Cockatiel playing at the water's edge in Australia.

How to Take Care of a Cockatiel

How to Take Care of a Cockatiel

What is a good beginner bird? What are some good beginner birds? Are cockatiels good starter birds? Google Search offers suggestions as you type your questions. Filling in what is most often asked. The top results are literally the top results from all google searches everywhere. Autofill takes the pulse of human concerns and interests.

The starter parrot, or beginner bird question reveals the problem for parrots. Humans want an easy pet. Google Search easy, beginner, starter, simple, cheapest, cheap, inexpensive, and the word pet. You'll see the main concern of humans wanting to live with an animal is ease and cheapness. Humans want a lot. From everything.

You'll get none of that from a parrot. There is no such thing as a starter bird. Beginner parrot. Easy parrot. Cheap parrot. That goes for all other companion animals. Do right by an adorable rat, and you'll find they are neither small, nor cheap. They shouldn't be. Life isn't about "at least". It shouldn't be.

The Mighty Cockatiel. Misunderstood and incorrectly categorized for decades. We now know cockatiels are in the cockatoo family. That alone should make you go, hmmm. Cockatiels are not starter birds any more than a cockatoo. All parrots flock. Cockatiels are sensitive to this need, as are cockatoos. You'll need two cockatiels for mental health. It will get loud. Cockatiels are loud. Size is irrelevant to the decibels a parrot can produce. Their pitch and aggressive dialogue need to make it through huge flocks in the open lands of Australia. Your living room is no match.

A young female cockatoo wearing an aviator harness happily sitting on the arm of a chair in the sun.

Found only in Australia. Sometimes spotted in Tasmania. They are arid flocking birds. Big, loud, busy, pulsating groups found near water. Always near water. Nesting high in trees. Foraging seeds, grains, grasses, insects and berries. They are Acacia tree addicts. For good reason, the Acacia tree provides both seeds and berries that meet the majority of their nutritional needs. They prefer them near water, and farms. They live in seasonal temperature differences of up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. They are resilient. They are water loving, in a way that requires patience as you'll find your bird dunking food and attempting to take a bath in a water bowl. This can be said for other parrots of course. But the Mighty Cockatiel, like the African grey, and the Cockatoo are dander producers. You'll want to promote bathing. It will get messy.

They are prolific baby makers. It's what they do. If you find yourself with a female laying eggs. Don't be surprised. You don't need a male around for a female to lay eggs.

There is no such thing as a starter bird. But there is such a thing as a good place to start. The biggest cage, with the correct bar space with varied perching surfaces is mandatory. Parrotlet to Cockatoo, their cage is their safe space.

A Cockatiel's Favorites

  1. Fresh timothy hay. First cuttings have the seeds. Your cockatiels will love finding a handful of fresh cut timothy hay to forage on at the bottom of their cage.
  2. Orchard grasses. First cuttings have the seeds. Your birds will preen, search, separate, chew, eat, and play in orchard grasses as they would in the wild. They are ground and grass foragers.
  3. Place a dish towel on the grate at the bottom of their cage for walking about comfort. Place a glass pie pan in the center. Fill it with timothy hay, greens, rye grass grown on a windowsill, basil, chives, all those grassy herbs. It will get messy, because they will love this new option.
  4. Multiple water bowls are a must. Paired with perches for ease of bathing, dunking, or drinking.
  5. Do you have a tree with lovely branches and no pesticide applied? We regularly utilize trimmed branches from our punk trees and crepe myrtle to create perching options in both cockatiel aviaries. They chew up the branches and climb like monkeys.
  6. Fill small boxes with Timothy Hay and tiny foot toys. Set the box on the floor next to the pie pan. Think like a cockatiel. Not a big box parrot toy company.
A three-year-old white-faced cockatiel sitting on the hand of his owner, looking up waiting to have a conversation. It doesn't matter that he talks. It matters that we communicate.


When you bring a companion home that isn't domesticated, read up on their wild side. Their instinctive urges will tell you why no companion animals can be considered a starter animal. They can be a fantastic friend, though. You won't need a google search to find their love.

Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


  • I did a podcast once with Diane Grindol, author and cockatiel expert. She said that cockatiels have all the things people want in a parrot — talking, personality, charm, joy. — just in a smaller package. I think of that often when I’m watching my two make a mess, scream at me for some sin I’ve committed, or tuck their sweet little heads in their neck feathers for a nap.

    Marguerite Floyd on

  • I just wanted to take this moment to tell you I really admire your work and love ❤️ Felix. I enjoy reading your stuff when I have a chance.

    Mary David on

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