Photo: Ursula Gamez | Unsplash

The Nymphicus Hollandicus or Cockatiels as they are more popularly known are cuddly, outgoing, highly intelligent and very trainable. They are also talented whistlers and when not busy, they can be seen enjoying their downtime snuggling on their favoured person's shoulder.

Native to the semi-arid regions of Australia, these birds were first bred in captivity after the species was identified by naturalist Robert Kerr back in 1792. They are the smallest member of the Cockatoo family, and they come in a dazzling array of colours and patterns. 

The average lifespan is about 15 - 20 years, though it is not uncommon for them to live up to a ripe old age of 30 if fed a healthy diet. Adult Cockatiels (18 months and above) typically measure 30 – 35cm from the beak to the tip of the tail and generally possess darker feathers and beaks. 

This avian is one of the few parrot species that is sexually dimorphic, meaning the two sexes are noticeably different. Female Cockatiels have stripes or bands on the underside of their flight feathers, a trait absent in males.

Sound Surround

Well-loved for their friendly dispositions and playful curiosity, Cockatiels are also capable of vocalising, making for plenty of amusement. 

This breed tends to be more adept at mimicking sounds than speech, so don't be surprised to catch your avian whistling a tune after you or sounding out noises such as ringing telephones or doorbells. 

Being intelligent creatures, these birds need regular mental stimulation to prevent boredom, or they may resort to chewing and plucking out their feathers. 

Accommodation & Interaction

A Cockatiel needs a spacious cage to accommodate multiple perches, toys, food bowls and room to flap its wings around. Look for one with a large enough front door for ease of entry.

Being confined in a cage for too long can lead to a build-up of angst, so it will be handy to have some chew toys for your pet. These active critters should also be allowed out of their cage to explore their surroundings. Just make sure to close the windows before you let your bird out.

They are natural ground foragers and will forage on the bottom of the cage if given the opportunity; cover the cage floor with newspaper and sprinkle crumbled treats or millet sprinkle seed for your Cockatiel to find. 

Play Time

Cockatiels are flock birds and thrive on interactions with humans and their own kind.
Photo: Garry Willmore | Flickr

Cockatiels are flock birds and thrive on interactions with humans and their own kind. It's a good idea to consider keeping more than one bird as they can provide company for each other. 

Invest plenty of time playing and talking to your feathered friend and you will be rewarded with a happy chappie. 

Also, keep him entertained with a variety of toys to stimulate its curiosity. You can try hiding your bird's food in its toys instead of a dish bowl. This searching imitates food foraging in the wild and is an excellent way to keep boredom at bay. 

Not Feeling Well

 It's a good idea to consider keeping more than one bird as they can provide company for each other.
Photo: D Prasanna | Unsplash

Take note that these feathered critters are very adept at concealing their illness owing to their self-preservation mechanism. As such, the bird's behaviour should be monitored closely.

Signs of illnesses include the loss of appetite, abnormal droppings and excessive feather picking. Some of the common diseases and health problems plaguing Cockatiels are Vitamin A deficiency and Pachecho's Virus (caused by a herpes virus, this is transmitted through contaminated droppings, food and water). 

Seek quick and appropriate treatment by a vet as they cause your bird's health to deteriorate quickly. Ideally, you should send your avian to the vet for annual check-ups to keep track of its health.

More Than Just Seeds, Please

Variety is essential when it comes to feeding these birds. Fresh vegetables, fruits and grains are also needed for your bird to stay in the pink of health. 

The lack of specific nutrients may compromise its immune system and render it susceptible to diseases. 

You can also feed your Cockatiel high-quality pellets to fill in any inadequacies in your bird's diet. Avoid avocado, rhubarb, fruit seeds or pits from apples, oranges and pears as these are toxic if taken in large quantities. 

By: Therese Tan

They are the smallest member of the Cockatoo family and come in a dazzling array of colours and patterns.
Photo: R Tregear | Pixabay

 

Fast Facts

• Size 30-34cm
• Character Inquisitive, affectionate and gentle.
• Lifespan 15 years and more.
• Temperament   Docile, friendly and attention-seeking.
• Feeding Requires a mix of pellets or seeds, fresh vegetables, fruits and grains.
• Health issues Vitamin A deficiency and Pachecho's virus
• Exercise 3-4 hours out of cage to stretch and explore.

• Suitable for first–time pet owners?
Yes, they are easy to care for but need early socialisation.

• Suitable for owners with children?
Yes, provided they are gently handled.

• Suitable for multi-pet households?
Yes, but they must be socialised early to avoid aggression.

• Suitable for Singapore's climate?
Yes.

• Good "Home Alone"? 
No, they will get depressed if they are left alone for long periods of time.


  


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