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A cockatiel or Nymphicus hollandicus is a species of bird that is part of the parrot family, which consists of approximately 340 different species. The cockatiel is an Australian native that is often called quarrion by the people of that country. An attractive and relatively low maintenance bird, the cockatiel has traveled around the world as a popular pet.
A cockatiel is a relatively small parrot, measuring about 12 inches (31 cm) from head to tail. In the wild, a cockatiel is usually gray colored, but domesticated cockatiels are bred to exhibit different shades of white, yellow, gray, peach and orange. The particular shades and color patterns of various cockatiels are referred to as pearl, pied, silver, lutino and cinnamon. The most distinguishing mark of a cockatiel is the tall crest of fine feathers on its head that the bird can control to express mood and behavior such as curiosity, fear and illness.
When properly cared for, a domestic cockatiel can live as long as twenty to twenty-five years. In the wild, their lifespan tends to be much shorter due to predation and the dangers of living in the wild. As a pet or in the wild, the cockatiel is a very social animal and is happiest in the company of other birds. In their native Australia, cockatiels always travel at least in pairs, but usually in small flocks.
Because of their social nature, cockatiels make great pets. Cockatiels are very intelligent, curious and even mischievous. A tame cockatiel loves the company of humans and will gladly ride on a person’s shoulder or head. Some cockatiels even like to eat and bathe with their human friends. The male cockatiel is very vocal and can easily be taught to whistle tunes. With patience and determination, many cockatiels can be taught to talk.
When considering getting a cockatiel as a pet, you should consider how much time you will be able to spend with your bird. A bird that is often left alone will get bored and lonely, and in this case, having another cockatiel companion might be a good idea. However, two birds are more difficult to tame and may be more likely to snub human attention in favor of their own kind.
If you desire two or more friendly cockatiels, the best way to encourage social behavior with people is to get one cockatiel at a time and make sure it is tame before bringing home a subsequent bird. Keep the next bird isolated from the others until that one is also responsive to humans. Many breeders and pet stores offer hand fed baby cockatiels, which is the best way to ensure that your cockatiel will enjoy human contact.