The Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) are popular pets, but are also wild birds of Austrailia. Males generally tend to sing more and are more open to learning vocalizations, but both genders are seen as equally good pets. Though for a while many people thought of these birds as parakeets or parrotlets, they are now confirmed as the smallest member of the Cockatoo family.
The wild cockatiel is very similar in appearance to cockatoos; their colors, however, are different. The wild cockatiel is mostly gray, with a patch of white on the wings. Males have a yellow head and crest, with red cheek coverts. Females have only some spots of yellow on their faces, with orange ear coverts. Hens are normally duller in color. The tame cockatiel on the other hand, can be many different colors due to breeding. These colors and patterns are wide in variety, with cinnamon, emerald-green, lutino, white-faced, pearly, pied, and many more combinations.
Cockatiels are typically 12 to 13 inches, including the long tail. Their crest feathers, similar to the cockatoo's, can be moved up and down to express moods. For instance, a slicked-down crest typically indicates anger.
Cockatiels originally came from Australia. Nobody is certain when they were imported to Europe, but guesses are made at around the 1800s. The first breeding was said to happen in France in the 1850s. By the 1900s cockatiels were being breed by a number of people. In this time they were still fairly expensive, but inferior and imported stock could be obtained at a cheaper price. This was, however, still fairly expensive. The cockatiel first became a common and popular pet in the 1960s, and remains a popular bird to this day.
However, in modern times, with animal exports banned in Austrailia, the only legal way to obtain a cockatiel is to get a captive-bred one. This is not hard - if they were hard to breed, they wouldn't be here today!
Cockatiels live in large flocks, often hundreds in size and are sighted in agricultural areas. Despite the fact that cockatiels like to feed on the ground they are difficult to approach, as they have some of the flock members acting as sentinels, who warn the flock when danger is sighted, after the flock has been warned they can fly away quickly.
Cockatiels are relatively easy birds to tame and look after, and after the budgie they are the most popular parrot-family pet in the world. Cockatiels have been said to be the best bird for a beginner because they are lively, curious and cheeky. Their main diet is pelleted foods, seeds and greens - seeds should be a mixture of sunflower, canary and millet. Greens can consist of most fruit and veg, but lettuce, cucumber, corn and apple are favourites. As well as being fairly easy to look after, the cockatiel is a very rewarding pet, which, despite not being the best at it, can mimic sounds and will be very interested in everything.
Most cockatiels, when properly cared for, live over a 15 to 20 year life span, but some have been known to live over 30 years. Wild Cockatiels live for about 6 to 8 years less than a pet, mainly because of cleanliness and nutrition. The best time to start training a cockatiel is at around 6 to 10 months after hatching.