Cockatiel: care, feeding, housing, breeding

Want to keep a cockatoo, but a less challenging version? How about a cockatiel, the smallest cockatoo in the world? Read more about its care here.

What species: Parrot (cockatoo)

What it looks like: grey, with white patches on the outer edges of each wing. Round, orange area on both ears and a yellow head. Gender can be recognised mainly by different behaviour (male: more whistling, noisy and imposing). 80-125 g

Where it comes from: Australia (interior)

Longevity: 15-20 years

Number of eggs per nest: 4-6

Did you know? By looking at the cockatiel’s crest, you can know what it’s feeling: if the crest is fully erect, the bird is alert or excited. If the crest is flat, the parakeet is stressed or frightened.

Cockatiel: a cockatoo, but easier

With a cockatiel, you are not actually taking a parakeet into your home, but the smallest cockatoo in the world.

Social behaviour and care

The cockatiel is fairly easy bird to keep as a pet and relatively quiet. It’s a gentle and affectionate bird that needs attention. In this regard, it’s important that you stick to a regular schedule with regard to its care, so that the cockatiel knows when it can or cannot get attention. It is best to keep cockatiels in pairs.

Take the bird out of its cage for one or more hours every day. Stroking or cuddling is not a good idea. The cockatiel mainly just wants to be with you. So talk to it regularly or occasionally tickle it. Train the bird, too, by teaching it to step on your hand, for example. Or give it a toy with food in it.

Cockatiels are not as loud as other parrots. The males can be taught to whistle songs or imitate sounds, like a doorbell. Learning words, however, is more difficult.


In captivity, it is best to serve the cockatiel pellets.

Either monocolour or multicolour maintenance food for large cockatiels as its daily meals, or breeding food during the breeding and moulting periods. The pellets contain all the essential nutrients in the right proportions, so that your bird does not eat selectively and gets everything it needs. Supplement with fruit, vegetables and/or herbs. Hard-boiled eggs, raisins and other dried fruits are also good.


You can keep a cockatiel in a cage or an aviary as long as it has plenty of room to move around. For two birds, the best aviary is at least 2.5 x 1 x 2 m in size, with a draught-free and frost-free interior. You should also provide perches.

Indoors, the cage must be at least 120 x 60 x 70 cm for two cockatiels. Do not get a round cage or a high and narrow one. A wide one offers more room to move. It’s best if the bars are horizontal, so that the cockatiel can climb, and they are close enough together.

Every day, you must remove any faeces, check that the toys are still safe, remove any food that has been left behind, and clean the bath, food and water bowls. You should also change the bedding in the cage once a week (or every month to three months in an aviary), and clean the floor, perches and toys every week.

The optimal covering for the cage floor is wood chippings. In an aviary, brown shell sand can be used as ground cover.


You can let outdoor birds breed in the aviary at the end of March or beginning of April, and indoor birds breed all year round, but ideally once or twice a year. The female must be at least one year old, the male nine to twelve months.

Provide a horizontal breeding block. The hen will lay an egg every day, after which both the male and female will brood. After around three weeks, the first eggs will hatch. After six to seven weeks, the youngsters are independent.

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