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Cockatiels: The Cheerful Companions of the Avian World


Cockatiels, also known as Nymphicus hollandicus, are a beloved breed of parrot that are known for their charismatic personalities, vibrant appearances, and delightful songs. Native to Australia, these petite parrots are recognized for their distinct crests, circular orange cheek patches, and long, elegant tail feathers. For many households around the globe, they are a cherished pet and an engaging companion.

A Splash of Color

Cockatiels, while most commonly known for their grey, white, and yellow coloring with prominent orange cheeks, actually come in a variety of colors due to different genetic mutations. Some of the known color variations include Lutino (yellow or white with red eyes), Cinnamon (a lighter, warmer grey color), Pied, Pearl, Whiteface, Albino, and even more combinations of these traits. The variety of hues available only add to their appeal, each color mutation presenting a unique, vibrant look.

Personality Plus

The personality of a cockatiel can vary as much as their color. Known for being sociable and affectionate, cockatiels are also widely recognized for their intelligence and playful nature. They thrive on interaction and companionship, both with their human families and with other birds.

Regular engagement in the form of play, conversation, and training is crucial to the happiness and mental well-being of a cockatiel. They can be trained to perform simple tricks, mimic certain tunes, and can often learn to understand simple phrases or commands. It’s important to remember, though, that like any other pet, individual personalities can vary greatly. Some may be more receptive to training and interaction than others.

Avian Vocalists

Cockatiels are renowned for their whistling and vocal abilities. While they may not be as verbose as some of their parrot relatives, they make up for it with their talent for melody and rhythm. Males are particularly known for their serenading capabilities, often engaging in charming performances intended to woo their counterparts or their human friends. The females, though usually quieter, communicate through a series of chirps and whistles.

Proper Care for a Healthy Life

To live a healthy and fulfilled life, a cockatiel requires a balanced diet, regular exercise, and plenty of mental stimulation. Their diet should consist mainly of pellets, supplemented with fresh fruits, vegetables, and a limited amount of seeds.

Their housing should be spacious, allowing them to move freely and spread their wings. Toys and perches inside the cage will help provide mental stimulation and exercise. The location of the cage is also important, as these birds enjoy being a part of family activities and should not be isolated.

Regular vet check-ups are also essential to ensure your cockatiel is in good health. They are prone to certain health issues, such as respiratory problems, feather plucking, and calcium deficiency, so being vigilant about their health is a key responsibility for their owners.


Lutino cockatiel

The cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) is not officially divided into any recognized subspecies. While there are various color mutations of cockatiels, these are not classified as different subspecies, but rather as variations within the single species.

Cockatiels are unique in the bird world as they display a variety of color mutations. Some of these include:

  1. Normal (Wild-type) Cockatiels: This mutation closely resembles the wild cockatiel’s appearance in Australia with grey body feathers, white wing patches, a yellow face and crest, and orange cheek patches. Males have a brighter yellow face than females, and the females have bars or spots on the underside of their tail feathers.
  2. Lutino Cockatiels: These birds have a mutation that removes all the grey and black pigments, leaving them with a white or yellow color with red eyes.
  3. Pearl Cockatiels: This mutation gives the bird’s feathers a “pearled” look, with white or yellow spots on their grey feathers. This is generally more visible in females.
  4. Pied Cockatiels: Pieds have a mix of colored and white or yellow feathers, appearing in a random pattern. They have a combination of the normal grey color interspersed with areas of white or yellow.
  5. Cinnamon Cockatiels: This mutation results in a warmer, lighter grey color. It affects the grey pigmentation but leaves the yellow and orange pigmentation untouched.
  6. Whiteface Cockatiels: These cockatiels lack the yellow and orange pigmentation, making their faces completely white or grey. They lack the orange cheek patches.
  7. Albino Cockatiels: An albino cockatiel is a combination of the Lutino and Whiteface mutations, removing all pigments from the feathers, leaving them entirely white with red eyes.
  8. Silver Cockatiels: There are two types of silver mutations – the Silver Spangled and the Silver Dominant. Silver Spangled cockatiels have a white base color with evenly distributed grey spots, while the Silver Dominant cockatiels have a silvery-grey color that is evenly spread over their body.

Remember that these color mutations don’t determine a cockatiel’s personality or health. They simply affect the bird’s appearance. Each cockatiel, regardless of color mutation, has its own unique character and potential health needs that should be attended to with appropriate care and regular veterinary check-ups.

