Originally a native of the hot dry Australian interior, all cockatiels are now bred in this country and have adapted well to our climate. A communal bird, they are interesting and intelligent pets and are suitable for either a cage or aviary. Their normal colour is grey but expect to pay more for variations such as white, cinnamon, pied, pearl, silver or lutino (pale yellow).

Single or a Pair

A single caged bird will require a lot of attention and stimulus to prevent it becoming bored and frustrated (a common cause of feather plucking). If the bird is left on its own for long periods it is better to give it a companion; in an aviary cockatiels will mix with canaries, budgies, and some small parrots but not with the larger parrots.

Male or Female

Young birds are darker in colour than their parents, have shorter tail feathers and the skin around the cere (nostrils) is pale pink. It takes a very experienced eye to sex young birds but as they mature, the cocks (in the normal grey type), have a yellow head and crest and bright orange cheek patches, while the hens have a greyish head and some yellow pigmentation on their wings and the under surface of their tail feathers. Both sexes make equally good pets.


Your pet shop or local Dobbies pet centre will be able to show you suitable cages. Budgie cages are not large or strong enough. Horizontal wires are best and perches should be so placed that the bird gets some wing exercise. Fruit tree branches placed at various levels make good perches, and do not overcrowd the cage with toys. Cockatiels are by nature ‘ground feeders’ so it is important to use aviary sand or fine gravel (not sawdust) on the floor of the cage.


Cockatiels are seed eaters and your pet shop or local Dobbies pet centre can supply you with a good nutritious seed mixture. Fruit, green vegetables and spray millet can be given as treats in small amounts. Check food containers every day and remove husks. Cuttlefish bone and a mineral block should be attached to the cage side. Fresh water must always be available in a pot or drinker, which cannot become contaminated by the bird’s droppings. Tepid water in a birdbath or spray will help to keep feathers in good condition.


When your bird has become tame enough to handle, it can be allowed out of the cage for part of the day under supervision. Take our advice, however - if left alone in a room, a cockatiel can be very destructive, so make sure you take security measures like the removal of other animals, covering open fires, removing houseplants and making sure doors and windows are closed. Single cockatiels are easily tamed. Cockatiels are natural acrobats and mimics, can learn simple words and phrases and are excellent whistlers. Follow a few simple rules of bird care and you can expect to have the companionship of this fascinating bird for twelve or even fourteen years.