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Cockatiels are small Parrots of the Cacatuidae (Cockatoo) family. They are native only to the outback regions of inland Australia, but always near water. Sometimes hundreds of Cockatiels will flock around a single body of water. Also known as the Quarrion and the Weero, the gentle, mild-mannered Cockatiel is highly prized as a household pet. Today, all pet Cockatiels are bred in captivity because Australia no longer permits the export of native wildlife.

Cockatiels are biologically classified as the smallest of the Cockatoo family and like some other Cockatoos, they have a distinctive erectile crest. If suddenly startled, the crest is dramatically vertical. It is gently oblique in its relaxed state and flattened close to the head when the bird is angry or defensive. Cockatiels and Cockatoos share other features, as well, such as the feathers found on the sides of the beak, which are rarely found on other birds. However, unlike Cockatoos, Cockatiels have long tail feathers, which makes up almost half its length. The "Normal Grey," or "Wild-type" cockatiel's plumage is primarily grey with prominent white on the outer edges of each wing. The face of the male is yellow or white, while the face of the female is primarily grey or light grey. Both genders feature a round orange area on both ear areas, often referred to as "cheek patches." This orange coloration is vibrant in adult males, but often quite muted in females. Cockatiels generally have a lifespan in captivity of 15-20 years. Sometimes it is given as short as 10-15 years and there are reports of Cockatiels living as long as 30 years. The oldest confirmed Cockatiel was 35 years old when it died. As with humans, diet and exercise are often determining factors in the lifespan of the birds.

Cockatiels are usually described as having a sweet demeanor and therefore make good pets, although the manner in which they are raised has a profound effect on their temperament. Some Cockatiels are very sociable while others can be quite shy, retreating to the back of its cage when an unfamiliar person approaches. However, most are friendly birds and like to engage in preening, scratching and even petting. Cockatiels have a reputation for being noisy and demanding the attention of their owners. If irritated, they will often hiss and can even defend themselves with pecking bites. They need a consistent schedule of play time with their owners and twelve hours of sleep per day (otherwise will become grumpy and can even cause sickness.) Cockatiels often form strong bonds with their owners, even to the point of trying to “protect” the owner from anyone that tries to come near by hissing. Therefore, for a happy pet, the Cockatiel must become acquainted with the entire family. Cockatiels do not necessarily make good pets for young children because they startle easily to loud and unexpected sounds.


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