So you must be asking yourself about pied cockatiels. Are they cool birds? Do they get along with other pets? And most importantly, how do they fare with kids and humans in general? So many questions.
Pied cockatiels actually belong to the parrot family. Originating in Australia, they found their way to Europe and the US throughout the 18th century. Pied cockatiels fly in large swarms and are attracted to large bodies of water to cool off. They’re characterized by their bright colors and the incessant noise and chatter.
This article tells you all you need to know before you jump headfirst into the exciting world of the pied cockatiels. It tells you about their quirkiness as well as feeding habits and personality.
The first contact with humans came way back in 1770. That was in Australia when sailors exploring that far and remote corner of the globe came across a colorful and chatty bird that just wouldn’t stop talking and chirping. As is the custom of hungry sailors who have been on the water for months and months, their first instinct was to kill it and have it for a snack.
But the pied cockatiel was no easy meal for sure. For one thing, it was too small and hardly had a decent morsel of meat on it to satisfy a starving child let alone a grown adult with a growling stomach. So that first unfriendly gesture was pushed under the carpet.
That’s when a more enterprising seaman took another look at the bird and decided that there was money to be made. He envisioned correctly that the bird’s bright colors and cheerful personality would be a welcome addition to every Victorian household. And that’s where the sailors changed tack from trying to eat the bird into trying to tame it.
Being a gracious bird with a benevolent disposition, the pied cockatiel accepted the British sailors’ invitation and embarked on a long journey on their ships that took it across the oceans all the way to Europe. There it flourished in many homes and acclimatized itself to the different weather and all those stiff people that walked around like they were carrying jugs of water on their heads.
From Europe, the capricious cockatiel made its way to the New World as it accompanied the invading Spaniards and later it entertained the Pilgrims as they settled in North America. Along the way, the bird lost its Australian accent and picked up a few words from each language and culture it came in contact with.
These chirpy birds have a sunny disposition. They are the cup-half-full type of birds that one rarely meets. They always see the silver lining and don’t like to waste their time pondering over the dark side of life. So you can expect a lot of singing and partying, bird style, to fill your house any time of the day and many parts of the night.
If you know one thing about partying you’d know that it doesn’t happen solo. You can’t have a party by your lonesome. The same thing applies to cockatiels. These are sociable birds that seek each other’s company and hate nothing more than being left alone. Silence and solitude are their mortal enemies so don’t buy a single bird and leave it alone in the house. It will be miserable.
In the wild, cockatiels fly in large swarms and are attracted to large bodies of water to cool off and have fun swimming and splashing. Since they’re used to warm climates, make sure to offer your birds a large bowl of water to bathe and gossip. That’s part of their daily activities, gossiping, so don’t try to shush them. Most likely they’d be gossiping about you and judge you right to your face.
Size and Color
There’s a prevalent misconception that cockatiels which are small are cousins of cockatoos. This is wrong because cockatoos are a species not a specific bird. It’s a big family that includes pied cockatiels, black-palm cockatoos, galah cockatoos and others. That said, cockatiels actually belong to the parrot family.
But one thing is for sure, the pied cockatiel is a small bird. It can stand on your open palm and eat off your hand. It’s that small. The adult cockatiel will fit nicely in your hand and if it lands on your shoulder, you won’t even feel its weight. Apart from the noise it makes, its tiny size makes its presence go unnoticed for hours.
As for color, that’s another aspect where the cockatiel really shines. Remember that its bright colors not the noise and chatter were the first thing that attracted the attention of the British settlers. Who doesn’t like a bit of color to liven their home?
From white to yellow with red splotches and all colors of the rainbow, the cockatiel is not the kind of bird to seek cover or hide. They flash their bright colors everywhere and are a little show offs to be honest. But that’s why we like them, isn’t it?
As part of the parrot family, cockatiels come in different species. Each species have its own color patterns that distinguish it from the others.
One of the most prominent subspecies are the lutino cockatiels. They’re mostly white with a yellow head and red cheeks. You read that right. They come to this world with rosy cheeks and that’s their claim to fame. They’re not blushing or shy. They just have a prominent red spot where their cheeks should be.
Then there’s the pearl cockatiel. Its most distinct feature is the lace-like pattern around its neck. It looks like a pearl necklace. So now you know why these birds are so chattery and try to get your attention all the time. They are all decked up and want the whole world to see how beautiful and handsome they look. Can’t blame them there, to be honest.
The cinnamon cockatiel is another variation that displays the wild imagination of Mother Nature. Instead of the red cheek, these breeds have a brown or cinnamon spot. This makes them easy to identify. But other than this color shade, all cockatiels share the same uplifting personality and their love to sing and frolic all day long.
It’s always a good idea to know the average lifespan of the pet you plan to adopt well in advance. Why? Well, you’re going to invest a lot of time and emotions in that relationship and the last thing you’d want is for your pet to give up the ghost when you’re just starting to develop feelings for them. You’d want to have a long relationship and grow old together.
However, this doesn’t apply to cockatiels. The growing old together thing, that is. On average cockatiels live between 10 and 14 years. The same as many dog breeds. It’s a good lifespan for such tiny birds and they’ll grow with your kids.
Care and Food
The first thing to consider is the cage. Your cockatiel is not the kind of bird to accept the confines of your home freely. If let out of the cage it will try to fly out the first open window it sees. So a cage, unfortunately, is a must.
Since this is its home, the cage should be large enough to hold all the food, water, perches, toys and other accessories that take the bird’s fancy. It likes to jump around, so it will need more than one perch. And even though it’s a small bird, the cockatiel likes to spread its wings and flap them around a lot. It might be trying to fly or just stretch. Either way, you don’t want it to hurt its wings against the walls of the cage.
As for food, they love seeds and bread crumbs. Foraging is their favorite pastime besides singing and showing off their plumage. So sprinkle their food all over the bottom of the cage and let them pick it up.
If their bright colors make them stand out, their chatter and the noise they make will attract your attention a mile away. It’s the first thing you’ll notice when you walk into the house. These are birds that have mastered the art of chatter and use their vocal cords to whistle, chirp, shout, cry, mimic noise around them, and just about fill up the place with lively sounds.
Here there’s a difference between male and female cockatiels. The males are the grandstanding gender. They use their voices to woo the females, chase away male rivals, and make up stories to fill up their days.
That said, they have a penchant for whistling that can be startling if you’re not used to them. Any time they’ll let out this shrill and piercing whistle that is sure to wake you up in the middle of the night. So make sure to cover their cage at night to allow them to sleep in peace.