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White-faced Cockatiel

Whiteface Cockatiel ~ White-face Cockatiel

Family: Cacatuidae White-faced Cockatiel"L.A." - White-faced Cockatiel VarietyNymphicus hollandicusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
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I have been breeding cockatiels for several years now and am currently setting up pairs from my own breeding. I have normals, pied, albino pearls and what I have... (more)  Linda Pries

   White-faced Cockatiels can be very striking, standing out because they lack any yellow color and have no cheek patches!

   The White-faced Cockatiel has a white or grayish face as shown above. This is a stunning cockatiel mutation, they stand out because they have no orange cheek patches or yellow coloring at all. The name of this mutation, derived from the male, is fairly self explanatory. The male is the most attractive of the two sexes with a brilliant contrasting white face. The female's face, on the other hand, has a greyish coloration.

   White-faced Cockatiels first appeared in 1964. Today they are fairly common mutations. Some very pretty Whiteface varieties are created when combined with other cockatiel mutations and each of these mixes further enhances the beauty of these pet birds. Some of the different color varieties they come in include grey, pearl, cinnamon, pied, and albino. "L.A." in the picture above looks like a Gray White face Cockatiel, or maybe a Pied Whiteface 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 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.

   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

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Geographic Distribution
Nymphicus hollandicus
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Data provided by GBIF.org
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Cacatuidae
  • Genus: Nymphicus
  • Species: hollandicus

Scientific Name   Nymphicus hollandicus

Distribution
   The white-faced cockatiels are a color variety that is not found in the wild.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 White-Faced Cockatiel is a striking mutation. This cockatiel mutation is charcoal grey in color with no orange cheek patches or yellow coloring at all. The gene that creates a White-faced Cockatiel is what is known as an autosomal recessive gene. This gene effects the lipochromes pigment, it actually stops the the production of the yellow pigments. It doesn't change the amount of pigment, just the color of it. So with no yellow or orange present, the color is replaced by white. Mature adult males will carry a white face as opposed to the yellow mask worn by other varieties.

   White-faced Cockatiel Mutations: Combinations that further enhance the beauty of these pet birds, include:

  • White-faced Grey Cockatiel:
    The White-faced Grey has the same white stripe on outer edge of the wings as the normal Grey Cockatiel. The males will have a whiter head and the females will have more of a grayish head. The females will also have the barred markings underneath their tail feathers while the males will have none.
  • White-faced Pearl Cockatiel:
    Like the Pearl Cockatiel, the male will loose its pearl markings with its first molt at six months. It will then look like the White-faced Grey Cockatiel. However the female will retain the pearl markings.
  • White-faced Pied Cockatiel:
    The White-faced Pied will have a striking combination of whites and greys in a random pattern. Like the Pied Cockatiel, it is impossible to determine the sex of these cockatiels visually.
  • White-faced Pearl Pied Cockatiel:
    White-faced Pearl Pieds will have combination of whites and greys in a random pattern and can be both dominant and reverse. Again the males will lose the pearl markings at its six month molt, and the females will retain the pearling.
  • White-faced Cinnamon Cockatiel:
    On the White-faced Cinnamon, as on the Cinnamon Cockatiel, the grey markings are replaced with the tannish grey or cinnamon coloring
  • White-faced Cinnamon Pearl Cockatiel:
    White-faced Cinnamon Pearls can be both dominant and reverse and will have the grey markings replaced with the cinnamon coloring. Again the males will lose the pearl markings at its six month molt, and the females will retain the pearling.
  • White-faced Cinnamon Pied Cockatiel:
    White-faced Cinnamon Pied will have the grey marking replaced with the cinnamon coloring, have a combination of whites and cinnamons in a random pattern, and can be both dominant and reverse.
  • Albino Cockatiel:
    The Albino Cockatiel is not a true 'albino, but is actually a combination of a White-faced Cockatiel and a Lutino Cockatiel. The Whiteface gene removes all the yellow and orange that would be present in a Lutino and the Lutino gene removes all the black and grey. The result is an all white cockatiel with red eyes. They are impossible to sex visually, so you will need a DNA test to determine what sex your pet is.

   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. The cage for a cockatiel should measure a minimum of 24" length by 18" high and 18" wide. This will leave enough room for several toys and still give the bird room to fully stretch his/her wings without hitting them. 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.

