Cockatiel

Cockatiels are a popular choice for family pets, and it’s easy to see why. These small, friendly birds make wonderful companions and can provide hours of entertainment. If you’re considering adding a Cockatiel to your family, here’s what you need to know.

Cockatiels are members of the parrot family, native to Australia.The Australian parrot that has become quite popular worldwide. They are fairly common in the U.S. and are often used as companion birds due to their cheerful personalities and docile nature. 

They are small birds, usually between 12 and 14 inches in length. Cockatiels come in a variety of colors, including yellow, white, and gray.

Cockatiels are very social birds, and will enjoy interacting with people, especially those who feed them regularly. They are very vocal, and like to mimic human speech. Cockatiels are extremely intelligent, and will learn tricks quickly. They are also very playful, and will enjoy having toys to chew.

Cockatiels are very friendly towards humans, and will accept interaction from anyone. They are also very smart, and enjoy learning new tricks. They are also very loyal to their owners, and will stay close to them even when they leave the house.

Because they are so social, it’s important to choose a cockatiel that is used to living with other birds. If you live alone, consider getting a pair of cockatiels instead of just one.

Cockatiels are social creatures and thrive on interaction with their owners. They can learn to mimic sounds and even words, making them fun companions. They also love to play with toys and explore their environment.

Cockatiels are relatively easy to care for, making them a great choice for first-time bird owners. They need a large cage with plenty of room to move around and explore. The cage should be lined with paper or other absorbent material to make cleaning easier. Cockatiels also need fresh food and water daily, as well as access to cuttlebone or mineral blocks for calcium and other nutrients.

Cockatiels are relatively low-maintenance pets, but they do need regular attention and interaction. They should be handled daily to help them bond with their owners, and they also need plenty of toys and activities to keep them entertained.

Overall, Cockatiels make wonderful family pets. They are social, interactive birds that can provide hours of entertainment and companionship . With proper care and attention, Cockatiels can live up to 20 years or more. If you’re looking for a pet bird that is easy to care for and will bring joy to your family, then a Cockatiel may be the perfect choice.

Information about Cockatiels

  • Average Length: 11 to 14 inches
  • Colors: Gray, White, Silver, Cinnamon and Pearl
  • Grooming Needs: Moderate
  • Tolerance to Heat and Cold: Yes
  • Good Pet: Yes
  • Safe with Children: Yes
  • Good with Other Cockatiels: Yes
  • Good with Other Pets: Yes, they can get along well with cats, dogs and rabbits but not with rodents.
  • Suitable to live in an Apartment: Yes
  • Good for Less Experienced Pet Owners: No as they need a lot of attention.
  • Training: Training is easy after building trust
  • Exercise Needs: Moderate
  • Weight Gain: High
  • Health Concerns: Malnutrition, Chronic Egg Laying, Fatty Liver Disease. Candidiasis and Respiratory Diseases. 
  • Allergies: None
  • Average Life Span: 15 to 25 years

Physical Appearance of Cockatiels

Cockatiels are small birds that can be a variety of colors. They have small dark eyes and a long tail. Cockatiels are the only parrots with a crest on their head. Crest is a crown-like plumage that sticks up on their head. Their crests are soft and often a different color than the feathers on their body. The Cockatiels crest can lower or raise depending on their mood. 

Cockatiels found in the wild have gray feathers with a yellow face and orange patch on the cheeks. Years of captive breeding have resulted in several color variations. Some popular color variations are white, silver, cinnamon and pearl. Their feathers can be a combination of two or more colors. Some cockatiels are Albinos, those which lack color pigmentation on feathers.

Male and females have similar coloring when they are young and before they’re 6 to 9 months old its difficult to identify their sex by sight. 

The difference in their appearance is most prominent in the Gray Cockatiels found in the wild. The males have a brighter coloring on their faces and the females have bars on their tails. As mentioned before captive breeding has resulted in several color variations that have made the color distinction between the males and females negligible.

Temperament of Cockatiels

Cockatiels are calm, friendly and docile, they are also social and affectionate and don’t mind being handled. They may not like being cuddled very often. The females tend to be more friendly and affectionate than males are.
Cockatiels are intelligent and can be trained easily. They also tend to get obsessed with objects and their owners. Your Cockatiel may enjoy kissing you affectionately but Cockatiels can also become aggressive if they do not get your attention.

Training Cockatiels

Cockatiels respond well to training. The first step to training your birds is developing a strong bond and trust with your bird. Once you establish trust with your birds it will be easy to train them. Training should be accompanied by treats because it encourages them to pay attention and learn. Make sure the treat you give them is unique and not something that is always available for them to eat. 

Start training them soon after you bring them home. When you get them home, spend time talking to the bird for the first few days. When you enter the room with their cage greet them every time you enter the room. Greeting them and talking to them will help them get used to your voice

Give them praise like ‘Good bird’ when they do something you like. Clicker training can be used to encourage or keep them from doing specific things. 

