Save as favorite

Avg. Owner Satisfaction


(625 Reviews)

Is the Cockatiel right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Weiro; Quarrion; Tiel

Scientific name: Nymphicus hollandicus

The basics:
The Cockatiel is the second most popular pet parrot, only surpassed by its fellow Australian, the Budgerigar. This easy-to-handle, easy-to-breed species comes in a wide variety of eye-catching mutations, but even the normal gray birds win hearts because of the dapper crest, alert attitude, and endearing personality.

Cockatiels are social, not too loud, and easy to feed, and they're highly rated as good apartment birds. However, as a member of the Cockatoo family, Cockatiels are a powder down parrot. If you have a tendency to allergies, you should check with your doctor before you bring home a Cockatiel. Normal adult Cockatiels are easy to sex, since the adult males have a clean-looking face, while the females have a gray wash around the bright orange spot. Both adult males and females do have that nice orange spot, however; do not assume that all birds with an orange cheek patch are males.

The Cockatiel is a slim, graceful bird capable of strong flight. In the wild, these birds are nomads that travel widely throughout the dryer regions of Australia in search of seeding grasses and water, and they may gather on agricultural fields. Wild flocks may contain a few dozen or up to several thousand birds. Away from the flock, they do not have a natural sense of direction, so keep those wings properly clipped. A Cockatiel who gets startled and escapes into the great outdoors can very easily get confused and fly a surprisingly long distance. I've had Cockatiels brought to me that were obviously someone's beloved pet, but I was never able to locate the owner. It's possible that these birds had flown hundreds of miles until they were thoroughly lost.

A slim, aerodynamic bird, the wild form of the Cockatiel is mostly gray with a crest and a bright orange spot on the cheek. Today there are many beautiful mutations available in shades of yellow, gray, white, pearl, and more.

80 - 100 grams (2.8 - 3.5 oz.)

Average size:
32 centimeters (12.5 in.)

15 - 25 years

Behavior / temperament:
Cockatiels are often recommended to first time parrot owners. They are gentle, easy to handle, and not too loud as long as you keep them entertained. A bird trained young learns to love human companionship, and your pet will be delighted to spend hours with you. However, they are not usually gifted talkers, so if you are looking for an easy talking parrot, I would instead recommend the Budgerigar. What they can do is learn to whistle. A classic tune that many Cockatiels have learned is the theme to the Andy Griffith show, so why not start there? Caution: Many people have reported that Cockatiels hold a grudge against the person who clips their wings. Therefore, I strongly advise that you hire a vet or a groomer to take on this chore. Make regular appointments, and you will maintain the sweet personality of your pet without the risk of having the bird fly away.

Cockatiels are not big birds, but they can chew. Supply a sturdy powder-coated metal cage of at least 24”w x 18”d x 24”h, as well as a playgym where they can exercise out of the cage. They're not terribly destructive, but make sure the perches are crafted from bird-safe wood, because the bird may destroy them eventually. Also, I prefer a cage floor with a metal grate to keep your Cockatiel away from its droppings. As ground feeders in the wild, they might otherwise spend too much time poking around their own mess. They should also have some toys specifically rated for Cockatiels.

That said, you should understand that you may be your pet Cockatiel's favorite “perch.” These highly social birds can spend hours on your shoulder just hanging out with you. I don't recommend wearing jewelry, because they can become fascinated with shiny earrings and necklace clasps, and they can't seem to resist removing your gold jewelry. I lost a gold necklace that way, and lots of women have reported that their Cockatiels attack or try to remove earrings. I thought my first Cockatiel was just kissing my ear. But some Tiels get rather nippy and aggressive when over-stimulated by your jewelry.

The Cockatiel, a tough bird of the dry Australian interior, evolved to eat a seed-rich diet. Its ability to survive and thrive on seeds is one of the reasons that this species became such a successful species in captivity. Too many Cockatiel owners struggle to convert their birds to pellets, a struggle often doomed to failure. Instead, provide a high-quality seed-based diet that includes fresh sprouted seed and home-baked Cockatiel bread. Ask your vet or breeder about whether they recommend vitamin A or multi-vitamin supplements. Tiels may deign to eat some of the food off your plate, and you may permit this in the interest of adding some variety to your bird's diet, but never allow any parrot to eat avocado or chocolate.

Written by Elaine Radford


mimic sounds, beautiful singing voice, best beginner bird, fun little personalities


cage cleaning, cage escapee, mood swings, annoying screeching, feather dust


consistent gentle handling, natural cockatiel pellets, doesnt actually talk, natural seed eaters

Member photos