Distinguishing Characteristics

Cockatiels, the smallest members of the cockatoo family, have some unique traits that set them apart from other parrot species. Here are a few of their distinguishing characteristics:

  1. Crest: One of the most distinctive features of a cockatiel is their expressive crest. This set of feathers on the top of their head can be raised or lowered depending on the bird’s mood, making it a key indicator of their emotional state.
  2. Size: Cockatiels are generally smaller than most parrots, typically ranging from 12-13 inches in length (including their long tail). This makes them a more manageable size for many pet owners.
  3. Color: The wild-type or normal cockatiel has a specific color pattern with a grey body, a yellow face and crest, and bright orange cheek patches. The males often have brighter colors than the females.
  4. Cheek Patches: Cockatiels’ circular orange cheek patches are another distinguishing feature that most other parrots don’t have.
  5. Tail: They have long, slender tail feathers that make up a significant portion of their total length, which is not common among many other parrot species.
  6. Vocalization: Cockatiels are known for their whistling abilities. While some other parrot species are better at mimicking human speech, cockatiels often excel at whistling tunes and can even learn to mimic common household sounds.
  7. Behavior and Temperament: Cockatiels are often seen as having a more gentle and easy-going nature compared to some other parrots. They are generally less loud and demanding, making them a popular choice for first-time bird owners.
  8. Sexual Dimorphism: Cockatiels display sexual dimorphism, which means males and females have different physical characteristics. Males usually have brighter colors, while females have barred patterns on the underside of their tail feathers. However, these differences may not be apparent in some color mutations until the bird reaches sexual maturity.

It’s important to remember that every cockatiel is unique, with its own individual personality and behavior. Thus, while these characteristics are generally true, there can be exceptions and variability among individual birds.

Natural Habitat


Cockatiels are native to Australia, where they inhabit a wide variety of landscapes across the continent. They are highly adaptive and can be found in diverse environments that provide them with the necessary resources for survival.

Their natural habitats include:

  1. Arid Regions and Outback: Cockatiels are well-adapted to the arid and semi-arid regions of Australia. They are especially common in the Australian outback, where they have access to water sources like billabongs and creeks.
  2. Open Areas: Unlike some parrot species that prefer dense forests, cockatiels are typically found in open areas. This includes grasslands, scrublands, and farmlands. They often prefer environments with a mix of trees and open ground.
  3. Wetlands: Although not their primary habitat, cockatiels can also be found in wetlands, particularly during breeding season when food is abundant.
  4. Urban Areas: Cockatiels are highly adaptable and can live in close proximity to human habitation. They can be seen in parks and gardens in urban and suburban areas, although this is less common than in more natural environments.

In the wild, cockatiels tend to live in flocks and are rarely seen alone. They are nomadic birds, meaning they don’t stay in one place for long. Their movements are largely driven by the availability of food and water, so they migrate to areas where these resources are abundant.

It’s important to note that the environments cockatiels are kept in as pets should attempt to mimic their natural habitats as much as possible. They should have plenty of room to fly and exercise, and their diets should be varied and nutritious to mimic the diverse diet they would have in the wild.


The lifespan of a cockatiel can vary depending on a multitude of factors, such as diet, exercise, genetics, and overall care. In general, a cockatiel’s lifespan is longer in captivity due to controlled environments, regular meals, and protection from predators.

In the wild, cockatiels typically live for about 10 to 15 years. Their lifespan can be shortened due to predation, scarcity of food, harsh environmental conditions, disease, and a lack of veterinary care.

In contrast, a well-cared-for, captive cockatiel can live significantly longer. They have been known to live anywhere from 15 to 25 years on average, with some even reaching up to 30 years in exceptional cases. The key to a long, healthy life for a cockatiel in captivity includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, mental stimulation, and regular check-ups with an avian vet.

While captivity can provide a safer environment, it’s important to remember that cockatiels require a lot of attention and care. They thrive on social interaction and need plenty of mental and physical stimulation. As with any pet, owning a cockatiel is a long-term commitment that should not be taken lightly. With the right care, these charming birds can be a part of the family for many years.

