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Cockatiels: Are They the Right Pet For You?

Petmate Academy

March 26, 2018

Cockatiels are a popular choice when it comes to pet birds. They’re known for their bright facial coloring and long tail feathers and are fun to have around the house. If you’re looking for a bird that will mimic phrases, however, cockatiels don’t do this very well.

It’s important to look beyond that and see cockatiels for the excellent pets that they are. They are much more complex and interesting than just the beauty they possess.

In this article, we’re going to go over the history, personality, care, and everything else you need to know about this unique species of bird.

History of Cockatiels

Cockatiels were discovered around 1770 in Australia by a British explorer named James Cook. It is theorized that Cook brought at least one cockatiel back with him to Europe. This caused the cockatiel’s popularity to grow immensely around the world. However, in 1894, Australia banned the export of native birds to different countries. As a modern-day result of the ban, cockatiels in Europe and North America are now the descendants of the native birds that were imported in the 1800s. The trapping and exportation of wild cockatiels in Australia is still an illegal practice today.

In Australia, these beautiful birds live in the Outback on the northern side of the continent. They rose in popularity during the 20th century, but the exact reason is still unknown. It could have to do with how friendly and docile they are, which makes them great human companions.

A Cockatiels Personality

The cockatiel is the smallest bird in the Cockatoo family. They like to be pet and are not shy when it comes to receiving affection from humans.

a girl petting a cockatiel


Cockatiels are also vivacious, comical, and social, so it’s no surprise that they are the number two most popular household pet bird in the world. Being such social creatures is what makes humans and cockatiels a great pair. Cockatiels are not afraid to tell you how they feel by using their crest feathers to express their mood. If their crest feathers are neither up nor down, then your cockatiel is most likely happy. If their crest feathers are flat, then that could indicate that your cockatiel may be upset and possibly feel aggressive. By paying careful attention to your cockatiel’s crest feathers, you will be better equipped to understand their mood and make them feel safe, comfortable, and secure.

Another thing to pay attention to when it comes to your cockatiel is its voice. A cockatiel’s voice, or chirp, matches their cheerful personalities. Additionally, their voices tend to be softer than those of other bird species. This is a huge benefit for people living in close quarters like an apartment or duplex.

A Cockatiels Appearance

Cockatiels are so much more than their looks, but their appearance is worth mentioning. They are very colorful because their feathers contain melanin and psittacofulvine. Most people recognize a cockatiel by its yellow face with orange patches on its cheeks. Sometimes, it can even look like they are wearing makeup!

As with most species of birds, the male cockatiels have vibrant colors, while the females have a modest look. Since they have been in captivity for so long, there have been breeding modifications done for color mutation. There are around 22 color mutations around the world and a single cockatiel can have more than one which makes categorizing them very complex. Here are some of the most common color mutations in cockatiels:

  • Albino, meaning no color at all
  • Off-white coloring where they would normally be yellow
  • White bodies and red eyes
  • Gray with tan and brown feathers

Training a Cockatiel

Like many species of pet birds, cockatiels can be trained to do all sorts of things. It’s also important to note that without any training, they can develop bad habits and misbehave. Even though they are docile in nature, that doesn’t mean they won’t take a bite at you or try to chew on things out of boredom.

When you bring your new cockatiel home, you should start training them right away. A couple of popular tricks you could train your cockatiel to do are turning around in a circle, walking across a tight rope, or shake hands. Be sure that you stay patient during any training and don’t react poorly if they don’t learn right away. Doing so could scare your new pet bird and make him shy.

Cockatiels are very smart, so continue teaching him new tricks. Some other tricks you could teach your cockatiel include: whistle, wave, ring a bell, and mimic you!

How to Care for Cockatiels

Just like any other household pet, it is important to care for your cockatiel. Cockatiels need stimulation such as toys, perches, a large cage that allows them to flap their wings, and a lot of social interaction. It is vital that you play with your cockatiel and make them feel loved. This can be done by simply rubbing their cheeks or even just talking to them.

Cockatiels need interaction, so follow these steps to make your cockatiel feel like part of the family. If cared for correctly, cockatiels can live up to 20 years!

Best Cockatiel Care Practices:

A Cockatiels Health

Just like us, cockatiels can get sick. Typically, health conditions occur in cockatiels due to nutritional deficiencies or bad hygiene. It’s important to practice basic care for your cockatiel, such as bathing your bird and keeping the cage clean. You’ll also need to take them to the vet for regular checkups as well as ensure they’re on a good diet.

Most birds are prone to respiratory problems, so that’s also something to look out for in your new pet. Cockatiels can also develop fatty liver disease due to nutritional problems. If you have questions about your cockatiel’s diet, always consult with your vet.

A cockatiel’s diet should include:

  • Fruits
  • Seeds
  • Pellets
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes

How Long Do Cockatiels Live?

Before you commit to bringing a cockatiel into your life, you’re probably wondering how long they’ll live. Lifespan isn’t any pet owner’s favorite topic to talk about, but it’s an important thing to consider.

The anticipated lifespan of a cockatiel is 10-25  years. The better they’re taken care of, the longer they’ll live. The oldest recorded cockatiel lived to be around 36 years old. So, if you’re considering getting a pet cockatiel, know that they will be around for quite some time.

The Bottom Line

To sum it up, cockatiels are a great choice if you’re considering a pet bird. They have a robust history, beautiful appearance, and a delightful personality to match. They love being around humans and are sure to make a great addition to your home. Please do as much research as possible before you adopt, and always consider finding one who may be at a shelter or needs re-homing!


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