It is important to keep the training sessions short, between 10 to 15 minutes. If your birds are receptive to the training it can be done twice a day. Use a quiet place to train your pet bird. Make sure that the place you train your birds is a room without distractions and is quiet so they can focus on learning. Training them in a quiet environment will make learning easier and keep your birds from getting distracted. 

Their Compatibility with Children

Cockatiels are great pets for families with children. These birds are small and don’t tend to bite. They love spending time with their family and the curiosity and attention of children are just what they need. Children will also enjoy watching the birds mimic their speech and the different sounds they make.
The only thing to be careful about is the powder-dust that comes from their feathers. The dust can cause allergic reactions in some children.
Always have an adult supervise the interaction between children and birds until you know how they will act to prevent any accidents from happening.

Best Habitat for Cockatiels

Cockatiels are playful and active birds and will need a lot of space. A large cage at least 20” L x 20” W x 26” T will be best for a single Cockatiel. For two or more Cockatiels a larger cage or an aviary will be needed. We recommend getting a cage with horizontal bars because it will allow them to climb and exercise. The spacing between the bars should not be more than 1/2 to 3/4 inch. 

There should be 3 to 4 perches inside the cage of different diameters. The diameter can range between 1/2 to 1 inch. Natural wood or rope perches are great for Cockatiels, they are safe and the birds can chew them and keep their beaks trimmed. Avoid using perches made of sandpaper because it can hurt their feet. Do not use plastic perches as it can be harmful to your birds if they chew it.

For the substrate, shredded paper is a good option, so is straw or wood chips. 

To keep them entertained keep lots of toys inside the cage. Avoid keeping a mirror inside the cage. Cockatiel are social birds and one kept alone can see their own reflection in the mirror and think it is a potential mate. They can become fond of the mirror or may act aggressive when they see the reflection is not responding. If they become attached to a mirror it can make it difficult to train them. 

Place their cage in a location where they can always interact with the family members. The cage should not be placed close to an air conditioner, open windows or doors and drafts.

Habitat Maintenance

Spot clean the cage floor every day. Any uneaten food or waste should be removed from the cage every day. Clean the food and water bowls daily and replace it with fresh water.

Replace the substrate every week. Clean the cage parts like toys and perches once a week. Replace broken or damaged perches, dishes or toys with new ones.

Remove your bird from the cage and clean it with a disinfectant once a week. A 3% bleach solution with a cloth works great to clean their cage. Wipe the floors, bars and other cage parts with the cloth. Make sure the cage is completely dry and the smell of bleach is gone before placing your bird back inside the cage.

The Attention a Cockatiel Needs

Cockatiels are companion birds and need a lot of attention. If you have a single Cockatiel then they will form a strong bond with you, essentially they will take you as their mate. Cockatiels need a few hours of playtime and handling every day. They should be taken out of their cage for at least one hour each day.

Cockatiels can become aggressive if they are not given the attention they need. If you cannot give them a lot of time then it’s best to keep Cockatiels in pairs because it will help take care of their attention needs.

Cockatiels are most active during the day and need 8 to 12 hours of sleep at night.

Health Issues

Giving your Cockatiels a nutritious diet and a lot of attention will keep them healthy. Most health issues in these birds are due to improper feeding practices.

Signs of an unhealthy bird are:

  • Change in size/color of droppings
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy 
  • Excessive Preening 
  • Nasal discharge
  • Sneezing
  • Sitting Still
  • Puffed feathers

Common health issues in Cockatiels are:

Malnutrition

Malnutrition is the most common disease that Cockatiels can have. Cockatiels love to eat seeds which can result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies as seeds do not give all the nutrients. They are most susceptible to have calcium and Vitamin A deficiencies. If your bird likes to have a seed-only diet, you can try feeding them sprouted seeds as they are healthier. They will have the nutrients the bird needs. You can gradually switch to giving them pellet-seed mix, fruits and vegetables.

Chronic Egg Laying

A major reproductive issue in Cockatiels is chronic egg-laying. It can result in the reduction of vital minerals and calcium from their body. Egg laying can also lead to a condition called egg binding in which the bird is unable to pass the egg. An important thing to know is that a female Cockatiel does not need a mate to lay eggs.

They may lay eggs as a natural breeding behavior. The eggs laid by female Cockatiels who do not have a partner are infertile. Avoid removing the eggs as it can result in the birds laying more eggs. Experts recommend leaving the eggs alone till the birds abandon it themselves but if you see them laying eggs frequently, take them to a vet.

