All About Yellow Cockatiel Birds

If you had to examine a lot of male cockatiels, you will notice that there is a lot of variation in the amount of yellow present on their heads in different cockatiels. As you know the male birds are the ones that have the bright yellow that is talked about when we mention yellow cockatiel birds, and in this post I will examine yellow cockatiel birds and how they came to be.

The Yellow Cockatiel

The yellow on a cockatiels head is at its deepest around and above the bill and in the forepart of the crest. The yellow then fades as it approaches the patch of orange on the ear-coverts.

The pallest birds have no yellow behind this cheek patch and this part of the head is normally white.

yellow cockatiel birdsIf you look at the young cockatiel, from the time that it hatches and for some weeks or so afterwards, they are covered in a thin yellow down. If several chicks are examined together they differ considerably in their depth of yellow color.

The intensitiy of the yellow cockatiel chick is ultimately that of the adult. Deep yellow chicks make deep yellow adults and vice versa.

The relationship between the orange of the cheeks and the yellow of the face is very close. Many times the darker yellow birds have an occasional orange-colored feather scattered about the face. The darker yellow the bird, the brighter the orange and the more frequent these feathers will be.

So yellow pigment can be found in different concentrations in different cockatiels.

Experience proves that cockatiels can be selected for their richness of yellow, but the genetics is complicated by the seemingly high number of genes involved.

It is believed that about four shades of yellow cockatiel birds exist, with the most comon being the palest of all. In the normal cockatiel the low dose of yellow gives males a great deal of white behind the ear patch.

In lutinos this low dose of yellow gives a near white bird, and despite the factor for pieds intensifying yellow, the harlequin patches are white. In cinamons and red-eyed silvers the color is very diluted greyish, silvery brown.

yellow cockatiel birdsThe opaline or laced cockatiel is not particulary striking either.

The rarest combination of genes for the yellowness produces the deep yellow, bright yellow lutinos, very pretty opalines, the cinnamons and red-eyed silvers with a rather nice yellow suffusion.

The intermediate combinations of genes for yellowness give two stages between these extremes.

As so much the beauty of the mutations described in the next few posts is greatly enriched by the intensity of the yellow background. Selection for breeding should always be made with this in mind.

In the nestling, the deepest yellows can be noted by the shade of the down.

The number of genes involved and the compound effect of their massed numbers mean that selection is best done by eye rather than by a simple adherence to genetic principles and theory.

The golden rule when breeding cockatiels is to reject all pale birds for breeding, no matter what ever other merits they might have.

Cockatiel mutations and how they have come about can be read about in more depth here.


  1. Your article brought me back a lot of memories. When I was a child I had a yellow Cockatiel that I was calling Ririka. It was such a lovely bird with beautiful color variations. I remember spending hours with it. 

    Unfortunately as with most birds they are very sensitive to illnesses and I lost mine well before it’s time. It was a sad moment for me but it’s memory is very dear to me. Thank you for bringing it back just a few moments.

  2. Hey there,

    I’ve really enjoyed reading this article as its fun and interesting. I have a Cockatiel and it has been with me since 2016. Ever since I saw the movie called “Rio”, I wanted to get one and I did. I love it more than dogs and in my opinion, I tend to think that they are way better than dogs one reason being that they don’t bark. What do you their lifespan is?

    1. Rio had a much bigger parrot in it, but I agree it was a great movie.

      The longest Iiving cockatiel that I have owned lived to the ripe age of 25, so they do live longer than dogs do.

  3. And now I know way more about cockatiels than I ever imagined I would. I always dreamed of having a parrot as a pet, but now I can imagine the possibility of a cockatiel or two. 

    Thank you for this extremely informative blog post about the color differences and all the  qualities of cockatiels.

  4. What a beautiful specie of Bird! 

    Please in what regions can they be found?

    What type of food can they be fed with?

    Can they be domesticated?

    What is their incubation period?

    Please provide answers to these questions and methods of rearing the yellow cocktail. Are they flying and preying birds? I would also love to have one as a pet as they are a rare gem in my own part of the world.

    1. These birds are originally from Australia, but they can be found anywhere in the world in pet shops. You can read about cockatiel care and what types of food they eat.

      They are very easy to domesticate and their incubation period is about 19 days.

  5. The yellow cockatiel looks really beautiful, apart from the yellow cockatiel are there other colours or breeds of the cockatiel bird? I’m just being curious. What also are the characteristics of a cockatiel bird.  I’ve always thought they are similar to parrots but never taking time to research on them. More information about an adult cockatiel would be appreciated.

    1. Cockatiels are to me like mini parrots. They are easier to care for, not as demanding and are also easy to tame and teach to talk. They can’t cause serious damage to your finger with their beak like a parrot can, so are great pets for children (under supervision of course).

      There are many different color mutations of cockatiel, but other than the different look, underneath they are all the same bird with the same temprement.

  6. I have a yellow cockatiel, and she keeps going in the right corner of the cage on the floor and she is making a noise like she is whining. does anyone know what she is dong and why?

    1. Maybe she is feeling broody. I have a parrot that does that, and a few days later she lays an egg. Otherwise if she stays down there for long periods, she could also be sick. So keep an eye out.

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