Cockatiels are colorful birds that belong to the parrot family known as a cockatoo. Although they are endemic (native) to the Australian mainland, you may meet them in some American households since they are considered lovely pets in America. Apart from their vibrant look, cockatiels can also amuse people by making different sounds.
Considering the popularity and gentle character of Cockatiels, I decided to devote this post to these beautiful birds. Read 30 interesting Cockatiel facts to indulge your curiosity.
- In the scientific world, Cockatiels are known as Nymphicus hollandicus.
I know it is hard to pronouns these fancy words. However, the scientific name holds a piece of history about Cockatiels. For instance, Scottish naturalist Robert Kerr named Cockatiels Nymphicus after Nymphs who were mythical female deities from Greek folklore. Kerr gave this name to express the beauty of cockatiels.
The word Hollandicus refers to the origin of Cockatiels, which is Australia. Back in history, the Australian continent was called New Holland.
- Although cockatiels almost exclusively live in the Australian mainland, they can also be found in Tasmania.
Tasmania is an island that locates off the southern coast of Australia. Some scientists believe that human activities introduced cockatiels to Tasmania.
Possibly, early voyagers or inhabitants of Tasmania brought these birds from the Australian mainland to increase their numbers there. However, there is no rock-proof evidence for this speculation.
- If you want to see cockatiels in their wild habitat visit Australia and search them in inland areas.
It is because Cockatiels prefer inland areas over coasts. Some scholars think that they stay in inland areas simply because freshwater is abundant in inland areas. Cockatiels do not like salty ocean water and live in the dense forests.
- Cockatiel has the longest tail compared to other types of crested parrots.
Their long tail almost equals to half of their body length. More specifically, their tail can grow up to 5.9 inches (15 cm) long. When they fly, they spread out their tail feather so they can balance their entire body during the flight.
- The outer appearance of male and female Cockatiels is almost identical.
Only sharp eyes can distinguish male cockatiels from female ones. Both of them have a crest, which measures about 2 inches (5 cm) in length. Cockatiels of both sexes are mainly in gray and they have noticeable orange patches on both sides of their cheeks.
There are observable variations of the orange patches on females and males. For example, the patches are vibrant on males while female orange patches appear a little bit muted.
- Erectile crests indicate the emotional state of cockatiels.
The crests are erectile feathers that locate on top of the cockatiel head. Interestingly, those crests are not only decorative elements as some people think but also they serve as emotional state indicators.
When the crest is fully erected, it means the cockatiel is startled, extremely excited or curious about something. If the crest is flat and it makes a hissing sound, it means that cockatiel is in a defensive mode.
When a cockatiel is in a relaxed mood, their crest feathers remain in neutral position (not fully erect, not fully flat) and also they puff up their cheek feathers.
- Pet owners love cockatiels for three primary reasons.
They are comical. Thus, it is amusing to watch them.
They like to cuddle. It is unusual for them to sit on your shoulders and try to capture your attention.
They like human interaction. If they feel lonely and bored, they will let you know. This brings us to another fact.
- Cockatiels make chirping noises if they try to contact you.
Some believe that cockatiels may make chirping noises if they feel lonely or tries to get your attention when you are not present in the room.
The good thing is that they make low tone chirps rather than the loud screech. Therefore, they are considered suitable for keeping in an apartment.
- The color of cockatiels allows them to camouflage themselves when they see approaching predators.
Scientists believe that the cockatiel coloration is a result of natural selection. Cockatiels forage for food on the ground, so they need to blend in with the environment to protect themselves from predatory birds.
Australian birds of prey considered the primary predators of Cockatiels.
- Cockatiels weigh around 3.17 oz. (90 g) and their length is between 9.84 to 13.78 in (25-35 cm).
This means they are not large birds and you won’t put too much pressure on your purse to feed them. However, it is recommended to feed them regularly to prevent them from developing unfavorable health conditions.
- Cockatiel mates stay loyal to each other.
Sound like Cockatiels are more loyal than some humans. Scientists categorize cockatiels as monogamous birds. Meaning, they remain with the same partner during their lifetime as mourning doves do.
They also Cockatiels stay together with their mate throughout the year. Therefore, they do not lose energy looking for a mate. So, their breeding event starts right away, if the season is right for them.
- Cockatiels sing a love song during the mating.
Well, it is not a real song. But, in a birdy language, it may pretty well be a song. They use a type of vocalization which allows both sexes to communicate their readiness for the mating.
Compared to female cockatiels, males are vocal during the mating period. Males make a unique whistling sound to call their mates.
- Male cockatiels inspect the nesting area for safety before letting the females in.
Animalistic relationships are somewhat similar to humans’. Mostly, men are considered protectors. It sounds like, male cockatiels are also good at ensuring the safety of their female partners.
If a male cockatiel finds a safe and secure nesting area, he will repeatedly come in and out of the nesting hole. Through that movement, he lets the female that the location is free from threats.
- Cockatiel breeding is more common during the rainy seasons.
It is because, during the rainy season, the availability of food increases significantly. Additionally, to protect themselves from rain, males and females get into their nesting hole together, which probably triggers the mating events.
- Cockatiels are secondary cavity nesters.
This means cockatiels usually use the cavities abandoned by others. When they are choosing a nesting area, they prefer to find one near freshwater. And they mostly prefer dead eucalyptus trees which got cavity 6.6 ft. (2 m) above the ground.
