Cockatiels are one of the smaller parrot species and the second most popular kept in captivity in the United States. They are part of the Cockatoo group and, like others in that group, have a crest of feathers at the front on the forehead that can be raised and lowered.
Cockatiels or “tiels” originated in Australia but have been bred in captivity for many years, resulting in gray, cinnamon, white (albino) and yellow (lutino) color varieties, as well as various color mixes and feather patterns.
Like other cockatoos, cockatiels lose their downy feathers fairly frequently; their dander may be a problem for people with allergies.
Cockatiels are great beginner birds for kids and adults, and a good choice for people who work outside the home. They are generally more affectionate than budgerigars and enjoy being scratched and petted. Most cockatiels sold in pet stores are hand raised and are already very tame.
Cockatiels are not considered good talkers, but can be excellent whistlers, learning a number of different tunes. Customers who are interested in teaching these birds to talk should attempt that before teaching them to whistle. Males generally are much more vocal than the females, even when young, and more likely to be better talkers and whistlers.
Baby cockatiels usually look fluffier than adults, with a shorter crest and larger looking eyes. Young tiels have barring on their tail feathers, although it may only be visible under strong light for white and yellow birds. At approximately six months, males will lose the barring after molting their feathers, but females will retain this coloration as adults.
Cockatiels typically live from seven to 12 years.