Fatty Liver Disease

It is a dietary issue caused by improper feeding. The disease happens when excess fats or toxins accumulate in the bloodstreams, especially the liver. The fat and toxins reduce the efficiency of the liver and affect the bird’s metabolism which can result in secondary diseases. Signs of your bird having this disease are:

  • Obesity
  • Overgrown beaks
  • Black spots on beak and nails

To prevent Cockatiels from having this disease it is important to give them a diet that includes variety and consists of a pellet-seed mix, fruits and vegetables.

Respiratory Diseases

Respiratory diseases are mostly caused by bacterial infections. Sometimes stress or poor nutrition can also result in Cockatiels having respiratory diseases. The symptoms include sneezing, nasal discharge and labored breathing. If you see your pet bird having any of these symptoms take them to a vet immediately. Early diagnosis can help cure the disease. Treatments include giving antibiotics, vitamin and mineral supplements to the birds.

Candidiasis

Candidiasis is a common fungal infection seen in pet birds. The disease can be caused by an unhygienic environment or by drinking contaminated water. Young birds are more likely to get this disease as they have weak immune systems. Candidiasis can affect the digestive tracts, feathers, skin and other organs of the birds. Symptoms of the disease include –

  • Vomiting
  • Regurgitation
  • Swollen crop
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fluffed feathers
  • Difficulty in eating

Take the bird to a vet if you see any of the above symptoms. The vet will give them antifungal medications. To prevent your birds from having this disease keep their cage clean and give them filtered water to drink.

Bathing and Cleaning

Cockatiels should be bathed once a week. A small bowl half-filled with lukewarm water placed inside their cage will allow your birds to bathe themselves. We recommend using a bowl that is heavy like ceramic because it will make it hard for your bird to flip the bowl and spill water. Remove the bowl after they are done bathing.

You can also mist the birds 2 to 3 times a week with a spray water bottle. Make sure the water bottle is only used to bathe them and not for anything else. Avoid using soap or shampoo while bathing them because it can be toxic for birds.

If the weather is too cold outside it’s best that they be bathed in a warm room to keep them healthy. The best time to bathe them is during the day because it’s warmer and better for your birds to keep warm after having a bath.

Their nails should be trimmed once a month or when needed. Use a bird nail clipper to cut their nails. Avoid cutting too far because you can end up cutting the blood vessels in their nails. If you accidentally cut the blood vessels on their nails, use styptic sticks to stop the bleeding.

Feeding Cockatiels

Cockatiels feed on a variety of seeds, plants, vegetables and fruits in the wild. Pet Cockatiels’ main source of food will be a mixture of seed and pellet-based food. A seed-only diet is not recommended as they are high in fat and can cause your birds to gain weight. Pellets are lower in fats and it’s a well-balanced meal for your birds. 

Some Cockatiels tend to prefer seed only diets and it can be difficult to feed them a diet that has variety. In this case, give them sprouted seeds and then slowly start giving them other foods.

A mixture of 75% seeds and 25% pellets is recommended for them. They will need between 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of food every day. Depending on the size of your bird, you can feed them more. Cockatiels will eat only what they need and not overfeed. Fill their food bowl every morning with the seed-pellet mixture.

Fruits and vegetables should be fed to your Cockatiel, but not be more than 25% of their whole diet. They can be fed fruits like grapes, apples, berries, papaya and mangoes. For vegetables, carrots, cooked sweet potatoes, broccoli, zucchini, squash and leafy greens like kale, chicory, dandelion leaves or romaine are delicious and healthy choices. 

Make sure the fruits and vegetables are all washed before being chopped into small pieces for your birds. Remove any uneaten fruits and vegetables after one hour. 

Some other healthy sources of food for them are brown rice, whole grain pasta, unsugared cereals and boiled eggs. Avoid giving them avocados and foods that contain chocolate, coffee and salt because these are toxic for birds.

Fresh clean water should be available in their cage at all times.

Related Questions:

Are Cockatiels Hypoallergenic?

Cockatiels produce powdery dust from their feathers which can cause respiratory allergies like asthma in humans and other pets. The dust is not dander free and comes from the white powder-down feathers that grow close to the bird’s skin. The birds will release the dust while preening their feathers. Bathing your birds and cleaning their cage frequently can help remove the dust. If anyone in your family has asthma then these birds might not be the best choice for your family.

What are Cockatiel Night Frights?

Night Fright is a behavioral issue which happens when the Cockatiels get frightened in the night. A sudden noise, flash of light or shadow in the dark can make them feel scared during the night. Their natural instinct will be to fly and escape. It will result in the Cockatiels crashing against the top or the side of their cage which can cause serious injury to your bird. To prevent your Cockatiels from having night frights, put a night light in their room and avoid covering their cage completely at night. The light works just as it does with children, it will help them see in the dark and feel secure.

What Sounds do Cockatiels Make?

Cockatiels can whistle and make sounds but it is not as loud as other parrots. They also like to mimic the speech of their owners, sounds of alarms, phones and other birds. Male birds are better at whistling and mimicking than females.