All you need to know about: Cockatiel

This is a Cockatiel care sheet that covers the majority of what you need to know to care for your Cockatiel properly. If you require additional information beyond what we have here, or if you have an emergency, there are excellent resources.

Cockatiel Facts

Where does a Cockatiel originate from?

Cockatiels are native to Australia but have been banned in the pet trade due to Australia prohibits the transport of all native species of birds.

What are the essential characteristics of a Cockatiel?

Cockatiels are beautiful birds with excellent social skills and rely on companionship in captivity as well as in the wild. Cockatiels are primarily known for their gorgeous crest, orange patches on the sides of their cheeks, and their long silver tails. They are an exotic pet because they are not native to the U.S. The Cockatiels personality will charm you with entertainment throughout the life in which it inhabits your home.

Binomial Name: Nymphicus Hollandicus

Cockatiel Diet

What does a Cockatiel eat?

Cockatiels typically stick to a specialized pelleted diet which comes highly recommended by breeders and enthusiast. The pellets should consist of no less than 60-70% of their daily diet. It is o.k to use fortified seeds in moderation, but be aware of your cockatiels intake because the sees are known to have a much higher fat content and less nutritional value.

What kinds of foods are suitable for a Cockatiel?

Many types of fruits and vegetables are great to give cockatiels, some of which have been listed below.
apricots(no pits)
dark green leafy vegetables(examples spinach, or kale.)
carrot tops

What kind of foods are inadequate for Cockatiels?

Below is a list of foods you should NEVER feed a Cockatiel because it can have negative consequences if consumed.

fruit seeds of any kind

My Cockatiel is not eating; what do I do?

Cockatiels can be quite picky when it comes to eating, and they typically know what they like. It is crucial to stick to the 60-70% rule with pelleted foods when it comes to a healthy Cockatiel. If you only give your Cockatiel what it likes, such as a seed diet than a Cockatiel is going to become overweight and could be prone to health problems caused by obesity and other malnutrition factors. You can include fruits and vegetables in your


Diet but be sure to give them in average quantities and discard any uneaten fruits within 24 hours of not being consumed. Cockatiels enjoy a large variety in their diets, so be sure to mix up the meals to add excitement and diversity to your bird. If your Cockatiel is not eating regularly, it could be a sign of sickness as well, and to be cautious, refer to our health concerns, or you can visit a vet. If you do not have one, we have vet hotlines on our web page.

Water is a crucial part of your Cockatiels health and should be changed out regularly to prevent disease with your bird. Filtered water is preferred for Cockatiels so be sure that it is clean and that it is changed out often for Cockatiels do use their water for many factors while living in the enclosure.

Cockatiels Handling and Behavior

Is a Cockatiel the right pet for me?

Cockatiels are very social animals and will bond with their master throughout their life span. If you are not going to have time to give a Cockatiel lots of attention then you better be buying two birds for the Cockatiel will get lonesome and depressed if it is left in a cage all day with nobody to interact with. With two Cockatiels they will be able to bond since you can’t give them all the attention they need. If your buying two Cockatiels it is recommended that you buy them both young, so they grow that bond throughout the years. Both male and female Cockatiels get along well in the cage together, so it does not matter how you approach buying the couple.

How do I hold a Cockatiel?

Cockatiels are relatively easy to hand train if you buy them as babies, if you buy an older Cockatiel you can still hand train them, but it will take some time to get the trust factor down and bonding time going. The rewards for having a Cockatiel hand prepared are endless. When you first get your Cockatiel home to allow it a week or so just to get used to its new surroundings, this is a stressful time in your Cockatiels life, and you want to approach things slowly and easily. After which it is good to start talking to your Cockatiel and getting it to use to the sound of your voice. Offering fruits and vegetables are always a great idea to get your bird trusting you. After your bird starts taking food from your hands and seems to respond to your voice, you can attempt to perch the Cockatiel on your hand but always be keen on body language for a Cockatiel bite is not a fun thing to experience.

Cockatiel Bathing

Do I bath a Cockatiel?

Cockatiels do require bathing regularly for several reasons:

Softens their skin

softens the keratin under the new feathers, so they shed more easily

keeps the bird’s feathers looking bright and clean regularly

reduces the amount of dander which is caused by the down feathers that are closest to the bird’s skin

How often do I bath a Cockatiel?

