Cockatiels

Wild Cockatiels

Cockatiels are native to Australia. They are so easy to breed in captivity that they have become widely popular and available in pet stores and shops around the world. (However, chronic egg laying is a problem with some parrots, so it's best to breed under the supervision of a professional breeder.)

With 22 different color mutations, cockatiels can vary in colors so drastically that some do not have the orange cheek patch that most are so widely recognized for.

Wild cockatiels thrive on cultivated crops (to farmers' dismay) while pet cockatiels tend to be given a seed diet that is WAY too high in fat. Just because they love it, doesn't mean they should eat it. Fresh vegetables should make up a giant portion of the cockatiel diet.

Cockatiels as Pets

Cockatiels are known for their friendly and affectionate nature. Because they are small, quiet(ish) and even-tempered they are one of the parrot species that turns many people into parrot lovers for life.

It is important to understand, that ANY parrot, even small ones, require the same level of care as macaws or cockatoos. Neglect in their diet and daily care will not only cost you a fortune in vet bills, but unwell birds are cranky and quickly become aggressive. You will not have a great relationship with a sick bird.

Cockatiels always want to be a part of the action. When the family has gathered in the living room for movie night, your cockatiel will be the first one making its way to the popcorn bowl. (Please prepare a separate unbuttered, unsalted bowl for him.) When you vacuum the house, your cockatiel will be riding shotgun on your shoulder.

He will thoughtfully preen your hair when you are sad and generate unlimited amounts of fun and laughter with his antics. A well trained and socialized cockatiel will quickly become a beloved family member, and you will wonder how you ever managed life without him.

Unfortunately, too many people get parrots thinking they are like the family dog who can be contended simply sleeping at their feet. A cockatiel is a highly intelligent species that loves to explore everything in the world around them. They are in constant motion and need to be active and mentally stimulated in order to thrive.

All parrots require the proper, educated care of an avian veterinarian. In the wild, it's the difference between life or death to be able to mask illness or “pretend to be well”. Often times when a bird shows obvious signs illness, it's too late.

Cockatiels are especially known to have an issue with night fright, where they get scared from the dark and thrash inside their cages at night.

Keeping Cockatiels Mentally Stimulated

Let’s face it, most of us have jobs and must leave our cockatiel behind to fend for themselves and find their own entertainment. It is up to us to make their cage an exciting place to be.

It doesn't matter if you have a single bird or a pair, both males and females need mental stimulation through training, toys, diet, and interaction. Male cockatiels have the same capacity for learning as a female cockatiel. Whether you get a young bird or an older one, every bird is trainable!

Bored parrots are unhappy parrots. Unhappy parrots do not keep their complaints to themselves! You might find yourself enduring the incessant, ear-piercing screams as it DEMANDS to come out of its cage or as it INSISTS that it be allowed an activity that you know is unsafe.

A bored cockatiel will eventually become angry!

...and an angry cockatiel will bite! And make no mistake about it, that small beak CAN inflict a painful wound.

Parrot Training: A Great Solution for Boredom

We here at BirdTricks have 2 favorite methods for providing your cockatiel with enough mental stimulation to keep him or her happy. One involves one-on-one interaction with you, and the other they manage happily on their own.

Training is like a board game you can play with your bird. It provides the ideal opportunity for your bird to use its brain, to expend some of that boundless energy and to bond with you. It’s a fun and rewarding experience that allows your cockatiel to lessen the frustrations from boredom, inactivity or confinement in a positive way for everyone involved. These fun games will also strengthen the bond with the player on the other side of the “board”.

Taking basic target training a step further, trick training a cockatiel is incredibly stimulating and if done regularly creates the expectation for fun and excitement. You will begin to notice behaviors in your bird that tell you he or she would like to do some training. The improvement you will see in your relationship will be very noticeable! I have to tell you; that feels pretty good.

Providing Cage Activities

Training is great when you're around. However, what do you do when you're off at school or work?

Toys, toys, toys and more toys! Toys made from natural materials like raffia and palm leaves make great choices for cockatiels that like to tear things apart. They love shiny and colorful plastic toys with moving parts and ringing bells. I have never known a cockatiel that wasn’t crazy about paper. Weaving strips of paper into the cage bars can give your cockatiel hours of fun and needed exercise.

Imitating nature by using foraging toys to hide your cockatiels food INSTEAD of using food bowls is an ideal way to fill up the hours with fun activities for any caged bird. Daily food which is hidden inside paper products or inside complicated foraging toys can take hours for your bird to collect the day’s food, just like it would in the wild.

The cockatiel lifespan ranges from 10-35 years. Why such a big gap? Healthy cockatiel food and enough exercise will greatly contribute to your cockatiel living a long and happy life with you.

In conclusion, cockatiels make great family pets when the owner is happy to provide it with socialization, training, a healthy diet and plenty of toys. We have found this to be the BEST way to increase mental stimulation and to decrease behavior problems.

