Cockatiels are small crested members of the parrot family. They are known for their mellow nature. Grey is the most common colour, but other colours include pied, lutino and fancy.

Cockatiel Facts
Average size: 11-14 inches long from head to tail
Average life span: Up to 25 years with proper care
Diet: Herbivores

Shopping list for your new cockatiel:

  • Appropriately sized cage
  • Cage cover
  • High quality cockatiel food
  • Millet spray
  • Cuttlebone
  • Cuttlebone/millet holder
  • Treats
  • Cage paper or litter
  • Food and water dishes
  • Variety of perches
  • Variety of toys
  • Bird bath
  • Grooming supplies
  • Vitamins and supplements

Because all cockatiels are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as Chlamydiosis, always wash your hands before and after handling your budgie and the content of its cage. This helps to prevent the spread of diseases.

Diet
A well balanced cockatiel diet consists of a good quality seed mix and fresh fruit and vegetables such as apples, mangos, cauliflower and broccoli leaves, cabbage and edible flowers without the leaves. Cockatiels should also have constant access to clean, fresh water.
Cockatiels should not be fed fruit seeds chocolate, alcohol or caffeine as these can cause serious medical conditions.

Feeding
It is important to remember when feeding your cockatiel that they should have constant access to fresh food and water. When feeding your cockatiel fresh fruit and vegetables, any uneaten food should be discarded within a few hours. Treats should not exceed 10% of your cockatiels diet.

Housing
Cockatiels acclimate well to average household temperatures that do not exceed 27˚C. A cockatiels home should be placed off the floor in an area that is well lit and away from drafts. We recommend providing your cockatiel with the biggest cage possible, this gives them room to fly and stretch.
Perches should be at least 5” long and ½” in diameter. A variety of different perches in different sizes is advisable so they can exercise their feet and help prevent arthritis.
Placing a metal grate over their droppings tray will help keep your cockatiel away from droppings. Line the tray with cage paper for easier cleaning. Avoid contamination by not placing food and water containers under perches.

Normal Behaviour
Cockatiels are known for mimicking repetitive sounds and noises. They bond very well with their human companions. Cockatiels that have been raised by their parents will need some training on human interaction and handling. They are very active creatures and they need time outside of their cage every day in order to interact with family members. Cockatiels can be kept in pairs; this is advisable if you are unable to devote so much attention to one. Providing your cockatiel with foraging toys will provide them with important mental stimulation.

Cage Maintenance
Cages and perches should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Cage liners should be replaced at least twice a week. Toys, perches and dishes should be replaced when they are worn or damaged and introduce new toys into the cage regularly. Make sure all cage accessories and toys do not contain lead, zinc or lead based paints as these can cause medical issues if your bird ingests them.

Do not use too many cleaning agents around your bird as the fumes can be harmful to them.

Grooming and Hygiene
Provide your cockatiel with a bowl of clean lukewarm water regularly for them to bathe in. This must be removed as soon as your cockatiel is finished with it. Alternatively, use a spray bottle to spray your cockatiel with lukewarm water. Clipping your birds’ flight feathers is not necessary, but when it is done correctly it can help them prevent injury or escape. Consult your vet to see what is best for your bird. Their nails should be trimmed by a qualified professional in order to prevent injury.

Signs of a Healthy Animal
An active bird is a happy bird; they should be alert and sociable. A good sign of a healthy cockatiel is seeing them regularly eating and drinking. Their nostrils and eyes should be dry and bright and their beaks, legs and feet appear normal. Their feathers should be clean, smooth and well groomed and their bottom should be clean and dry.

Common Health Issues

HEALTH ISSUE SYMPTOMS OR CAUSES SUGGESTED ACTION
Chlamydiosis Appetite loss, fluffed feathers, nasal discharge, green stools Seek immediate veterinary attention
Diarrhoea Faecal portion of stool is not formed. Multiple causes from diet change to internal parasites Consult with your vet and ensure a proper diet
Conjunctivitis Red eyes, tearing, closed puffy eyes Consult with your vet and wipe eyes with warm water

 

Red Flags

  • Beak swelling or accumulations
  • Fluffed, plucked, or soiled feathers
  • Sitting on the cage floor
  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Runny or discoloured stools
  • Favouring one foot
  • Eye or nasal discharge
  • Red or swollen eyes
  • Loss of appetite

If you see any of these signs in your cockatiel, then please seek professional advice.