Western Australia, Australia
Posted Jan 16, 2009
The average length of a cockatiel can range from 12 to 18 inches, most are around 12 inches long. It's closest relation is the black cockatoo. Another close relative to the cockatiel is the Galah (rose breasted cockatoo).
A cockatiels average life span is 15 to 25 years but there are reports of them living in to their 30’s.
The cockatiel is & always was commonly known in Western Australia as a weero or wiero. It had been once known in the Eastern States as a quarion but is more commonly known as the cockatiel now.
The talking ability can vary. Not all tiels talk & not all talk well. The normal grey cockatiel is the best known talker of all mutations. This is also the original cockatiel. Many normal grey males have the capability of learning to mimic words at very young ages & can continue to learn words & small phrases throughout it's life. There can also be other mutations that are very capable of learning to the same degree as the normal cockatiel but it isn't a regular occurance. You can also get the occasional normal grey male cockatiel that does not talk at all.
Cockatiels come in many mutations these days. Many mutations cannot be visually sexed as the males are identical to the females. The normal grey cockatiels are the easiest to sex as the males develop a bright yellow face & females have a washed look about their face. Cockatiels mature around 6 months of age. Before then, the juveniles look identical to females so cannot be visually sexed.
Some other mutations that can be visually sexed are Pearls & White face normal greys.
When warmer weather approaches your male cockatiel can often become quite grumpy & aggressive towards you. When hormones kick in all the cockatiel wants to do is find a mate & reproduce which is influenced heat & humidity. As unbearable as it may sometimes be, your cockatiel is just behaving in a natural way, preparing to raise a family.
Cockatiels can start to behave this way when they mature for the first time at around 12 months old. Some cockatiel mature a little later & others earlier in life. Regardless of when the cockatiel matures, it should not be encouraged to breed until 12 to 18 months old. Before then they’re still too immature to raise young successfully.
Extra daylight hours, abundance of foods & humidity can tempt cockatiels to into wanting to breed. Male cockatiels can sing, serenade into shiny objects as well as their owners, strut around showing off with their wings ½ out, bowing & they can often end in the bird hissing & biting you suddenly but it’s coming from their need to reed & frustration. The tamer the bird, the less fear it has & more likely you will be attacked.
Mature hens can also appear grouchy, looking for nesting sites, shredding paper.
A lot of people place cockatiels on parrot type diets that are extremely high in fruit & sugars. In the wild the cockatiel does not eat sugary foods such as sweet fruits. They enjoy eating foods that are dark leafy green, grasses, sprouts, herbs, flowers & seeds. These are the ideal type of cockcatiel foods & foods that cockatiels would normally accept to eat. Although some cockatiels enjoy fruits, many don't because it is not a natural food to them. Because fruit is so high in sugar, some cockatiels can become little fatties. Many people also like to completely remove seed from a cockatiels diet. Seed is a natural food to them so it should not be removed completely from their diets. As the owner, it is up to you to determine how much seed the cockatiel should eat, how often they should eat the seed & the type of seed they should eat but seed should never be considered to be removed completely from a colckatiels diet.
Pellets are a popular choice of food to offer & cocaktiels do very well on them. A lot of owners offer pellets as a base diet but pellets are not available in all places, in some places they can be extremely expensive & some people prefer to offer natural foods. For me, it is hard to find the correct pellet for my cockatiel. I only want 100% natural cockatiel pellets & if i can't get them, I give my tiel a natural diet instead.
IMO the ideal diet for a captive bred cockatiel consists of a good variety of sprouts, herbs, veg & some fruit, eucalyptus, edible flowers.
Cockatiels are quite hardy birds & some do well on restricted or poor diets but this is no excuse to keep then on these sort of diets. Tiels are one of the hardest birds to convert to a healthier diet. They don’t accept change & it is natural for tiels to think of any food to be poisonous or un edible if they’ve never had it before.
Converting your birds diet should be done gradually. Your tiel should be given the choice of eating the new foods you offer or starve. Many will choose to starve than eat something that is foreign to them. It’s a natural instinct. A gradual conversion will give them & their bodies the time needed to adjust properly. A sudden conversion of diets can cause health issues.
Herbs, grasses, grains, leafy greens & flowers are a natural food to them & offering them when converting their diet can be easier as most are more willing to try & accept these sorts of foods. Eat the food yourself, make it sound yummy. Show your bird it is safe to eat.
Pellets can be crushed & added to their current diet. This way your tiel is more likely to eat some pellet while eating the seed. Cockatiels aren’t often keen on pellets & many of them can look too big or be too hard for them to bother with. An all pellet diet is sometime considered just as bad as an all seed diet, it is also unnatural. Offer you bird vegetables, herbs & grasses too.
Fresh herbs, grasses & flowers can be ground up & mixed in well with their seed. Your tiel will ingest some of this as the ground herbs will stick to the seed. Once your tiel gets a taste for this sort of food he will enjoy it. Many cockatiel owners believe in converting to a pellet diet & removing seed altogether.
Grate or juice dark green, red, yellow & orange vegetables & add some of these to your birds seed & mix it in well. Soak your tiels seed in natural juice of a vegetable or combination of vegetables for 24 hours.
Many root vegetables such as turnip, carrot, parsnip & beetroot release anti-oxidants when they’ve been grated so add these to your birds seed mix.
You do not need to remove the seed altogether from his diet. Coackatiels are natural seed eaters in the wild so allow your bird to have seed in his diet. It is up to you how much seed you offer your tiel but offering sensible amounts of seed will not harm your bird. You can also 24 hour soak his seed. This will give your tiels seed better nutritional value rather than dry seed.
You can hide treats or their favourite food inside a piece of fruit or vegetable to encourage them to try the new food.