The Cockatiel, also known as Weiro Bird, Quarrion, and Nymphicus hollandicus, is a small parrot species endemic to Australia. This species is prized as a household pet and a companion parrot worldwide. According to APPA’s survey regarding their popularity, Cockatiels rank second when it comes to famous pet birds. They are small, cuddly, bold, and easy to breed, making them great house companions. If you are interested in petting one of these adorable birds, make sure to read further!
Cockatiels are endemic to the semi-arid areas of Australia. This open environment may be the reason why these birds don’t possess the ear-piercing screeches of parrots living in dense rainforests. In the wild, Cockatiels forage on the ground, and they breed in vast numbers, making them widely available as relatively cheap pets in local pet stores. They are light sleepers, always alert for predators.
Characteristics of a Cockatiel
Average life span: 25 years with proper care
Average size: 11 to 14 in long, from head to tail
The Cockatiel’s distinctive crest feathers tell you its emotional state. When it is excited, the crest is vertical. A defensive Cockatiel will have its crest feathers flattened close to its head, and it may produce hisses when overly stressed. If the Cockatiel is relaxed, it will have slightly pushed back crest feathers and fluffed cheek feathers.
A male Cockatiel’s face is white or yellow, whereas a female is gray or light gray, and both sexes have round orange areas on ears, which is commonly referred to as “cheddar cheeks.” The orange coloration is more vibrant among males than females.
This bird species tends to whistle more than talk. It has a lower noise volume compared to other parrots, which makes it a great apartment pet. As a vocal bird, it can be taught to sing melodies and speak various words and phrases. The calls of male Cockatiels are more diverse compared to females.
Caring for a Cockatiel
Pet Cockatiels can be purchased in large pet shops, avian-specific pet stores, direct from a professional bird breeder, or through a bird adoption/rescue organization. If you are adopting a Cockatiel, know the rundown of the bird’s history—its origins, behavioral issues, and the like.
The Cockatiel is the perfect beginner pet. If you want to have this adorable bird in your house, make sure to dedicate at least an hour of playtime to your pet. Cockatiels also love hanging outside their cage, so make sure to provide a perch to chill and socialize, even if you are not actively playing with your pet. If you decided to get another Cockatiel, put it in a separate cage and place it nearby your other Cockatiel. These birds will talk to one another, and once they come out to perch, they will play. Do not keep different types of birds in a same cage.
A housing that measures 24” x 24” x 30” with metal bars is ideal for one Cockatiel. Its perch should be at least 5 in long and a half in diameter. You may provide a variety of perch sizes to exercise your bird’s feet.
Make sure to clean and sanitize the enclosure and perches regularly. Replace your substrate weekly or when needed. Replace items such as toys, perches, and dishes when damages. Ensure that the items inside the enclosure are free from toxic metals like zinc or lead because these can cause serious medical complications if ingested by your pet bird.
Aside from the Cockatiel’s daily social needs with their owners, it would need foraging toys to enhance mental stimulation. Toys such as cardboard, soft wood, pieces of paper, and non-toxic rawhide are perfect for their small beaks. Always provide clean, lukewarm water regularly for bathing. After which, remove the water immediately. If you want to bathe and at the same time socialize with your pet, you can mist it with water.
A well-balanced diet of a Cockatiel consists of specialized pellets, fresh vegetables, fruits, and fortified seeds. 60-70% of its diet should comprise of specialized pellets. Avoid providing avocado, chocolate, caffeine, fruit seeds, alcohol, sugary foods, and high-fat content foods because these items can trigger unwanted medical conditions. Do not forget to provide clean, chlorine-free water for your pet.