The Cockatiel

Quick Facts

- Best for experienced owners
- Best solo or in pairs
- Medium size
- Medium activity level
- High Trainability
- High sociability with people

Cockatiels are small parrots and the smallest members of the cockatoo family. They are also known as Weero or Quarrion. These lovely birds originally hail from Australia where they wander throughout the inland regions of the Island, particularly in the scrublands, bush lands and wetlands.

Dr. John Latham, a member of the famous Captain Cook's crew, first recorded cockatiels in 1781. It is believed that the French were the first to breed the cockatiel in captivity and were doing so around the mid 1800s.

Cockatiels make fantastic pets. However, they do require more care than birds like budgies and finches, and should not be taken on lightly. Cockatiels are very social birds and thrive of attention; they are not birds that should be bought than ignored. They are not birds that should be left in their cage looking pretty all day, they need exercise, interaction, and like to spend time each day playing and having fun. Cockatiels that do not get enough attention can get depressed and become ill.

Cockatiels are not for everyone. They tend to be quite noisy and messy. They are not appropriate for homes with young children as they can bite if startled or scared. Males make better pets than females as they are usually less prone to biting, and are easier to train to talk. However, females are usually quieter, but as more apt to bite, hiss and screech.

Cockatiels are fairly easy to tame, but it does take dedication and daily work. Once tamed, if ignored and not given daily attention they will quickly revert back to their wild nature. When living in a family environment it is important that all members of the family participate in their care so they do not become one-personish.

Some Cockatiels enjoy living with another of their kind, but some do not. Single birds tend to bond best with their owners, but for those who work long hours two birds are better than one. If owners do not want to worry about the possibility of little ones, cockatiels will usually live happily with another bird of the same sex as themselves. Cockatiels are best introduced to each other when young. Care should be taken when putting two birds together as they may fight. When adding a second bird, it should be done slowly and careful supervised. Cockatiels should never be housed with other types of birds.

Cockatiels require a serious commitment. To keep them happy and healthy, they need at least an hour of daily excise and attention, fresh food and water each day, regular cage cleanings and an annual veterinarian check up. Cockatiels require a large cage, one big enough for them to fully stretch out and flap their wings and fly around a bit in.

Appearance and Care:
Cockatiels are medium sized birds that measure 12-14 inches long and weigh 90-180 grams when full grown. Domesticated cockatiels are available in 15 different colours and combinations, ranging from grey, pied, cinnamon, pearled, albino, lutino, yellow cheeked and silver. The most common cockatiel color is grey with a yellow face.

Cockatiels do produce a fair amount of dander and are not the best choice for those with severe allergies or asthma. Birds should be offered a weekly birdbath to help keep them clean. Cockatiels molt yearly; this lasts about 4-6 weeks. Their nails should be clipped regularly.

Health and Diet:*
Cockatiels are hardy birds that usually live 15-20 years. However, with extremely good care they have been known to reach 30 years or more. Cockatiels are susceptible to a few health problems; however, most can be prevented with proper nutrition and care. Owners should watch for polyoma, Psittacosis, Pacheco’s disease, obesity and candidisasis. As sick birds are easier prey in the wild, it is instinctive for Cockatiels to try to hide when they are feeling ill. Sick Cockatiels will also show signs of inactivity, noisy breathing, lack of activity and appetite, sneezing, weight loss, bleeding, droopy wings and ruffled feathers. At the first signs of illness, Cockatiels should be taken to their veterinarian. It is recommended that any new birds being brought into a home with pre-existing birds be quarantined for 30 days to ensure they are healthy and not carrying a contagious disease.

A balanced diet is very important in maintaining the good health of a cockatiel. They should be fed a diet of seeds and pellets, and fresh fruits and vegetables. A good quality cockatiel seed can be purchased at most pet stores; the cockatiel’s dish should be cleaned and filled each day. All fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed to ensure they are clean of pesticides. Most cockatiels enjoy turnip greens, spinach, chicory, beet greens, spinach, and corn on the cob, sweet potatoes, grated carrot, yams, pumpkin, mangos, apples, melon, peaches, banana, kale and endives. Fruit should always be carefully deseeded before feeding as most fruit seeds contain cyanide and are dangerous. Cockatiels should not be given chocolate, alcohol, raw potatoes, cabbage, eggplant, asparagus, milk or anything thing with caffeine or sugar in it. Their water should be changed at least once a day.


Located in: Birds