Affectionate and clever, Cockatiels are one of the most popular pets. Since early Europeans first returned home from Australia with these endearing little birds, they have continued to grow in popularity. Today, besides the standard grey cockatiel, there are a variety of cockatiel mutations to choose from. You will find these gentle little birds vying for the ‘top pet bird’ position, with only the Budgerigar (parakeet) and some of the Canary breeds giving close competition

Cockatiels, sometimes simply known as ‘tiels’, have so many positive traits as a pet, it is hard to know which characteristics are the most important. They are low cost, hardy, clean, intelligent, gentle, inquisitive, playful, quiet, adaptable, undemanding, easily trained, easily bred, and the list goes on!  They can often learn to talk, especially the males, and can easily be taught all kinds of tricks.

Do you live in an apartment or condominium?  Are there children about?  Are you on the go a lot or gone for extended periods of time?  Do you have a limited pet budget?  Do you like to be greeted and admired? If so, then the cockatiel could very well be just the pet for you and your family!  

   Cockatiels are one of 52 species of parrot native to Australia. An interesting fact about them is that they are one of Australia’s fastest flyers. Australians call them the “Quarrian”, and they are also known as Weiro.


“Cockatiels are one of the most popular pets!”

Cinnamon Cockatiel

Cinnamon Cockatiel
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Nymphicus hollandicus

Cinnamon Pearl Cockatiel

two cinnamon pearl white face cockatiel birds
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Nymphicus hollandicus

Grey Cockatiel

gray cockatiel parrot
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Nymphicus hollandicus

Lutino Cockatiel

lutino cockatiel resting on a branch
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Nymphicus hollandicus

Pearl Cockatiel

White Pearl Cockatiel Bird Close up
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Nymphicus hollandicus

Pied Cockatiel

Pied cockatiel bird
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Nymphicus hollandicus

White-faced Cockatiel

female white faced cockatiel bird
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Nymphicus hollandicus

Characteristics of Birds

Cockatiel Behavior

Because of their intelligence and their well rounded personalities, cockatiels make great family pets. They make a very sweet family pet and are considered by many to be the parrot of choice for children. They have a gentle and more even tempered demeanor than many parrot species and they are a lot less prone to to develop nervous habits or other psychological disorders.

Both sexes are friendly and gentle, sometimes to the point of being dominated by other pet birds such as budgergars or lovebirds. So be sure to take care and have a watchful eye out if keeping them with other small parrots.

Taming Cockatiels

Taming cockatiels and cockatiel training is best when your pet is a juvenile. A young cockatiel at about 12 to 14 weeks of age is the easiest to tame. It’s also best to just work with one bird at a time to keep it focused on you.

Cockatiel Training

All bird training starts with trust, takes a little bit of preparation, and it does take patience.

   A couple of quick tips for cockatiel training:

  • Have your birds wings clipped to reduce flight.
  • Work in a small room with few distractions.
  • Have several short training sessions each day, lasting about 20 minutes each.
  • Speak softly and move slowly.
  • Start from the floor and approach your bird from the side rather then straight on.
  • Reward with treats.
  • If your bird is a biter, train it to step up on a stick first, then move on to your finger.
  • After your bird learns basic behaviors, you can start with more advanced tricks.
  • Be sure to socialize your bird with other people so it doesn’t become too attached to just its trainer.

   Cockatiels have high-pitched voices. They are not always the very best talkers, but they can be trained to talk with lots of patience and repetition. Males are generally more prone to learning to talk than females.

grey cockatiel opening its wings
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Types of Birds

Cockatiel Breeding

When talking about the types of birds, it is surprising to realize that there are many beautiful varieties of cockatiels that have occurred over the years. Starting in the mid 1900’s with the natural colored Grey Cockatiel, selected mating’s have created the pieds, cinnamons, lutinos and pearly mutations. Later the beautiful white-faced, silvers and albinos were developed. All this has stirred quite a bit of excitement in aviculture. A recent development is an orange crested male, where its orange cheek patch extended into the face and crest.