COCKATIEL FACTS: Part II
- During the reproduction season, cockatiels lay about 4-7 eggs and incubate them for 17-23 days.
Four days after they secure their nesting hole, cockatiels start laying eggs. They lay eggs every other day.
If for some reason their egg gets broken or cracked, they can replace them with the new one. Therefore, they are considered indeterminate layers.
- Cockatiels mimic human sounds.
Other types of parrots have similar behavior. When a word is repeated several times, they mimic that sounds as if they are talking back to you.
However, compared to other parrots, cockatiels talk less and whistle more. Especially, female cockatiels do not talk much.
- Cockatiel chick adapt to an independent life within five weeks after they come out of eggs.
In other words, five weeks after the chicks come out from the eggs, they become ready to leave their nests. However, they are not sexually mature at this point. Males reach sexual maturity in 13 months while females reach their reproductive maturity within 18 months.
- Cockatiels are herbivores.
This means that they stick to the plant-based diet. For those who are keeping cockatiels as pets, it is recommended to feed them with specialized pellets. Additionally, a small amount of fortified seed along with fresh fruits and vegetables can be given to cockatiels.
Apart from feeds, an owner should give fresh chlorine-free water. Since cockatiels tend to bath in the water designated for drinking. Therefore, cockatiel owners should change their water once a day.
Avian specialists recommend against feeding cockatiels with avocado, chocolate, fruit seeds, and alcohol and caffeine-containing foods. They also do not recommend giving treats that are high in sugar and fats since all these can cause serious medical conditions.
- If kept as a pet, owners should keep cockatiel wings and nails trimmed.
It is because cockatiels like to fly. You do not want cockatiel to fly around in your apartment and hurt itself. Plus, their nails can grow sharp, so it is recommended shortening it is nails as well.
It is always safer to take them to an avian veterinarian to get the trimmings done. If you do not have previous experience doing those activities, you possibly can hurt the bird.
- Cockatiels rarely abandon their chicks and they take care of them until they are ready for independent life.
Both males and females show about an equal effort to incubate their eggs and take care of chicks. For example, males also participate in incubating the eggs. Mostly, males incubate starting from early morning until late afternoon. Females incubate during all night.
Once the eggs hatch, both male and female cockatiels start to feed their chicks.
- Cockatiels live somewhere between 10 to 14 years.
In general, the cockatiel lifespan depends on their diet and environment. A well-balanced diet and clean habitat can extend their lifespan. For instance, there were cases where cockatiels lived for 32 years in captivity.
- Cockatiels are social birds.
We have already learned that they have a special bond with humans. Additionally, they follow social behaviors with their kinds as well.
For example, they stay as a large flock when they are searching for food or relocating their habitat. A large flock of cockatiels can include several thousand individuals.
- Cockatiels can fly at a speed up to 40 miles per hour (64.4 km/h).
They do not fly that fast unless they feel a threat. If they feel threatened they contract their feathers and appear thinner to defy the fraction in the midair.
Concisely, they are good at flying. Therefore, as mentioned above, people who keep them as a pet should trim their wings so they won’t escape.
- Cockatiels forage their food mostly on the ground.
This means your pet cockatiel may stay on the ground when it feels hungry and you need to be careful not step on it.
When they are foraging for food, they stay in groups and search for sun-dried seeds in open fields. When they find seed they need, they crack open its shell using their strong beak and pull the edible part of the seed with their tongue.
- Their color and high-speed flight capability are the primary defense mechanisms cockatiels got.
Cockatiels are weak at defending themselves. They can only blend their color with their surroundings to escape from the radars of raptor birds. When they detect an approaching threat, they utilize their fast-speed flight.
As mentioned above, cockatiels stay in groups. This social behavior allows them to stay always in alert against predatory birds. They warn each other through vocalizations in the case of a threat.
In rare cases, they will even bite the opponent if they try to get into their nesting hole.
- Sneezing is normal behavior for Cockatiels.
Most cockatiels sneeze a few times during a day. By doing so, they clear out dust and other particles from their nostrils.
However, persistent sneezing can be a symptom of an unfavorable health condition. In that case, you need to take them to an avian veterinarian to get it to check up properly.
- If you are planning to purchase these cage birds, you may find them in pet stores.
Most pet stores sell cockatiels, especially the ones in America. Before buying them, make sure you know how to take care of them.
Consulting with a seller and doing online research about them will be a good starting point to learn the basics of care.
- Cockatiels are the second most popular pet birds after budgerigars.
Due to the high demand for various colors, people have experimented with several selective bleedings and achieved various color mutations. That means you will find cockatiels with different colors in your pet store. By mutating their color variations, sellers raise their prices.
Cockatiel breeders come together in shows and exhibitions hosted by the National Cockatiel Society and display their birds to win prizes.
- Cockatiels are considered pests in Australia.
Unfortunately, these beautiful birds are capable of causing one of the ugliest damages to the Australian agricultural sector. As we have mentioned, they mostly stay in flocks of several thousand. So, they raid millet, wheat, sorghum, and sunflower fields as a group and cause crop damage.
These are all the Cockatiel facts that I wanted to share. Nevertheless, you may know some other facts about them, which you can share in the comments section. The last fact that I want to share is that Cockatiels build a warm bond with their owners. As long as they pet them, they will have a great love for you. When they want to get petted, they may lower their heads.
Atlas of Living Australia; University of Michigan;