Cockatiel care

A cockatiel perched on someone's hand

Cockatiels are very social and come in a wide variety of colors and color patterns. They are native to Australia, and have become a very popular pet. With proper care, these birds can live between 15 and 25 years.

Medical needs

Wings and nails can be trimmed to ease the taming process. Many veterinary clinics offer this service. Clipping wings and nails should only be attempted after proper instruction provided by your vet.


Cockatiels can be fed either a pellet diet or a fortified seed diet. In addition to a pellet or seed diet, cockatiels should be offered chopped dark green and yellow veggies as well as a variety of fruits, hard cooked eggs, and grated cheese. Remember to remove fresh foods after two hours to prevent them from spoiling. Avoid feeding iceberg lettuce and cabbage as they can cause severe diarrhea. If the bird's stool becomes runny, it could be due to receiving too much liquid from the fresh fruits and vegetables. If this becomes an issue, restrict fresh foods for a day to see if the issue resolves. Raisins and bananas can be given in moderation as they tend to cause constipation.

Cockatiels need fresh water every day. Be sure to wash and rinse the dish thoroughly each day to prevent bacterial growth. Supplemental powdered vitamins can also be sprinkled on the food. Refrain from adding them to the water as it can support growth of bacteria. Cuttlebones should also be provided to supply your cockatiel with calcium and prevent overgrowth of the beak. Millet spray is also an excellent treat to provide for your bird.


For birds, the length of the cage is more important than the height. Ideally, cages should be about 18” long, 18” high, and 16” wide. Perches are a necessary addition to any cockatiel cage. Remember to use perches that are the correct size for your bird’s feet. If they are too large, the bird will not be able to easily grip the perch and could be injured. Providing a variety of shapes and textures of perches will help exercise a cockatiel’s feet. The placement of perches is also important. Try to strategically place them so droppings do not contaminate the food or water and to keep the tail from hanging in the water dish. Toys such as climbing ladders, ropes, and bells can help keep your cockatiel entertained.

Also remember that birds are very sensitive to temperature. Care should be taken to place the cage away from windows and drafty areas.  

Handling your cockatiel

It's easiest to begin hand taming with a young bird. You will need to experiment to find a treat that your individual bird really enjoys. If the bird is scared of your hand being near the cage, start by feeding these treats through the bars to coax them near you. It may take some time for your cockatiel to learn to trust you and understand that you do not intend to hurt it. Once the bird has become accustom to you being near the cage you can use the same process to tame it to sit on your hand.

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