Everything You Need to Know About Cockatiels

Posted by Tori Holmes
All About Cockatiels | Wide Open Pets
Petwise Aquatics

These birds might be small, but they have big personalities! Here is everything you need to know about cockatiels.

Originating in Australia, the cockatiel is the smallest breed within the cockatoo family and the second most popular breed to keep as a pet. These little birds grow to an adult size of just 12 inches, half of which is accounted for by their long tail feathers, and weigh between 75 and 125 grams.

The most distinctive feature of the cockatiel is the feathered crest on their heads. By looking at this crest, you can get a fairly good idea of the mood that the bird is in:

  • Vertical: startled or excited
  • Neutral: comfortable and relaxed
  • Flat: angry or defensive
  • Flat, but protruding outwards at the back: flirting with a potential mate.

One of the reasons they have grown in popularity as pets is due to their friendly personalities. Cockatiels love spending time with their owners and are happy to engage in play with them or independently.

Cockatiels are also highly trainable. They do not have the capacity for speech that some other bird breeds have, but they can still learn to mimic words and phrases. Male cockatiels tend to be more talkative than females, however. In addition to speech, cockatiels can be trained to whistle tunes as well as be happily handled or pet.

Overall, cockatiels make great pets for first-time bird owners or children who are looking for a feathered friend to spend time with. They are also quieter than many bird breeds, making them perfect apartment pets. Cockatiels have a lifespan of between 15 and 20 years.

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The smallest of the cockatoo family, adult cockatiels grow to a length of just 12 inches and weigh between 75 and 125 grams.


At birth, both male and female cockatiels look similar. They have horizontal yellow stripes on the underside of their tail feathers, yellow spots on the flight feathers of their wings, a grey body, crest, and face, as well as an orange patch on each cheek.

When males reach between 6 and 9 months, they lose the yellow stripes and spots, gain bright yellow feathers on their crest and face, and the orange spots on their cheeks brighten. 

There are numerous color mutations present in cockatiels today, but the normal grey remains the most popular.


Cockatiels have friendly, outgoing personalities and are highly trainable. They are not as vocal as other bird breeds, but do still have a small capacity for speech. They love spending time with humans and make great pets for first-time bird owners. 


Cockatiels are prone to chronic egg laying, which can be caused by hormonal imbalance, poor diet, or increase exposure to daylight. With chronic egg laying comes the risk of egg binding, where the eggs do not pass through the reproductive system at a normal rate, which can lead to death.


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Everything You Need to Know About Cockatiels