Last Updated on October 2, 2023 by Ali Shahid
The grey cockatiel is a small parrot with a grey body, a yellow face, and a cool crest on its head, plus an orange spot on its cheek. It is the original kind of cockatiel when it comes to colors.
Gray is the most common color for cockatiels, sometimes called “regular gray” or “wild-type” coloring. In the wild, most cockatiels are this grey color, although sometimes you might find some with different colors by chance.
Grey cockatiels don’t have any fancy colors in their genes, so they mostly have grey feathers with a bit of white on the edges of their wings. They have mostly grey feathers and orange spots on their cheeks. To tell the boy cockatiels from the girl ones, just look at their heads: the boys have yellow heads, and the girls have gray ones.
When you see them in the wild, it can be hard to tell if they’re boys or girls, especially when they’re young. But they’re really good pets because they look nice and are friendly. Plus, they’re famous for copying sounds and whistling along to songs. If you want to learn more about these cool little parrots, keep reading!
Origin and History
Grey cockatiels, a part of the cockatoo family, hail from their native land of Australia. These birds have soared to global popularity and are cherished as pet companions by many.
The typical grey cockatiel, also known as the wild-type cockatiel, serves as the foundational source for all the various color changes seen in this species. They predominantly display grey feathers along with orange patches on their cheeks.
The journey of these color mutations commenced with the practice of breeding cockatiels in homes, and it took approximately a century for the very first mutation to surface.
The initial instance of captive cockatiel breeding dates back to the 1850s in France, and it wasn’t until 1951, in the United States, that the Pied cockatiel mutation was formally established.
In their native Australian habitat, cockatiels chiefly inhabit the Outback, a region located in the northern part of the continent.
These endearing birds were first encountered by humans in 1770 and hold the distinction of being the tiniest members within the broad cockatoo family. In their natural surroundings, they form substantial flocks.
The wild cockatiel presents a grey body adorned with a yellow face, crest, and an orange cheek patch.
Through selective breeding in captivity for the pet trade, a multitude of color mutations have emerged over time. Some of the most prevalent variations include Lutino, Cinnamon, Pearled, and Pastelface cockatiels.
Size and Appearance
The grey cockatiel is a type of bird that mostly has gray feathers with white patches on the edges of its wings. Male grey cockatiels have a yellow or white face, while female ones have a mostly gray or light gray face.
Both male and female cockatiels have a round orange patch near their ears, often called “cheddar cheeks.” This orange color is bright in adult males and not as vibrant in females.
These birds can grow to be about 12-13 inches (30 cm) long and weigh between 70-120 grams or 3-4 ounces.
The gray color of their feathers comes from melanin, which gives the feathers, eyes, beak, and feet their grayish tint. The yellow on their face and tail, as well as the orange on their cheek patch, is because of psittacofulvins.
Difference Between Male and Female Grey Cockatiel
Distinguishing between male and female grey cockatiels can be quite straightforward. In typical grey cockatiel varieties, males tend to have more eye-catching facial features.
Their bright yellow faces are adorned with vibrant orange spots, creating a striking contrast. In contrast, females exhibit a more subdued facial appearance with less yellow and orange pigmentation.
Their orange spots are lighter, and their faces usually lean towards shades of gray or muted yellow. Another distinguishing feature is the markings on the underside of their tail feathers.
Females often have horizontal stripes that alternate between grey/dark grey or white/grey or yellow/grey, whereas males lack these markings. However, it is worth noting that these methods may not always yield a 100% accurate result, as there can be variations in individual birds’ appearances.
Additionally, certain mutations can make it more challenging to visually determine a cockatiel’s gender. For absolute certainty, a DNA test can provide conclusive results regarding your bird’s sex.
Grey cockatiels are a favored choice for pet birds because they have friendly, loving, and funny personalities. They are curious and bold, and they can be both cuddly and lively.
They are not as noisy as some other parrot types, which makes them a preferred option for smaller homes. Here are some main traits of grey cockatiel personalities and temperaments:
- Gentle: Grey cockatiels are gentle birds that enjoy being held and receiving affection.
- Affectionate: They are loving birds that like to stay close to their owners.
- Comical: Grey cockatiels are known for their funny personalities and can be very entertaining.
- Curious: They are inquisitive birds that like to explore their surroundings.
- Feisty: Sometimes, grey cockatiels can show a bit of a spirited side.
- Playful: They are playful birds that have fun with toys and games.
- Social: Grey cockatiels are social birds that thrive when they are part of a group.
In general, grey cockatiels are cuddly, affectionate, and amusing birds that make wonderful pets, especially for those seeking a smaller parrot species. They are easy to take care of and adapt well to different situations.
