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Meet The Cockatiel

Native to Australia, the cockatiel is an extremely social bird that makes a sweet, loving pet for anyone of any age.

Rhonda LaBelle

Cockatiels, cockatiel

Cockatiels originate from Australia and are the smallest members of the family Cacatuidae, the cockatoos. Both parent-raised and hand-fed birds make good companions. Hand-fed cockatiels tend to be tamer from the outset, and generally cost a little more. Parent-raised cockatiels may be tamed with patience and plenty of treat incentives. 

The normal "wild” coloration of a cockatiel is predominately gray, with a yellow head and bright orange cheek patches in the male. The female is also gray, but she has more subdued orange cheek patches.

Cockatiels have also been bred for a variety of color mutations. Lutino, cinnamon, pearl, pied, albino, white-face and yellow-face are just a few of the color mutations available. With the exception of the pied mutation, mature cockatiels are sexually dimorphic; that is, their gender may be determined by their visual appearance.

The primary characteristic of a female cockatiel is the telltale barring on the wings and tail feathers. In the pearl mutation, the male loses his pearl markings by his second molt, while the female retains her beautiful pearl scallops.

The normal "wild” coloration of a cockatiel is predominately gray, with a yellow head and bright orange cheek patches in the male. The female is also gray, but she has more subdued orange cheek patches.

Cockatiels can be extremely social. It is not unusual for a cockatiel that is boarding at the clinic I work at to call out to another cockatiel that has arrived for a veterinary exam. Upon hearing a familiar chirp, the two birds call back and forth for quite a few minutes. Given their social nature, cockatiels typically enjoy the company of their owner, as well as fellow cockatiels.

The average life span of a cockatiel is between 10 and 25 years. Once again, balanced nutrition plays an integral role in attaining a long life. 

Potential medical concerns for cockatiels closely mirror those of the budgie. In female cockatiels, egg binding, excessive egg laying, cloacal prolapse and other reproductive diseases are the most common presentations. Gout is also seen frequently in older cockatiels.

Cockatiels are a good choice when space and noise potential are of concern. While not as quiet as the budgerigar, a male cockatiel’s whistling is pleasing to most people. Male cockatiels are also good mimics, and can easily learn to whistle new songs. Females chirp contact calls and may learn simple "wolf calls.”

While not known for their talking ability, some cockatiels turn out to be great talkers. With their little crests, spirited songs and endearing personalities, cockatiels are a great "first-bird” choice.

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: February 6, 2014, 5:30 p.m. PDT

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Meet The Cockatiel

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Reader Comments
Female cockatiels may also be good talkers. Some of the health concerns may be addressed by educating owners better on what encourages a female to lay eggs and how to discourage this natural instinct. Not always preventable, but many owners are unknowingly causing these problems.
Debbie, Ellsworth, ME
Posted: 11/26/2015 9:48:31 AM
I love them, so much personality, sooo cute!
Gabby, San Diego, CA
Posted: 2/15/2014 9:14:38 AM
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