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Home > Birds > Emerald Cockatiel: Pictures, Personality, Diet & Care Guide

Emerald Cockatiel: Pictures, Personality, Diet & Care Guide


Cockatiels have gained quite a bit of popularity in the domesticated bird world—and for good reason! These docile fowl are ideal for beginners and experts alike. They charm owners with their sweet demeanor and easy-going attitudes, get along well with other birds, and even make wonderful additions to many aviaries.

If you’ve seen a picture of the gorgeous emerald cockatiel, maybe you’re wondering what it would be like to own one. These birds are surprisingly affectionate and fun-loving, which make ideal pets for people who love feathery friends. Let’s find out a bit more about this mild-tempered, magnificent creature.divider-birds

Species Overview

Common Name: Olive, Suffused Yellow, Silver Cockatiel, Dilute, Spangled
Scientific Name: Nymphicus hollandicus
Adult Size: 12-13 inches
Life Expectancy: 10-14 years

Origin and History

The emerald cockatiel is the thirteenth official breed mutation. A couple named Norma and John Ludwig had an aviary where the emerald first appeared. Afterward, they contacted breeder Margie Mason, who thought up the name emerald—being the breed’s original name.

Margie worked diligently to form the breed into what it is today.

Cockatiel Nymphicus hollandicus lutino_QuickStartProjects_shutterstock
Image by: QuickStartProjects, Shutterstock


Most cockatiel breeds are known for being gentle and amiable. The emerald cockatiel is nothing short of that. These pretty birds have a personality to match their soft looks. You may have run into a cockatiel at the pet shop who lets just about anyone hold them on their finger.

While some cockatiels may be shy or even withdrawn, they are generally very accepting of people. For this reason, they make excellent pets for children who are old enough to assume the responsibility. They make awesome first-time birds for many families.

Emerald cockatiels are incredibly social creatures, so they do best with a feathery companion—unless you have a lot of time to spend with them. If they are even slightly lonely, they can get depressed. So, if you can make it happen, getting two or more at once is a great decision.

If you’re going to be home and have your cockatiel out with you, you might be able to get by with having this bird solely. They will bond incredibly well with their humans, so remember that emeralds are a huge commitment and have trouble adjusting to change—like new owners.

  • Gentle
  • Agreeable
  • Great for beginners
  • Do well in pairs
  • Social
  • May get lonely as an only bird
  • Might not adjust well to change
Nymphicus hollandicus_Butterfly Hunter_shutterstock
Image by: Butterfly Hunter, Shutterstock

Speech & Vocalizations

Emerald cockatiels don’t have extensive vocabularies when it comes to mimicking phrases, but they can still learn a few words. They also adore music, whistling, and making all sorts of sounds depending on their mood.

Emeralds make noises when they are feeling just about any emotion you can think of. Their vocalizations tell you how they’re feeling, and when you learn these cues, you can respond accordingly.

Emerald Cockatiel Colors and Markings

Upon hearing the name, you might assume these birds carry at least a hue of green. However, cockatiels don’t carry a gene that produces any green pigmentation in their feathers.

Even though the melanin doesn’t exist, there is a green tone to their coloring. This illusion comes from the contrast of yellow over gray, which creates an olive-like hue in the feathers.

Their overall markings are almost splotchy, which is likely why they’re also coined as “spangled” cockatiels.

If you’re curious about the many color mutations and types of cockatiels, we can’t recommend the book The Ultimate Guide to Cockatiels enough!

The Ultimate Guide to Cockatiels

This beautiful book (available on Amazon) features a detailed, illustrated guide to cockatiel color mutations, plus helpful tips on housing, feeding, breeding, and generally taking excellent care of your birds.


Caring for the Emerald Cockatiel

Emerald cockatiels are very compatible with households and living situations of all kinds. They are one of the most versatile birds, bonding to other creatures and humans alike. When it comes to basic care, they don’t have extensive needs, but proper conditions are required.

Proper Cage Size

Emerald cockatiels need a cage large enough to match their needs. Even though cockatiels are relatively small birds, they still have a very large head crest and tail. As a requirement, the cage should be at least 24 inches tall, 24 inches wide, and 24 inches long.

Cage Mates

Cockatiels are highly social animals that require company to avoid loneliness. If a cockatiel doesn’t have a cage mate, they can get very depressed without constant attention. Having a pair of cockatiels or more is highly advised to reduce the risk of unhappiness.

