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The Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) in Nature – Facts about the World’s Smallest Cockatoo

“Cockatoo”? Yes, molecular genetic studies have revealed that this most common of pet birds is actually a true cockatoo. Today I would like to pass along a few facts about its life in the wild.

cockatielCockatiels range throughout nearly all of interior Australia and along the northwestern coast. During drought years, immense flocks may appear in coastal areas from which they have been absent for decades.

Food and Feeding
Unlike most parrots and cockatoos, cockatiels are clad in subtle gray – perhaps to camouflage the birds as they feed on the ground. They also feed in trees and bushes, and have been observed consuming mistletoe berries – a toxic meal that would kill most other bird species. Cockatiels sometimes forage in mixed species groups, especially with red-rumped parrots (Psephotus haematonotus).

In common with the hardy budgerigar, cockatiel reproduction is driven largely by rainfall. The usual breeding season extends from August to December, but they may nest as early as April if conditions are favorable. The ability to come into breeding condition on “short notice” may account for the egg-laying success (sometimes “over success!) of pet cockatiels and budgerigars. In captivity conditions are always good (hopefully!) and the birds take maximum advantage of this happy situation.

The Australian Avicultural Society has posted an informative article on cockatiel natural history at:

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