Cockatiels are charming birds within the parrot order. Native to Australia, feral populations of these birds are now present in Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and the United States.
Cockatiels have long been sought by prospective pet owners. With the beautiful color mutations, beautiful songs, and lively personalities, it’s easy to see why.
There are around a dozen different types of Cockatiels that those seeking one of these birds can own. Though the different types of Cockatiels may look like different species, there is only a single species of Cockatiel, meaning that all Cockatiel types are the same species.
The different Cockatiel types have different colors, patterns, and even mannerisms at times. Let’s go over the different types of Cockatiels so prospective Cockatiel owners can decide what is best for them.
12 Types Of Cockatiels
The different types of Cockatiels come in enough colors to accommodate anyone’s preferences. Let’s take a look at the many different Cockatiel colors and types:
Normal (Gray) Cockatiel
The most common type of Cockatiel is—unsurprisingly—the type that occurs naturally in the wild.
Gray Cockatiels are the default for this bird species. A normal grey Cockatiel looks exactly like Cockatiels that fly around in the wild in Australia.
Both male and female gray Cockatiels are primarily covered in grey feathers. Normal male Cockatiels have orange cheek patches, a yellow head, and white on the wings.
Females are more drab, being largely gray overall. They have white or yellow barring near the stomach and under-tail coverts, and they have orange patches on their cheeks.
A Lutino Cockatiel is a largely white type of Cockatiel. Lutino Cockatiels owe their color pattern to a lack of gray pigmentation within their bodies.
A Lutino Cockatiel cannot produce gray color, they can produce orange and yellow pigmentation. Therefore, the yellow feathers on the face and vibrant orange cheek patches are quite apparent in these birds.
Aside from the yellow and orange on the face of a Lutino Cockatiel, this type of Cockatiel is entirely white with red eyes. The Lutino Cockatiel has been around for a while now, as breeders quickly developed and promoted this type of Cockatiel.
A Pied Cockatiel is a fascinating type of Cockatiel that features colored patches of white or yellow feathers throughout their bodies.
Pied Cockatiels are all unique given that the patches of color are completely random. Therefore, the size, color, and shape of the pied patterning on Pied Cockatiels will be different for every bird.
Pied Cockatiels look fairly similar to a normal grey Cockatiel, but feathered patches on the body of a Pied Cockatiel will be colored rather than gray. A Pied Cockatiel may have a single colorful feather patch or multiple.
Other characteristics of Pied Cockatiels are dark eyes and light-colored legs.
Some describe White-faced Cockatiels as the inverse of Lutino Cockatiels. These birds get this description because they have been bred to restrict the production of carotenoids within their bodies.
Carotenoids are responsible for creating colors like orange and yellow within an organism. Since White-faced Cockatiels lack these colors, they are strictly gray and white.
This means that a Whiteface Cockatiel will have white cheeks, faces, and wing stripes, while the rest of their bodies are covered with gray feathers.
A yellowface Cockatiel, also known as a Yellow Cockatiel, is a rare type of Cockatiel that is characterized by yellow cheeks rather than orange cheek patches.
Yellowface Cockatiels have a bright yellow face that makes them easily distinguishable from other Cockatiel types. These birds also commonly have a yellow tinge to their bodies or just outright have yellow coloring.
Yellowface Cockatiels are quite variable. Due to their rare nature, it has been difficult for breeders to establish populations of this type of Cockatiel.
Pearl Cockatiels owe their name to the stunning assortment of white spots that appear on their feathers. The beautiful white “pearl” spots of a Pearl Cockatiel are the result of a sex-linked trait.
Female Pearl Cockatiels are more likely to show this genetic mutation than males. This is so because females need only inherit one copy of the Pearl trait from their parents, whereas males need two copies of the Pearl trait for this pattern to appear on their feathers.
Even if male Pearl Cockatiels do display the pearl pattern as young Cockatiels, they often lose the pattern after they experience their first molt. Females, on the other hand, tend to retain the namesake pattern for their whole lives.
