- Common Names: Cockatiel, tiel, quarrion (quarrian), weiro (weero)
- Scientific Name: Nymphicus hollandicus
- Adult Size: 12 or 13 inches, weighing between 2 to 4 ounces
- Life Expectancy: 15 to 20 years with proper care, and sometimes as long as 30 years though this is rare
A cockatiel is a popular choice for a pet bird. These little birds are gentle, affectionate, and often like to be petted and held. They are not necessarily fond of cuddling, but they want to be near you and will be very happy to see you.
Cockatiel Cage Set-Up
- Cockatiels are active and playful and should have a large cage. Provide a cage that is at least 20 inches square and 26 inches tall.
- If you have more than one cockatiel, for example, pairs and groups of small birds, you’ll need a bigger enclosure.
- Your cockatiel’s cage should include at least two perches of different heights, thickness, and texture. These variations help keep your cockatiel’s feet healthy. Your bird should be able to move between the perches easily.
- Do not put perches over food or water dishes. The birds’ droppings will contaminate the food and water.
- Birds are sensitive to strong smells, smoke, and drafts. Keep your cockatiel’s cage away from the kitchen and away from windows.
- Place your cockatiel’s cage close to the family in a living room, den, or bedroom. Cockatiels want to be near their human family.
- Cushion the floor of the cage with a corncob layer, or aspen, wood-pellet, or recycled-paper bedding or use a liner.
- You’ll need to remove droppings frequently.
- Spot-clean the bottom liner or bedding weekly, and replace it entirely once a month.
About the Cockatiel
Cockatiels are generally friendly. However, an untamed bird might nip. You can prevent bad habits at an early age by ignoring their bad behavior. Cockatiels love to please their owners, so never scold the bird. Scolding them will cause the bird to become timid around people. An easy strategy is to reward good behavior and ignore bad behavior.
Cockatiels are intelligent birds, and over time can learn a variety of tricks. They are capable of mimicking speech, although it’s difficult to understand. Cockatiels are good whistlers, and you can teach them to sing along to tunes.
From waving and whistling to bell ringing, they’re smart little birds that enjoy a new challenge. Many cockatiels keep themselves occupied for hours talking to the “other bird” in a mirror.
Origin and History
In their native Australia, cockatiels are called quarrions or weiros. They primarily live in the Outback, a region of the northern part of the continent. Discovered in 1770, they are the smallest members of the cockatoo family. They exhibit many of the same features and habits as the larger bird. In the wild, they live in large flocks.
Cockatiels became popular as pets during the 1900s. They are easy to breed in captivity, and their docile, friendly personalities make them a natural fit for home life. These birds can no longer be trapped and exported from Australia.
Speech and Vocalizations
Cockatiels vocalize and whistle, and it’s common for them to may repeat sounds from your house, including alarm clocks, phones, and even wild birds outside.
Diet and Nutrition
- Variety is the key to a healthy diet for any parrot, including cockatiels. Seeds can be a nutritious part of the menu, but they are high in fat. Seeds should be no more than 30 percent of the bird’s diet.
- Pelleted diets are often the right choice for birds as they are nutritionally balanced, and birds can’t pick out their favorite seeds and leave the rest.
- Provide a seed/pellet mixture every morning. Give as much as the bird will eat. Cockatiels are not inclined to overeat.
- To make sure that your bird gets all the nutrients it needs, offer a variety of fresh vegetables and fruit. You can also provide proteins such as hard-boiled eggs, legumes, and cooked meats in moderation.
- In general, a cockatiel eats about one tablespoon of food per day. Remove what they do not eat after an hour.
- Your cockatiel must have fresh water at all times.
If you can, each day, give your cockatiel at least an hour outside the cage. If your bird spends most of the time in a cage, be sure it’s large enough for the bird to fly. This exercise allows your cockatiel to stretch its wings.
Activities will make a cockatiel happy and help maintain their physical and mental health. It’s essential to provide plenty of toys for your bird. The toys stimulate the bird’s natural inclination to play. For example, perches, ladders, and toys, these items should be plentiful but not to the point that it hinders the bird’s movement around the cage.
The most common health issue affecting cockatiels is nutritional deficiency. Too often, they only eat seeds. The vitamins and minerals found in fruits, vegetables, and a pellet-based diet are essential for preventing malnutrition. If you notice any of these signs of illness or distress, contact a veterinarian who treats birds:
- Decreased appetite or weight loss.
- Decreased activity or grooming.
- Feathers fluffed up for a long time.
- Long periods sitting at the bottom of the enclosure.
- Discharge from nose or mouth.
- Change in droppings for more than two days.
- Use caution when handling pets and remember they may bite or scratch (especially when stressed).
- Supervise children around pets.
- ALL ANIMALS can potentially carry viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases contagious to humans.
- Thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after contact with any pet or its habitat.
- Adults should assist children with handwashing after contact with a pet, its habitat, or aquarium water.
- Smaller-sized parrot
- A quieter bird that can learn to talk
- Does not require a lot of outside-cage time
- Can nip if not hand-raised or well trained
- May not be affectionate or talk if housed with another cockatiel