Aging Characteristics

Baby cockatiel

Young cockatiels or juveniles, also known as ‘babies,’ usually have a more uniform coloration than adults. The characteristics include:

  1. Eyes: Baby cockatiels often have darker eyes. In most color mutations, the eyes will be black or very dark gray, whereas in albinos or lutinos, the eyes will be a dark red.
  2. Feathers: Their feathers may have a fluffier appearance, and they lack the bright, clear colors of an adult. Normal grey young cockatiels typically have a more muted or duller coloration, including less vibrant cheek patches.
  3. Tail Bars: Female cockatiels retain bars on the undersides of their tail feathers into adulthood, but young males also have these tail bars, which they lose after their first molt at around 6-9 months old.
  4. Begging Behavior: Young cockatiels may exhibit begging behavior, similar to their behavior in the nest.

Adult Cockatiels

Adult cockatiels, typically over 1 year old, display full adult plumage and other mature characteristics:

  1. Plumage: Adult males of the normal grey variety will have bright yellow faces, vibrant orange cheek patches, and solid grey body and wing feathers, while females will have a more muted coloration with barred tail feathers.
  2. Eyes: Depending on the mutation, adults often have lighter-colored eyes than juveniles. In most color mutations, the eyes will be a lighter gray, whereas in albinos or lutinos, the eyes will be red.
  3. Behavior: Adults are often more independent and may exhibit mating behaviors.

Senior Cockatiels

Senior cockatiels, usually those over 10-12 years old, can exhibit signs of aging, though this can vary greatly from bird to bird:

  1. Activity Level: Senior cockatiels may be less active than their younger counterparts. They might sleep more and play less.
  2. Health Issues: Like all creatures, cockatiels can develop age-related health issues. This can include arthritis, cataracts, kidney disease, or other conditions. Regular veterinary care is important for early detection and treatment of these problems.
  3. Feathers: Some older cockatiels might start showing changes in their feathers, such as difficulty molting, plucking, or changes in color. However, these can also be signs of health issues, so a vet check is advisable if these signs are noticed.
  4. Weight Changes: Older cockatiels might struggle with maintaining a stable weight. Regular weight checks can help identify any issues early on.

It’s important to note that every cockatiel is unique, and these are general guidelines. If there are sudden or drastic changes in your bird’s behavior, feathers, weight, or overall condition, it’s best to consult an avian veterinarian.

Costs of Ownership

The cost of purchasing and maintaining a cockatiel can vary greatly depending on a variety of factors such as the bird’s age, color mutation, breeder prices, and the region or country where you live. Here is a general breakdown of the costs you might expect:

Purchase Cost

The initial cost for purchasing a cockatiel can range anywhere from $50 to $250 or more. The price can be influenced by the bird’s age, color, pedigree, and whether the bird is hand-raised. Birds from breeders who have taken the time to hand-feed and socialize the chicks tend to cost more, but these birds often make better pets because they are used to human interaction.

Cage and Initial Setup

A suitable cage for a cockatiel can cost anywhere between $100 and $200, although larger and higher-quality cages can cost significantly more. The cage should be large enough for the bird to stretch its wings fully and move around comfortably.

Additionally, you’ll need to factor in the cost of essential items such as perches, toys, food and water dishes, and a cuttlebone or mineral block. The initial setup cost for these items can range from $50 to $100 or more.

Ongoing Costs

  1. Food: A proper diet for a cockatiel should include a mix of high-quality pellets, fresh fruits and vegetables, and a limited amount of seeds. You might expect to spend around $10 to $20 per month on food, but this can vary based on the bird’s size and appetite.
  2. Toys and Accessories: Cockatiels need mental stimulation, so a rotating supply of toys is necessary. You may also need to replace worn-out perches or dishes over time. Depending on the number and quality of toys and accessories you buy, you might spend around $5 to $20 per month.
  3. Veterinary Care: Routine check-ups with an avian vet are essential to catch any potential health issues early. The cost can vary greatly, but you might expect to pay around $50 to $100 per visit, with additional costs for any necessary tests or treatments. Unexpected health issues can also lead to additional veterinary costs.
  4. Miscellaneous: Other potential costs include cage liners or bedding, grooming (such as wing, beak, or nail trimming), and potentially boarding or pet-sitting if you travel.

Overall, you might expect to spend between $20 and $50 per month on average to care for a cockatiel, excluding any unexpected veterinary costs. However, it’s essential to be prepared for the potential financial commitment before deciding to bring a cockatiel, or any pet, into your home. Their care should never be compromised because of financial constraints.

