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12 Incredible Cockatiel Vet-Approved Facts & FAQs

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Cockatiel parrot sits with colored rags with an open beak

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cockatiels are small pet birds that make great pets. They are affectionate, fun, and social animals, and while it is very rare, albeit not entirely impossible, to find cockatiels that talk, they do whistle and mimic noises. They are also inexpensive compared to other larger parrots, can live with other friendly birds, and have a decent lifespan so that you won’t lose your cockatiel just as you become attached to your bird.

Whether you’re considering getting one as a pet or you simply want to know more about these incredible birds, you can find 12 interesting facts about cockatiels below.

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The 12 Amazing Cockatiel Facts

1. They Come from Australia

Cockatiels originate in Australia. Although they are found throughout the mainland, the largest populations occur in the southwestern areas of the country. There is also a population of cockatiels in Tasmania, although these were likely introduced inadvertently. The species prefers open grassland to heavily wooded areas and these nomadic creatures will roam around to find sources of food and fresh water.

It is illegal to export cockatiels from Australia, which means that all pet cockatiels in other countries are captive-bred for the pet trade.

Cockatiel parrot sits on yellow to a patch with a forage
Image Credit: Jolanta Beinarovica, Shutterstock

2. The Cockatiel Is a Member of the Cockatoo Family

The cockatiel is a member of the cockatoo family. They are considered small when compared to most parrots, although birds like the parrotlet are smaller. cockatiels are considered good communicators. It is rare to find a cockatiel that can talk, but they can sing and whistle, shriek, and make a wide range of other noises to communicate.

3. Cockatiels Make Good First-Time Pets

Not only are they considered good first-time birds, but cockatiels are also widely considered good starter pets of all varieties. With regular handling from a young age, they tend to be sociable and rarely aggressive. And, although they need time out of their cage every day and do benefit from regular handling, they are also considered low maintenance. Another reason for their popularity is their affordability.

Large parrots can cost hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars, whereas a cockatiel costs less than $100, and their food is inexpensive too. The most expensive aspect of owning one is likely to be the purchase of their cage and accessories such as toys and perches. However, emergency veterinarian visits may also be expensive. These costs can be offset to an extent by investing in pet insurance for your cockatiel.

Pearl Cockatiel on owner's shoulder
Image Credit: Reimar, Shutterstock

4. They Can Be Taught Tricks

Cockatiels are intelligent birds. This means that as well as needing a lot of stimulation in and out of their cage, pet cockatiels can be taught some basic tricks. You can have them turn around, hop on your finger, and shake your hands. To train a cockatiel, you need to be patient and consistent and make training sessions as fun as possible to keep the bird’s attention.

5. Cockatiels Live 20 Years or More

In the wild, they will live between 10 and 15 years, on average. In captivity, when kept as a pet, cockatiels can live as long as 20 years or more. While this is still some way short of parrot species that can live 50 years or more, it means that owners get a long time with their feathered friend. To help ensure longevity from a cockatiel, ensure that   has a good diet, visit the vet regularly for checkups, and allow the bird at least a couple of hours out of their cage every day. You should also keep cockatiels separated from cats and/or dogs.

Lutino cockatiel
Image Credit: Nicky Jacobs, Shutterstock

6. Cockatiels Are Social Animals

Cockatiels can live with other cockatiels. They can also live with other placid birds, and they do enjoy the company of their humans. They especially enjoy getting time out of their cage, so if this means hopping on your finger or perching on your shoulder, this is how they will spend their time. Key to ensuring a social and friendly cockatiel is regular handling from a young age. Although they prefer to be kept with the opposite gender, it is possible to keep same sexed birds together, as long as they are first introduced at a young age.

7. Both Males and Females Are Noisy

Cockatiels have a lot of vocalizations, ranging from whistling to shrieking. A common misconception is that male cockatiels are more talkative and sociable than female cockatiels. However, this is purely a myth, and there’s no difference between the two genders in terms of their sociability or vocalization. Your bird’s personality plays a bigger role in their degree of vocalization and sociability (or lack thereof).

Cockatiel sits lifting his head_Jolanta Beinarovica
Image Credit: Jolanta Beinarovica, Shutterstock

8. Very Few Cockatiels Can Talk

When most potential owners hear the word parrot, they think of larger birds that can talk, or mimic human words. Although it is very rare, some cockatiels can muster a few human words. But if you’re specifically looking for a talking bird, you may want to consider other species because it is unusual to find a talking cockatiel.

9. They Can Be Messy

Cockatiels can be mischievous, and they enjoy having fun. Even if you provide ample cage toys and offer lots of time outside the cage, your cockatiel may be messy. They will flick seeds out of their cage and when you do let your bird have the run of the room, your cockatiel will likely find bits to throw around out there, too.

Albino cockatiel playing in its foraging tray
Image Credit: Ladanifer, Shutterstock

10. Threatened Cockatiels May “Hiss”

They might not be as chatty or vocal as some other species, but cockatiels can make several noises. They will whistle and chatter when happy. They can also “growl” and even “hiss” (in a manner like a snake) when they feel threatened.

11. Male Cockatiels Make Great Dads

Male cockatiels are just as involved in the process of raising chicks as females. Males incubate the eggs in the morning and afternoon (while the female finds food). When the female returns to incubate the eggs, the male stands guard outside the nest and fights off any perceived threats. Males also participate in raising chicks, and play the bigger role when it comes to allofeeding, the process through which food is transferred from one bird to another (either the female, or a nestling).

man handling his cockatiel
Image Credit: ninaveter, Shutterstock

12. They Are Asleep About Half The Time

Cockatiels benefit from having a dark room, or a dark area, to sleep at night. They sleep on a perch and need to sleep for about 10-12 hours a night. They will also take the occasional nap during the day, which means that, in total, a typical cockatiel will sleep for around 12 hours in every 24 hours. In other words they spend half their time asleep! While that might sound like a lot of time, their character and attitude make up for this absence when they are awake.

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Cockatiels are small birds that are friendly, fun, and intelligent. They make great pets, especially if they are handled regularly from a young age. They can learn tricks and can be quite vocal. We hope these 12 fun facts about these cute birds has helped you learn more about their intricacies and has increased your fondness for them.

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Featured Image Credit: Jolanta Beinarovica, Shutterstock

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