Today breeders are strengthening early varieties, for example they are working on eliminating the bald patch behind the crest of the lutino Cockatiel, and they are also excitedly watching for new breed developments.

Cockatiel Mutations:

Natural Cockatiel:

  • Grey Cockatiel – Grey is the natural color of cockatiels in the wild. They are sometimes referred to as the ‘Normal Grey’ Cockatiel or the Wild-Type” Cockatiel.

Initial cockatiel mutations include:

1st Mutation:

  • Pied Cockatiel – They have white and yellow spots on their bodies wherever they lack black pigmentation. Pied Cockatiels can be either a light-pied, heavy-pied, or a clear-pied.

2nd Mutation:

  • Lutino Cockatiel – Lutino is where they lack black pigmentation. The female generally becomes more brilliant than the male.

3rd Mutation:

  • Pearl Cockatiel – They have white and yellow feathers with dark gray borders. However the males will molt back to gray, while in the females the coloring holds.

4th Mutation:

  • Cinnamon Cockatiel – Where the black pigmentation turns brown.

5th Mutation:

  • Silver Cockatiel – THis is a paled gray, resulting because the black pigmentation has been partially reduced. It has red eyes and the beak and feet are pink.

Further cockatiel mutations include:

    • Cinnamon Pearl Cockatiel is a double mutation with the coloration of a Cinnamon Cockatiel and the feather pattern of a Pearl Cockatiel. There is also a Cinnamon Pied Cockatiel mutation.
    • White-faced Cockatiel is one of the cockatiel mutations that lacks the yellow coloration and they have no cheek patches. The males will have a whiter head while the females will have more of a grayish head. The females will also have the barred markings underneath their tail feathers. White-faced Cockatiels come in all the different color varieties like gray, pearl, fawn, pied, and albino.
    • Albino Cockatiel is a multi mutation, a combination of the White-faced Cockatiel and Lutino Cockatiel mutations. This bird lacks gray, yellow, and orange and has bright red eyes.
    • Yellow-cheek Cockatiel is a newer mutation, It has yellow cheeks rather than orange.
    • Fallow Cockatiel resembles the Cinnamon cockatiel but has more yellow and red eyes.
    • Emerald Cockatiel, also called the Spangled Cockatiel or Olive Cockatiel, has small patches or splotching’s of varying yellow to gray colors.
    • Pastel Cockatiel looks just like its normal counterpart but the colors, yellows, oranges, browns and grays, are softer. Also its cheek patch is a yellowish orange rather than orange.
    • Platinum Cockatiel is primarily a light gray with a brownish cast to its chest. The Outer wings and tail are darker.
    feeding an Albino cockatiel
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    Pet Birds: Cockatiels as Pets

    Choosing a Pet Bird

    Cockatiels are active and curious. They are also very friendly, making them excellent pet birds. When choosing a pet bird there just a couple of considerations. Unless you are looking for breeding stock, you will most often find juvenile cockatiels for sale.

    There are many color varieties to pick from and though not necessary, you may want to choose a particular sex. The color mutation doesn’t matter as all varieties of cockatiels make equally good pet birds. Also when choosing a pet bird, both males and females will make great pets. The sex difference primarily determines how vocal or loud your bird will be. Male cockatiels will usually be the better talkers while females tend to be quieter overall.

    Cockatiels for Sale

    When choosing a pet bird from a variety of cockatiels for sale, it can be difficult to determine sex, especially if the birds are young. Often cockatiels for sale are offered as babies just shortly after they have been weaned. If you buy a juvenile you will need wait until it has matured a bit in order to determine its sex.

    A Grey Cockatiel can usually be visually sexed at about six months of age. Males have a more brightly colored cheek patch than females. All juvenile Grey Cockatiels have barring on the underside of the tail. This barring is lost as the male matures but is retained by the female. Though some of the color varieties of cockatiels can be sexed visually, many are not visually dimorphic and will need to be DNA sexed.

    Featured Image by: David Clode, Unsplash