Remember, owning a pet is not just about the financial implications. Time, commitment, and a lot of love are the most important aspects of pet ownership. In return, cockatiels can bring immense joy and companionship into your life.

Annual Veterinary Care

Annual veterinary care is crucial for maintaining a cockatiel’s health and well-being. It’s important to find an avian vet or a vet experienced with birds, as they have specialized knowledge about bird health issues. Here’s a general idea of what kind of care a cockatiel requires on an annual basis and the potential costs:

Annual Check-ups

Just like humans, cockatiels need regular check-ups. It’s recommended to have at least one vet visit per year. During this check-up, the vet will typically:

  1. Perform a physical examination: This includes checking the bird’s eyes, beak, feathers, skin, and feet, feeling its body condition and looking at overall demeanor and alertness.
  2. Evaluate the bird’s diet and nutrition.
  3. Discuss any changes in behavior or signs of illness.

The cost of an annual check-up can vary widely depending on your location and the specific vet clinic, but you might expect to pay around $50-$100 for a routine visit.

Diagnostic Tests

Some diagnostic tests may be necessary during the check-up, especially if there are any health concerns or as the bird ages. These can include:

  1. Fecal Analysis: To check for any parasites or infections.
  2. Blood Tests: These can provide a comprehensive view of the bird’s health and detect potential issues not evident from a physical exam.
  3. Other Tests: These might include x-rays or other imaging if there’s a specific concern.

The cost of these tests can also vary widely. A fecal test might cost around $20-$40, blood tests can range from $50-$200 depending on the extent of the panel, and imaging might cost anywhere from $50-$200 per image.

Unexpected Health Issues

It’s also important to budget for potential unexpected health issues. Just like any pet, cockatiels can become ill or injured, and these situations often require additional vet visits, diagnostic tests, and potentially treatment or medication, which can add significantly to the cost.

As a general note, these costs are estimates and can vary depending on your location, the specific vet clinic, and your bird’s individual health needs. It’s always a good idea to check with your local vet for the most accurate pricing.

It’s worth noting that preventative care, such as regular check-ups and a proper diet, can often help to avoid more costly health issues down the line. Caring for a cockatiel, like any pet, is a significant commitment, but with proper care, these charming birds can make wonderful companions.


Cockatiels, like other pets, can be affected by various diseases and health conditions. Understanding these conditions can help in early detection and treatment. Here are some common ailments that cockatiels can suffer from:

  1. Psittacosis (Parrot Fever): This is a bacterial disease that can cause respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing, and difficulty breathing. It can also cause lethargy, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. Psittacosis can be transmitted to humans, so it’s important to seek veterinary care if your bird is showing symptoms.
  2. Giardiasis: This is a parasitic infection that can cause itching and feather plucking, particularly around the wings and thighs, as well as diarrhea.
  3. Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD): PBFD is a viral infection that can lead to feather loss, abnormal feather growth, and beak deformities. There is currently no cure for PBFD, and it can be fatal.
  4. Avian Gastric Yeast (formerly known as Avian Gastric Yeast, AGY): This is a fungal infection that affects the bird’s digestive system. It can cause vomiting, weight loss, and changes in droppings.
  5. Respiratory Issues: Cockatiels can suffer from a variety of respiratory issues, often due to bacterial or fungal infections. Signs can include sneezing, difficulty breathing, and discharge from the nose or eyes.
  6. Nutritional Deficiencies: Improper diet can lead to a variety of health issues in cockatiels. Lack of calcium can cause weak bones and egg-binding in females, while lack of vitamin A can lead to problems with the skin and feathers.
  7. Tumors and Cancers: Cockatiels can develop different types of tumors or cancers, which may require surgery or other treatment.
  8. Egg-Binding: This condition occurs when a female cockatiel has difficulty passing an egg. This is a medical emergency that requires immediate veterinary attention.

It’s important to remember that regular veterinary check-ups can help detect and treat many of these conditions early. Any changes in your bird’s behavior, appetite, droppings, or physical appearance should be reported to a vet.

Providing a balanced diet, a clean environment, and plenty of mental and physical stimulation can also contribute to a cockatiel’s overall health and well-being. A sick bird may hide its symptoms until the illness is advanced, so proactive care is crucial.