Pearl Pied Cockatiel
As you may have guessed, Pearl Pied Cockatiels are a mix of Pied and Pearl Cockatiels. These birds look much like you would expect a cross between these two Cockatiel types to look like.
A Pearl Pied Cockatiel has Pied Cockatiel color splotches with pearl patterning. This means that patches of yellow or white may appear within the feathers of one of these Cockatiel’s bodies. It also means that these birds will have the pearl patterning within their feathers that is characteristic of Pearl Cockatiels.
These uncommon, gorgeous Cockatiels are highly sought after for their attractive appearance.
Cinnamon Cockatiels are a rare variety of Cockatiel feathers that tend to have a brown tinge to them.
When picturing a Cinnamon Cockatiel, you may imagine a bird with a brown body, but this is not the case. Instead, a Cinnamon Cockatiel looks much like a normal gray Cockatiel with body feathers that are slightly browner than typical.
Cinnamon Cockatiels develop their brownish-colored feathers because of a mutation that limits the creation of melanin. It is this lack of large amounts of melanin that give a Cinnamon Cockatiel its signature brown tinge to its feathers.
A male Cinnamon Cockatiel develops a color scheme that is similar to that of a normal grey Cockatiel save for the brown that is featured on its body. Cinnamon Cockatiels may have brown beaks, legs, and eyes in addition to feathers that are a brownish-grey color.
A Fallow Cockatiel looks essentially the same as a Cinnamon Cockatiel. So, how do you tell the difference between Fallow Cockatiels and Cinnamon Cockatiels?
Well, both Cinnamon and Fallow Cockatiels are brownish gray, but a Fallow Cockatiel tends to be more of a light brown as opposed to the darker brown that is featured in Cinnamon ‘Tiels. Fallow Cockatiels also tend to be a lighter gray color than Cinnamons.
Other than the subtle difference in colors, there is one difference between Fallows and Cinnamons that can reliably tell these two Cockatiel types apart: eye color.
Fallow Cockatiels have captivating red eyes, while Cinnamon Cockatiels typically have brownish-colored eyes. Though the differences between Fallow Cockatiels and Cinnamons are subtle, they are enough to warrant the separation of these two Cockatiels into their own types.
Blue Cockatiels are a very rare type of Cockatiel. Some will certainly be excited when they hear mention of a Blue Cockatiel but know that these birds are not truly blue.
Instead, Blue Cockatiels have bodies that are primarily adorned with white feathers. These birds have dark gray wings, and their tail feathers may be a light gray coloration that can appear blue in some light.
These birds lack the typical light yellow coloring on their faces, and they have no orange cheek patch on either side of their face.
Cinnamon Pearly Pied Cockatiel
A Cinnamon Pearly Pied Cockatiel is a rare type of Cockatiel that is a cross between a Cinnamon Cockatiel and a Pearly Pied Cockatiel. Since both Pearly Pieds and Cinnamons are fairly uncommon in the first place, this cross may be hard to come by.
Cinnamon Pearly Pied Cockatiels look much like a Pearly Pied Cockatiel, but you should notice a subtle cinnamon brown color to the body feathers of one of these birds. These pet birds should have a bright yellow mask and orange cheeks.
When you hear mention of an Albino Cockatiel, you can surely imagine what such a bird will look like. However, those interested in owning a pet Cockatiel should know that true Albino Cockatiels do not truly exist.
Cockatiels can be albino, but this mutation is quite rare and could potentially be dangerous to birds that possess the mutation. Therefore, Albino Cockatiels were created by breeding two Cockatiel types together.
You may notice that Albino Cockatiels resemble both Lutino and White-faced Cockatiels. This is no coincidence, as Albino Cockatiels are the result of pairing these two Cockatiel types together.
The result is a bird dubbed the Albino Cockatiel, as it has an entirely white body and face. However, it lacks the red eyes that a true Albino Cockatiel would have.
Why Do So Many Cockatiel Color Types Exist?
After reading through all of the different Cocktail color types, you may be curious about how the different types of Cockatiels come about in the first place. What is the reasoning for such a remarkable diversity of colors?
