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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Amaze-wing Facts About The Cockatiel For Kids

If you love to read about birds, here are some interesting Cockatiel facts for you.

If you find parrots and cockatoos beautiful and entertaining with their serenade of whistles and chirps, the cockatiel bird is the next best pet you will come across!

The cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) is one of the members of the cockatoo family native to Australia. Cockatiels are easy to breed, cuddly, social, and extremely talented whistlers. Pet cockatiels are popular around the world and can be the perfect companion parrots with proper care and grooming.

Cockatiels are also known by the names of quarrion or weirdo bird in their native homeland Australia. With a characteristic crest on its head and an appearance similar to that of cockatoos, the cockatiel is the only member of the genus Nymphicus. Cockatiels were earlier considered to be a small cockatoo or a crested parakeet but later studies categorized it as one of the smallest members of the cockatoo family (Cacatuidae) and placed it in the subfamily Nymphicinae. In its scientific name, Nymphicus hollandicus, 'Nymphicus' refers to the mythical nymphs and 'hollandicus' is a reference to New Holland, a name given to Australia by the Dutch in 1644.

With a natural habitat that comprises open environments such as scrublands, wetlands, and bushlands, cockatiels are one of the most interesting and beautiful birds that you can keep as a pet. Read on for more such fun and interesting cockatiel facts!

Do you find the cockatiel birds interesting? Then why not check out facts about the house finch and barn owl too?

Cockatiel Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Cockatiel?

The cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) is a bird belonging to family Cacatuidae and subfamily Nymphicinae. They are found in the wild and are popular as pets.

What class of animal does a Cockatiel belong to?

Cockatiels belong to class Aves, that is, they are birds.

How many Cockatiels are there in the world?

There is no data regarding the exact number of cockatiels in the world.

However, aviculture has established several different genetic mutations of the cockatiel that are either dominant, recessive, or sex-linked. The dominant mutations include dominant pasted-faced and dominant silver. The recessive mutations include recessive silver, yellow-cheeked, fallow, whiteface, and pied. Lastly, the sex-linked mutations include yellow-faced, lutino, cinnamon, and pearl. All these color mutations have been produced by careful breeding and refer to only the companion or captive cockatiel birds, not the wild.

Where does a Cockatiel live?

Cockatiels are mostly found in open woodlands, savannahs, scrublands, wetlands, and bushlands.

What is a Cockatiel's habitat?

Cockatiels are endemic to the semi-arid regions of mainland Australia and have been accidentally introduced on the island of Tasmania. The cockatiel bird prefers inland areas to coastlines and tends to flock in areas with a nearby freshwater body. Unlike parrots that are mostly in densely vegetated areas, the cockatiels inhabit open areas. Cockatiels are generally migratory and follow definite migratory patterns in southern Australia. The habitats cockatiels live in are usually exposed to extreme seasonal fluctuations in temperature that can range from 43 degrees Celsius in summer to 4.5 degrees Celsius during winter nights. As pets, a cockatiel can be kept in a cage.

Who do Cockatiels live with?

Cockatiels typically form small flocks or pairs. When migrating, cockatiels can often be seen in large flocks of hundreds and thousands. When kept as pets, it is best to not keep a cockatiel alone since they are very social birds.

How long does a Cockatiel live?

The cockatiel lifespan in the wild is usually 10-14 years. Pet cockatiels or cockatiels in captivity have an average lifespan between 15-25 years with the oldest cockatiel on record reaching 36 years old!

How do they reproduce?

Cockatiels are monogamous (having only one mating partner) and form early relationships. Females reach reproductive maturity at about 18 months and males do so at about 13 months of age. Breeding occurs once a year during the months of August to December and is primarily triggered by seasonal changes, particularly rainfall. Field observations regarding the mating behavior of cockatiels show that the overcast sky with thick black rain clouds elicits a unique excitement among the cockatiels; they fly from perch to perch calling excitedly to other members of the species. The males engage in a show of sexual display and look for tree holes to mate with the female cockatiels.

A cockatiel pair usually claims an entire tree and nests in the hollows of trees, preferably dead eucalyptus trees near a source of fresh water and about two meters (6.5 ft) above the ground. The primary reason for choosing such crevices is that they do not easily flood with water during heavy rainfall. Mating begins only after the cockatiels have ensured that the nest is adequate and safe. The cockatiel sperms are long-lived and remain viable for the fertilization of the egg for up to a month after deposition in the oviduct of the female cockatiels. A female cockatiel lays about four to seven eggs per clutch that are incubated for 17-23 days. It takes around four to five weeks for the hatchlings to be independent and leave the nest.

A unique feature observed among the cockatiel birds is that they have strong parental tendencies with both the male and the female parent sharing responsibilities in hatching and rearing of the young. For instance, the task of egg incubation is uniformly shared between the two parents with the females incubating them throughout the night and the males doing so from early morning to late afternoon. While the female takes care of the eggs at night, the male guards the nest by standing at the entrance. Allofeeding (passing food from one bird to another) of the chicks is done by both parents with the male playing a greater role in the process. Another striking thing about cockatiel parents is that they do not abandon their chicks easily.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the cockatiels fall under the Least Concern category with a stable and unfragmented population worldwide.

Cockatiel Fun Facts

What do Cockatiels look like?

The cockatiels are a beautiful species of birds and are visually quite appealing. They have a slim and streamlined body with a characteristic crest on their head. The crest is actually a tuft of a dozen or so feathers of around 2 in (5 cm). Both female and male cockatiels have red eyes or the color may be darker. These birds have a very long tapering tail that makes up almost half the length of an individual bird and spreads out into a wide fan during flight.