Training a cockatiel can be a rewarding process for both you and your bird. Not only does it enhance your bond, but it also provides essential mental stimulation for your pet. Here are some basic steps to start training your cockatiel:

  1. Building Trust: Before you begin formal training, spend time around your bird to help it get used to your presence. Speak softly to it and offer treats from your hand. It’s important that your cockatiel sees you as a friend, not a threat.
  2. Step-Up Training: The first command most birds learn is “step up”, which simply means to step onto your finger or hand. To train this, gently press your finger against your bird’s lower chest while saying “step up”. Your bird should instinctively step onto your finger. Reward your bird with praise and treats each time it steps up correctly.
  3. Clicker Training: A clicker can be a useful tool in training a cockatiel. The clicker produces a distinct sound that marks the desired behavior the moment it happens and is immediately followed by a reward. The bird will learn to associate the sound of the clicker with the reward, helping to reinforce the desired behavior.
  4. Target Training: This involves teaching your bird to touch a target, like a stick, with its beak. You can use the clicker here as well. Once your bird touches the target, click the clicker and give your bird a reward. This technique can later be used to guide your cockatiel to move to specific locations.
  5. Trick Training: Once your cockatiel is comfortable with the basics, you can teach it simple tricks, such as turning around, waving, or retrieving objects. Always use positive reinforcement, never punishment. Be patient and consistent. If your bird is struggling with a trick, end the training session and try again later.
  6. Flight Training: You can train your bird to fly to you on command. Start by standing a short distance away, then gradually increase the distance as your bird gets more comfortable. Always reward your bird when it flies to you.
  7. Speech and Sound Training: Cockatiels can learn to mimic sounds and, to a lesser extent, speech. Consistent repetition is key here. Choose a simple word or whistle tune and repeatedly make the sound when your bird is attentive. Reward any attempt your bird makes to mimic the sound.
  8. Potty Training: Some cockatiels can be trained to go to the bathroom in a specific location. Monitor your bird to learn its body language before it relieves itself, then begin moving it to the desired location when you see these signals. Over time, your bird may learn to go to that location on its own.

Remember, patience is key when training your cockatiel. Always keep training sessions short (about 5-10 minutes) and fun. If your bird becomes stressed or uninterested, stop the session and try again later. And always end on a positive note, even if it’s just a simple “step up”. Training should be a bonding experience and should never be stressful for your bird.


A balanced diet is crucial to a cockatiel’s health. Whether in the wild or in captivity, a cockatiel’s diet should include a variety of foods to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients.

In the Wild

In their native Australia, cockatiels primarily eat seeds, particularly those of grasses. However, they also consume berries, fruits, greens, and even insects and their larvae. Their diet varies based on seasonal availability. The variety ensures that they get a broad range of nutrients.

In Captivity

In captivity, a healthy cockatiel diet should mimic the diversity of a wild diet. Here’s a breakdown of what that might include:

  1. Pellets: High-quality, formulated pellet food should make up about 50-60% of a cockatiel’s diet. These are specially designed to provide a balanced mix of nutrients.
  2. Vegetables and Fruits: Fresh vegetables and fruits should make up about 30-40% of their diet. Safe options include leafy greens (like spinach, kale, and lettuce), carrots, peas, apples, and bananas. Always thoroughly wash produce and avoid feeding anything toxic to birds, like avocados and fruit seeds/pits.
  3. Seeds and Grains: About 10% of a cockatiel’s diet can be made up of seeds and grains, such as millet. While cockatiels love seeds, they are high in fat and not nutritionally complete, so they should be a small part of the diet, not the main component.
  4. Protein: Occasionally, you can provide small amounts of cooked eggs or lean meat.
  5. Supplements: Depending on their diet and health status, cockatiels may require certain supplements, like calcium or vitamins. Always consult a vet before starting any supplements.
  6. Water: Fresh, clean water should always be available.

Avoid feeding cockatiels chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, salt, and sugary or fatty foods, all of which can be harmful.

Cost of Cockatiel Diet

The cost of feeding a cockatiel can vary depending on factors like the specific foods you choose and where you live. On average, you might expect to spend around $10-$20 per month.

Pellets can range from about $10-$30 per bag. One bag can last several months, depending on the size of the bag and your bird. Fresh fruits and vegetables’ cost will vary, but generally, because cockatiels are small and eat small portions, you can simply share what you’re already buying for yourself. Seeds are usually quite inexpensive, often less than $10 for a bag that can last a few months.