White-faced CockatielPhoto © 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 young chicks 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 usually they are just indicators and not sure ways to tell. For White-faced cockatiels, the males will have a whiter head and the females will have more of a grayish head. The females will also have the barred markings underneath their tail feathers while the males will have none.

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 White-faced Cockatiel is sometimes available and the cockatiels for sale from this group can come in a lot of different varieties including grey, lutino, pearl, pied and cinnamon. The white-faced cockatiel is generally quite a bit more expensive than the regular Grey Cockatiel or Lutino Cockatiel.

Author: Clarice Brough, CAS
Lastest Animal Stories on White-faced Cockatiel


Linda Pries - 2013-05-21
I have been breeding cockatiels for several years now and am currently setting up pairs from my own breeding. I have normals, pied, albino pearls and what I have always called lutino pearls. I'm not sure if this is the proper name for these as I have seen them also referred to as opaline pearl. The birds are soft yellow with the grey pearling. Last year I purchased a pair consisting of an albino hen and a whiteface pearl cock. They produced all whiteface pied chicks until their last clutch which also produced a gorgeously stunning whiteface pearl hen. I am keeping her and breeding her back to a normal male who is split to pied. Also will be starting a pair who is a whiteface pied split to albino hen bred to a lutino pearl cock. I'm very anxious to see what these pairings will produce. Does anyone have any ideas? Also, is lutino pearl the proper classification for my yellow birds with grey pearling?

  • Clarice Brough - 2013-05-21
    That Whitefaced Pearl hen must truly be a beauty! A Lutino Pearl Cockatiel has white plumage with yellow pearling, not grey pearling. Lutino's lack all grey pigment. It's probably either a normal pearl mutation or a cinnamon pearl mutation (which has a lighter coloring than the normal). Also males do not retain the pearling, it molts out as they mature. As these birds are crossbred, specific characteristics can become less distinct, so a good knowledge of the genetics as well as the birds lineage (who were their parents/grandparents, etc) is helpful in choosing crossings to get the results you are looking for.
  • Geoff Larsen - 2013-08-30
    I am new to cockatiels and was given a pair for breeding. The female got egg bound and died so now my male is very lonely. What I would like to know is what type he is and how to locate a suitable mate. He is a white face (no cheek markings at all) and a few dark grey patches on the top of his wings. His mate was also white faced but had quite a bit of grey markings all over her body and wings. (My kids named them Peter Pan and Tinkerbell.)
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Connie - 2014-09-24
I have 4 cockatiels. The 2 I'm wondering about do not have white faces nor orange spots! They are very very light gray with white around their eyes. Can anybody tell me are they considered white faced or what? Thanks!

  • Clarice Brough - 2014-09-26
    They sound really pretty! If you check out the description section above, it has a discussion on the various types of white-faced cockatiels, with their coloration so you may be able to determine if your's are indeed white-faced birds from that. There are a lot of interbred birds, so it would also help if you could talked to the people you got them from to get their breeding information.
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no name please - 2005-07-25
We have a white faced cockatiel (boy) and another which i think is a pied cockatiel (girl). i have found that hand fed cockatiels are nicer than unfed. the handfed is the boy the other one is unfed. she is more aggressive and has less trust for us. Males are a lot more singy, at least mine is. he is so sweet!

  • rozie stout - 2013-10-06
    Females seem to have a cranky side sometimes. I raise a lot of them. I don't hand feed but if the female is handfed it will be very friendly. Females do not talk or whistle any way none of mine do. I have probably 30 white face and 40 pieds and yellow lutino mixes. Of course I have them in aviaries and I live in the country.
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sarah sharp - 2013-02-14
I have a 3 maybe 4 month old whiteface cockatiel that I bought. I was told when I bought it that it was to young to tell what sex it was. The bird is getting alot of white under it's beak and around near it's eyes and some on the top of it's cere, but it's crest is gray and when it climbs the cage to come out the underside of it's tail feathers has the bar pattern except for the three middle ones which are dark. I have only had the bird for 2 weeks and would like to name it. I would appreciate any feedback as to what sex you might think it is. The bird whistles, chirps and does the wolf whistle. thank you

  • Jasmine Brough Hinesley - 2013-02-16
    Unfortunately there is no sure way to tell on cockatiels just by looking at them. There are definite signs that make it more likely they are one sex rather than another, but they can still occasionally be wrong! I would 'guess' that your cockatiel is showing signs it is a female - but again, there's no sure way to know at this point.
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