Cockatiel Fact File


The cockatiel is the smallest member of the cockatoo family measuring 32cm (12.5in) long and weighing 90g (3.25oz). Their wingspan is 25-30cm (10-12in) across.

Their body is covered with grey feathers with a prominent white wing patch. Behind the eye is a orange circle of feathers. On the face they have yellowish feathers. On top of the head is a crest of feathers which can be raised and lowered to show their mood. They are the only cockatoo to have a long, pointed tail.

Males and females have a range of differences which can help tell them apart. These include a more grey crest as opposed to the yellow crest of females. Females have a barred yellow and grey tail compared to the plain grey of a male.

Their small beak is curved and grey.

Descriptions here are of wild type birds. Captive breeding has lead to a range of color variations becoming available.


The cockatiel is a herbivore. They feed mostly on small seeds gathered from the ground. Nuts, berries and grains are also consumed. Their strong beak allows them to crack open nuts.

Feeding can occur both on the ground and in trees.


Scientific Name

Nymphicus hollandicus

Conservation Status

Least Concern


90g (3.25oz)


32cm (12.5in)


25-30cm (10-12in)


Wild 10-14 years

Captive 25 years




Australia is the native home of the cockatiel. They can be found across much of the inland areas on the mainland.

An introduced population exists in Puerto Rico.


They are primarily found in arid and semi-arid regions of Australia along with woodland, scrubland and grassland. Their range is always near water. These birds are nomadic and will move around throughout the year to reach water.


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Breeding begins after the rainy season. Pairs form a strong bond and they may remain together for life.

The male will find the nest hollow. Once he locates a suitable nest he will jump in and out of the hollow to signify that it is safe for the female to enter.

The pair will create a nest in a tree hollow which is around 1.8m (6ft) above the ground. It may take 4-6 weeks before the pair mate and during this time they will preen one another.

Females deposit a clutch of 3-9 eggs with a gap of a day between each egg being laid. Both the male and female will incubate the eggs over the 18-20 day incubation period. It will take 5-6 weeks for the chicks to be ready to leave the nest. They become independent 2 weeks after this.

After hatching the male will go out and find food for the chicks.

It will take 9 months for them to reach adult size. Sexual maturity is reached between 1.5 and 2 years old. Cockatiels reach sexual maturity at the youngest age of any cockatoo species.


An average group of cockatiels will involve 12 members but after breeding season or during periods of food abundance they may include 100s of members.

When entering their nest they will enter tail first.

They make a number of vocalizations. They are most vocal during the morning to communicate to their partner where they are. They are also vocal in flight.

Vocalizations they can make include ‘whee-it, wheeit’ call and a ‘querr-eel’ call.

In flight they may reach speeds up to 70km/h (43mph).


Predators and Threats

Natural predators of the cockatiel include birds of prey such as hawks.

A previous threat was capture for the pet trade. This has since been outlawed and due to their ease of breeding in captivity there has been little need for an illegal trade.

Some are shot by farmers under permit as they are seen as a pest on grain farms.

Quick facts

Cockatiels are a popular bird in the pet trade.

The name cockatoo comes from a Dutch word ‘“kakatielje’ which means little cockatoo.

The hollandicus portion of their name is from New Holland which was the name for Australia when they were discovered during 1770.


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Photo Credits

One to Three

Copyright. The Animal Facts.


Under License


Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Morcombe, M., 2003. Field Guide To Australian Birds. Archerfield, Qld.: Steve Parish Pub.

Brevard Zoo. 2020. Cockatiel. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2020]. 2020. Cockatiel Fact Sheet | Racinezoo.Org. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2020].

Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo Education Volunteer, 2006. Pied Cockatiel. [ebook] Friends of Rosamond Gifford Zoo, pp.1-2. Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2020] 2020. Cockatiel | Our Animals | Fort Wayne Children's Zoo. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2020].

Encyclopedia Britannica. 2020. Cockatiel | Bird. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2020]. 2020. Cockatiel | Birdlife Australia. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2020].

BirdLife International. 2018. Nymphicus hollandicus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T22684828A132056250. Downloaded on 09 November 2020.

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