What do cockatiels like to eat?

The cockatiel in portrait

Here we want to deal with one of the most popular birds, which is also suitable for beginners in bird keeping due to its uncomplicated nature. We're talking about the cockatiel! Find out everything about the cockatiel and its attitude here.

May we introduce: the cockatiel

The cockatiel is a small parrot and is one of the most popular birds for keeping at home, which is mainly due to its friendly nature. This is also responsible for the fact that the cockatiel gains trust in its owner so quickly and is then very people-oriented. In addition, it can be socialized well with other bird species. That is why he is the ideal large aviary resident.

Like many other cockatoos, the pretty small parrot originally comes from Australia. It reaches a body length of around 30 cm and a weight of around 100 g. The elongated body ends in a slender tail about twice as long as the parakeet's wings. The beak is rather small.

The characteristic feature of the cockatiel is the feather bonnet typical of cockatoos. The mood of the birds can be read from it. The closer the hood is to the head, the worse it is for the bird's well-being.

The basic shape of the cockatiel, the wild type, has gray plumage, which is complemented by white wings and a yellow head. The bird has a red-orange dot around its ear. In general, the colors in the male are stronger. The female has additional black and yellow feathers on the tail. In the last 50 years in particular, targeted breeding has resulted in many varieties of color that are very popular today. The most common ones are pearled, yellow, silver and cinnamon-colored cockatiels.

Finally, two more characteristic features: Cockatiels are very good singers and live monogamous.

What to consider before buying

In the following, we would like to briefly address a few points that you should carefully consider if you want to bring a cockatiel into your home.

First and foremost is the birds' large space requirements. Since they are long-haul fliers in nature, they of course have to live out this need somehow in the home. In addition to the daily free flight, the bird therefore needs generous accommodation. If you can't put it in a bird room or in a free-flight aviary, it has to be at least a large indoor aviary. If the bird does not get enough exercise, it will visibly wither. In the process, the muscle tissue breaks down and, due to the reduced activity, it gains weight. In addition, many parakeets also develop behavioral disorders such as plucking feathers or constant screaming.

Due to the fact that cockatiels live in swarms in the wild, they should not be kept individually. Serious behavioral disorders can also result here. Therefore, keep at least one couple of different sexes together.

The cockatiel is very alert and lively. In addition, very intelligent; he wants to be employed in a varied way. If you invest a lot of time and empathy, you can teach him melodies and even single words by imitating repetitive notes at some point.

Another important point is the cockatiel's longevity. If kept in a species-appropriate manner, it can live up to 30 years. If you're not sure that you want to allow that length of time for a pet, don't get a cockatiel.

Finally, it remains to be said that it is good for the bird when it is exposed to as little stress as possible. Therefore, strict spatial separation of dogs, cats & Co. and a regular daily routine with fixed rituals are mandatory.

The establishment of the aviary

Now we want to give some advice on how to keep the cockatiel in a species-appropriate manner. If, as I said, accommodation with free flight cannot be implemented, the parakeet needs a spacious aviary that must not only be high but also wide: Since it is not a high flyer, upright aviaries do not bring it much in terms of free flight. The aviary must be in a sheltered and dry place, as drafts and excessive solar radiation can negatively affect the bird's health.

For litter: Classic bird sand is suitable, but also hemp litter, beech or corn granulate. In specialist shops there is also special bird soil that is untreated and low in germs: This is suitable for rooting and can also be used as a seed for your own green fodder cultivation (e.g. cat grass). On the other hand, sandpaper (risk of injury!) Or commercially available potting soil from the hardware store (often fertilized) is unsuitable.

Next we come to the facility, which mainly consists of branches of different thicknesses. Those of deciduous and fruit trees such as hazelnut, maple or willow are particularly suitable. Of course, all branches must be untreated and have a diameter of at least 2 cm. These are often used for sitting and sleeping, but seat plates are also welcome. Ropes, suspension bridges and bird swings, which swing freely and thus promote and challenge the dexterity and balance of the birds, can also be used as additional seating and at the same time activity.

A bathing option is also one of the elementary furnishings, for example a large, flat clay bowl is ideal as a bathtub. Of course, there are also furnishings such as bowls for water, fresh and grain feed: stainless steel bowls are recommended here.