Helpful Resources:

TRAINING YOUR COCKATIEL

BEST COCKATIEL DIET

Why Weighing Your Bird Could Save Its Life!

26 comments

Loretta Russell

I have a cockatiels and this is so accurate

Loretta Russell
Sooki the cockatiel

I was taking my bird Sooki out for a walk on her harness and someone said ooh look it’s a budgie! And the persons friend said no it’s a cocktail! 😆

Sooki the cockatiel
Micah

I’m looking for a cockatiel and live in Colorado, I’ve called pet shops and no one will have any until spring, is that just it do I have to wait until spring or is there another way or place that I can get one?

Micah
HASINI

Hi Jamie i have 2 cokatiels i tamed both of them but they are not intrested in training i wanted to train free flight but they just dont show any interst what should i do pleaseeeeeeeeeeee answer

HASINI
Lucky

My cockatiel is taking her tail feathers out even though they are growing,what do I do? No she is not depressed that all I know because she always chirps happily it’s like she uncomfortable with the feathers on her tail

Lucky
Brenda Burks

I have received 2 rescue birds. A cocketiel about 5 yrs and a budgie age unknown. Young I think. I have them in the same cage. Long square cage. I am hoping you can help me with them. The cockatiel came from a hoarders home. The budgie was left at the door in her cage in front of Petco. I have had real difficulties with the cockatiel. The budgie not so much. Thanks. I really enjoy your videos.

Brenda Burks
Brenda Burks

Wonderful information. I have a rescue Cockatiel named Cody. He is about 5 years old. Was discovered living in a hoarders home. He is taking a lot of time training him to trust me. He was in such a bad situation but is now in a home with me to love him. Just yesterday I was lucky again and received a little female green budgie tesue. My granddaughter named her Sparkles. This little cutie was left at the door of a local Petco. I couldn’t believe they left her but at least they didn’t just open her cage and let her fly away. I have recently retired so I am going to have lots of time to train both of my birdies. I am going to end up caging them together. My Cody has been a bit lonely so I do believe they will be happy together. I will be keeping a close eye on them when I do finally put them together. Just so happy they have come to me and are in a clean and safe environment. Thank you for all of your helpful information. I have requested several of your free digital information booklets.

Brenda Burks
Alisha R W

I have a few month old male cockatiel named Lui. He’s very smart, not timid at all and tame, but is VERY bossy about seeds. He only gets a few of them with his vegetables (though for a couple days in the beginning he got more). He eats vegetables and herbs and some Roudybush pellets but he spends a lot of his in-cage time searching for more seeds in his dish. He screams really loudly for them and I’ve had to stop treat training with him because it puts him in this hour long seed screaming session where he chases me or paces in his cage screaming as loud as he can whenever he sees me. He’s learned to target with a clicker and millet, but I paused in that because he was starting to scream really intensely and it triggered the seed craze. He also squeak-screams when I start to pet him sometimes, but I stop when he starts so he’s slowly getting better at not screaming during scritches. Though, it seems kind of involuntary. Like he does it whenever he wants some or more of a nice thing. I think it’s a baby instinct, but I don’t want to encourage it because it is so loud and demanding. I’m careful not to snuggle too close and only pet his head (though he really wants to snuggle more, but then it makes him really attached to me and he’ll scream or huddle in the corner when he has to go back in his house.) A week after I paused target training, we were beginning to learn fetch using seeds (not millet) and the clicker but he started to scream again and bob his head and when he’s like that, it only gets worse. So I stopped the training session (which was going well aside from the demanding screaming) But the encounter with seeds set him off on another seed craze where he screamed whenever he sees me. I had to put him in his cage because the rest of the family couldn’t stand it and I only seem to make it worse by my presents. Then he goes crazy for a while (us, completely ignoring him) before he huddles in the corner and naps. Do cockatiels need more seeds in their diet (he gets only a teensy, weensy amount) or should seeds just be treats and I eliminate the small amount he gets regularly so he’ll stop demanding them? Lui is clipped because of all the kids in our house opening and shutting doors, so though he climbs, waddles after me and flies a little, he’s not getting as much exercise as a flighted parrot. I’m not sure what to do. I’m still training him in other things (like requiring him to wait to go on my solder until I say “Sholder”) I use scritches and praise as rewards (or being on my shoulder) for these other things and he is getting better and better at them. So, he’s learning willingly and seems to enjoy structure and knowing what is expected. He’s very smart, loves attention and climbing on people, but he simply goes crazy when there’s seeds involved which limits what things I can teach him. And a funny thing is, he will try to get into his cage, go to his vedgie-small-amount-of-seed bowl and scream. It’s very clear what he’s saying. Not to mention, because of his loud frustration with the seeds, and being ignored during this loud frustration, he eventually sits in the corner and naps instead of destroying his toys, singing or doing anything else. Should I get more toys that have seeds in them? It’s like he lives for seeds and people’s interaction and if he can’t have either, he sits in the corner. Any advise? I’m not sure how to best help him and he gets so frantic and then dejected. What would you do?

