The Cockatiel is an unusual member of the cockatoo family. It is small in size, and has a slender body and long pointed tail, which is more characteristic of a parrot. Its plumage is mostly grey, paler below, with a white wing patch, orange cheeks and a distinctive pointed crest. The male can be identified by its bright yellow forehead, face and crest, and bright orange cheek patch. The hen has a grey head. The Cockatiel is not found naturally in any other country, is widespread throughout mainland Australia, but uncommon in Tasmania, with only a few sightings being reported.
Birds need to bond. They breed at 1-1/2 years and at any time, in response to suitable periods of rain. The hen can lay 2-9 eggs per clutch. Incubation period is 19-21 days. Both parents care for the young for 4-5 weeks, until they are ready to fledge (emerge from nest). Both sexes share the incubation of the eggs, which are laid in a hollow, high up in trees. Suitable trees are either in or close to water. Cockatiels enter the nest hollow tail first.
In the wild, the Cockatiel is seen in pairs or small flocks, in most types of open country, usually near water. The Cockatiel is strongly nomadic, moving around in response to the availability of food and water.
In captivity, Cockatiels need games and toys, need to hear sounds and see objects. They are playful birds that like interaction. Signs of mental stress are agitated hopping and flying from perch to perch, feather picking, toe chewing, excessive aggression or lack of interest in playing, singing or talking. Although mostly silent, the Cockatiel gives a long and distinctive “queel-queel” in flight. It does not have the screeching voice of many other parrots and may learn to ‘speak’.
Cockatiels feed on a variety of grass seeds, nuts, berries and grain. They may feed either on the ground or in trees, and always in small to large numbers. Cockatiels roost in trees near water and travel from these areas in large flocks to feeding grounds.