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Cockatiels are the smallest member of the cockatoo family. Growing to a moderate size of about ten 13 inches in length they are predominately grey with the typical crest atop their heads
The crest is often used to express their current mood. Tending to stand straight up when the bird is excited, lay flat against the head when they’re angry or agitated and to stand somewhere in between the two when they’re feeling more or less content.
Unlike the cockatoo, the cockatiel has long tail feathers which make up half of its length. The lovely cockatiel is native to the outback regions of inland Australia, and tends to favor the Australian wetlands, scrublands, and bush lands. The cockatiel average lifespan is about 10-20 years in captivity.
While their plumage is mostly grey, they do have white flashes on the outer edges of their wings, round orange cheek patches which tend to be brighter in males than in females. The males also typically have a yellow or white face.
A wide variety of color mutations are available from breeders with about 15 primary mutations. The problem with the majority of mutations is that a large bald spot develops below the crest.
When they breed, which can occur any time throughout the year, they lay four to seven eggs at a time two days apart. The young hatch in 18 to 21 days and are independent in seven to nine weeks.
Cockatiels are also known to occasionally suffer from night frights, a fearful condition where the dark frightens them into thrashing around their cage. This thrashing can be quite dangerous to them physically.
To resolve it, place a nightlight near the cage, keep the cover off the cage, and consider placing them in a smaller cage at night so they don’t have as much room to thrash and potentially hurt themselves.
Cockatiels need a good 12 hours of sleep each night so it is important to their health, and to your sanity, that they get quality sleep.
Think you have a spectacular specimen? Consider entering your cockatiel into a show. Single species shows, held all around the nation, are a great place to show your cockatiel and possibly take home a prize. Birds are not compared against each other but instead against a standard for the species.
Visit a few shows before you bring your bird and always make sure to quarantine them for a month or so after a show, keep them away from other birds, because shows are an excellent breeding ground for bird disease. Consider simply attending a show to learn more about cockatiels as a species. You can learn more about proper cockatiel care on some of our other pages.
Typical to the cockatoo breed, cockatiels are social and affectionate birds. However, unlike cockatoos they don’t have the reputation of being temperamental. Most cockatiels are extremely gentle and docile birds which makes them a good first pet for a bird lover.
Cockatiels are also known to be exceptional talkers with the males generally being better talkers than the females.
One thing you do want to know about cockatiels is that they are typically noisy birds. They whistle, chirp, hiss, and even screech when they want to be heard or when they want their owner’s attention.
They’re not the kind of bird you put in a cage in the corner and forget about, they need, and will demand, your time and attention and if you don’t give it to them they’ll let you know they’re unhappy. However, with proper training you can keep your cockatiel from becoming too noisy too often.
Behavior problems like biting can occur when they’re afraid or have been startled. They also will become grumpy if they don’t get enough sleep, proper nutrients, or enough time outside of their cage and bonding with their owner.
One of the absolute best ways to build a strong bond with your cockatiel is to spend time each day training them. Training a cockatiel not to bite may be easier than you think.
Trick training establishes you, the owner, as the person responsible for their care as well as their companion. A strong bond of trust virtually eliminates most if not all behavior problems.
Cockatiels are amazing birds, excellent for beginners and lifelong bird lovers alike. They’re generally calm and affectionate birds who, with a little TLC, will give you a lifetime of joy.