The Cockatiel is the only species of parrot in its genus (nymphicus). Its scientific name is said to be derived from the mythic “nymph”, because of their beauty, and hollandicus is a reference to New Holland, as Australia was referred to during the time of the discovery of this species.
The cockatiel is a small bird, about 12- 13″ in length, weighing in the vicinity of 90 grams on average. They are an abundant species native to Australia and is distributed over a large inland range. They are found in pairs or small flocks in the wild, though large groups may gather at common water sources.
The cockatiel is best described as a dark grey parrot with white patches from their shoulders extending along the covert feathers on their wings. The tail is long and accounts for half of their body length. The males of the species have a bright yellow face with bold orange cheek patches. The females have similar characteristics, but their face plumage is duller and she has barring on the underside of the her tail. There are several color mutations available in today’s aviculture.
One trait all cockatiels have in common is a large, recurved crest which is erected during times of excitement or fear. Cockatiels share this trait with cockatoos and it has long been assumed that cockatiels must be biologically related to the cockatoo.
Recent mitochondrial DNA determination formally places the cockatiel as a genus in the cockatoo family (Cacatuinae) and has found it to be most closely related to the red-tailed, yellow-tailed, white-tailed and glossy cockatoo (in the genus Calyptorhynchus), as well as the gang-gang cockatoo (Callocephalon). They are the smallest member of this family, and the only one with a long tail.
The cockatiel is a nomadic species whose flock relocates from area to area as their needs dictate. They are ground foragers dining mainly on seed found in grassy fields. They eat the leaves and bark of native vegetation as well as grubs and varied insects.
Information On The Cockatiels Appropriate Diet
In captivity, the diet includes a variety of vegetables and fruits and pellets in addition to limited seed. It is important for the health and well being of a captive parrot to provide foraging opportunities with a diet that is varied like those outlined in Cooking For Parrots, our course on diet and nutrition: http://www.birdtricks.com/naturalfeeding/.
A high quality organic pellet, such as our Feed Your Flock brand is necessary to round out the captive diet by making sure that all the nutritional bases are covered.
Cockatiel breeding season lasts from August through December, but they can breed year round and often do so following a rainstorm. A cockatiel nest is typically found in hollow tree limbs or trunk holes, especially those located near water. A standard cockatiel clutch is 4 to 7 eggs, layed every other day, and hatching follows within 18-21 days. The juvenile takes on adult plumage at around 6 months.
The average lifespan for a captive cockatiel is 10-20 years, depending on the care it receives mainly relating to diet and exercise. There is a confirmed report of a cockatiel living to the age of 32, but it is a very rare example.
Cockatiels are able fliers. They make quick turns and are able to stop in mid flight, hover and turn 180 degrees. Their rapid flight puts them at risk for injury or loss when kept in captivity. To keep your bird protected, it is advised that you allow them flight in rooms with no mirrors and covered windows, and be certain that doors and windows leading to the outside remain closed.
We recommend that you spend at least some of your cockatiel’s out of cage time engaged in training. This activity helps to keep it physically fit, mentally stimulated and creates strong bonds with its owners. Our course, Taming Training and Tricks, is popular with cockatiels owners who want to train their cockatiels to not bite, as cockatiels NOT trained will turn into hormonal, territorial biters most of the time. And clients who follow what we teach in that course very often have a cockatiel as well trained as some dogs, who can fly to them on command, go back into their cage on command and LOVE spending time with their owner.
Some Information On Why Cockatiels Can Bite
For a free series of videos that can get you started down the path of training your cockatiel like I’m doing in this video, sign up for our free video series here.