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About Cockatiels
Cockatiels are the gentle ambassadors of the bird world. Many aviculturists owe their passion for birds to a pet Cockatiel they owned or encountered in childhood. The Cockatiel is one of the most popular aviary and pet birds in the world and the curiosity and intelligence of this good natured species is well known.  A long list of recognized mutations, a hardy constitution, an undemanding nature and an eagerness to breed make this species the ideal aviary subject for the novice or experienced aviculturist. 

Cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus)are distributed throughout Australia, with the exception of Tasmania, and will be found anywhere suitable food and water sources are available. They are sleek, strong flying birds that are able to cover huge distances in the wild in this daily search for food. In captivity they are bred in a wide variety of colors and patterns, but the standard is the normal, wild Grey form which measures 12 to13 in length including their tapered, moveable crest(which is used for communication) and long, slender tail (which accounts for half the birds overall length). They weigh between 3 and 4 ounces. Domestic diets and controlled breeding have allowed for the Cockatiel to increase in size and show standards encourage this by demanding a standard length of 14.  
  
Males are mostly Grey, with lighter underparts which sometimes have a brownish suffusion. Mature males develop a bright yellow crest, face, and throat which features the circular orange ear coverts. The area covered and strength of yellow and orange color vary from bird to bird. Their wing coverts are white with occasional yellow streaking. The tail is dark grey on the upper and lower surface. The beak, legs, and feet are also Grey. 
Hens are easily distinguished from mature males by their  primarily grey crest, face, and throat. Hens have the same bright orange ear coverts, but they appear duller because the color is overlaid with a suffusion of grey. Hens retain the youthful yellow barring on the under tail feathers and sometimes have a speckled look to their chest. 
  
In captivity Cockatiels are most often colony bred in large outdoor aviaries, however if you are breeding mutations or concerned about keeping adequate genetic records, individual cage breeding is necessary.  Even in the most controlled colony environment where there are small numbers of long term bonded pairs, mates will often stray causing genetic confusion. For this reason I house each breeding pair separately in suspended 2 x 2 x 4 cages, moving them into a colony type exercise aviary(with no nest boxes) that is 10 x 10 x 12 for two to three months each year. This flight time keeps the birds from gaining too much weight and in prime breeding shape. 

A quality Cockatiel seed is offered at all times along with clean, fresh drinking water and cuttlebone as a calcium source. This seed diet should be supplemented as often as possible with as wide a variety of food items as your birds will accept. Often getting Cockatiels to accept a varied diet starts at a young age. Most of my cockatiels will accept the following: sprouted seed, carrots, pumpkin, parsley, chard, kale, corn, whole wheat pasta and breads and beans mixed with brown rice. 

Cockatiels are precocious and prolific breeders that will often produce successfully before the age of one.  They are not fussy about the shape or size of their nest box, but a suitable standard would be 10 x 10 x 12 (tall) with a perch or porch mounted outside the entrance hole and filled with 2 to 3 of pine shavings. Outdoors in southern California breeding takes place all year long, but usually tapers off in the very hot weather from July to September. 

Courtship behavior is obvious as mature males sing and follow the hen of their choice around the aviary with a series of hops and skips. Hens usually appear oblivious to the attention unless they want to mate. If a hen does want to mate she will crouch down with her tail elevated and make a twittering sound. The male upon seeing this will lift his shoulders, flatten out his wings and shuffle from side to side, often stepping up and then down off the hens back several times before stepping up a final time to copulate. 

Cockatiels typically lay between 4 and 7 eggs per clutch(one every other day). Incubation lasts eighteen to twenty one days depending on when the pair begins to sit tight and how warm it is. Both the male and female will share the incubation duties with the male usually sitting most of the day and the hen taking the late shift. Youngsters generally leave the nest box around the fifth week and will continue to be fed by both parents for another 2 to 3 weeks.  They are ready to be separated when all signs of begging have ceased.  

As is the case with most young birds, exercise is important for developing the strength and  vigor necessary to become healthy and successful future parents, but remember when moving young birds into an exercise cage that they are not in full control of their flight skills yet. A 3 x 3 x 6 cage will give them the room to fly and move around without gaining enough speed to injure themselves. 

Here is a list of the Cockatiel mutations that I am hoping to produce this year. Some are linked to photographs of my breeders or their offspring. I hope to continue adding  pictures until all of the mutations are represented. If you have further questions about Cockatiel care and breeding or about price and availability please call or email me anytime. 

*linked to a photo. 
   
*Olive 
Pastel face 
Pastelface Pearl 
*Pastelface Pied  
*Pastelface Pearl Pied 
Pastelface Silver (red-eyed) 
*Pastelface Silver (dark-eyed, dominant)  
Pastelface Silver double factor (dark-eyed, dominant) 
Pastelface Olive 
*Pastelface Lutino  
*Whiteface 
Whiteface Pearl 
*Whiteface Pied 
*Whiteface Pearl Pied 
*Whiteface Silver (red-eyed)  
Whiteface Silver Pied (red-eyed) 
*Whiteface Silver (dark-eyed, dominant)  
*Whiteface Silver double factor (dark-eyed, dominant) 
*Whiteface Olive 
*Albino

 


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