These costs are quite minimal compared to the potential vet bills and health issues that could arise from an improper diet. A balanced, varied diet will help keep your cockatiel healthy and happy for many years to come.

Sexual Maturity

Cockatiels exhibit specific behaviors during the mating process and understanding these can be insightful, whether you’re planning to breed them or simply observing their behavior.

Cockatiels reach sexual maturity typically around 6 months to 1 year of age, but they should not be allowed to breed until they are at least 18-24 months old. This is because younger birds may not yet be mentally or physically ready to take care of chicks. Both males and females participate in the raising of their young, so it’s important that both parents are mature and prepared.

The mating process for cockatiels involves a few distinct behaviors:

Courtship and Mating Behavior

  1. Serenading: Male cockatiels will often serenade the females with songs and calls. They may also show off their plumage and engage in a display where they strut around with their wings slightly extended and their crest feathers standing tall.
  2. Head Bobbing: Both males and females may engage in head bobbing, but it’s especially common in males during courtship.
  3. Regurgitation: It might not sound very romantic to us, but regurgitation is a sign of affection in birds. A male cockatiel may regurgitate food as a way to show he can provide for a female and their potential chicks.
  4. Mutual Preening: Cockatiels that are interested in each other will often preen one another, which helps to strengthen their bond.
  5. Mating: The actual act of mating involves the male mounting the female from the back. After mating, the female will usually lay her eggs within a week or two.

Egg Laying and Incubation

A female cockatiel will typically lay an egg every other day until she has a clutch of about 4-7 eggs. She will start sitting on the eggs after the second or third one is laid. Both parents will take turns incubating the eggs, which will hatch in about 18-21 days.

Reproductive Lifespan

As for the end of their reproductive life, cockatiels can technically breed into old age, but it’s not recommended for their health. Breeding takes a significant toll on the body, especially for the female. As a responsible owner, it’s recommended to limit breeding to younger, healthier birds, typically under the age of 8-10 years.

Remember, breeding cockatiels, or any bird, is a significant commitment. It requires a deep understanding of their needs, a lot of time and resources, and preparation for potential challenges or health issues. It’s not something to undertake lightly.

Gender Characteristics

Cockatiels are among the few parrot species where males and females can be visually differentiated, but the degree of certainty varies at different stages of their life.

Baby Cockatiels (0-6 months)

At this stage, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between males and females visually. Both sexes appear similar with primarily gray bodies, yellow faces, and orange cheek patches. They also both have barring (stripes) on the underside of their tail feathers and spots on the underside of their wing feathers. If you need to know the sex of a cockatiel at this age, DNA testing or surgical sexing are the most reliable methods.

Juvenile Cockatiels (6-9 months)

As the juvenile cockatiels go through their first molt, males and females start to show differences in their feather coloring, particularly in the standard or “wild-type” coloration. This is called sexual dimorphism.

After the first molt, males will begin to lose their barring and spots, and their tail feathers will become a solid gray. Their facial coloration will become much brighter, with a vibrant yellow face and vivid orange cheek patches.

Females, on the other hand, retain their juvenile coloration. They continue to have barring on the underside of their tail feathers and spots on the underside of their wing feathers. They generally have a duller face coloration, with less vibrant yellow and orange hues.

Adult Cockatiels (9 months and older)

By this time, males and females can usually be clearly distinguished, at least in standard coloration. Males will have a bright yellow face, vibrant orange cheek patches, and solid gray body and tail feathers with no barring or spots.

Females continue to show barring on the underside of the tail feathers, spots on the underside of the wing feathers, and a more muted face and body color.

Besides visual cues, there are also behavioral differences that can indicate sex in mature birds. Males are typically more vocal and are more likely to “talk” or mimic sounds. They also engage in courtship displays like strutting, head bobbing, and serenading. Females, on the other hand, are generally quieter and less showy.

In color mutations, such as lutino, whiteface, or cinnamon, the differences in feather coloration might not be apparent. In such cases, behavior and vocalizations might provide some clues, but for certain determination, DNA testing or surgical sexing would be necessary.

Remember, while these differences are generally accurate, there are always exceptions, and individual birds can vary. The most reliable way to determine a cockatiel’s sex is through DNA testing or surgical sexing.

IUCN Red List Status (Least Concern)

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) maintains a “Red List” of species, classifying them according to their relative risk of extinction. As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, the cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) is listed as “Least Concern.” This classification means that, while the species is monitored for potential threats, it is not currently considered to be at significant risk of extinction in the wild.

