Cockatiels are small members of the parrot family originally from Australia and highly sought after as pet birds, second in popularity only to the budgerigar. Those found in the wild are called the normal grey or wild-type cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus). Due to their popularity in the pet trade, they have been bred into many color mutations. There is no anatomical difference between the mutations except for the cosmetic distinction of the colors.
List of Cockatiel Color Mutations
There are 22 mutations of the wild cockatiel, including the following:
- Pied Cockatiel
- Lutino Cockatiel
- Cinnamon Cockatiel
- Ashen Dilute Cockatiel (Dominant Silver)
- Brozefallow Cockatiel
- Admpied Cockatiel (Recessivepied Cockatiel)
- White-Faced Cockatiel
- Fallow Cockatiel
- Dilute Cockatiel
- Pearl Cockatiel (Opaline Cockatiel)
- Yellow-suffused Cockatiel
- Palefaced Cockatiel
- Recessive Ino Cockatiel
- Faded Cockatiel
- Edgedilute Cockatiel
- Creamino Cockatiel
- Dominant Yellowcheek
- Sex-linked Yellowcheek
- Pallid Cockatiel
- Ashenfallow Cockatiel
- Normal Grey Cockatiel
Eight out of the 22 mutations are exclusively found in Australia.
Lifespan: How Long Do Cockatiels Live
Cockatiels usually live for around 10-14 years in the wild, but in captivity, they can easily live for 15-25 years. One captive individual lived for 36 years, which is the record lifespan for cockatiels.
Mating & Breeding
Male cockatiels reach their breeding age at around 12-15 months, while females become mature when they are about a year and a half old. Females usually lay one egg every alternate day, with the final clutch consisting of 4-6 eggs. Incubation lasts for around 20 days, after which both parents care for the hatchlings until they can fledge independently.
Keeping Cockatiels as Pets
Housing & Cage Requirements
Cockatiels are agile and active birds who like to move and fly around, so putting them in a spacious cage is recommended to encourage an unabated flight. There should be enough toys and perches as well. A removable bottom tray would also help as it makes it easy to clean the cage (cockatiels tend to soil their cages quite a lot). A nest box should be provided during the mating season if you keep a breeding pair.
Grooming and Caring
- Clean the cage at least once a week.
- Replace the water and food dishes in the cage daily with clean ones to maintain proper hygiene.
- Disinfect the entire cage and the surroundings at least twice a year.
- Bathe your cockatiel as often as possible; you can provide it with a birdbath, use a mist spray or take it along with you into the shower (the latter can only be done once your bird has been trained properly)
- Clip the wings and trim the nails at regular intervals.
Behavior and Temperament
Being quite social, they do well with other cockatiels and similarly-sized birds, including budgies. They enjoy the interaction with their humans but are not as cuddly as some other members of the parrot family.
The crest on their heads reflects their moods; an erect crest usually means that the bird is excited, curious, or scared; conversely, a crest that rests lowered with only the tip sticking up indicates that it is calm and content.
Sounds & Calls
Cockatiels are not as noisy as some other members of the parrot family, like macaws, conures, or even their larger relative, the cockatoos. Their vocalization is a tweet that sounds like ‘eeek-eeek’. Males are more vocal than females and make sweet whistles, especially during the breeding season.
Can cockatiels talk: Like most parrot family members, male cockatiels can mimic the sounds they hear. You can try training the bird to mimic and talk. Although this can vary between individuals – some may entertain you with their mimicry, while others may refuse to do it.
General Training Tips
- Make sure to be patient while training your cockatiel, as it usually takes some time.
- Never force your bird to do anything.
- Arrange for short sessions so your bird doesn’t get bored or exhausted.
- Always remember to show your appreciation with a treat when it picks up some new trick.
Diet: What Do Cockatiels Eat
Provide your cockatiel with a varied diet consisting of seeds, pellets, cooked meats, boiled eggs, and legumes. You can also enhance the variety with sprouted seeds.
Do not feed chocolates and avocados to your bird, as both of these are toxic to parrots.
Some of the illnesses a cockatiel may suffer from are weight loss, swollen eyes, vomiting, respiratory diseases, fatty tumors, droopy head, abnormal feathers, and lumps on the body.
Common pointers to identify a sick bird are:
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive feather picking
- Odd sleeping patterns
- Drinking more water than usual.
Make sure to contact a vet if you detect any of the above. A varied and well-balanced diet, coupled with healthy surroundings and regular visits to an avian veterinarian, usually ensures that a cockatiel does not have to face too many health-related issues for the most part.
Price: How Much Do Cockatiels Cost
They are rather expensive birds, with their price depending on the mutation, ranging from around $100 to $250.
- Cockatiels, especially females, have been known to become obsessed with their reflection in the mirror and eventually lose interest in socializing with humans or other birds if a mirror is placed within their cage.