatiels are high-energy, alert birds.

They’re on a constant lookout for predators and sleep very lightly.

Because of this, pet cockatiels are also quite active and are poor sleepers, sometimes thrashing around the cage in the middle of the night.

Cockatiel

Feeding Cockatiels

Feeding cockatiels is not complicated. If you’re used to raising pet birds, you’ll find that it’s more or less the same.

Cockatiels are great for beginners because they eat a straightforward, basic diet. Feed your birds a combination of 75% pellets and 25% seeds.

Keep the food bowl three-quarters full and refresh it every single day.

You can also add treats to the diet, such as dark, leafy greens, fresh fruit, honey sticks, or millet sprays. Sweet treats should be provided only now and then.

Of course, fresh, clean water should be provided at all times, too.

Cockatiel

Caring for Cockatiels

Cockatiels are easy to care for, requiring just a cage that is spacious enough to accommodate things like toys, a few perches, food bowls, and other accessories.

Of course, you’ll also want to make sure your cockatiel cage has a large door front so that it’s easier for your cockatiel to return, too.

The good cage size is at least 20 x 20 x 30 inches.

If you’re keeping more than one bird, it should be much larger than this.

Because cockatiels are sensitive to strong smells and drafts, keep the cage out of direct traffic and away from the windows.

These birds are natural ground foragers and will love foraging on the bottom of their cages if given the opportunity.

You can encourage this natural behavior by covering the cage floor with newspaper and then sprinkling crumbled treats or millet seed for your birds to find.

As social birds, one of the best things you can do for your cockatiels is to give them opportunities to interact with you.

Lots of time to cuddle and engage socially is essential – whether you’re just petting their cheek feathers or spending time talking to your birds, they’ll enjoy the attention.

Cockatiel

Training Cockatiels

Cockatiels aren’t known for being able to perform that many tricks. Unlike other pet bird species, they won’t be able to do anything too advanced.

However, they can whistle, and occasionally, they can also talk. Male cockatiels are far more likely to talk than females, with some learning how to speak several phrases and words.

They are relatively quiet birds chirping instead of screeching, making good pets for people who live near their neighbors (such as apartment dwellers).

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Common Health Issues with Cockatiels

Cockatiels tend to be healthy birds with minimal issues. You may hear your bird sneezes a few times a day – but don’t worry, allergies or some mystery illness doesn’t cause this!

Rather, a cockatiel who sneezes or even occasionally coughs is attempting to clear dander or dust from its nares.

This sneezing might be accompanied by a bit of clear discharge. Again, it is nothing to worry about unless it is persistent.

If the discharge is not clear or if your cockatiel continues to sneeze for several days in a row, contact a veterinarian.

Cockatiels are not expensive to care for in terms of veterinarian costs. They do, however, require frequent wing clipping.

While most parrot species require wing clipping, you’ll have to clip more often with cockatiels because they can fly not long after having their feathers trimmed back.

Cockatiels will molt a couple of times each year, like many other bird species out there.

If you decide to raise female cockatiels, keep a close eye on your birds if they start to lay eggs. Chronic egg laying can deplete a bird’s body of calcium and other crucial minerals.

It can also cause egg binding, which can be life-threatening.

Contrary to popular belief, female cockatiels do not need a male present to produce an egg.

They only need males to produce fertile eggs.

To help prevent any problems with eggs, make sure your female cockatiels are fed a diet that is high in calcium and other minerals.

You can use a calcium-fortified pellet or offer a supplement like a cuttlebone.

If you’re feeding your cockatiel a diet composed mostly of seed, you’re going to have lots of vitamin and mineral deficiency to worry about – and potentially even malnutrition.

Too many seeds can also lead to fatty liver disease since seeds are high, in fact.

Therefore, if you want to prevent disease among your cockatiels, you must provide them with a balanced, healthy diet.

A diet with a mixture of minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and other nutrients.

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Where to Get a Cockatiel

Thinking that a cockatiel might be the perfect pet for you? If so, you’ll want to head over to your local pet store.

The good news is that cockatiels are available at most small and large pet stores, along with avian-specific stores and from bird breeders.

You can also choose to rescue or adopt a bird.

Especially if you are adopting a pet cockatiel, it is important to research the background of the bird.

Why is the cockatiel being given up? Does it have any known health or behavioral issues, including various phobias?

Does it enjoy interacting with people?

What does it do with children and other animals? Find out what kind of food does it eat – and does it have any favorite treats? What is its history of going to the veterinarian?

If you are purchasing a young cockatiel, you must make sure your bird has been fully weaned and does not need to be syringe- or parent-fed, as this can create additional headaches for you.

You should also make sure it is fully feathered.

There are a few signs of general health and wellness you should inspect your bird for. Make sure it seems alert and has clean, vibrant feathers.

It should have bright eyes and nares that are clean and free of any runny discharge.

If you’re buying from a breeder or pet store, see if they offer any health guarantee – or if they have discounts or free visits for your first veterinarian trip for a general check-up.

Are Cockatiels High Maintenance?

If you are looking to add a new pet to your home, consider getting a cockatiel.

They may not be the most high-maintenance pet in the world, but they do require some attention and care from their owner.

Cockatiels make great pets for both adults and children because of how easy-going they can be with people.

However, they are still fun enough for kids who want an active bird that doesn’t need too much time outside its cage or on top of a shoulder.

You’ll never run out of things to talk about when it comes to these feathered friends!

So if you have been considering adding another pet to your family, why not get one that will keep everyone entertained?

READ NEXT: Tricks to Teach Your Bird

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