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  Cockatiels  

 

English Name

Cockatiels

Spanish Name

Ninfa

Latin Name

Nymphicus hollandicus

 

Origins

 

Sexing

- In normal and cinnamon the cocks have a yellow head and plain colour inside the tail feathers while the hens have grey heads and yellow barring inside the tail feathers.
- In lutinos the same barring on the tail applies but this may be difficult to see even under a good light. Generally hens are darker yellow than cocks.
- In pearls the cocks lose their markings and by the first moult they are the same as normals.
- In white cheeks the hens have no white mask but look a grey colour.
- In pieds the cocks lose the under-wing markings after the first moult.
- Generally the actions of the bird can be a help in sexing. Cocks whistle and have an almost tuneful sound while hens only have a one note song. - - Probably the most evident sign is the cocks strutting walk which develops fairly quickly.

- It is possible to tell the colouration of the chicks although they have only down. A white fluffy chick will be white cheeked and a yellow fluffy chick will be red cheeked. If the eyes through the skin are dark then the bird will be grey but if they are red then it will be lutino.

Males

Grey; breast and abdomen paler, some birds tinged with brown; crest, forehead, cheeks and throat yellow; large orange-red patch to ear-coverts; greater wing-coverts and forward secondaries white; lower back, upper tail-coverts and middle tail-feathers pale grey; outer tail-feathers and tail underside dark grey; skin to narrow per ophthalmic ring grey; bill grey; iris dark brown; feet grey.

Females

Female with face and crest noticeably mixed with grey; patch to ear-coverts dull orange; outer tail-feathers yellow on upper side marked in grey; greyish-white patches to inner webs of flight feathers.

Size

32 cm / 12,5 inches

Weight

 

Rings

Normals Size N ŕ 5.35 mm.

Colour Mutations Size P ŕ 6.1 mm.

Character

They can be mixed with other birds quite happily and the only time a problem might arise is during breeding because cockatiels are nosy and may inadvertently interfere.

Quiet parakeet with melodious voice; quickly becomes confiding; not hard chewer; inoffensive to other birds; communal aviary with budgerigars and Neophema species possible; hardy.

Feeding

- Feeding a cockatiel is not difficult as, like us, they like a varied diet and have a natural curiosity to try new things.

- A basic diet of cockatiel seed mixture (with not too many sunflower seeds) millet spray, cuttlefish bone, oyster shell grit, mineral blocks and fresh water. I also add to it a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, hard boiled and well cooked scrambled eggs, and egg food. Some other treats are toast, cooked rice and pasta and hard cheese,

- There are a few items which should NEVER be fed to cockatiels and they are, chocolate, avocado and milk.

- The motto is keep trying new foods to give them a bit of variety.

- Sprouted seed is best fed when the sprout is just appearing which is when it is at its optimum nutritional value.

- An ingenious method of growing fresh seed and vegetables in his aviary by placing a wire protector over his seeded area and when the plants come through this, the birds are able to access fresh food at their discretion. This could also work if planted in window box type containers that could be placed in the aviary when needed. At least in this way the plants get a chance to establish themselves before the onslaught of the birds.

- Seed mix of canary seed and various millets, some oats and weed seeds (also sprouted); green food; various fruit and vegetables; latter often eaten with reluctance.

- Their diet in the wild consists of small seeds, fruit and berries, and in captivity they should be offered a good quality seed mix with a variety of fruit and vegetables offered, plus millet spray.  Our cockatiels always have cuttle fish bone and iodine blocks available also.

Breeding Cages

The breeding cage for a pair can be 2 feet by 2 feet by 3 feet long with a nest box hung on the outside.

Nest

Width

40 cm 25 cm 17 inches 8 inches

Depth

30 cm 20 cm 12 inches 8 inches

Height

30 cm 20 cm 12 inches 10 inches

Hole Diameter

9 cm 7,5 cm 3,5 inches

Nesting Material

- A layer of sawdust in the bottom to save the eggs being laid on bare wood.

- Should have approximately 2 inches of pine shaving as bedding.

Breeding Period

- Breeding season mostly between August and December, but virtually possible all year; depends on favourable climatic conditions; several breedings one after another possible

- Very readily breeds; no fixed time for breeding in indoor accommodation; characteristic display song; sideways tripping and flight with sudden turns during display; male seeks nest box

Eggs

4-6 / 2-5 / 3-8

Incubating

- Both parents sit on the eggs, they start incubating after the second egg is laid.

- At this time a container of water to bathe in is vital as the moisture helps to soften the shell for hatching.

- At this time egg food is a useful extra to help feed the chicks. both parents feed the chicks and the noise of a begging chick once heard is never mistaken! After about 12 days the eyes start to open and the full crop is visible through the skin.

Incubation

18-21 days

Fledging

4-5 weeks independent at 8 weeks. 33 days fed by parents 3 weeks longer.

