Animal-World > Birds > Cockatiels > Grey Cockatiel

Grey Cockatiel

Grey Tiel ~ Quarrian ~ Weiro

Family: Cacatuidae Grey Cockatiel femaleGrey Cockatiel - femaleNymphicus hollandicusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
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Hello, it is nice to have someone to talk to and ask questions. My name is Pam. My daughter brought home 2 young cockatiels that she got from her teacher just... (more)  Pamelia Doubleday

   Grey Cockatiels may or may not have red cheek patches, but they ALL have white on their wings!

   The Grey Cockatiel is the most common kind of cockatiel. Grey is the natural color of cockatiels in the wild, though there are occasionally some naturally occurring color mutations. These cockatiels are sometimes referred to as the 'Normal Grey' Cockatiel or the Wild-Type" Cockatiel.

   Cockatiels are probably the most popular of the parrot family with their main competition being the Budgerigar (referred to as the Parakeet in the United States). They make wonderful pet birds because they are are hardy, easily handle changes in their home, and are easy to breed. On top of that, keeping a cockatiel as a pet is easy because they are not noisy parrots and they are comfortable when left alone for long periods of time.

   Cockatiels are considered parrots as can be seen by the shape of their beak. They are members of the Cockatoo family which is apparent by their cute little erectile crests. Unlike cockatoos however, they have long tails making up about half of their total length, and giving them more of a parakeet type appearance.

   Cockatiel's evolved as nomadic creatures, surviving in a variety of diverse and rugged habitats. They are constantly on the move, changing locations with the seasonal fluctuations of food and water supplies. This native habitat and their adaptive behavior has made them well suited as pets.

For more information about the care of Cockatiels see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Cockatiel

Geographic Distribution
Nymphicus hollandicus
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  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Cacatuidae
  • Genus: Nymphicus
  • Species: hollandicus

Scientific Name   Nymphicus hollandicus

Distribution   Grey cockatiels are found over most of Australia except the coastal areas and most of Tasmania. Tasmania, an island state of Australia, has many of the parrots found in Australia but the cockatiel is not present there. It is thought that though they are one of Australia's fastest flyers, their flying strength is apparently not sufficient to help them bridge the waterway that separates the island from the Australian mainland.

Description   Cockatiels are considered parrots, as can be seen by the shape of their beak. Cockatiels are probably the most popular of the parrot family. They are closely related to the Cockatoos, and like Cockatoos they are members of the Cacatuidae family.

   As members of the Cacatuidae family they too have an erectile crests. This cute little crest will be held erect when they are stimulated and excited, flattened when they are feeling angry, defensive, or submissive, and somewhere in between when they are in their normal 'hanging out' state. Unlike the other members of this family, however, they have long tails. The tail makes up about half of their total length and gives them more of a parakeet type appearance.

   The Grey Cockatiel is very common pet bird cockatiel. The Grey Cockatiel is not one of the cockatiel mutations. Gray is the natural color of cockatiels in the wild, though there are occasionally some naturally occurring color mutations. Both male and female Grey Cockatiels are primarily gray with white along the outer edge of the wings.

   See descriptions of sexual differences for this pet bird cockatiel below, under the breeding cockatiels section.

Size - Weight    These birds get up to 12 inches (30 cm) and weigh 3 to 4 ounces.

Care and feeding    Good sized bird cages are a must for good cockatiel care. A roomy cockatiel cage is required unless the bird is to be let out for extended periods. Many birds can spend most of their time on a playpen or parrot perch. Bird food consists of a variety of sprouts, seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and commercial pellets.

See About Cockatiels: Care and Feeding for more information.

Social Behaviors    Cockatiels travel in flocks in the wild and this influences cockatiel behavior in captivity. Their social 'flock' disposition along with their native habitat makes them well suited as pets. They are hardy, adapt easily to change, and are easy to breed. A big plus is that cockatiels are not noisy and can be left alone for long periods of time. They make a very loving and devoted pet if bonded properly.

   For taming cockatiels and cockatiel training, see About Cockatiels: Handling and Training.

Activities    Common bird activities for cockatiels, they like to climb and play. Cockatiel bird care includes providing lots of bird toys and excercise. Give them plenty of time outside the cage if possible, a playpen works well for this. Many cockatiels can learn to talk and whistle, especially the males.

   See About Cockatiels: Activities for more information.

Breeding/Reproduction    Cockatiel breeding can be a very rewarding experience. Cockatiels will readily nest provided they have a nest box and some material to construct the nest from. They lay one egg every other day until they have laid about 5 eggs. The incubation period is 17 - 22 days. After hatching the young birds will open their eyes at 9 days of age.

Grey Cockatiel "Loki""Loki" Photo © Animal-World:
Courtesy David Brough

   This is a good time to start hand feeding if you don't want to incubate the eggs yourself. Incubation and raising the chicks yourself requires dedication since the baby cockatiels will need feedings every two hours for the first couple of weeks. Likewise, you can pull them from the nest earlier than 9 days, but with greater risk to the chick and greater effort on your part with frequent feedings. After about 18 days the orange cheek patch will appear on the babies. At about 30 days they will look like adult birds, and will fledge at about 35 days of age.

   For more information on cockatiel breeding, see About Cockatiels: Breeding/Reproduction.

Sexual differences    There are a lot of opinions about how to sex these birds, but with many of the color varieties they are usually they are just indicators, and not certain ways to tell. A Grey Cockatiel can usually be visually sexed at about six months of age. A mature grey male will have a yellow or white face while the female's face will be grey or a lighter grey. Males also generally have a darker and more distinct orange spot on the cheek than females, but not always. All juvenile Grey Cockatiels have barring on the underside of the tail. This barring is lost with the male's first molt but is retained by the female.

