How Do You Care for a Cockatiel?

Pet Type


April 29, 2020

There are countless different kinds of pets that people can choose to adopt. While the most common ones are dogs and cats, there are few limits on what people can take into their homes and adopt.

Some people adore rodents such as rats, mice, gerbils, and hamsters. Some people appreciate rabbits while other people might keep chickens or pigs as pets. There are plenty of reptile and amphibian enthusiasts out there and there are also a handful of people who appreciate bugs. However, one type of pet that people don’t talk about much are birds. Birds can make wonderful pets that will leave you wanting more.

Birds can have just about everything that a dog or cat can offer. Many are intelligent and can learn tricks of their own. They come in a variety of colors and sizes, meaning that you can easily find a bird that is pleasing to the eye. Birds can be social animals, meaning that you can watch them interact with each other just as you might watch kittens play fighting. Out of all the different birds that you can adopt as a pet, the ones with the biggest personalities (and the biggest voices) is going to be the cockatiel.

How Did Cockatiels Become Pets?

While the bird was first discovered back in the late 1700s, it did not become popular as a pet until the 1900s, during the gold rush. People realized that these colorful birds were not only docile, but they were easy to breed in captivity. Their large personalities made them an exotic pet at first, but more and more people caught on to the idea of keeping a bird as a pet, allowing them to become some of the most popular avian pets today.

What Do Cockatiels Look Like?

Cockatiels are the smallest birds of the cockatoo family, but that doesn’t stop them from making an appearance in your house. They typically weigh between two to three ounces and are no more than 10 inches from head to tail feathers. They are vividly colored birds. Their bodies tend to be dark brown or grey, with bright yellow heads. They usually have orange circles around their cheek area. Males tend to have brighter colors and patterns than the females do. They have a large crest of feathers on their head that sticks up, and gives the cockatiel its characteristic appearance. This feather crest is often the same color as the feathers on its head, although they can sometimes have a bit of grey or brown mixed into them.

How Do Cockatiels Behave?

Cockatiels easily have some of the largest personalities that you can find in an animal. They are intelligent, social, and outgoing birds that often enjoy being pet every once in a while. They enjoy whistling, and you will want to make sure that you are prepared to deal with its whistling even in the late hours of the night when you adopt one of these precious birds. When you socialize them as young birds, they will become more used to being handled by people. This increases the chances that your bird will easily let you hold and pet it, and even hand-feed it. You can do this even when the cockatiel is being raised by its bird parents.

They can easily adapt to your lifestyle and will often try to sync their schedule with yours. For instance, if you wake up and feed the bird every morning, then there’s a good chance that your bird will start expecting food at that time every morning. When you adopt a cockatiel, remember to expose it to other pets so that they can both get used to each other. These birds are social, but they are instinctively prey animals. These birds love toys, and their curious, intelligent nature means that they can spend hours a day playing with simple bird toys and enjoying the process.

How Do You House Cockatiels?

Housing cockatiels is pretty easy in terms of keeping birds. There are too many dangers around the household for these birds to fly freely, so they need to be kept in a birdcage at all times, or in a designated bird-safe room (meaning that all the threats are not present in that room) while you are supervising the bird. They do need a relatively spacious cage with multiple perches, since they like to move around. Because they are ground-foraging birds, you will want to set up foraging stations across the cage floor. These are pretty easy to create. You should also provide enrichment in the environment for your bird to play with to keep it stimulated.

If you keep your bird in a “bird-safe” room and let it fly around, you should consider purchasing a birdcage with a large frontal entrance. This will be easiest for your cockatiel to return to when it is done flying around.

How Do You Care for Cockatiels?

Caring for cockatiels isn’t too demanding or difficult, making them a good beginner bird for people who are interested in owning birds as pets. There are a few different areas of care to consider: food, socialization, and health.

Feeding these birds is a pretty straightforward task. You can often purchase commercial pellets for them to eat, and these will be enough for them to get their nutrients from. If you want to make sure that your bird has treats throughout the day, fresh vegetables and seeds are the way to go.

If you want to give your bird opportunities to forage for food on the ground, lining the base of the cage with newspaper and spreading millet creates an enjoyable experience for your bird. Typically, you will want to refill the food bowl on a daily basis. They enjoy honey sticks and millet spray as treats, although these should be rare. As most animals do, these birds require fresh water, and their bowls should be cleaned and refilled daily.

These birds are incredibly social animals, and social interaction is built into their wellbeing and mentality. In fact, if you neglect your bird for too long, it can become depressed and this won’t lead to anything good for its health. A depressed bird can, and will, stop eating, which is dangerous for its health. You should interact with the bird daily, even multiple times a day if you want to make it happy.

If your bird has been properly exposed to contact, you can often pet your bird’s head, which it will appreciate dearly. They enjoy playing with you and other birds, so if you get one cockatiel, you might want to consider getting two if you have the space for it. This means that on long workdays, your bird will at least have someone to socialize with.

The health of these birds is pretty good, meaning that you won’t have to worry too much about problems. Out in the wilds of Australia, these birds live between 10 to 14 years.

However, in captivity and under care from a responsible owner, these birds will regularly live beyond 20 years. The oldest cockatiel died at 29. This also means that cockatiels are a multi-decade-long commitment that you need to be prepared to make when you begin planning to adopt one. They are naturally healthy birds, and as long as the bird is well-fed and not in a drafty area, it shouldn’t have too many problems.