Caring For Cockatiels: Basic Information on the Perfect Parrot

Caring for Cockatiels

Pet Cockatiels

  • Cockatiels live approximately 10-20 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 be 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 it.
  • Characterized as powder down birds, cockatiels have a dusty coating on their feathers and require frequent misting and baths.

Cockatiels Are Popular Pets, Even For Experienced Birders

Cockatiels are very popular pet birds. 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. Pet Cockatiels are available in a variety of beautiful color patterns. The more exotic the cockatiels colors are, the more the cockatiel costs. Cockatiels are cute, sweet and smart. People are crazy about cockatiels as pets because these petite parrots are easier to keep and train than most other parrots. Not only that, Cockatiels can learn to mimic speech and whistles. Just check You Tube videos of whistling, talking Cockatiels.

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. The Cockatiels feet should be free from sores.

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.

Vitamin A Deficiency in Cockatiel

Vitamin A Deficiency can lead to painful absesses

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

  • Bird Vitamins
  • Small natural wood perches
  • A bird snugglie
  • 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 20” x 20” wide with ¾” bar space. 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. Place two to three perches around the cage. Place at least a couple of perches at different levels with enough space to comfortably move between them. Look for cockatiel cages that feature a removable bottom tray for easy cleaning.

Cockatiel Cage Accessories

Like Parakeets or Budgies, Cockatiels are often the first bird for beginner pet bird enthusiasts.  But, these little parrots are a perfect pet for experienced parrot enthusiasts, as well.  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.

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 as you are choosing your bird cage accessories.

We recommend that you get the largest bird cage that you can afford that offers 1/2" bar space.  As ground dwellers, these pet birds like to travel back and forth so a long bird cage may be preferred.  These little birds need to forage, dig and chew.  They like to climb upon thin structures whether it be a Small Birdie Bungee or a natural branch bird perch.  Small parrots that feed on thin grass blades and seed, choose bird toys that offer thin natural fibers such as those made from sea grass or coco fiber that your pet Cockatiel can run through it's beak.  And, like all parrots, chewing soft sticks and soft balsa wood bird toys is innate.  Soft wood bird toys and bird perches will be greatly appreciated. As will a little bird bed such as the Scooter Z Sleep Tent.

Oh, a couple of more Cockatiel Accessories 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, while your Cockatiel is riding about on your shoulder, how about a Birdie Necklace?  Soft wood, Cockatiel sized parts and colorful display make this Cockatiel sized bird toy a real comfort.

What To Feed Your Cockatiel

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 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.

Goldenfeast has a couple of complete gourmet blends that are ideal for cockatiels.  We've listed them in the list below. Your bird will love the dozens of nutritious seeds, herbs, vegetables and legumes in Goldenfeast Gourmet Food Blends. 

Best Selling Cockatiel Diets Include

  1. Harrison's Bird Food, Fine
  2. Goldenfeast Petite Hookbill
  3. Goldenfeast Australian Blend
  4. Volkman Avian Science Cockatiel Seed without Sunflower Seeds

Cockatiel food should be supplemented with plenty of dark, bright colored vegetables, fresh fruits, grains and an occasional Millet Spray. Always provide a cuttlebone or a Manu Mineral Perch for calcium and trace minerals.

Cockatiel Toys

Providing your pet with safe, appropriately sized cockatiel toys is an important part of keeping your pet happy and healthy.

Wild Cockatiels are busy, ground feeding birds that spend a great deal of their day foraging for food. They run blades of grass through beak and scratch at the ground cruising for seeds, bugs and healthy plants.

Cockatiels chew away seed hulls and dig threw grasses to get tasty food bites. Favored cockatiel toys often have bird toy parts that meet the instinctual needs of these ground feeding parrots.

What Kind of Toys Do Cockatiels Like?

Cockatiel Toys

Flock animals, Cockatiels also love preening themselves and their mate. Running feathers through their beak allows them to keep each other’s feathers in tip top condition and offers much needed socialization. A lonely pet cockatiel doesn’t have a mate to preen so he’ll count on you to provide the toys that allow him to preen natural fibers like cotton, sisal or coconut fibers. The Mini Bird Brush and Coco Ball Toy are perfect cockatiel toys.

Cockatiels love toys that feature natural bird toy parts, like those from Planet Pleasures. Planet Pleasures has a line of small and mini bird toys that are perfect for cockatiels, parakeets and similar sized pet birds. The cockatiel sized toys are made from palm leaves, banana leaves, coconut fibers, shells, cuttlebone, corn cobs and similar products that satisfy the needs discussed above.

Wood and Foraging Cockatiel Toys

Other great toys for cockatiels are The Foraging Green and the Rainbow Bridge, Mini are fantastic cockatiel toys. Hide seeds in the grass to simulate natural foraging behaviors in Foraging Green Cockatiel Toys. Cockatiels also love chewing on the soft balsa wood on the Rainbow Bridge, Mini. Designed with Cockatiels in mind, this bird toy also has wood beads, pliable nylon chain and a bell.

Offer your bird several toy textures to encourage play, exercise, nibbling wood and preening.


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