Caring for a Grey Cockatiel
Taking good care of a grey cockatiel involves giving them the right food, making sure their living space is clean and interesting, keeping them tidy, giving them baths, and spending time with them. Here are some easy tips on how to do this:
- Give your cockatiel a mix of bird food, pellets, vegetables, fruit, and treats.
- Most of their food should be pellets (75%), with a smaller portion being seeds (25%).
- Make sure their food dish is about three-quarters full and replace it every day.
- Sometimes offer fresh vegetables and greens, but not more than one-fifth of their total food.
2. Living Space:
- Provide your cockatiel with a big cage that has different perches at different heights and textures to keep their feet healthy.
- Don’t put perches right above their food or water bowls to prevent messes.
- Keep their cage floor clean by using paper bedding or liners, and change it every other day.
- Make your cockatiel happy in their cage by giving them two or three toys, including puzzles with treats.
- Cockatiels like to leave their cages and sit on a T-stand.
- Hide treats on the cage floor to keep their foraging instincts active.
3. Spending Time Together:
- Spend time with your cockatiel by talking to them, gently petting their cheek feathers, or just being in the same room.
- A friendly cockatiel can be a great pet for your family and is suitable for apartments.
- Female cockatiels can have issues with laying too many eggs or getting egg-bound, so watch their health and go to the vet if needed.
4. Keeping Clean:
- Trim your bird’s nails regularly to avoid discomfort or injury.
- Give your bird a cuttlebone or mineral block to help them maintain their beak.
- Offer your bird toys and perches with different textures to keep their beak and nails healthy.
- Bathing helps keep your bird’s feathers and skin in good shape and encourages them to groom themselves.
- You can bathe your bird by lightly spraying them with water, letting them play in a shallow sink, or allowing them to enjoy a gentle stream of water from a tap.
- Morning baths are better for drying off in a sunny, warm room.
- Don’t use any special chemicals or soaps when bathing your bird, as they can be harmful.
Health Issues of Grey Cockatiels
Cockatiels are generally sturdy birds with a long lifespan, often living up to 20 years or more. However, they can face various health challenges, including:
1. Respiratory Diseases:
- Cockatiels can sometimes develop respiratory illnesses due to bacteria like Chlamydophila psittaci.
- These diseases may lead to symptoms such as sneezing, wheezing, breathing difficulties, and even pneumonia.
- Parasites like mites, lice, and worms can invade a cockatiel’s body if left untreated.
- Worms, including roundworms, tapeworms, and hairworms, can cause weight loss, diarrhea, and digestive problems.
3. Nutritional Diseases:
- Nutritional issues can arise from an unbalanced or inadequate diet.
- An excess of vitamin A or an improper mix of vitamins and minerals may result in neoplastic diseases.
- Common signs include poor growth, weight loss, and reduced appetite.
4. Reproductive Problems:
- Reproductive challenges are more prevalent in cockatiels than in other birds.
- Female cockatiels are susceptible to chronic egg-laying, which can deplete essential minerals and calcium.
- Egg binding, where the hen can’t pass an egg, is also a risk.
5. Other Health Concerns:
- Cockatiels are prone to various health issues, including malnutrition, obesity, eye problems, zinc or lead poisoning, lack of coordination, and intestinal parasites.
- Geriatric ailments like liver disease and cataracts can affect older cockatiels.
To ensure the well-being of your cockatiel, it’s crucial to locate a veterinarian with expertise in avian care and regularly monitor your bird’s health. Early detection and prompt treatment are vital in preventing and addressing potential health problems.
Grey Cockatiels for Sale and Price
If you have decided to bring a Cockatiel into your house, we strongly advise you to explore adoption from a reputable shelter such as Mickaboo, Parrothope, or Parrotrescue.
Many well-intentioned people may not have been able to handle the tremendous duties of caring for these birds, so by selecting adoption, you’re giving an innocent bird a second opportunity in a loving setting.
If you do not want to adopt, dedicated breeders such as cockatielbirdforsale, parrotstars, and birdbreeders are your best bet. They usually have a real fondness for the birds and make certain they are grown and produced in the best possible conditions. A Grey Cockatiel from a dedicated breeder may cost between $200 and $300.
Finally, I advise avoiding buying a bird from a pet store. Birds sold in these places are sometimes raised purely for profit and are typically in poor health or spirits. While this is a general statement, we believe that purchasing a bird from a reputable breeder or considering adopting one in need of a loving home is the best course of action.
Ali Shahid is a veterinarian by profession and an animal lover. He loves to give expert opinions about different animals. He has worked in top organization of birds like Bigbird Feed and Poultry Research institute. He loves birds, especially parrots and has great experience in different parrot farms.