Alisha R W
Charity Gerred

My cockatiel is only interested in pellets along with apple and spinach occasionally. How can I get him interested in different vegetables without him starving himself

Charity Gerred
Charity Gerred

My cockatiel has a disco ball in his cage, he gets very possessive over that one toy when I try to take it out of his cage he flies to my shoulder and bites my face my neck my fingers you name it. How can I stop this behavior?

Charity Gerred
Charity Gerred

My cockatiel loves my friends cockatiel, my cockatiel is a boy and so is my friends cockatiel, my cockatiel chases my friends cockatiel all over the place and then when I try to get him to leave her house we bites me really hard. Anything that explains this behavior and anything I can do to stop it?

Charity Gerred
Charity Gerred

My cockatiel loves my friends cockatiel, my cockatiel is a boy and so is my friends cockatiel, my cockatiel chases my friends cockatiel all over the place and then when I try to get him to leave her house we bites me really hard. Anything that explains this behavior and anything I can do to stop it?

Charity Gerred
ben hartstein

I have a 6-month-old cocktail named Poko. he won’t leave my side and when every I do he gets out of his cage and flight to me.

ben hartstein
ben hartstein

I have a 1-month-old bird and he is crazy since I got him one of you toy he hangs on and then falls off.and is so cute.

ben hartstein
Christine Rodriguez

I. Have a male cocktail he’s 11years old his name is Pete he dosnt want to come out of his cage ! How can i get him to come out?

Christine Rodriguez
Isabel

thanks so much! I’ve always wanted a cockateil & i did a lot of research and this was so much help!

Isabel
Gianpiero

I am getting a baby cockatiel very soon, probably in a month because he will wing and we can take him home. I am so glade that BirdTricks has a page on cockatiels.

Gianpiero
Elizabeth

Hello, I owned a male Cockatiel for 31 years until he passed away 2 years ago. Yackie was given to me when he was 3 months old and I was 15 years old. I had to buy another Cockatiel after Yackie passed away because I did not want Picasso to be lonely. Now we have 3 month old male Easel. I read a lot articles about Cockatiels. Sometimes it’s new information. I like to compare what experience that I have gone through. Keep the articles coming. Good times.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

Hello, I owned a male Cockatiel for 31 years until he passed away 2 years ago. Yackie was given to me when he was 3 months old and I was 15 years old. I had to buy another Cockatiel after Yackie passed away because I did not want Picasso to be lonely. Now we have 3 month old male Easel. I read a lot articles about Cockatiels. Sometimes it’s new information. I like to compare what experience that I have gone through. Keep the articles coming. Good times.

Elizabeth
Jennie

I enjoyed reading this article. It was very informative looking forward to receiving more information on how I can care for my cockatiel. Thanks

Jennie
Michael Johnson

I found an awesome birdie boredom breaker, for home alone birds. I have learned to use my fire tv cube, to turn on my tv from work. I have two wifi cameras, one on the tv, and on the cockatiel’s cage. I remotely start up a “cockatiel companion” video, using youtube on fire tv. Then through the camera, I can see my birdies pop over toward the tv, and have a BLAST whistling to the video birds. I can also whistle, and talk to them through the cameras. And if I’m at home, they can chirp, and it replays from the camera through my phone. And they have a wonderful conversation with their selves. It works GREAT!

Michael Johnson
Crystal

I have watched your YouTube videos for a while and have wondered if y’all have had cocktails before. Then, I decided to come look at y’all’s website. There is so much I want to do with my cockatiel and training as well as changing his seed diet are the top two on my list. Until I found y’all, I wasn’t sure of how to go about it. Now that I know, it’s just a matter of time and I know he will be living a better life because of what knowledge you put out there for us bird lovers. Thanks for all y’all do.

Crystal
Julian Sorrent

Thank u so much

Julian Sorrent
Shadynne de Armendi

This article is precious. You describe my friend’s relationship with Lucy as if you live in their house. I just sent this article to her. Thanks for writing about the wonderful cockatiels.

Shadynne de Armendi
Shannon Mazza

Hello, I am a new subscriber (both to your YouTube and your website) I found this to be very informative. I have two cocktails, one I got when she was a baby and another whom needed a home after his mom got sick and couldn’t take care of him anymore. I have had alot of problems with him and I can understand why, he probably misses his mom. I do all I can for both of my babies, they are spoiled and very loved. After reading and watching the videos, I am going to start working with training them. I hope that it will help them and create a stronger bond. I want to give them the best life I can. Thank you so much for all the information.

Shannon Mazza

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