The Cockatiel is a very common pet. Cockatiels are the smallest cockatoo species, which makes them an inexpensive pet. Cockatiels have been known to live up to 20 years in captivity, but they usually live between 10-15 years. Cockatiels are seen in many different colour mutations caused by crossbreeding with other Cockatiel lines, thus changing their appearance. Cockatiels are common pets for people who are just beginning bird ownership because of their availability and low price point. It is important that Cockatiel owners know how to properly care for their pets because Cockatiels require much attention and need space to fly around when they desire it.
The Cockatiel is sexually dimorphic (different sexes). Cockatiels of both sexes have grey feathers with white tips, yellow heads, orange cheek patches, long pointed wings and long tails. Cockatiel males are between 34-38 cm (13-15 inches) in length, whereas females are slightly smaller at 30-35 cm (12-14 inches). Cockatiels weigh about 80 grams on average. Cockatiels will moult once a year, around October or November, depending on their age and location. They usually moult into their first breeding plumage, which includes bright yellow cheeks, deep orange/red spots behind the eyes and metallic grey on top of the head. Cockatiels begin to experience ocular degeneration as they age; this is because Cockatiel vision begins to deteriorate after about 4 years of age. Cockatiels have three eyelid colours: White, black and yellow. Cockatiels with white eyelids have the best vision, whereas Cockatiels with dark or dull coloured lids have poor vision and require a special diet to help them see better. Cockatiels that are blind in one eye can learn to compensate for their loss of sight however it is harder for Cockatiels to adapt if they become completely blind.
Cockatiel behaviour can vary depending on their housing situation and individual personality. Cockatiels prefer a large cage to fly around in if they desire because it gives them more space when desired and normally when not occupied by their owner, they will sit on the top bar eating seeds from the food dish they have. Cockatiels are very social birds, and it is essential for Cockatiel owners to interact with their Cockatiels on a daily basis since Cockatiels thrive on human interaction. Cockatiels will mimic sounds, people, other pets and noises that are around them, which makes them an aggressive mimickers if they do not receive enough attention from humans or other pets in the household. Cockatiels can also be very loud because they have high-pitched voices. Cockatiels are known to “scream” when left alone by being loud vocal birds however, Cockatiel training is possible with positive reinforcement techniques.
Cockatiel behaviour is important for owners to understand because it helps improve the owner-bird bond, which will make happiness and contentment much higher for Cockatiel owners and Cockatiels. Cockatiel training is possible with positive reinforcement techniques such as clicker training which will make Cockatiels, even if they are aggressive mimickers, much more enjoyable because Cockatiels can be taught to come when called or perform tricks for their owners. Cockatiel behaviour varies depending on the Cockatiel itself and whether it is in breeding season or not so care must always be taken during those times because Cockatiels may become territorial and dangerous.
Cockatiel diet varies depending on it’s needs whether it is breeding season or molting season or whether the Cockatiel is healthy or if it has other health problems. Cockatiels should eat an avian formulated pelleted diet with seeds, nuts, fruits and vegetables. Cockatiels are prone to getting fatty liver disease which can be prevented by restricting “junk food” from their diet while Cockatiels require high amounts of vitamin A in their diet to keep them healthy. Cockatiel cages need to have an elevated seed guard to prevent seed spillage into the Cockatiel’s food dish because Cockatiels will waste most of their water intake eating seeds that fall through the feeding grate.
Cockatiel housing varies depending on whether they are pets or breeding birds however if they are cage birds it is important for Cockatiels to have a large cage with enough room for Cockatiel toys and Cockatiel perches. Cockatiel aviaries are normally used by Cockatiels that are housed outside on warmer days because Cockatiel aviaries need to be big enough for insulation from the elements as well as having a sleeping area. Cockatiels can become territorial especially when breeding season hits therefore Cockatiels that are housed together either in an aviary or inside need to be separated during those times because they will attack each other which could lead to severe injury or death of one of the Cockatiels.