The cockatiel's diet

Finally we want to briefly deal with how you can feed your parakeet in a balanced way. The main component of the forage should be a versatile grain mix that includes various seeds, kernels and grasses. Whether you mix these together yourself or use a commercially available food is of course up to you; you should just pay attention to high quality. Another important point of criticism is that the food does not contain too many pumpkin and sunflower seeds, as these can quickly lead to obesity due to their high fat content. Better to feed them as a treat in between.

You should also supplement the main food with fresh food, for example with fresh twigs and vegetables such as peppers, carrots, lettuce, carrots or apples. Sprouted or cooked feeds are also suitable for supplying valuable nutrients. If you want to pamper your bird in between, you can offer it millet or panicle.

Since the birds have a high energy requirement due to the high level of movement, their food should be permanently available to them. Incidentally, this energy requirement is even higher during the moult and in and just before the breeding season.

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  1. Hello, my female cockatiel died this morning. It was about 10 years old. Now the male, approx. 19 years old alone. What should I do or pay attention to?

    Sincerely, Thomas

    1. Hello Thomas,

      how sad that the female died. This is really unfortunate - especially for your other cockatiel. After all, cockatiels should always be kept at least in pairs. It is even nicer for the birds to keep them in a larger group. If you want to continue keeping cockatiels, it makes sense in your case to add at least one other bird, or even better, a group to the now single animal. (The choice of the group size should also be made depending on which cage size is possible.) It makes sense for the birds to get used to each other slowly. For example, you can keep them in different cages in the same room and move the cages closer together over several days up to approx. 2 weeks (depending on the behavior of the animals) until they are closed together. For example, the animals can then meet for the first time in free flight.
      If, on the other hand, you want to give up cockatiel keeping, you should find another cockatiel owner who will take your bird in, allow him to join a group and thus offer him a species-appropriate life even in his old age.

      We really hope that we could help you. Let us know how you decide and how your cockatiel is doing!

      Best wishes,
      your ZooRoyal team

  2. Hello good evening, in the last few days we noticed that our senior (now 15 years old) is playing with the bell every day after receiving a new cage and a rope with a ring and bells, building up a pile of grains. The pile is damp and it doesn't look like it's been vomiting. Our Freddy lives alone in 2013 because his friend passed away due to old age. He is very fit for his age, eats, climbs and chirps to himself from time to time. In addition to normal parakeet food, he gets lettuce and millet now and then ... he never made this pile in his old cage ... maybe you have an idea what or why he makes this pile of seeds. Kind regards

    1. Hello Torsten,

      Thank you for your comment! Your bird may - as you already suspected - show no vomiting, but so-called "regurgitation". There can be different reasons. On the one hand, diseases can be the cause, for example inflammation of the goiter of various causes or foreign bodies lying in it. Therefore, to be on the safe side, you should have it checked out by a veterinarian who specializes in birds, especially if your bird is losing weight at the same time.
      But it is also possible (and that would fit very well in the case you described) that your animal shows a behavioral disorder. Stress, for example from moving to a new cage and the associated unfamiliar surroundings and cage furnishings, can also promote this. Cockatiels are also absolutely dependent on social partners with whom they can interact and maintain contacts. Partner animals also feed each other. Your bird may have chosen the bell to replace its partner and is now trying to feed it. This is a kind of proof of love among partner birds, but a behavioral disorder with objects. We therefore strongly recommend that you keep your cockatiel company in the form of at least one partner bird. Keeping cockatiels individually is unfortunately not appropriate to the species and therefore often inevitably leads to behavioral problems.

      We keep our fingers crossed that you can solve the problem and wish you and your nymphi all the best! Please tell us here how it went from here. We look forward to hearing from you!
      Best wishes
      your ZooRoyal team

  3. Hello my hen laid an egg for the second time today. Unfortunately the egg is not as big as the one you can buy. My question, can I just take the egg away from her?
    Can you actually sterilize birds?

    1. Hello,

      we have forwarded your comment to our animal expert. He will get back to you as soon as possible!

      Best wishes,
      your ZooRoyal team