Cockatiels are native to Australia, where they are widespread and common. They are highly adaptable birds and can inhabit various open habitats, including areas heavily modified by humans, such as farmlands and urban areas.

However, it’s worth noting that while cockatiels as a species are not currently threatened, individual populations could still face challenges, particularly from habitat loss or degradation, climate change, and other localized threats.

Also, being common in the pet trade does not equate to being safe in the wild. Although cockatiels breed well in captivity, all parrot species, including cockatiels, are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which regulates their international trade to prevent exploitation.

It’s important to continue monitoring and protecting all wildlife species, even those considered to be of “Least Concern,” to ensure their continued survival. Always make sure to purchase pets from reputable sources to discourage poaching and illegal trade.

For the most recent status and information on cockatiels, please check the latest updates from the IUCN Red List website.

Where to Visit Locally

There a currently no cockatiels in the flock at Port Orchard Parrot Rescue and Sanctuary, however Port Orchard Parrots Plus frequently hosts boarding cockatiels.  Visitors are welcome to view our flock at any time during regular business hours, however we recommend viewing between noon and 2:30pm when we and our volunteers are not engaged in feeding and cleaning activity. It may also be possible to view cockatiels in the collections of either the Point Defiance Zoo (Tacoma) or the Woodland Park Zoo (Seattle).


Basic Characteristics: Cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus) are small parrots native to Australia. They are known for their charming crests, bright orange cheek patches, and long tail feathers. There is limited subspecies variation, but numerous color mutations exist due to selective breeding in captivity.

Unique Features: Cockatiels are distinguishable among parrots by their expressive crests, which reveal their emotional states, their rounded small heads, and longer tail feathers.

Natural Habitat: Cockatiels are found in a variety of open habitats across Australia, including wetlands, scrublands, and farmlands. They are adaptable and can even thrive in urban environments.

Lifespan: In the wild, cockatiels typically live up to 10-14 years, while in captivity, they can live between 15-25 years, with some reaching up to 30 years with proper care.

Life Stages: Young, adult, and senior cockatiels exhibit differences in feather coloring, behavior, and physical abilities, such as flying strength.

Cost: The cost of a cockatiel can range from $50 to $250, depending on factors like age, color, and breeder. Lifetime costs, including food, cage, toys, and routine veterinary care, can range in the thousands over the bird’s lifespan.

Health Care: Cockatiels require annual veterinary check-ups, which can cost around $50-$200. They are prone to several health conditions, including respiratory infections, feather plucking, and egg binding.

Training: Cockatiels can be trained to perform various tasks and tricks, including stepping up, target training, and mimicking sounds. Training involves building trust and using positive reinforcement techniques.

Diet: A healthy cockatiel diet includes a mix of pellets, fruits and vegetables, seeds, and occasional protein sources. Costs for feeding a cockatiel can range from $10-$20 per month.

Mating Behavior and Reproduction: Cockatiels reach sexual maturity around 6 months to 1 year, but should not breed until at least 18-24 months old. Mating behavior includes serenading, head bobbing, mutual preening, and regurgitation. They can breed into old age, but it’s recommended to limit breeding to birds under 8-10 years old.

Sexual Dimorphism: Male and female cockatiels can be visually differentiated, especially after their first molt at around 6-9 months of age. Males have a brighter yellow face and solid gray tail and body feathers, while females have a more muted face and continue to show barring on the underside of their tail feathers.

Conservation Status: As of my last update in September 2021, cockatiels are listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List, meaning they are not currently at significant risk of extinction in the wild.

Remember to check the most recent and reliable sources for updates on the information provided here, as some details may change over time.

Further Reading

Here’s a list of resources where you can find more information on cockatiels:

  1. BirdLife International – Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) – BirdLife International’s comprehensive resource on cockatiel conservation status, habitat, and threats.
  2. VCA Animal Hospitals – Cockatiels – Feeding – Offers in-depth information on feeding cockatiels.
  3. PetMD – Cockatiel Health – A useful resource on bird health, including cockatiels.
  4. Cockatiel Cottage – An online magazine dedicated to cockatiels. Offers a wealth of information about cockatiel care, health, and behavior.

Remember to cross-check any information you read about cockatiels with other reputable resources and consult with a qualified avian veterinarian for any medical concerns or questions about your pet.

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