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Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus)

The cockatiel is one of the best known and most loved of all the parrot family. They are cheerful, friendly, and easy to train; making them one of the most popular pet birds throughout the world. The cockatiel weighs around 95 grams. They are generally around 12.5 inches in length. The cockatiel is perhaps best loved for their wonderful dispostion, intelligence and bright personality.

Life span:

15 years or more with proper care.


The 'Normal' Cockatiel:

This color variation is typical of Cockatiels in the wild. The primary color of plumage is gray. Gray is seen on the tail and chest with a paler gray color on the abdomen, the middle tail feathers, lower back and upper tail coverts are also a pale shade of gray. Occasionally there is some brown tinting as well. Yellow coloring is commonly seen on the lores, crest, throat and cheeks, with orangey-red markings on the ear coverlets. White is commonly seen on the wings, appearing on the foreword secondaries, and the greater wing coverlets. Their bill is gray in addition to gray feet. The iris is typically dark brown. The female has notable gray markings in the face and crest, with a duller orange coverlet. For show, the gray color of normals should be uniform throughout.

The White Face Pearl and White Face Pied Cockatiels:

These are the same as the Normal Cockatiel, but they lack color. The males will display a pure white mask.

The Silver Cockatiel:

The Silver Cockatiel is aptly named, as its plumage appears a dull metallic silver color. There are two types of silvers, the Recessive Silver which has red eyes, which is very unusual for a cockatiel, and the Dominant Silver which has black eyes.

The Pied Cockatiel:

The pied Cockatiel is perhaps the best known. Show standards dictate 75% yellow to 25% dark gray color variation in the plumage. Many different variations of this ratio can be seen in pet quality Cockatiels.

The Fallows Cockatiel:

The Fallows Cockatiel is quite lovely. It is seen in light cinnamon with yellow tinting all over his plumage. Unlike many other color variations its eyes are red.

The Albino Cockatiel:

These Cockatiels are missing all color. They are a pure white bird with red eyes.

The Cinnamon Cockatiel:

As the name would imply, this Cockatiel has lovely cinnamon plumage throughout.

The Lutino Cockatiel:

The Lutino Cockatiel can only be described as beautiful. The Lutino exhibits a striking deep buttercup yellow plumage. The color is consistent throughout; sometimes some wing feathers are seen in a lighter shade of yellow than the rest of the feathers.

The Pearl Cockatiel:

These Cockatiels have well defined heavy pearl markings. The markings are typically seen in buttercup yellow, with females having more pronounced markings than the males.

The Yellowcheek Cockatiel:

Yellow Cheek is one of the newer mutations and is unique in that there are Sex-Linked and Dominant versions of this mutation. Where a Normal Grey has an Orange cheek patch, the cheek patch of the Yellow Cheek is Yellow.  The cheek patch of the Dominant Yellow Cheek seems to be a little more orange than the Sex-Linked version.

The Pastelface Cockatiel:

Pastel is a rather subtle mutation that is rather appropriately named. The pastel mutation can be combined with just about any other mutation with some beautiful results.  Pastel cockatiels look just like their normal counterpart, but the yellows, oranges, browns and grays are softened a bit.  Hence the name, pastel. The most obvious difference is the orange cheek patch becomes a yellow-orange.  

The Emerald Cockatiel:

It is also called Olive, Spangled or Suffused Yellow.  This mutation is hard to describe and has to be seen.  The term Emerald or Olive is a bit misleading though.  Cockatiels do not carry any green pigmentation, so they can't really be green.  The combinations of yellow and greys along with the right lighting make these birds sometimes look green.  It can best be described as a mottled or combination of small areas with different colors varying from yellows to greys.

In addition to these color variations, the cockatiel has also been seen in several different types of cross mutations.

Energy level:

Very high - Rotate toys often and plan on playing with them on a regular basis. 

Talking ability:

They can be taught to speak a few words or simple phrases! Cockatiels are excellent whistlers. They have been known to whisle long and complex songs. Each bird is unique and the talking will depend on the interaction it receives from you the teacher and caregiver. Socialization is key…introduce your new baby cockatiel to many situations and people!


Cockatiels are relatively quiet compared to their larger cousins: Macaws, Amazons, African Grey and Cockatoo parrots. Frequency of noise is moderate when kept as singles. Expect some squawking at dawn and dusk. The volume level is not suited for apartment living when kept as pairs. Frequency tends to increase if they don't get enough attention or toys. These birds don't seem to mind a noisier household, making them more suitable for families with children. Although, expect them to join in as your household noise level increases.

Unique characteristics:

One of the most notable physical attributes of the cockatiel is its beautiful crest. The ideal height of the crest is three inches. These birds produce a fine powder down. This powder dust may cause those with allergies to suffer.

Problem behavior: 

-They can get a little carried away when playing.

Recommended equipment:

- Cage size:
I recommend a minimum of 18" x 18" x 24", with ” bar spacing or less. Cage size also depends on how much time the bird will be spending in the cage.  A bird that just sleeps in the cage can be housed in the minimum recommended cage size stated above: however, birds that spend much of the day in their cage would benefit from a cage larger in size.
-Play stand:

Provide your bird a place where it can get out for exercise, and have fun playing. There are many different play stands on the market. So search around for one that best suits your life style and needs.


Provide your bird with a few different perches, ranging in diameter. Natural perches are best, as they provide varying shapes which is best for your bird’s feet. Pedicure perch: This is a textured perch that helps keep toenails trimmed and smooth, as well as the bird’s beak.   


I feed my cockatiels a good fortified seed/pellet mix. As well as fruit, veggies, and sprouts. I also offer them a cuttle bone, a mineral block and a small amount of grit.