Cockatiel Birds – Some Interesting Facts

April 26, 2018 in Articles

Did you know that Cockatiel birds are the smallest and most popular members of the Cockatoo family (which also includes Corella, White Cockatoo, and Galah)? These birds are also known as quarrions or weiros. 

Cockatiel birds are generally kept as household pets or companion pets, and because of their attractiveness, gentle nature, easy maintenance and breeding, they are widely available at most pet bird stores and are one of the most popular pet birds in the world.

Happy Together

In the wild, cockatiel birds are generally grey in color with white, yellow and orange accents. Due to captivity which led to inbreeding, cockatiel birds now come in twenty-two different types of colors, ranging from grey, brown cinnamon, emerald/olive, to brilliant lutino.

Cockatiel birds have an average lifespan of 25 years and they can grow from between 11-14 inches long from head to tail. They are a native of the Australian wetlands, scrublands, and bushlands.


Cockatiel Birds: Behavior and Interaction

The position of a cockatiel’s distinctive crest determines its mood or emotional state. A straight-up, vertical crest means the cockatiel is excited, startled or curious; a slightly-slanted crest signifies a neutral or relaxed state. 

And, when the bird is agitated or defensive, the crest is usually flattened close to its head accompanied by a loud, hissing sound.  Cockatiels are very intelligent, social, and active birds. They easily get attached to their owner. 

They are also able to mate for life. Because of this, they require a lot of attention and social interaction to stay healthy and happy.

Kissy Kiss


Caged cockatiel birds need to be actively engaged so as to prevent boredom which triggers health issues and severe behavioral problems.  Some toys can be easily destroyed with their small beaks, so be sure to take note of this and remove any that they have torn apart which can pose a choking hazard. 

To help strengthen their natural avian instincts, small foraging boxes (which are chewable) and have treats and hay in them, work very well and will keep your cockatiel happy. 

Male cockatiels are known to be more social and active than their female counterparts. They are capable of both whistling and speaking.  Although learning how to talk takes a lot of training and constant repetition of words by the owner.

Some of the male cockatiels are more inclined to whistling since it’s a more natural behavior than talking, and so, they might even end up not learning how to speak at all.

The females are more gentle, solitary and overprotective of their personal spaces. The majority of them hardly whistle or speak — or even show interest in learning it — but they do have the ability.


Cockatiel Birds:  Housing

The bigger the cage, the better, and the more convenient for the bird. Although cockatiels are not exactly large birds, they still need a spacious cage that can accommodate toys, food and water bowls, multiple perches, their head crest and a long tail.

The shape of the cage is also important — either a square or round cage with large door front will be appropriate. The cage should have horizontal bars for climbing and exercise, and a couple of perches — evenly spaced at different levels. The perches can be of different sizes and materials such as rope, wooden dowels, bonded sand/concrete (for manicuring and should not be kept in sleeping area), natural stem wood and manzanita.

Suggested size of a cockatiel’s cage:

Length:  24 inches

Width:    18 inches

Height:    24 inches

Bar Spacing:  1/2 – 5/8 inches

If it’s a busy household, the birdcage should be kept in a quiet room off the floor to help it sleep at night, but if it’s a quiet household, covering the bird’s cage is advised. Having multiple bird cages can be convenient — a play cage and a cage for sleeping.

Proper care should be taken when choosing a place for the cage; the placement area should be at room temperature, hot or cold areas can affect the bird’s health.  

Here is one that I would choose because of the non-toxic and lead-free powder-coated paint, its sturdy frame, and 4 casters so that you can easily transfer your cockatiel from one room to another. 

Cockatiel Cage – Click Image to Purchase


This is a sturdy cage for your Cockatiel.  It has 4 noise-free, swivel casters.  To get all the details, click the image below. 

Cage for Cockatiels CLICK Image to Purchase


Diet of a Cockatiel

Cockatiels’ diet consists mainly of seeds, millets, insects, nectar, fruits, and pellets. To maintain a balanced diet, the bird’s feeds should include a variety of food and not exclusive to pellets or formulated foods which can cause health and behavioral problems.

Click Image for Info/To Purchase

This Cockatiel food (image to the right) has NO preservatives, NO artificial colors and is enriched with DHA, contains Omega Fatty Acids and also Digestive Probiotics for good health.  

Your cockatiel should be given a regular supply of fresh, clean water daily.

Fruits and vegetables such as carrots, mango, broccoli, squash, dandelion leaves, apple, cooked sweet potatoes, and berries should be added to the cockatiel’s diet.