As your know, Cockatiels in the wild are mostly a normal grey coloration. Knowing this, it may seem surprising that domesticated birds can be white, yellow, brownish, and other colorations.
The reason for all of these fantastic colors existing within a single species has everything to do with selective breeding. The concept of selective breeding has been around for hundreds of years, and it involves capitalizing on certain traits that are present within an organism.
It works like this: if a breeder wants to have a Cockatiel with yellow pigmentation on its body feathers, they would want to breed together two Cockatiels that either have yellow body feathers or have the gene for yellow body feathers.
Selective breeding is all about understanding genetics and favoring certain genes over others. In some cases, Cockatiel color mutations are favored to develop certain colors that wouldn’t normally be present in a Cockatiel’s plumage.
Birds with bodies that are not the typical slate gray color are examples of Cockatiel types that owe their coloration to color mutations and selective breeding.
How Do You Identify A Cockatiel Mutation?
Hopefully, the concepts of selective breeding and gene mutations are simple enough. If you grasp these concepts, you may still be wondering about how you can identify a Cockatiel color mutation.
Luckily, recognizing Cockatiel color mutations is simple. All one needs to do to distinguish a Cockatiel color mutation from a typical Cockatiel color scheme is compare a bird in question to photos of wild Cockatiels.
Wild Cockatiel males and females both have distinctive color schemes that are consistent across wild populations (save for the rare individuals that have mutations).
A wild male Cockatiel has a slate gray body with a white stripe on each wing. It has a yellow face and orange cheeks with tail feathers that are a light gray color.
Wild female Cockatiels have the same slate gray bodies and white wings stripes as males, but they lack more yellow other than a few yellow streaks. Instead, their faces tend to be rather orange.
If you observe a Cockatiel that does not conform to the colorations for wild Cockatiels mentioned above, then you are looking at a bird that must have some sort of color mutation.
Does Cockatiel Color Affect Health and Personality?
Prospective Cockatiel owners are likely learning more about the health implications associated with the various types of Cockatiels. Are some color types inherently more prone to poor health than others?
Just like many different animal species that diversify into very specific types, there are some Cockatiels that are inherently more prone to detrimental health conditions than others.
In the case of Cockatiels, Fallow Cockatiels are an example of a type that is more likely to suffer health consequences than other types, as these birds are far more likely to suffer from issues related to vision than other Cockatiel types.
The rare, very specific light brown feather color of Fallow Cockatiels is highly sought after. Unfortunately, few birds end up with this mutation naturally. This means that a very limited gene pool exists for Fallow Cockatiels.
Fallow Cockatiels tend to have low genetic diversity because of this fact. This inbreeding is thought to be the primary reason that these birds are more prone to developing detrimental health conditions.
How Much Should I Expect To Pay For A Cockatiel?
If you’re used to shopping for rare dog breeds, then the price of a Cockatiel will be a pleasant surprise.
Buying A Cockatiel From A Pet Store
Unsurprisingly, a normal gray Cockatiel is going to be the most affordable option for those interested in owning a Cockatiel. These birds can be purchased for anywhere from $75 to $150 from a pet store.
If you’re uneasy about the idea of buying a Cockatiel from a pet store, then there are plenty of avian rescue operations out there that are great choices for those looking to rescue one of these birds.
Adopting A Cockatiel From A Rescue
Adopting a Cockatiel from an avian rescue operation should be cheaper than purchasing one of these birds from a pet store–you may even be able to find birds that are sponsored and free to adopt! However, prospective Cockatiel owners should be prepared to pay $10 to $50 to adopt a Cockatiel from a rescue.
Buying A Cockatiel From A Breeder
If you have your heart set on adopting a Cockatiel that is different than the normal gray Cockatiel, then you may need to obtain your Cockatiel from a breeder.
Getting a cockatiel from a breeder will cost more than buying one from a pet store or adopting a Cockatiel from a rescue. The exact price will depend on the type of Cockatiel that you purchase but expect to pay upwards of $150.
What Is the Most Expensive Cockatiel Type?