Even though artificial genetic mutations have resulted in cockatiels with a spectrum of different looks and color combinations, both female and male cockatiels found in the wild have a somewhat similar physical appearance. The females are mainly gray in color with a patch of pale and burnt shade of orange on the cheek without any border. Underneath the tail feathers are unique bars of alternating colors that differ starkly from the color pattern of the rest of the body. In contrast, the male cockatiels have gray or dark brown plumage and their orange cheek patches have a white border. The males also exhibit white-bordered areas on their upper wings when folded. The lutino cockatiel is one of the most popular cockatiel mutations with orange cheek patches and light yellow feathers.

Like a parrot, the upper part of the beak of the cockatiel bird is curved and ends in a point. The nostrils are round and sit above the beak at the point where the upper beak is attached to the skull. But unlike a parrot, the beak of this bird species is usually dark gray. Similar to a parrot,  cockatiels have two backward-facing toes and two forward-facing toes that help them to perch firmly as well as walk on the ground. The legs of cockatiels are mostly a blackish shade of gray.

The long life span of cockatiels makes them excellent pet birds.

How cute are they?

Cockatiels look extremely cute and elegant at the same time. The patch of orange on their cheeks further adds to the cockatiels' cuteness quotient!

How do they communicate?

Cockatiels have a range of different methods to convey their moods, both vocal and visual.

Unlike most parrot species, cockatiel birds are incapable of mimicking the human voice and mostly chirp instead of screeching. They whistle rather than talk. However, they can sing and mimic melodies. Besides, they have distinctive vocal variations that indicate their mood. For instance, high-pitched chirps from cockatiel birds signify stress. Moreover, the duration and pitch of the cry can be used to determine the intensity of the stress; low-pitched cries would usually mean low stress and high-pitched cries accompanied with flight are indicative of severe stress. A cockatiel's voice is pretty loud and shrill, carrying it over long distances. The mating call of this bird mostly involves the male engaging in a prolonged song to attract the females.

The crest of the cockatiel is also used by the bird to convey moods visually. The position of the crest tells a lot about the bird. For example, a vertically erect crest means that the bird is alert or highly curious whereas a defensive or threatened cockatiel will have its crest feathers flattened against the head. Cockatiels that are content and relaxed will have their crest feathers tilted at about 45 degrees angle to the head with the cheek feathers puffed and constant grinding of the beak. An interesting behavior of cockatiels observed during courtship is the spreading of the wings outwards and upwards to impress the mating partner.

How big is a Cockatiel?

Cockatiels have an average body length between 9.8-13.8 in (25-35 cm). The average wingspan of the bird is between 11.8-13.8 in (30-35 cm). Cockatiels are about half the size of cockatoos.

How fast can a Cockatiel fly?

Cockatiels can attain flight speeds of more than 40 mi/hr (64 km/hr).

How much does a Cockatiel weigh?

Cockatiels have an average body mass between 2.8-3.2 oz (80-90 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

A male and female cockatiel do not have any distinct names.

What would you call a baby Cockatiel?

A baby cockatiel is called a chick.

What do they eat?

Wild cockatiels are primarily ground foragers, walking on the land to search for food. The diet of cockatiels mainly consists of hard, sun-dried seeds from trees, shrubs, and grasses. But their diet may also include mushy food such as berries and fruits. At a time, cockatiels take only a few sips of water from pools of freshwater such as waterholes. They have also been observed to consume tiny ground-dwelling insects as part of their food.

Are they dangerous?

A bird like a cockatiel is usually docile and does not normally bite unless it is trying to communicate with the owner. They may gently nip the owner with their beaks but these are not painful. However, a cockatiel may get really aggressive during the breeding season and may spread a disease called psittacosis if infected.

Would they make a good pet?

The cockatiel's behavior makes it extremely suitable as a pet. They are as much favored as pets around the world as a cockatoo or a parrot.

Did you know...

Female cockatiels can lay eggs indeterminately (can lay as many eggs as required to fill out the clutch) and hence can replace broken or lost eggs with more.

The feathers in the orange cheek patches of cockatiels are modified to give protection to the ear and minimize turbulence during flight.

The coloration of cockatiels is an outcome of natural selection, camouflaging them from aerial predators while searching for food on the ground.

Can Cockatiels speak?

Unlike parrots, a cockatiel does not have an extensive vocabulary or talking ability. However, cockatiels are known to be extremely smart and intelligent, evident from their knack for solving puzzle toys, their ability to be trained to speak simple words, and performing trained tricks.

Having your own Cockatiel

A standard cockatiel costs around $150 USD but depending on the breed and the location you are buying from, the price can range from $80-$250 USD. Being native to Australia, they are most affordable there and can be shipped right to your home. The breeds differ mainly in terms of color and almost have the same personalities.

The health of a pet cockatiel is extremely important and they deserve as much care and love as any other pet. They can be fed seeds, fruits, and fresh vegetables, their cage has to be cleaned regularly, and can be supplied with perches and bird toys. A backup travel cage may be helpful for carrying the pet bird to the vet and back. Apart from the basic care, these birds require quite some socialization and attention and it is best that the owner interacts with them for at least an hour every day.

The bird is friendly, has an even temperament, and easily gets attached to the owners. When taken proper care of with love and affection, a cockatiel will reciprocate affectionately. This is evident in the cockatiel's body language such as moving around the cage excitedly when approached by the owner and bowing its head down, wanting to be petted. As a pet, they are mostly kept in a cage but they are happiest when let out of the cage.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including Amazon parrot, or great green macaw.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our Cockatiel coloring page.

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