To ensure a healthy bird, their food and water bowls have to be changed regularly.

The cockatiels can also be fed human’s food like cooked whole grains, unsugared cereals or multigrain bread in small in quantity.



The following foods are very TOXIC to your Cockatiel, so be sure to avoid giving these at all costs:

1.  Honey

2.  Avocados

3.  Mushrooms

4.  Garlic and Onions

5.  Chocolate

6.  Alcohol

7.  Foods High in Sugar/Salt/Fat

8.  Dried Beans

9.  Seeds from any fruits

10. Cabbage

11. Iceberg Lettuce

12. Parsley

13. Carbonated Drinks


Habitat Maintenance

The cockatiel birds’ cage and perches should be regularly washed with warm water and soap and disinfected weekly with a diluted chlorine solution. The cage should be carefully rinsed and deodorized after disinfestation, to remove the chlorine smell.

Worn out or damaged toys, perches, and dishes should be replaced, so as not to cause damage to the cockatiel. Ensure to rotate new toys to the habitat once it becomes disinterested, or on a weekly basis.

Materials or toys made of lead or zinc should be kept out the bird’s cage to prevent the cockatiel from ingesting them.

Mirrors should be kept out of cockatiels’ reach and sight to prevent them from bonding with their reflection.


Health:  What to Look For

Signs of a Healthy Cockatiel Bird

  •    Sociable, curious and active
  •    Does not skip meals and drinks regularly
  •    Clean and dry vents
  •    Well groomed feathers
  •    Dry nostrils and dry-bright eyes.
  •    Normal appearance of the beak, legs, and feet.

Red flags

  •    Runny or discolored discharge
  •    Loss of appetite
  •    Wheezing or coughing
  •    Inactivity and unsocial
  •    Eye or nasal discharge
  •    Abnormal behaviors such as favoring one foot when not asleep
  •    Fluffed, soiled or plucked feathers

According to, an excess of fruit intake may be a cause of runny discharge, as cockatiel birds are not tolerant of citric acid. If your bird has runny discharge persists after two days,  then the condition has become chronic and you need to take the cockatiel to the vet. 

The intake of fruits should be limited to once per day.  However, if your bird does not any fruits at all, then it should be taken to a vet as this can become a problem. 

Changing cockatiel birds’ diet all of a sudden can also affect their health. When modifying their diet, the new feed should be introduced gradually, so it can get used to it over time.  This may take anywhere from days to months to modify their diet.  Be sure to never take away all the seeds before you are certain that he or she is eating the pellets, in addition to some veggie and fruits.

Since birds are stubborn, by nature, this may be stressful for you and your pet.  But do not despair because cockatiels can be trained.

What a beauty!


Cockatiel birds have a gentle and affectionate demeanor and their small size allows them to fit nicely into average-sized rooms, without occupying up a lot of space in your home.  Your house does not have to be huge in order to have a cockatiel as a pet.

They are very active, and their ability to speak makes them entertaining creatures. Talk to your Cockatiel and say a phrase; you may be pleasantly surprised when you hear the words repeated from your pet bird!  Many have repeated phrases such as “Pretty bird,” “I love you,” and so on.

Here’s an adorable video of a Cockatiel singing — and talking — to the family cat.  They are precious!  It just goes to show you that cats can get along with birds (and not eat them!) if they are trained properly.  

Due to their amenable behavior and qualities, Cockatiels are quite popular as pets and you can easily get one at most any pet store that sells birds.


Cockatiel Birds – Some Interesting Facts


    1. Christina says:

      I have a beautiful 3-year-old cockatiel, named Sunny. I have had him since he was 10 weeks old. He was hand fed and is extremely loveable. He loves to sit with us and be pet and adored. He sings a lot and talks. He knows many little songs, as well as mimic words, are parrot commonly says like “hey baby, cutie cutie, what are you doing, doing.
      We have thought about getting a female cockatiel for him but have heard that it can take away his friendliness. Is this true? We would not want to lose that wonderful social aspect he has.
      Thank you for the great tips and informative article. I have bookmarked it for reference in the future!

      • Cathy says:

        Oh, your sweet bird, Sunny, sounds adorable! It’s so nice that he sits with you and enjoys being pet. I know Cockatiels are very social birds. I like the phrases which you have mentioned he learned, very cute!

        I think it would be nice for him to have a companion. I am not aware that it would take away his friendliness. I believe if you continue to spend time with him, as you do now, he will still be very close to you!

