Cockatiels are small parrots from Australia that have been kept as pets for decades. Wild Australian Cockatiels are mostly gray in color with orange cheek spots and a splash of yellow with an adorable crest that perks up at will. They’ve got the cutest little crest.

Why Cockatiels Are The Best!

Pet Cockatiels are available in a variety of beautiful color patterns. The more exotic the cockatiel's colors are, the more the cockatiel costs. As of this writing, you can get one for around $200 in the US. But, don't under-estimate their charm because of their price tag!

Cockatiels are cute, sweet and smart. People are crazy about cockatiels as pets because these petite parrots are easy to keep and train. Not only that, Cockatiels can learn to mimic speech and whistles. Just check YouTube videos of whistling, talking Cockatiels.

From Australia, wild Cockatiels are ground feeders, eating primarily grasses, seeds, leaves, Australian tree bark and even grubs! They often are found residing in dead trees near bodies of water.  Keep in mind the wild Cockatiel habitat when you are choosing your bird cage accessories.

Whether you get a hand fed baby cockatiel or choose to re-home a cockatiel, bird training these little parrots is generally pretty easy when you use positive bird training techniques such as Clicker Training for Birds. Whichever bird you choose, make sure that it is alert and active. Look for a Cockatiel with bright eyes, smooth, pretty feathers and a clean vent and nasal nares.

Cockatiels are smaller, quieter and less destructive than their larger parrot friends, making them excellent pets for the apartment dweller.  The Cockatiel bird cage doesn't take up as much room and the bird cage accessories are smaller and more affordable.

6 Fun Cockatiel Facts

  • Cockatiels live approximately 20 years with reports of up to 30 years.
  • Colors: Wild cockatiels have a gray body with a yellow face and crest and orange cheek patches. Males have brighter facial colors while females have bars on the underside of the tail feathers. Captive bred cockatiels sport several color variations including albino, lutino, pied, pearl, cinnamon, and silver.
  • Known to be gentle and docile, tamed cockatiels like to ride on your shoulder and be petted and held.
  • Male Cockatiels are believed to be more capable of mimicking speech and whistles. All cockatiels whistle and vocalize but they are not nearly as loud as most other parrots.
  • While pairs of cockatiels provide company for each other care must be taken to handle frequently to maintain the human bond. Single cockatiels need you to spend daily time interacting with them.

    Characterized as powder down birds, cockatiels have a dusty coating on their feathers and require frequent misting and baths.


    Cockatiel Supplies

    A healthy cockatiel makes an excellent pet.  Caring for cockatiels is relatively easy. Keep your pet bird happy with the proper supplies.

    Choose a high quality food and supplement generously with dark colored vegetables, low sugar fruits, grains, and healthy people food.  Cockatiels are susceptible to vitamin A and calcium deficiencies, just like larger parrots, so a proper diet is the best thing that you can do for your bird.

    A Deficiency can lead to painful abscesses like those shown in this image. 

    Vitamin A Deficiency in Cockatiel


    Aside from premium pellets and the cage, you'll want to choose appropriate cockatiel supplies including:

    • Bird Vitamins
    • Small natural wood perches
    • A play stand
    • A second set of food cups
    • A birdie bungee
    • 3+ assorted toys for your bird to chew, preen and snuggle against.

    Cockatiel Cages

    Cockatiels are active and playful and should have a large cage. Opinions on the minimum size vary, but a minimum cage size would be 20” x 20” wide. Consider a taller cage to accommodate your pet cockatiels tail. Make sure that the bird cage has some horizontal bars that encourage exercise and climbing. 

    We recommend that you get the largest bird cage that you can afford that offers 1/2" bar space.  Keep in mind that cockatiels have a long tail that can get disheveled in a tall, skinny cage. Also, as ground dwellers, these pet birds like to travel back and forth, so a longer width bird cage may be preferred.  


    Place two to four appropriately sized perches around the cage with enough space to encourage your bird to exercise. Look for cockatiel cages that feature a removable bottom tray for easy cleaning.

    Cockatiels also enjoy a small birdie bungee for climbing and a bird swing. 

    What Does A Cockatiel Need In Their Cage?

    Cockatiels are busy little birds. They like to climb and swing whether it be a Small Birdie Bungee or a natural branch bird perch.  Get a couple of different perch styles, from natural branch to a nail filing perch.

    Cockatiels can be messy so plan for that.  They are known a dusty birds so you’ll want to mist them down frequently.  The seed hulls from the small seeds that they eat can fly all over the floor, so get a couple of seed guards. A small handheld vacuum will help.

    Oh, one other Cockatiel accessory that both your and your feathered friend will appreciate.  A Shoulder Apron will keep your pet bird Cockatiel from chewing holes in your shirt or pooping down your back.  

    Cheaper than a T-shirt, this shoulder apron is a must.  We are fond of Cockatiel Shoulder Apron Accessories that both catch bird poop and have a bird toy hanger to give your Cockatiel something to nibble on, besides your hair. 

    And, let your little friend out of the cage for an hour or so each day so that it can socialize and get some exercise.

    What Are The Best Toys For A Cockatiel?

    Small parrots that feed on thin grass blades and seed, choose bird toys that offer thin natural fibers such as those made from seagrass or coco fiber that your pet Cockatiel can run through its beak.  

    And, like all parrots cockatiels love to chew. They prefer chewing on soft sticks and soft balsa wood bird toys.  Soft wood bird toys and bird perches will be greatly appreciated, too. Especially some that are colorful and have bells.  These styles allow for sensory enrichment. 

    Finally, cockatiels are ground feeders. They’d love nothing more than a grass feeding mat for forage through.


    What Is The Best Food For Cockatiels?

    Cockatiels have long been one of the most popular pet birds, but researchers have only studied cockatiel food needs in the past few decades. These Australian ground feeders eat a variety of seeds, grasses, vegetation, some tree barks and even some small bugs and grubs to round out their nutritional needs in the arid to semi-arid environments that they reside.

    Today, premium pet cockatiel diets contain a variety of ingredients to satisfy the nutritional needs of these crested pet birds. Providing a well balanced cockatiel diet supplemented with green, leafy and red vegetables and low sugar fruits will help your pet stay healthy.

    Our favorite pellet blends offer the foundation of a balanced diet. 


    How long should cockatiels be out of their cage?

    Plan on getting your little friend out of its cage every day. Remember to closely supervise your pet bird when it is out. It’s easy to step on a small bird on the floor. Also, dogs and cats might think that the cockatiel is a toy, which could have deadly circumstances.

    A portable little birdie play stand will be invaluable. Make sure to train your 'tiel to stay on it. Give it a special treat every time that you put it on the stand. If it won’t stay on the stand, put it back in its cage for a little while.

    In Closing, cockatiels make great pets.They will live a long and happy life with proper care.

    Diane Burroughs, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist trained in ABA therapy techniques. She specializes in avian anxiety disorders and is certified in Nutrition For Mental Health. Diane has written a number of bird behavior books and she offers behavior consultations. She's developed a range of UnRuffledRx Science-backed Parrot Wellness Supplies.

    Diane's products have been featured in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery and at Exoticscon, a conference for exotic pet veterinarians. Her bird collars & supplements are stocked in avian vet clinics and bird stores throughout the US. With over 30 years in the field of behavior, Diane has created thousands of successful individualized behavior plans that help pets thrive.

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