There are several types of Cockatiels that are regarded as quite rare. Here are the rarest of the Cockatiel types:
- White-Faced Cockatiel
- Yellow-Faced Cockatiel
- Blue Cockatiel
- Cinnamon Cockatiel
- Fallow Cockatiel
- Cinnamon Pearly Pied Cockatiel
If you’re hoping to own any of these Cockatiels, be prepared to pay upwards of $250 to buy one of these birds from a breeder.
Cockatiel Vs Cockatoo
You may have heard mention of Cockatoos in the past and wondered about the difference between Cockatiels and Cockatoos. Are these birds the same?
While both Cockatiels and Cockatoos are parrots, these birds are distinct species from one another. In fact, there are more than a dozen different Cockatoo species, though there is only a single Cockatiel species.
Some Cockatoos originate from the Land Down Under just as Cockatiels do, but other Cockatoo species are native to other locations.
Both Cockatoos and Cockatiels are highly sought by those interested in owning birds. Considering their appearance, Cockatoos are quite a bit larger than Cockatiels.
Cockatoos are more solidly built than their smaller counterparts, and they often are found in a white color, unlike the slate gray color of typical Cockatiels.
Male Vs. Female Cockatiels
Before going over the assortment of Cockatiel types that are available, it is important to go over the differences between male and female Cockatiels.
Male Cockatiels tend to be more colorful than females with nearly all different color mutations. This is the same case with wild Cockatiels.
The reason that males are more colorful is that they have evolved to possess flashy colors to show their strength and attract potential mates.
Ethical Concerns With Owning Cockatiels
As with many exotic pets, some ethical concerns are worth considering before you welcome such an animal into your home.
Before owning a Cockatiel, you may want to know more about the ethical concerns related to the ownership of these birds.
Are Captive Cockatiel Populations Harmful To Wild Cockatiels?
Many populations of captive birds threaten populations of their wild counterparts, as demand for such birds as pets causes wild birds to be captured and sold into the pet trade.
There are dozens of species of parrots, parakeets, and finches that have suffered massive population declines at the hands of the illegal pet trade. Have wild populations of Cockatiels suffered from the same fate?
Fortunately, this is not the case for Cockatiels, as Australia has strictly outlawed the capture and transportation of wild birds within its borders.
Therefore, all Cockatiels within the pet trade are from existing domestic stock. This means that Cockatiel ownership does not pose a threat to wild populations of these birds.
Some suggest that bird ownership is inherently inhumane because these creatures have a natural desire to fly around and explore a large home range.
In the case of Cockatiels, these birds are quite gregarious by nature. Housing a Cockatiel by itself may deprive it of a social aspect of its life that would be beneficial to your feathered friend.
If you are concerned about the potential ethical considerations that are associated with Cockatiel ownership but you still want to have a Cockatiel, consider adopting one of these birds rather than purchasing one.
Many Cockatiel owners are not prepared for the amount of time, work, and dedication that goes into owning a Cockatiel. This means that there is a constant stream of abandoned Cockatiels that need a new home.
Are Cockatiel Birds Right For You?
You may have your heart set on owning a Cockatiel after reading about the unique types of Cockatiels that exist. However, you may be curious if Cockatiel ownership is right for you.
Before committing to a Cockatiel, know that these birds can live for 15 to 25 years in captivity. Cockatiels have longer lifespans than both domestic cats and dogs, so the commitment required to own one of these birds cannot be understated.
Moreover, Cockatiel owners will need to be prepared to regularly interact with their feathered friend, as Cockatiels require far more mental stimulation than most other pets.
Regular bonding time, enrichment, and plenty of opportunities to play with toys are required for fostering a happy cockatiel.
Those interested in having a pet Cockatiel have to be in it for the long haul. A Cockatiel is not a pet that can be left for days on end-these animals need frequent care from their owners.
As a prospective Cockatiel owner, think long and hard about the type of life that you could provide to one of these birds. If you think that you can offer a Cockatiel a good, happy life, then a Cockatiel will be a rewarding pet for you!