        Be sure to allow a quarantine period of at least 30 – 60 days if you do decide to get him a friend.


    2. Eric says:

      You mentioned inbreeding has created new colors of cockatiels, what are those? Also, should you avoid them for health reasons or is that something which won’t impact the life of a cockatiel?

      I am looking for either a cockatiel or a parakeet but I wanted something that would sing. You mention cockatiels whistle, is that the most likely sound to expect from the males?

      • Cathy says:


        As far as inbreeding, I would not recommend it. I believe it is better for the bird’s health, in general, not to inbreed.

        Some of the new colors that have come about from inbreeding are: brown, tan, subtle pale yellow, fawn, silver, and emerald.

        They actually can repeat phrases that you say once you train them to do this.

        Thanks for visiting!

    3. oliver says:

      This is really fascinating information, its chock full of all the relevant data which one needs prior to deciding if this is the companion pet for you.
      I really knew nothing about these birds until I read down through the page here.
      living up to 25 years is a fabulous lifespan and really allows the owner ample time to bond on all levels with them.
      I can recall many years ago an acquaintance owned a Cockatiel and it ate through the wooden bars of its cage. Back then I’d no idea why it would do that, now I know why.


      • Cathy says:

        Thank you, Oliver, for your comments about this article!

        It’s true that an approximate lifespan of 25 years is pretty nice compared to that of some other animals.

        I’m glad to hear that you have learned a few things about Cockatiels. And, yes, now you know the reason why your pet Cockatiel did that years ago.


    4. Jeff says:

      I enjoyed reading your post on these amazing pets, I am amazed at how much you know about Cockatiel birds. You know I never considered a Cockatiel for a pet, I have always had dogs for pets my entire life. When my present dog passes I think I might consider these amazing and interesting bird for pets, you don’t have to walk these birds do you?

      • Cathy says:

        Hello Jeff,

        Glad you enjoyed reading my post! Yeah, these birds are pretty neat to have as pets!

        As for walking, no, you will not need to walk them … but you might have to chase after them when they’re out of their cage. : )

        Thanks for visiting!

    5. Lesley says:

      Cockatiels are one of my favorite birds. As a child I had one as a pet and I think it’s time that we get one again for the family.

      Do you have any advice on handing them without getting bitten? I have to admit that their sharp beaks do frighten me just a little.

      • Cathy says:

        Hi, Lesley!

        I, too, love these birds!  One of my favs as well.  I think it would great if you adopt a cockatiel as your new family pet!  

        The best way to approach your bird is with a calm demeanor.  Place your arm even with his/her chest so that your bird can go right onto your arm.  

        Whistling at them and talking in a low voice lets them know you are not trying to hurt them.  I can understand you’re a little scared about being pecked/bitten, but gain the bird’s confidence a little at a time, maybe start with whistling when going up to the bird.  Try this for a couple days and then you can attempt to put your arm inside the cage to have the bird walk up and down your arm; if you bring your arm down, he will walk up.

        It’s best to show you are not afraid.  I believe the bird will understand, quick enough, that you are his friend and not his foe!  : )  Please let me know how it works out if you do adopt one.

        Thank you for leaving a comment.

        Best wishes!


    6. Jay says:

      Thank you for sharing some interesting facts about Cockatiel birds!

      We actually went to the local pet store a few days ago and were considering a new baby cockatiel, but really had no clue on the basic facts of how to even raise a Cockatiel bird. I mean, the type of things that entered my mind were; What foods would she eat? What size cage would we need to buy her? How would we clean a Coclatiel cage? What if I buy a Cockatiel that is not healthy, how would we know?

      Your post has answered so many of my questions! I can now be more confident when picking out my new little friend, and also have a much better understanding of the life of a Cockatiel bird. Now… It’s time to ask my lovely wife for another trip to the pet store. (or beg). lol.

      I will be sure to show her this post though before we go!

      Wish me luck!
      – Jay.

      • Cathy says:

        Hi Jay,

        You’re very welcome, and I’m glad that my article provided you with several answers to questions that you had.  That’s great news that you have gone to the pet shop and are considering a new pet for your family!!

        I thank you for wanting to show your wife the article I’ve written.  I hope she finds it to be useful as you have!  

        If you do adopt the cockatiel, you may want to refer back to my article again for cages, food, cleaning the cage, etc. 

