Cockatiels – An Introduction

Random 2014 034The cockatiel is a medium-sized Australian parrot with an erectile crest on the top of its head.  It has so readily taken to captivity that it is now extremely well-known as both a cage and aviary bird.  Cockatiels make the most wonderful pets, and I have owned them all of my life.  The Cockatiel is the one pet I am never without.

The cockatiel is the smallest member of the cockatoo family, and is also a small bird in relation to the rest of the parrot family (As you can see in the picture, taken of my cockatiel sitting next to my bare-faced cockatoe).  It is however bigger than a budgerigar.  You could say that a cockatiel is the same size as a starling, although it does have a much longer tail.

Cockatiels that are found in the wild are normally grey in color with a white band of feathers on the wing, and a pretty patch of bright marigold-orange on the cheek.  The head is capped by a crest and the bill, eyes and feet are black or grey.

The coloring of the adult sexes is very different.  The hens look as though they have a grey wash which covers the yellow and marigold colours of the head.  As youngsters you can’t tell the difference.  As cockatiels grow the male gets a more vibrant coloring in the face.  The females tend to carry more coloring on the tail in the form of yellow bars and spots.


Cockatiel History:

The white Latino cockatiels came into being in Florida in 1958.  This form of cockatiel, as well as the pied mixtures are all forms of in house breeding, and not from the wild variety.
By the late 1960’s people tried to buy the most unusual colored cockatiels that they could.  The cockatiel trade was huge business in the 1960’s, and there were often waiting lists to acquire these white Latino cockatiels which were so rare at the time.  The Dutch and Belgian people took it a step further by breeding the canary shaded cockatiel.

By 1975 the market for these birds settled again, as there were many more stocks of them around.  In several ways this money-making phase for the cockatiel has been extremely beneficial for aviculture.  It has brought the breeding of captive parrots from a hit or miss affair to become practically a science.

This changed a lot of mindsets, as breeders for the first time began to give thought to the nutrition of the birds, and began to supervise the entire breeding cycle, by providing suitable nesting boxes, and hand rearing the chicks.


  1. Hi,
    I have 4 cockatiels love then, no I notice white powder all over my house, pls tell me what air purifier to buy I want to cover living and dining room roughly 900 feet.

  2. Hello, I have never had a bird but they always intrigued me for sure! I always had dogs.
    Would you suggest a major chain pet store or a private breeder for a newbie bird owner?
    I had a customer years ago that had 2 talking parrots in his office. I think my kids worked for me just to go see the birds lol

    1. You could purchase a bird from either party, and it would depend on where you found the bird that you liked. It would probably be cheaper going directly to a private breeder though.

      This probably wouldn’t make much difference when purchasing a small bird like a cockatiel, but you could probably save a lot on a parrot.

  3. My wife had a small bird a few years ago that seemed to love human interaction. How much human interaction does a Cockatiel need ?

    1. There is no set amount, and you will see if your feathered friend is getting tired and wants to go back into his cage. If he is on his own he probably enjoys your company as much as he can get it, and I would recommend at least twenty minutes a day of undivided attention.

  4. We just got a cockatiel. And on the 1st night, I heard him flying wildly. Three tail feathers came off. Is it normal or what to do? This is my first bird.

    1. Birds do get night frights, and he should settle. It was probably due to the new surroundings. Make sure to cover him with a towel or table cloth at night so he can’t get frightened by shadows.

  5. My husband and I are in our late 60’s. We have had female Cocktiels in the past. We now have a male Cockateil that is 2 years old. We have had him since he was 2 months old. We have totally made him a part of our family. He even has another cage in our bedroom so he can go to bed with us. He is totally dependent on us which I know is our fault. But, we treated our females the same way and they were very happy. Our male talks and whistles which is really cute. But, now he schreeches almost all day long. It has been this way for many months now and we just can’t handle it any more (since we retired). He is so loud and vocal when he does this that it is unbearable. The problem is that we just totally love him so much!!! He has the most darling personality ever!! But we cannot spend all day with him. We are thinking that we are going to have to find him another home, which brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. What can we do??? If we do have to find him another home and the new people can’t handle it we are afraid that they will hurt him or let him fly away outside. How would I go about finding him a new home if that is what we have to do. Our bird is so attached to us that I also wonder if he will be able to handle it. Please help us!! We don’t know what to do and we are getting desperate. Any suggestions or help at all would be so much appreciated.

    1. I am not sure if it is the same problem, but my parrot got very close to me while she was ill recently as I spent a lot of time around her hand feeding her and sitting with her at night. Now that she is recovering, she screeches and performs when I leave the room and is quiet when I am in the same room. Maybe your cockatiel is so used to having you around that it can’t bear being alone when you leave the area.

      I would try covering the cage with a blanket like I did mine, and that quietened her down, then once she is quiet for five minutes I remove the blanket, repeating when necessary. She is getting a lot better now.

      It also helps when I leave her on the veranda in a separate cage with the other birds in the other cage close by, as they are by nature animals that live in flocks.

      If all else fails, try getting him a friend.

      Best of luck, and I hope you don’t have to give him away.

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