   "Loki" (seen to the right) is a male by this criteria. Loki is one of the oldest (and maybe the prettiest) cockatiels that we know of. He (or she?) is at least 23 years old and looks very healthy! "Loki" is the name of the Viking God of mischief. Do you think the owner is trying to say something about this sweet innocent little bird?

Potential Problems    The cockatiel health is easy to maintain as these are very hardy birds, but for all pet birds there are potential problems For optimum bird health care for your cockatiel, it is good to know what signs of illness to be aware of.

   For information about cockatiel health, see About Cockatiels: Problems.

Availability    The Grey Cockatiel is one of the most common cockatiels for sale. It is readily available and affordable. There are also lots of different color mutations readily available including lutino, pied, pearl, cinnamon, and white-faced varieties.

Author: Clarice Brough, CAS
Lastest Animal Stories on Grey Cockatiel

Pamelia Doubleday - 2013-02-11
Hello, it is nice to have someone to talk to and ask questions. My name is Pam. My daughter brought home 2 young cockatiels that she got from her teacher just before Christmas. The mother was biting and pulling the feathers out of their neck. They are soooo sweet. I was on craigs list looking for a better cage for them and I came across a Military Mccraw with cage for rehoming. So, I called and I'm now mom. He is so smart. He talks all the time. I can't always understand him, but he seams to pick up words quickly. Milton bonded to me rather quickley within a few hrs, he was sitting in my lap on his back, but he won't let anyone else touch him. He bit the stuffing out of my daughter the first night, and now she is scared to get close to him, and I think he knows it. He has nipped at my husb. and won't let him pet him, but will get on his arm if I'm not around. I have warned others to keep a wide birth. I think in time he will accept others in the family. I'm not sure he will ever be stranger friendly. Any thoughts? I was so hoping that he would be. I have to admit that I am a bit leary of him, even though he likes me and wants me to hold and pet him, he often nibbles on me and some times he gets overzealous and bites down. (it HURTS) Any thoughts on that. Also---(I have lots of questions; I hope you don't mind.) I have been reading about the Mccaw diet. I have offered him various fruits and veggies. I have even brought them over and started eatting them in frouht of him to get him intrested. (No LUCK) Last night I set down in my chair with a ear of corn and some hot wings. He was after my plate. I offered him the corn thinking he must be after that. He compleatly ignored it, and grabed himself a hot-wing. I have to say, I felt a little weird about a bird eating chicken. I didn't know they would eat meat. Is it OK for them to have some? That is it for now, but ...I'LL BE BACK. See-Ya Pam.

  • Jasmine Brough Hinesley - 2013-02-11
    I know a lot of people who feed their macaws and other large parrots chicken! Many large birds are a fan of it. It is ok in moderation - but obviously you don't want his entire diet to consist of chicken. As far as him bonding to people other than you - well the more time you spend with him the more bonded he will become to you. Most macaws are 'one person' birds. If you want him to bond to other people as well, you will have to make a point of spending less time with him and have other people spend more time with him. This can help make him more well-rounded.
Filomena Dupuis - 2004-03-15
I have had Peter, a grey cockatiel, for 12 years now. He is a well-natured, very calm bird. However, fully taming him has been a challenge, partly because he had a partner up until 3 years ago. Peter has discovered a love lately. He loves sailing. We live on board our 30 ft. sailboat during the summer for approximately 10 weeks. Now I know why pirates carried parrots. My cockatiel is a hoot on board a boat. Peter flourished, he whistled contently, started imitating Terns. I was hoping he would mock a loon, but that did not happen. His plumage improved immensely due to the humidity and different weather. He was outdoors underneath the dodger all day, except for rainy periods and during our voyages. He slept inside the cabin at night. We would often be approached by other boaters on their dinghies wondering where the "unnatural" bird sounds were coming from. Peter has his way of complaining when we sail in rough weather he screams and screeches. When the conditions improved, he would start his happy whistle. He is going to be sailing with us every year. I could not stand to leave him home alone and only having someone to come in daily to care for him.

Donn Coon - 2003-12-21
I have had many birds throughout the years - from Moluccans to Zebra Finches. Sassy, my 7-year old Pearl Cockatiel, is one of the best pets that has ever lived with me. I found her as a chick in a pet store. They did not know what to do with her. They said they could not sell her because she has badly deformed feet. When I first approached her, she hissed at me, and from that moment I knew her name should be SASSY. I talked the store into letting me take her, and I have never been sorry. Sassy lives in an indoor aviary with a love bird and two canaries. She flies happily around her space, she loves to climb all over me or play with my computer keys. Her only "out of the ordinary" requirement is a flat surface for when she sleeps, because she cannot hold a perch well. I used a short, 2" x 4" piece of pine, and carved a depression into which she squats to sleep. I have loved all of my birds but Sassy really gets deeply into my heart.

Angeli - 2003-07-20
Cockatiels are very loving birds who make great companions and best-friends. Sometimes they are so sweet that one may feel the want to spoil them. That is how wonderful they are. It is truly hard to understand how God could have created such creatures, who carry great personalities and traits.

michelle - 2003-08-17
i know of an older bird called "cheekie" in Australia recorded at 33 in march of 2000

Guy Zadock - 2003-11-05
greetings guys :) my name is Guy Zadock from israel. Im gonna buy a cockateil next week, and i found this site by looking in google.
i loved the way you detailed about things. to be truthfull, i belive a cockateile can be a very close friend of one, if being treated as you want to be treated. i wish you all a great and enjoyable bird-to-man relationship :) cheers guys :)


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