Cockatiels produce a lot more dander than most bird species, so you do not need to limit the amounts of baths. If your Cockatiel loves daily baths, then it is undoubtedly o.k to give them a regular bath. Two ways to bathA cockatiel are to perch them on your hand and let the light warm shower water go on them, or you can simply give them misting baths for a more natural way to go about it. Close all windows during bath time because you do not want your Cockatiel catching a cold or getting chilly. Also, you should avoid blow drying because this tends to dry the bird’s skin out more than it helps them. The best way is to let your bird preen because it will move the moisture around with its beak and apply to drier feather areas. If your Cockatiel is sopping wet, you can use a soft terry cloth to soak up some of the excess moisture.

How do I bath my Cockatiel?

There are a few ways to give a Cockatiel a bath which are listed below.

Misting baths- This is the easiest way to bath your bird, you simply put the spray bottle on mist and shoot the water over the bird in the air so that it comes onto the bird-like rain. You should not point the trigger right at your bird for this will scare them, and they may tend to shy away from experience.

Bowl bathing- Simply grab a large shallow bowl and put an inch of water into the bottom. Your Cockatiel will do the rest normally by flapping its wings in the water and rolling around to clean itself. If your bird is shying away from this, then you can put a mirror at the bottom of the bowl to help your bird become more motivated to take a bath. Also, birdbaths can be purchased at most pet retailers.

Necessary showering- Some birds like getting downright hardcore and just showering with their masters. If this is the case, make sure that your bird has a perch or is on your hand the whole time. You want to make sure that the water is not hot, and that no soap or chemicals are getting into your Cockatiel. You can buy bathing perches at most pet retailers.

Sink bathing- If you are going to do sink bathing, make sure you have something at the bottom of the tub to prevent slipping. You simply let the cold water run and let your Cockatiel clean, but you might have to get a little involved at first to give your bird some confidence. Having the mirror there helps a lot as Cockatiels are interested in their reflections.

Cockatiel Grooming

Do I need to groom a Cockatiel?

Cockatiels do require a lot of grooming to keep their feathers and body in tip-top shape. The /Cockatiel usually does most of this on their own, but you will be required to do some on your own. The number one thing you will be doing if you decide to do so is clipping your Cockatiels feathers. We have a page that will help you if you are a first-time feather clipper for your bird and if you do not feel comfortable doing this alone, we have a vet hotline we highly recommend for you on this site.

Cockatiel Molting

My Cockatiel is losing feathers, is this normal?

Cockatiels, like all birds, moult old feathers and grow in new ones throughout their lives; the Cockatiel typically has its first moult between 6-12 months of age. A healthy bird will moult its feathers anywhere from 2-3 times per year. It takes 7-10 days for a Cockatiel’s new feathers which are also referred to as blood feathers to start growing in place of the moulted old feathers. On top of this, it takes another 6-8 weeks for the blood feathers to become fully developed.

How will I know when my Cockatiel is moulting?

You will know when your bird has begun the moulting process because you will start to see tiny feathers at the bottom of the cage along with white flaky particles that look similar to dandruff. The flakes are coming from the keratin sheath that protects all new feathers as they grow in do to new feathers are connected to a blood vessel and if disturbed, can bleed out profusely. Pin feathers are also a term used during moulting and reason for this is because just that they look like tiny pins. The pin feathers are most noticeable on your bird’s neck and head during moulting. The more giant blood feathers are located more on the body and wing area of the bird. Your bird will tend to nap and be cranky during moulting because the new feathers are not comfortable and can be painful if they get moved the wrong way.

My bird is moulting, and is rubbing its head and body against the cage is this normal?

All birds tend to rub against things during moulting and what they are doing is breaking apart the hard keratin to get the feathers to come in faster. You can even help by gently rubbing or scratching your bird in places it cannot reach. Make sure your bird wants you to do this, of course, because all birds are different.

Cockatiel Habitat

What kind of cage do I buy for a Cockatiel?

Cockatiels require a larger sized birdcage, due to their dynamic nature. They consistently fly and climb around throughout the day. The dimensions of the cage should be a minimum of 20x20x26 inches square. The best types of pens will typically carry horizontal bars to assist the bird in its climbing ritual throughout the day. They are usually no larger than 3/4 of an inch though so that injury is prevented.

How often should I clean a Cockatiels cage?

The more often, the better, you will want to do necessary cleaning daily such as picking up loose feathers around the cage or replacing the dirty water bowl simple maintenance. At least once a week, you want to do a complete tear apart the cage and clean it. Disinfect the entire cage remove all old substrates, and replenish with new. Wipe down all perches toys bars etc. This is the best way to protect your bird from getting sick or riddled with disease.

