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A bird can be an ideal pet for people who have very limited space and the Cockatiel is an easy kept bird which is relatively inexpensive to purchase yet a little more unusual than a Budgerigar or Canary. It makes a delightful pet for adults or children.

Cockatiels are an Australian native bird and were first recorded by the naturalists who accompanied Cook during his journeys to eastern Australia.

For those with an interest in the genetics of breeding colours, the Cockatiel is on a par with the Budgerigar and breeding Cockatiels can be an interesting hobby, Seek advice from breeders on what colours to be expected from a pair of birds. It is important to know the colour of the parents of your breeding birds to be able to predict the colours of your babies.

The wild Cockatiel is only grey in colour but a variety of colours have been developed by breeders. The "Normal Grey" cock bird comprises various shades of grey on the body and tail. The front of the head and throat are lemon yellow and the crest is a mixture of yellow and grey. The sides of the head are white with large orange-red patches. The wings have bars of white and very pale yellow.

Mutant colours include, albino (white) or lutino (yellow), pied ( a bird with patches of white or yellow breaking the body and/or wing colour), reverse pied, pearl(attractive shaded wings), cinnamon, silver, pastel, white-faced (where the yellow colouring is replaced by white) and various combinations of these colours.

Cockatiels are easy and prolific breeders so long as they are provided with the right conditions. The minimum sized breeding cage for one pair of birds should be 2 metres long and 1 metre wide and 2 metres high.

Cockatiels require a nest box as in the wild they nest in hollow tree branches. The standard nesting box for a pair of cockatiels is 300mm high x 220mm wide x 200mm deep. The entrance hole should be 60mm in diameter and be 20mm from the top of the box with a small perch outside the entrance hole. Pine shavings should be placed in the bottom of the nest box.

Cockatiels should be fed a balanced prepared diet of seeds, consisting of millets, canary seeds, oats and sunflower seeds. An important part of the diet is fresh foods such as spinach, celery, cabbage, apple, carrots, orange, pear, banana etc. Fresh seeding grasses from the garden are a special treat but they must be free of garden sprays. Whole grain bread is also a favourite - especially if spread with peanut butter! Cockatiels love freshly sprouted seeds and these can be grown in a shallow container and then offered directly to the bird who will eat the seedling, roots and all. Cuttlefish and mineral blocks are essential.

Most cockatiels like to bathe and large, shallow earthenware dishes are best for this. Allow the bird to bathe in the mornings so that it has time to dry. It is important to provide a bath for nesting birds as they have to provide humidity for the eggs to hatch.

Cockatiel babies should not be removed from the parents until they can feed on their own - approximately 8 weeks after hatching.

These delightful small birds make amusing and entertaining pets and have a relatively long lifespan of 15 - 20 years in captivity.

Petcare Information and Advisory Service Australia

Last Update: 06/02/07 22:01 Views: 1393

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