Cockatiels

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Largely nomadic, the species will move to where food and water is available. They are typically seen in pairs or small flocks. Sometimes, hundreds will flock around a single body of water.

Origin and Description

The Cockatiel was first discovered in Australia in 1770, but did not become popular until the Australian gold rush in the nineteen hundreds. They are native to the Australian Outback, where they are found largely in arid or semi-arid country but always close to water.  Largely nomadic, the species will move to where food and water is available. They are typically seen in pairs or small flocks, though sometimes, hundreds will flock around a single body of water. To many farmers' dismay, they often eat cultivated crops. It was first classified in 1793 as Psittacus hollandicus, then moved to its own genus, Nymphicus hollandicus, in 1832.

 

The "normal grey" or "wild-type" cockatiel's plumage is primarily grey with prominent white flashes on the outer edges of each wing. The face of the male is yellow or white, while the face of the female is primarily grey or light grey,[9] and both sexes feature a round orange area on both ears, often referred to as "cheddar cheeks". This orange colouration is generally vibrant in adult males, and often quite muted in females. Visual sexing is often possible with this variant of the bird.

The cockatiel's distinctive  crest expresses the animal's emotional state. The crest is dramatically vertical when the cockatiel is startled or excited, gently oblique in its neutral or relaxed state, and flattened close to the head when the animal is angry or defensive. The crest is also held flat but protrudes outward in the back when the cockatiel is trying to appear alluring or flirtatious. When the cockatiel is tired, the crest is seen positioned halfway upwards, with the tip of the crest usually curling upward.

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Cockatiels are gentle and friendly.

Some enjoy physical contact, lending themselves well to taming.

An extremely social bird

Generally well-socialized birds, cockatiels are gentle and friendly. Some enjoy physical contact, lending themselves well to taming. Cockatiels and their owners often develop shared rituals such as petting, scratching and preening. A cockatiel that wishes to be petted will often lower its head or nibble at the owner's fingers to indicate that it wishes to have its head and neck scratched (two places it can't easily scratch on its own), and will emit a low squeak to show its pleasure. A single bird will get more attached to its keeper.

 

Cockatiels that are hand-fed from a very young age make the best pets as they may continue to enjoy the human contact well into their adult life if handled often. Tamed cockatiels require a consistent few hours of quality time with their human companion, and have a reputation for demanding the attention of their owners on a regular basis. Their vocalizations range from soft cheeps to piercing cries.  You will become familiar with what these vocalizations mean. A single bird will get more attached to its keeper but if you are not at home a lot it is best to get two birds. It is a fact that two birds of the same sex get along just as well as a mixed pair. Even more so if the cockatiels were introduced while they are still young. Their vocalizations range from soft cheeps to piercing cries.

Sexing

Sexing a cockatiel can be very confusing. Bright, orange cheek feathers don't always mean the bird is male. Some mutations have very faded cheek feathers such as the Pastelface. The Whiteface, as the name implies, has no cheek color at all. Males have great vocal abilities and females are fairly quiet. Females are more aggressive and they are more likely to hiss and bite more. Male cockatiels are better at parenting. While the mothers are responsible for hatching the eggs and caring for the newborn chicks, the male cockatiel doesn't fly off and abandon them, either. In fact, they are quite protective of their family, and in the wild, will face much larger birds and predators just to keep them safe. They are also nurturing and affectionate with their young. In cases when the mother cockatiel was killed or injured, the father quite capably steps in and assumes all the parenting duties.

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Sexing a cockatiel can be very confusing. Bright, orange cheek feathers don't always mean the bird is male. (left, female and right, male)

Male cockatiels are better at parenting.

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Cockatiels that are hand-fed from a very young age make the best pets as they may continue to enjoy the human contact well into their adult life if handled often.