How many perches should a Cockatiel cage have?

Typically you want a minimum of two, one that will be the resting or nesting perch. This will be the perch that your bird will usually sleep on at night and nap on when it is resting. The other should be large enough for the Cockatiel to get to so that it has something to play on and enjoy itself with throughout the day. Some cages even come with perches on the top of the cage for out of the cage fun when the bird is free to roam around the room. Be sure at least the sleeping perch has a rough sandpaper-like material on it for keeping your bird’s nails filed and in good condition.

Do I need bird toys for my Cockatiel?

Cockatiels are very social animals, so toys are a great way for them to entertain themselves if you are busy with other projects or at work. Toys can be anything from a piece of rope with a bell on it to hanging plastic balls with bells in them, or even just a simple mirror for your bird to look at itself. Most large pet retail stores carry all kinds of bird toys and are the best place to look.

What kind of Substrate (bedding) do I buy a Cockatiel?

You will want bedding that is low in dust do to the sensitivity of the Cockatiels respiratory system. Newspaper or newspaper pellets work tremendous so do a lot of small dust wood shavings. Just ensure the dust levels are down on whatever you use.

Cockatiel Health Concerns

Is my Cockatiel sick?

Cockatiels are very resilient birds but are prone to illness like any other birds. You need to know your bird’s everyday activities because Cockatiels by instinct naturally try to hide sickness because, in the wild, the sick are preyed upon first before other healthier ones. If you do not know your bird’s behaviours, you might not even know nothing is wrong until it is too late. Many common factors can cause sickness in your bird, such as respiratory issues, digestive issues, and even bacterial issues, so it’s smart to have a vet in your pocket for questions or emergencies. If you do not have one and are looking quick for one, we recommend the vet tab located on our site they have been pretty reliable in answering questions and helping with questions not answered on our articles.

What are signs of a sick Cockatiel?

changes in activity levels, lack of energy
increased sleeping habits throughout the day
variations in the poop colour
sleeping with both feet on the perch
a soiled vent
drinking excessive or minimal amounts of water compared to normal
sticky wet facial feathers
vomiting or regurgitation of food
food coming out in seed form with poop
eye swelling
discharge coming out of the eyes or nostrils
open mouth breathing or wheezing
lameness which is swollen legs or feet
diarrhoea, soup looking poop
brightly coloured urine yellow or green
unbalanced, not being able to perch
abnormal moulting
Lumps or increasing on the body.

What are some diseases that my Cockatiel can catch?

The most common type of sickness a cockatiel and most birds come into contact with is a bacterial infection. In-home habitats provide many more chances of infection than the birds would typically see in the wild. Anything from humans, to lack of cleaning, will cause these issues. Below is a list of ways to cause and prevent bacterial infections in a Cockatiel.

Ways a Cockatiel can catch a bacterial infection.

It is on a strict seed only diet, especially if sprouting.
unwashed and dirty fruits or vegetables that were not stored correctly
wild rodents roaming the area of the home
dirty water filters that are not catching all the bacteria
perishable foods left in the cage to long
Not cleaning the cage regularly or being detailed in the way the cage is cleaned.
kissing master and grooming of their beards
sponges or clothes left out
prolonged restroom exposure
cooking metals to hot such as Teflon
if you have the cold or flu
reptile, or fish tanks in the same room as the bird
Ways to prevent bacterial infections in a Cockatiel.

wash hands regularly before handling the bird
keep a cleaned habitat at all times
properly clean and store all perishable foods
empty spray bottles after each misting bath
clean water frequently and daily
limit the use of disinfectants
keep birds away from dust, hot metals cooking food with, and water aquariums for fish and other animals
Stay away from your bird when you have a cold or the flu.

Another common disease for a bird is conjunctivitis which is an irritation in the eyes causing them to be red or swollen you can use a clean cloth and wash them out, but a vet is needed for antibiotics.

Chlamvdiosis which is a loss of appetite, fluffed feathers, and a nasal discharge. If you notice these symptoms contact a vet immediately.

Diarrhoea is another common attribute among birds which can be caused by anything as a diet change, parasite entering the bird through food, or lack of clean water. Contact a vet for medication if this happens.

Cockatiel Warnings

My Cockatiel keeps biting; what do I do?