They adapt very well to newcomers, although slow introductions are a must to avoid fighting or territorial tendencies.

calopsitta Nymphicus hollandicus little parrot_lunamarina_shutterstock
Credit: lunamarina, Shutterstock


  • Bathing – Your emerald cockatiel will go gaga over baths. If you fill a small, shallow bowl with lukewarm, chemical-free water, your bird will bathe themselves—and thoroughly enjoy it. Frequent bathing improves feather quality and skin health. Offer your cockatiel a bath at least twice weekly. If they at disinterested, you can always try after a day or two. Some birds can be particular about the time of day they like their baths, so watch for body cues, too.
  • Wing & Nail Clipping – To ensure the safety of your cockatiel, you will need to have their flight feathers and nails trimmed. Professionals or veterinarians should be the only people who do this, as you can clip the wrong parts if you’re unfamiliar with the procedure.


You’ll soon come to find just how much your cockatiel enjoys having fun activities to do—both with you, or alone in the cage. Giving them lots of toys, mazes, ladders, and mirrors can provide hours of entertainment for your cockatiel.

Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise. They are very curious, loving to explore and play. These animals are incredibly intelligent, and they thieve when they can use their brains to figure things out.

Their cage should be decorated with lots of visually attractive playthings. An empty cage can create boredom, which can lead to behavioral issues like excessive vocalization and even aggression.divider-bird

Common Health Problems

There are certain health issues that you need to be aware of, so you can notice the signs before it becomes an irreversible issue. Many birds don’t start showing physical symptoms until the illness is advanced.

Most commonly, you will see the following problems in cockatiels:

  • Polyoma
  • Chlamydiosis
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Egg-laying issues
  • Respiratory issues
  • Malnutrition
Symptomatically, warning signs to watch for are:
  • Feather pulling
  • Swelling of the eyes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Egg binding or excessive laying
  • Xanthomas
  • Lethargy
  • Laying at the bottom of the cage

Happy, healthy cockatiels should be alert with beautiful colors in their feathers. They should perch, climb, and make typical vocalizations. If you find that your cockatiel is changing in their personality or behavior, a vet trip may be imminent to figure out underlying issues.

Nymphicus hollandicus_Drozhzhinaa Elena_shutterstock
Image Credit: Drozhzhina Elena, Shutterstock

Diet and Nutrition

Providing a well-balanced diet for your cockatiel is essential since malnutrition is often a big problem with these birds. Surprisingly, cockatiels are prone to obesity, so feeding appropriate portions is just as important.

Primarily, properly fortified pellets and seeds need to make up 75% of their daily intake. You can offer fruits and vegetables along with a variety of goodies to give your cockatiel boosts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

You can also offer millets and sprays––but only give them occasionally as a snack.

Some fresh cockatiel favorites:
  • Leafy green veggies
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Bananas
  • Honey sticks
  • Melon
  • Kiwi
  • Apple
  • Berries
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potato

When you offer your cockatiel any fresh fruits or veggies, remember to chop them into small bits to avoid any choking hazards.

Here are some dangerous foods to stay away from:

  • Chocolate
  • Mushroom
  • Dairy products
  • Fruit seeds and pits


Emerald cockatiels benefit from regular exercise both inside and outside of their cages. They need lots of room to spread their wings—literally. Even if your cockatiel has their wings clipped, they still have some flight capability and love to use it.

For a healthy, happy cockatiel, they will need time out of their cage every day in 15-minute intervals. They thrive with different toys, mazes, and puzzles to keep their brains occupied.

If you let them glide around, always make sure to take precautions. Check that doors and windows are closed, and ceiling fans are off.

Where to Adopt or Buy an Emerald Cockatiel

Birds are surrendered or rehomed for a number of reasons. Sometimes, owners don’t fully digest the reality of owning a cockatiel until they have one. Regardless of the reason, an owner may try to rehome a cockatiel along with their supplies, which can run from $50 to $350.

If you find a rescue group for cockatiels, most places will charge $100 to $250. Most cockatiels will come with everything you need to get started.

If you buy an emerald cockatiel from a breeder, you can expect to pay roughly $150+. Cost will depend on the quality of the bird, but it won’t include supplies.



Emerald cockatiels are sweet, affectionate, charming little birds with so much love to give. If you want a pet that has low aggressive tendencies and gets along well with almost any human or creature, cockatiels truly are a great pick. These birds work well for first-timers and expert owners alike.

If you do buy an emerald cockatiel, remember to buy from a responsible party to ensure you are getting a healthy bird with a long life ahead.

Featured Image Credit: Anne-Stauf, Pixabay

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