Cuddly, outgoing and comical are just three reasons why the cockatiel is the No. 1 pet bird in America. Cockatiels are also talented whistlers, and male cockatiels in particular are known for their whistle serenades, which can be directed at their favored person, their favorite object or their mirror reflection.
Cockatiels are native to the semi-arid regions of Australia. This open environment might be a reason why cockatiels don’t have the ear-piercing screech of parrots originating from dense rain-forest habitats. Wild cockatiels fly to the ground to forage for food. Cockatiels readily breed in the wild, and they are also easy to breed in captivity, which makes them widely available as pets at a lower cost than most other parrot species. Wild cockatiels are always on alert for predators and are light sleepers. A pet cockatiel might have an occasional night-fright episode, where it thrashes around the cage at night as if startled. You can help your cockatiel find its way back to its perch by leaving a night light on in its room.
The position of a cockatiel’s crest feathers can tell you its mood. Straight-up crest feathers can mean the bird is startled or highly curious. A defensive cockatiel will hold its crest feathers flattened close its head, and it might be especially stressed if it also hisses. A relaxed cockatiel will have slightly held back crest feathers, as well as fluffed cheek feathers and you might also hear it contently grinding its beak.
Toys designed to be destroyed by small beaks are perfect for cockatiels and include pieces of paper, cardboard of soft wood or non-toxic rawhide to chew up. Cockatiels also like toys with hard-plastic elements, such as beads to fiddle with. Male cockatiels often seek out mirrors and other reflective items to whistle to. A cockatiel might be inclined to fly down from its cage or playgym onto the floor, so be extra cautious whenever your bird is out of the cage so you don’t step on it and that other pets, such as cats or dogs, cannot get to it. A female cockatiel might seek out a dark, enclosed area to nest in, such the corner of a cabinet or behind furniture (even if there is no male cockatiel present), so keep these areas off limits. Cockatiels can be taught to whistle back to you on cue but generally aren’t known for their trained tricks.
Cockatiels are more inclined to whistle than talk. Male cockatiels are more likely to talk than females, and some can learn to speak a few words or phrases. Cockatiels tend to chirp rather than screech, and their relatively lower noise volume makes them a good apartment pet. Your cockatiel might chirp a contact call if you leave the room in an attempt to keep in contact with you.
When not whistling or keeping themselves busy foraging for food and fun around the cage, cockatiels often enjoy spending their downtime snuggling on their favored person’s shoulder. A healthy, well-socialized cockatiel can make a great family pet and is also ideal for apartment living.