Well if a bird is biting it is always for a reason, and is never the bird’s fault. Most birds give off a pre-warning bite signal before they are ever going to bite. Many things can trigger a bite, but usually, it is mostly triggered by the birds feeling stressed, uneasy, scared, and irritated. Always watch your warning signs from the bird to understand what is causing the reaction. Cockatiels have many different reasons for biting, the bird’s instinct is to fly away, but when it is enclosed in the habitat or can’t get away its instinct kicks in which is to defend itself. It is not in the bird’s nature to be aggressive or bite; it is almost always a last resort.

Signs that your Cockatiel is going to bite.

the bird is making hissing noises towards you
fanning or spreading of the tail feathers
moving away from you and getting stuck in a corner
contraction and dilation of the pupils
bobbing of the head back and forth
puffing itself up
raising its head feathers
spreading of wings away from the body
turning its body away from you

Why does my Cockatiel bite?

There are many different types of bites a Cockatiel will display:

Survival bite- happens when the Cockatiel feels threatened and wants to defend its habitat

hormonal biting- when the bird is not being able to breed and is frustrated

Control biting-this is when your bird realizes it can bite to control you when you react to the birds eat meanly it just means that the bird has figured out tasting stops the behaviour that is causing fear and ultimately your bird will no longer be friendly and will be afraid of you and bite more often.

Birds have many different reasons why they bite, but the one thing that you can do to suppress any type of biting has a stress free safe habitat for the bird, always be relaxed and gradually approach the bird to let them know you are not heir to hurt them simply to love on them.

Cockatiel Breeding

How do I breed my Cockatiels?

First and foremost, you must realize that breeding a Cockatiel is going to require a lot of attention, possible money, and time. If you are a full-time worker, student, or only just are not going to be home a lot during the process, you shouldn’t attempt to breed a Cockatiel.

What are some things I need to know about breeding Cockatiels?

Health- always make sure that the two birds that are going to be mating have not health issues that can be passed on to the babies or potentially harm the gestation process. Look for any diseases or infections on each bird or in the bird’s history. Also, make sure that the birds are old enough to breed, which is ages 2-5 years of age.

Nesting – Your cage will need a nesting box for the eggs to be hatched in. A breeding cage for cockatiels should be minimal 20x20x50 inches square and contain a nesting box with dimensions of 12×12 inches square. You will want to make sure that the nesting box has a great source of bedding for the eggs such as pine shavings, shredded paper, or moulted old feathers also work but make sure the dusty dander is not on them.

Nutrition- breeding pairs of Cockatiels should be given a calcium supplement to help with the deficiency during egg making; both should be fed well-balanced diets of seeds, pellets, and fruits and veggies.

Privacy- many birds do not mate if the situation is not right; be sure to give your birds a lot of privacy for them to become compatible with one another. Covering the cage is a great idea to ensure that the birds are feeling alone and can become involved with one another.

Egg-laying- After copulating with the male, the female will typically lay her eggs within 3-4 weeks. It is not uncommon for them to put one egg every other day until all have been produced, so don’t be alarmed if more eggs are found days after each other. Cockatiels typically lay anywhere from 4-6 eggs in a single clutch.

Incubation- Typically the Cockatiel incubates the eggs for about 20-25 days. It can vary in either direction though and go longer or shorter than this depending on temperatures. If you are concerned that it has been too long, you can contact a vet for birds.

Hatching- Parents will typically mother the chicks for the first two weeks, and handling is recommended afterwards to get them to use to being handled. After which the parents will take the babies out of the nest and start to ween them. Typically after 6-8 weeks the babies are entirely weened and can eat small portions of pellets, seeds, fruits, or veggies.

Cockatiel Life Span

How long will a Cockatiel live?

With proper care, the average life span of a Cockatiel is 25 years of age with some being known to live longer.

Cockatiel Size and Weight

How big will a Cockatiel get?

The average size of an adult Cockatiel is 11-14 inches from head to the end of their tail.

Cockatiel Pros and Cons

Should I buy a Cockatiel?


extremely social
form a bond with their masters for life
live an average age
It is entertaining through vocal recreation, body movement, etc.
relatively easy diet


prone to sickness
can and will bite
need mounds of attention
can be expensive throughout their lives
require habitat cleaning regularly.

Cockatiel Average Price

How much does a Cockatiel cost?

Cockatiels are relatively inexpensive and can range from 50-120 dollars depending on age, colours, and how big they are.

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