Caring for your Cockatiel


Food and Water

  • The best diet for a cockatiel is a mixture of a pellets and fresh vegetables

  • Pellets should make up at least 60% of the diet (Harrison’s, Zupreem, Roudy Bush)

  • Fresh veggies should make up about 40% of the diet

    • Carrots, Sweet Potato, Dark leafy greens, Celery, Squash, Broccoli

    • Food clips can help make veggies easier to eat

  • Seed and millet should be fed as treats only

  • Make sure to clean out and freshen food bowls daily

  • Water dishes must be cleaned and refilled daily


  • Cockatiels are highly social birds

  • For best socializing, cockatiels should be handled daily starting at a very young age

  • Foraging is a natural behavior for cockatiels- this should be encouraged with toys and food

  • Cockatiels enjoy showers and/or misting- this also helps to maintain feather quality

  • A normal cockatiel life-span is 12-15 years, though some will live for over 20 years


  • Regular nail trims are needed- the tip of the nail should be flat with the toe pad

  • Wing trims are encouraged

  • Bathing should be done 2-3 times per week by gently misting above the cage

  • Beak trims are only necessary if there is a medical concern (beak injury, scissor beak)



  • A cockatiel's cage should be a minimum of two feet along all sides

  • The bottom of the cage should be lined with paper above the grates and changed daily

  • Cages should be placed in a high up location in a visible but low traffic area

  • Time outside the cage should only occur for socialized and wing-clipped birds

    • Potential hazards: ceiling fans, getting outside, dogs and cats, windows

  • Perches should be kept at multiple different levels of the cage

  • Perches should vary in size, but the highest one will be their most used perch

    • Their foot should wrap ¾ the way around this perch

  • UVB lighting may be beneficial to cockatiels

    • The best source of UVB light is direct sunlight unfiltered by glass

      *Taking birds outside can be healthy and enriching, but extreme caution is needed

    • A UVB light can be placed 12 inches above the cage and should run 6 hours per day


  • Cardboard, wicker and durable parrot toys make great toys

  • Avoid metal toys that may contain zinc or lead

  • Avoid things that mimic nests (tents, boxes, etc) and mirrors

    • These can stimulate reproductive behavior


  • Female cockatiels can lay eggs even with no male present and can be come egg-bound

    • Call for advice if your cockatiel is prone to laying eggs

  • Respiratory infections are common in cockatiels

    • Tail bobbing, sitting on the bottom of the cage and fluffed feathers are common signs

  • Mites are commonly seen on the face and feet of cockatiel

  • Feather destruction behavior is a complex problem that should be addressed promptly

  • Weight loss or poor appetite are common signs of illness

    • You can monitor eating by monitoring droppings- the dark part is the feces and it should be the largest part of each dropping- seek advice if feces are becoming smaller or consistently smaller than the white part of the droppings (urates)



  • All Creatures Animal Clinic:, 734-973-1884

  • Harrison’s Bird Foods:

  • Lafeber Bird Foods: