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Why Do Cockatiels Whistle?

Cockatiels whistle for fun, but for several other reasons, too.

By Linda S. Rubin

Although both cockatiel genders have the same anatomy and ability to whistle, it is usually the male cockatiel that expresses more interest in engaging in song or whistling. Males whistle for several reasons. One of the main reasons to whistle or “sing” is to attract a mate. That mate may be another cockatiel, an inanimate object, such as a shiny cage or mirror image if he lacks another bird of the opposite sex, or even you! Courting is a long process in which the male must woo the female in order to mate and successfully pass on his genes to another generation, and whistling can become an amusing if not entertaining part of the process for us to watch.

Another reason cockatiels whistle songs and tunes they are taught is because they probably experience some satisfaction or they probably wouldn’t do it. This simply means, they wouldn’t whistle if it wasn’t fun to do. Their abilities do vary, but I once had a talented male who insisted on teaching all his chicks while in the nest and each time he had a clutch to raise I would pass a “whistling nest box” by the time the babies were about 4 weeks of age! So keep practicing and teaching your pet cockatiel, because it is fun for you both and a great way to bond.

Listen to Mr. Whistley sing "Whistle While You Work," from Pam K.

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Why Do Cockatiels Whistle?

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Reader Comments
I have six male cockatiels, four greys, one albino and one pearl pied. They all sing the same song that they were taught from the oldest male. (He's ten years old. This song lasts about ten minutes and is not a simple tune. They also sang this tune by the time they left their "nest". I have eight females that try to say a few words here and there, but basically they're pretty quiet. The other amazing thing is that although I didn't hand feed them, I held them from day one with no argument from the parents. They have complete trust in me and comprehend about 50% of what I say. I made an aviary out of a master bedroom and they can free fly to their hearts content. They love to fly to the loft and look out the window. They're a lot of work, but I never get tired of them:)
Paula, St Petersburg, FL
Posted: 12/18/2011 2:08:03 AM
cathy, loveland, CO
Posted: 2/24/2011 6:47:05 AM
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