        Please let me know how it goes, and I wish you and your wife the best with the possibility of bringing a new bird into your home!  If you have any further questions, feel free to write back.


    7. Evald says:

      Hey Cath 😉
      I have to say, this is very informative and interesting article You wrote, great job!
      Coming into this article I knew very little about cockatiel birds, but thankfuly Your article greeted me with many interesting and detailed facts about them with great level of clarity (by that I mean the article is user-friendly).

      Some of the paragraphs that stood out for me personally the most were about their behaviour and intereaction as well as health & diet. I could’t even imagine that ”the position of a cockatiel’s distinctive crest determines its mood or emotional state”, very interesting!

      Also, learning about the sings of healthy bird & health’s red flags is a very crucial thing which every Cockatiel bird owner must know in order to provide healthy and happy life for a bird and thanfuly, Your ”health” paragraph made it clear to understand important aspects about their health and how to maintain that good health.
      Of course, as the time goes by and more research about Cockatiel birds will be done, I hope You will be adding new, aditional information regarding their Cockatiel health and more if possible, to always keep us uptated with latest news & tips, as well as facts ;). I really like Your writing style!

      Keep up the good work Cath 😉

      • Cathy says:

        Hello Evald,

        Thank you very much for commenting on this article!  I am very pleased that you have found it to contain useful information for Cockatiel owners — or those hoping to become one!

        I, too, found it interesting to learn that the position of this bird’s distinctive crest determines its emotional state or mood.

        I appreciate your positive comments and hope you will visit my site again in the future.



    8. Genesis says:

      I used to live with someone who had a cockatiel as a pet. The bird was male and could talk quite a bit. It would stay in its cage at night, but during the day, when he was home, he’d take it out and the bird would sit on his shoulder while he read or on the edge of his plate while he ate and pick off food. It was really cute and sweet!

      • Cathy says:


        Yes, Cockatiels can be quite talkative!  They are truly beautiful birds.  

        That is funny about how your friend’s bird would “pick off food” as your friend ate.  

        Thank you for commenting, and I hope you visit again!



    9. Melanie says:

      What a great article!  My kids want pets, dog and cat are usually thrown around but I had a Lovebird when I was younger and wouldn’t mind a bird again.  You gave so much useful advice and I feel like I’d be well informed in making a decision to get a bird.  I hadn’t thought about Cockatiel’s until now.  Thank You for all of this useful information.  What a great resource.  Well laid out and very in-depth and informative!

      • Cathy says:

        Hi Melanie,

        Thank you very much!  I am so glad that you have found the information useful and that you are now considering getting a Cockatiel as the family pet!  : )  

        Please visit again!



    10. sanjay says:

      Cockatiel birds are adorable. There is lots of information about them here and thanks for sharing the lists of food that need to be avoided. I would definitely avoid foods mentioned here. My cockatiels birds need a new home and I  have been looking for a good quality cage for them fro last couple of days. Your tips on this will help.

      • Cathy says:

        Hi Sanjay,

        Yes, they are certainly adorable birds!  

        Thank you for letting me know that you feel a lot of information was shared about this bird and how to care for it, etc.

        The cages I have listed are of a good quality and have gotten very good reviews so I believe you would be happy with one of them if you want to give it a try!  : )

        Enjoy your special friends!!


    11. Alice says:

      When we were kids, our dad got us a Martinez bird and we absolutely loved it. But the thing that always got us excited having a bird in the house is how it mimics us especially when me and my siblings were having arguments. After being with us for 5 years, it got sick and died, one of the saddest days of my entire childhood years (sigh).

      Today, I am considering having a bird for my kids but could not really decide what kind/breed. After reading your article on Cockatiel birds and knowing more about them and how to care for the, I think I’d go for it. In case we will decide to have this as pet, do we need to buy a pair, male and female? Or having one is just fine? I know that some birds are happier when they have a partner.

      • Cathy says:

        Hi Alice,

        It sounds as though you were really attached to your bird when you were a child!  I can certainly relate to the love we have for our pets!  I remember how sad it was when I lost my first pet, a beautiful German Shepherd, when I was 11 years of age.  Sorry about the loss of your bird being one of your saddest days — from your childhood.  

        I very glad to hear that you would consider adopting a Cockatiel as your family pet!  That is great news!!  And, yes, they would be much happier when they have a partner than being alone in the cage.  If you can care for two, I would definitely go for it!

        Let me know how this works out.  And, thank you for visiting my site!


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Cockatiel Birds – Some Interesting Facts

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