Batches

 

Lifespan

Usually up to 15, can reach 20 or even 30.

Breeding Life

 

Sexual Maturity

10 months, breed after 14 months of age.

Aviaries

It must be pointed out that a planted aviary is not a good idea as cockatiels will systematically destroy any and all living vegetation they can get their beaks to.

Large cage or outside flight 2.5 x 1 x 2 m ( 9 x 3 x 6 ft)

Temperatures

Whilst cockatiels are hardy and will survive the winter months, some form of shelter from the wind and rain is necessary.  They do however like to bath in the rain and it is a lovely site to see them flapping their wings excitably, clearly enjoying their natural bath.  With this in mind it is a good idea to have at least part of the aviary roof open to the elements. 

Health Problems

- Check the box each day and be especially wary of Red Mite which can infest a nest box quite quickly and cause death in very young birds. Consider mixing Skatta 7™ or Garden King™ European Wasp & Flea Kill, (the active ingredient in these products is Carbaryl) into your nesting material when setting up or changing the contents of the box.

- The most common form of heavy metal poisoning is that of zinc. It occurs after a bird (usually a parrot) ingests some zinc from the aviary wire, food and water containers or metal shavings. The wire needs to be treated in some way to form an oxide coating on the surface. This changes the appearance of the wire from bright silver to dull grey (some white powder maybe present - this is insoluble and harmless). Treating with a mild acid, straight vinegar is the most commonly used, will achieve the desired result if you don't have the time to weather the wire for a minimum of two months, during which time the wire should be wet-down regularly.

- Overgrown nails can be a hazard; clip them with fingernail clippers, watching for the quick (vein) inside the nail. Most cockatiels’ nails are white and the vein can be seen easily.

- Common Diseases and Disorders

Cockatiels are relatively healthy birds but are susceptible to the following:

·   Psittacosis or parrot fever

·   Polyoma Virus

·   Psittacines beak and feather disease.

·   Protozoal

·   Liver disease

·   Bacterial infections

·   Bordetella avium

·   Yeast

·   Internal parasites

·   Excessive egg laying

·   Calcium deficiency

·   Traumatic accidents and accidental poisonings

Observations

- They are messy eaters and can make a bit of a mess. They are easy to tame and can become wonderful companions. They mimic many things but the telephone noise is a favourite and can be taught to talk with patience but if a talking bird is what you want then a budgerigar is probably a better choice.

- Another problem which can face aviculturists is an apparently lifeless chick found on the aviary floor. Don’t write it off, place the chick in a brooder or some emergency heating container and sometimes you will be surprised to find that it will start to rally round once warmed up. At this point you can give a supplementary feed and replace the chick into the nest box and check that the parents resume feeding, or if not continue to hand feed yourself. Never try to feed a chick that is cold as the food will not go through its system and thereby cause yet another problem. Many times aviculturists blame the parents for throwing a chick out of the nest, however, this can happen in the course of a cock or hen exiting the nest box and a chick can be stuck to their feathers by food or faecal debris. It’s amazing how closely some birds tuck their chicks under themselves.

 

 

Colour Mutations

NORMAL

- Grey body with white flashes on the wing. The cocks have a yellow head while the hen is plain grey but both have red patches on their cheeks.

LUTINO

- A mostly white bird with a bright yellow cast. This mutation retains the orange cheek patch of the wild grey type and has black eyes. Lutinos often have an inherited bald spot. They are also prone to night fright and fatty liver syndrome.

PEARL

- These can be either yellow or grey with red cheek patches but they have a lace effect on the wings.

- Females having more pronounced markings than the males.

- The covert feathers of the wings each have a spot which makes the bird appear to be spotted. Both sexes will be spotted as juveniles, but males will resemble normal greys after they moult into their adult plumage.

CINNAMON

- The body colour is a soft cinnamon colour, but otherwise the bird is coloured like a grey. A similar mutation called fallow is a lighter beige colour; these birds, like albinos, have red eyes.

 

PIED

- A combination of grey and white with either red or white cheeks.

- Pied cockatiels have lost pigmentation in blotches scattered around the body.

WHITE FACE

- This mutation has lost the yellow and orange coloration on the face as well as the yellowish cast to the body feathers.

- Cocks have white cheek patches but hens are grey.

SILVER

Its plumage appears a dull metallic silver colour. There are two types of silvers, the Recessive Silver which has red eyes, which is very unusual for a cockatiel, and the Dominant Silver which has black eyes.

FALLOWS

- It is seen in light cinnamon with yellow tinting all over his plumage. Unlike many other colour variations its eyes are red.

 

ALBINOS

- A true albino is totally white and has red eyes. These birds tend to be less hardy than grey cockatiels. In order to keep offspring strong, albinos should not be bred together.