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Top 10 Cockatiel Questions Answered

Have a question about your cockatiel? Check our FAQ for answers! Editors


Top 10 Cockatiel Question #1
Is a cockatiel a parrot?
Yes, cockatiels are parrots. Cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus), have the characteristic features of parrots: a curved hookbill and zygodactyl feet (two toes pointing forward and two pointing backward). These small parrots are native to Australia, and are closely related to cockatoos.

Top 10 Cockatiel Question #2
What bird food should I provide for my cockatiel?
Good bird foods to feed cockatiels are a teaspoon of bird seed along with a formulated cockatiel food (pellets) and sprouted seed, supplemented by healthy vegetables and healthy table foods (e.g., whole-wheat bread, pasta, plain mashed sweet potato, and small bits of fruit.)

Top 10 Cockatiel Question #3
Do cockatiels talk?
Although cockatiels don’t say as many words as other parrot species, cockatiels can learn to mimic words and phrases. Male cockatiels are more likely to talk than female cockatiels. Find out how to teach your bird to talk here.

Top 10 Cockatiel Question #4
What kind of bird cage should I get for my pet cockatiel?
Cockatiels are active pet birds, so your cockatiel needs a spacious bird cage. Opt for a bird cage that is at least 24 inches wide by 24 inches tall with ½ to 1-inch bar spacing. Look for a bird cage that is easy to clean and maintain (pull-out tray, food and water dishes that are accessible from outside the bird cage). Your pet cockatiel needs more than just a bird cage, though. It needs pet perches, bird toys, a bird stand and more!

Top 10 Cockatiel Question #5
Is my pet cockatiel male or female?
In normal gray cockatiels, male cockatiels have a richer gray color and brighter orange cheek patches than female cockatiels. Female cockatiels also typically have barring on the tail feathers. A color-mutation cockatiel’s gender (such as a pied cockatiel) is more difficult to determine visually, so you may need to have a DNA test taken to be certain. Some bird aviculturists point out behavioral differences between male cockatiels and female cockatiels. Male cockatiels tend to talk and whistle more and female cockatiels have a reputation for being more docile.

Top 10 Cockatiel Question #6
Which makes the better pet bird: a male cockatiel or female cockatiel?
Both male cockatiels and female cockatiels make great pet birds. Typically, male cockatiels are better whistlers and talkers than female cockatiels. With a female cockatiel, be aware of potential parrot health issues, such as chronic egg laying and egg binding.

Cockatiels are the smallest member of the cockatoo family.

Top 10 Pet Cockatiel Question #7
How can I tell if my pet cockatiel is sick?
The biggest sign that your pet cockatiel might be sick is a change in behavior. A healthy pet bird is active and alert: eating, playing and vocalizing. A pet cockatiel that sleeps a lot or sits fluffed up in the corner of the bird cage could be sick. If there is even a slight change from normal cockatiel behavior or if your cockatiel shows other signs of illness, your pet bird could be sick. If your pet cockatiel is sick then take it to an avian veterinarian as soon as possible.

In general, cockatiels (and all pet birds, as well as wild parrots) do not show obvious signs of illness. This is a defense mechanism. In the wild, a sick bird or parrot is a target for predators, so all birds (wild birds and pet birds) do everything they can to mask their sickness.

Top 10 Cockatiel Question #8
Can I get a parakeet (budgie) for my cockatiel?
You can; however, consider the following. Parakeets (budgies) are more aggressive than the larger, gentler cockatiel. In the same bird cage, a parakeet (budgie) might boss around a cockatiel and chase it away from the bird food bowl or perch. 

If you want to have a pet parakeet (budgie) and a pet cockatiel in the same bird cage, introduce them slowly, and see if they get along. This means keeping the parakeet (budgie) and cockatiel in separate bird cages, and seeing if they look eager to become friends. If they do, then you move on to placing them in the same bird cage. Supervise your parrots closely for the first week or so.

Top 10 Cockatiel Question #9
How can I get my pet cockatiel to step onto my finger/ let me pet it?
At first, it might be hard to get your cockatiel to step onto your finger willingly. The cockatiel might hiss or bite you, because it is afraid.

If your cockatiel hasn’t been socialized, you must gain your cockatiel’s trust. Start by getting your cockatiel used to your presence, either by sitting near the cage and not making eye contact, or singing to it. Once your pet bird seems comfortable around you, start offering its favorite treat, so your cockatiel associates you with good things! From there, you can start encouraging your pet bird to step up onto your finger, and then work on petting it. Soon, you will have a tame cockatiel!

Top 10 Cockatiel Question #10
Can my cockatiel be friends with my cat or dog?
Cats and dogs are natural predators and their hunting instincts might be triggered by your flighty, noisy pet cockatiel. Never leave your other pets alone with your pet cockatiel while your cockatiel is outside its bird cage and pet-proof your cockatiel’s environment.

Want to learn more about cockatiels? Check out these articles:

Top 10 Pet Cockatiel Vet Questions & Answers
Cockatiels: 10 Things You Should Know

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Posted: October 21, 2013, 1:30 p.m. PDT

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Top 10 Cockatiel Questions Answered

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Reader Comments
Something sorely missing here yet SUPER IMPORTANT ! Cockatiels are not meant to live alone......more are most all birds! By nature, as in the DNA , bird are flock
Species. They are very social in their communication with one another, their flock and the way they raise their off spring. When y decide to get a pet tropical bird of any sort, keep in mind you are supporting the trade, and often the illegal export of birds to hatcheries out of what is their natural habitats .
These birds are extreemly bright and will act out in a variety of ways if left solitary and alone; they get depressed just as you would, or just as any caged animal does!
It's truly selfish to have a solitary bed as a pet.....unless you allow it t be in many of at least another companion as well as provide it with a large habitat, in which to fly and numerous branches and object that are rotated to stimulate their interests.
Read deeper than just what the pet stores who market these as pets tell you.
A solitary cockatiel will usually get depressed, I'll , and often exhibit self destructive or angry behaviors toward their captors. Wouldn't you?
Barb, International
Posted: 1/9/2016 5:55:49 PM
Informative and interesting. Although most web sites say cockatiels live 15-20 years, my cockatiel Buddy is 35 years old! I bought him in from a home breeder in Florida when my youngest son was three years old, and he is 38 now. He doesn't talk as much now and is a bit cantankerous, but is healthy and active. Hy, we all get grouchiest with age. :)
Carol, International
Posted: 8/10/2015 6:37:23 PM
Cockatiel are just fantastic playmet for allllll.Its just a coooool bird and their colours are awesome...
Srimanti Chatterjee, Burdwan, IN
Posted: 2/16/2015 1:46:39 AM
My 3 year old cockatiel has suddenly started misbehaving. She is throwing food and whistling the same song over and over anytime she doesn't get everything she wants. How can I curb this bad behavior?
Leslie, Independence, MO
Posted: 1/7/2015 9:11:49 AM
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