Pet Care – Cockatiels


Cockatiels are native to the grasslands of Australia. Their normal color in nature is gray with white wing feathers, orange cheek patches, and a yellow crest. Males generally have brighter orange cheek patches, but this is not always true. Through selective breeding in captivity, a wide range of color variations are now available. Cockatiels are very intelligent and can be taught to talk, but they’re much more renowned for their ability to whistle and mimic sounds.


Cockatiels are generally fed a wide variety of foods, with a seed or pelleted food serving as the foundation for the complete diet. A cockatiel seed mix is usually a millet based mixture containing canary seeds, sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, buckwheat, wheat, oats, cracked corn and more. More premium blends such as our Tropical Carnival Cockatiel Food and Encore Gourmet Cockatiel food are enhanced with vitamins and minerals and contain a variety of dried fruits and vegetables such as carrots, pineapple, and papaya. Nuts such as peanuts and almonds are sometimes included in cockatiel blends as well. Some seed based diets can be deficient in vitamin s a K and D, so the addition of green and yellow vegetables and fresh fruit is essential.

Use of an avian daily multivitamin is recommended. These are usually water soluble and can be added to the drinking water or sprinkled over the food. If the vitamins are added to the water, the water container must be thoroughly washed each day.

Fresh water must always be available.


Cockatiels are housed in a wide variety of cages. There are hundreds of shapes and sizes available, but there are some considerations to keep in mind when choosing the right cage. Cage size, door openings, wire gauge, and the wire spacing must all be considered.

The cage should be at least large enough for the bird to be able to turn around completely and flap its wings without touching the sides of the cage. If the cage is too small the bird will not be able to exercise its wing muscles and will damage its feathers when they catch on the wires. The door opening must be large enough for you to reach in with your hand to feed the bird, clean the cage, organize the decorations and remove the bird if needed. The gauge of the wire must be heavy enough so the bird cant bite through it or break the weld, and the wires should be spaced 5/8″ to 3/4″ apart so the bird cannot put its head between the wires.

Cockatiels are generally quite active and require perches situated throughout the pen, especially on opposite ends so the bird can exercise.

Cockatiels are intelligent birds and require lots of simulation to please their intuitive personalities and prevent cage boredom. We recommend providing a various assortment of toys such as chew ropes, balls, bells, mirrors and even a swing to provide a source of entertainment for your bird. There are many types of toys on the market for cockatiels, just be sure to rotate the toys so your bird doesn’t get bored, and be sure to clean them well to reduce the risks of contamination.

A pull out tray at the bottom of the cage makes for easy cleaning. Most cages with pull out trays have a wire above the tray that separates the bird from the bottom of the tray. This prevents them from coming into contact with the contamination at the bottom of the cage. The tray is great at catching discarded food, feces and other debris. To make cleanup easy, we recommend lining the tray with paper towels or filling it with a layer of bedding. The tray may also be wrapped in a well fitted trash bag to make cleaning and disposal as simple as just removing the bag from the tray.

Handling & Care

Most cockatiels available in the U.S. are domestically raised and have been hand-fed. A young hand-fed bird makes a much more desirable companion as it has bonded well with humans. Cockatiels can be very affectionate, and they love to be handled by their owners. Forming a positive bond with your bird is important in providing it with the interaction it needs to live a fulfilled and healthy life.

Clipping the wings is recommended to help keep the bird manageable indoors. When done correctly, wing clipping does not hurt the bird, and provides a temporary solution to birds flying around in the home and possibly escaping when being handled. Birds will regrow their flight feathers when they molt, so regular clipping of their wings is important to prevent your bird from escaping. Some bird owners do not clip their birds wings, but they run the risk of their birds flying away.

Birds keep their plumage in peak condition by preening their feathers. Providing a large, shallow dish at room temperature will allow the birds a great place to take a bath. There are also bath houses that attach to the opening of the cage to allow the bird to bathe outside of the cage. You can also mist your bird occasionally with a spray bottle to help initiate the preening process.

Special Considerations

Cockatiels can live for more than fifteen years. Purchasing a cockatiel is a long-term commitment and the decision to buy one should not be taken lightly. Many pet bird owners are not prepared for the amount of time and energy that is needed to properly care for a bird, and this can be avoided by doing the proper research to determine if you are ready for a cockatiel as a pet. They will provide years of companionship if treated properly, so please provide the time and resources they need to live a long and healthy life.