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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Cockatiel



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Traits & behavior

Cockatiels love to be stroked and held and want to interact with their Pet Parents as much as possible. They require one hour or more of daily interaction. If your cockatiel feels ignored she may screech or scream.

Although not great talkers, with continued practice, you can teach her to whistle a tune.

She will groom herself by preening her feathers and wiping her beak on her perch. However, she may need her beak and nails trimmed periodically.

Messy eaters
Your cockatiel will drop a lot of food while eating.

Things to remember

Don't forget that children, pets and unfamiliar guests should be supervised when interacting with your cockatiel.

Long-term companions
Before purchasing, be aware that a cockatiel requires a long-term commitment of approximately 20-30 years.

Safety & cleanliness
Please remember that all pets may bite or scratch, and may transmit disease to humans. Keep your pet's home clean and wash your hands before and after handling your pet or cleaning his home. Infants, young children, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, and the infirm or elderly are at greater risk of infections and should use caution when in contact with the pet or its habitat. Consult your doctor for more information.


Staple diet

Feed her 3-4 teaspoons per day of a pellet or seed-based, fortified cockatiel diet.

Fruits & vegetables*
About 5-10% of a cockatiel's diet should be bite-sized fruits and veggies like oranges, melon, apples, sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach, dandelion, mustard greens and shredded carrots. Offer daily or every 2-3 days.

Be sure to provide a cuttle bone or mineral block in your cockatiel's cage at all times.

Cockatiels should have access to clean, fresh water in a bottle or bowl at all times.

*Remember that fresh food requires its own dish and should be removed from the habitat within four hours to avoid spoilage.


Signs of a healthy cockatiel:

  • Clear, bright eyes
  • Clean, smooth feathers
  • Eats throughout the day
  • Normal droppings that are not runny for more than a couple of days
  • A curious and active disposition

Things to watch for:

  • Decreased appetite; weight loss
  • Decreased activity and grooming behavior
  • Change in droppings in excess of two days
  • Sitting at the bottom of cage
  • Discharge from nose or mouth; frequent sneezing
  • Feathers fluffed for prolonged periods of time

If you notice any of the signs described above, consult an Avian Veterinarian.


Your cockatiel's cage must be large enough for her to comfortably stretch her wings, climb and play with her toys. The bigger the cage, the better. Minimum cage size is 18"W x 22"L x 18"H.

Place two perches at different heights, so your cockatiel will be unable to soil her food bowls. Provide perches of differing widths, diameters and textures to help keep her feet healthy.

Cage placement

Place your bird's cage at or below eye level, away from drafts, open windows and the kitchen. Be aware that cockatiels are sensitive to smoke and strong odors. Cover the cage at night to prevent drafts.

Give her at least 2-3 toys to keep her busy. But, not too many--she should be able to move about freely without bumping into any in the cage. Rotate toys often to keep her interested.

Provide a birdbath 2-3 times per week. You can offer a warm water bath, or gently mist her with warm water from a clean spray bottle.

Food & water containers

It is important to clean your bird's containers every day, even if the dish or bottle looks full.

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