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How Old Do Cockatiels Get? (Min & Max Lifespan)

Kathryn Copeland

The most popular pet birds out of the parrot family are cockatiels. They are native to Australia, where they are also called quarrions and weiros. Cockatiels are known to be quite affectionate and gentle.

Whether you already own a cockatiel or are planning on bringing your first one home, one of the key parts of owning a pet is figuring out how long it will live. A pet cockatiel can live for up to 25 yearssome have even lived longer! This means that owning a cockatiel is a long-term commitment.

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Lifespan of the Cockatiel

The cockatiel in the wild has a life expectancy of about 10 to 15 years.

But a tame cockatiel that has been well taken care of can live an average of 20 to 25 years, due in part to a healthy and nutritious diet.

According to the Guinness World Records, the oldest reported cockatiel on record is Sunshine from the U.S., who was 32 years of age as of 2016. Unfortunately, there have been no official updates on Sunshine since then, so it’s hard to say if she broke her own record.

There are steps you can take to help your cockatiel live a long life. Sometimes health problems or genetics might intervene that you will have little control of, but you do have control of many aspects of your cockatiel’s health.

Blue Cockatiel_Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH, Shutterstock

Bonding

Cockatiels shouldn’t be any younger than 12 weeks old when you bring one home. These birds are very gentle and social and will need lots of attention and affection. Living in a loving and stress-free home where a cockatiel receives the attention it needs will help to prolong its life.

Diet

This is what sets the captive cockatiel apart from those found in the wild. Proper nutrition will help to extend your cockatiel’s life.

You can provide your cockatiel with high-quality pellets made for cockatiels, or there are also high-quality seed mixes. However, seeds or pellets shouldn’t make up the entirety of your bird’s diet. You’ll need to supplement with a variety of other food that will mimic what they would eat in the wild.

This can include:
  • Fresh fruit: (Every other day) mangoes, berries, papayas, grapes, etc.
  • Veggies: (Every other day) lettuce, spinach, kale, celery, etc.
  • Treats: (Once a month) honey stick, millet spray (can be helpful with training)
  • Minerals: You can purchase a mineral block or cuttlebone for the cockatiel to enjoy

You should always ensure your cockatiel has access to fresh and clean water daily. This should be provided in two different ways. For example, both a bottle and a dish.

Health

Keeping an eye on your cockatiel’s overall health and noting any changes in personality, behavior, and appearance is vital.

Keep an eye out for these issues:
  • Stress: Cockatiels are sensitive birds and are prone to becoming stressed. Be sure to spend time with your bird, provide it with toys, and try to keep its environment as quiet and stress-free as you can. The cockatiel needs about 10 to 12 hours of sleep every night, so you should ensure its cage is in a location that will allow your bird a good night’s sleep.
  • Obesity: Make sure you’re giving your cockatiel a well-balanced diet and plenty of opportunities to exercise.
  • Check-ups: Find a vet experienced in dealing with birds and bring your cockatiel in for a yearly exam. Birds tend to hide when something is wrong, and it might be too late for your cockatiel when it starts to exhibit signs of illness.
  • Air quality: Birds have delicate respiratory systems and should be kept away from fumes that come from cigarettes, candles, perfume, and air fresheners to name a few.

Exercise

Having a large cage for your cockatiel is important, but it still isn’t enough for proper exercise. You should give your cockatiel the chance to really stretch its wings and fly about two times a day.

Make sure your bird is trained to sit on your finger, and you can use food to entice it back into the cage.

Toys can also be enriching for your cockatiel and will give it different opportunities for exercising.

Blue Cockatiel
Image Credit: Birute Vijeikiene, Shutterstock

Safety

It goes without saying that keeping your cockatiel safe from accidents and harm will go a long way to ensure your bird will live a long life. Always supervise your cockatiel when it’s outside the cage, particularly if you have other pets or young children.

And always ensure that all doors and windows are closed when your bird is getting its exercise. You should also be sure that any toy you purchase is safe for your cockatiel and that the room you let it fly around in has been cockatiel-proofed.

Cleanliness

Keeping your cockatiel and its habitat clean can keep it happy and healthy. You should ensure your bird has a daily bath, and you need to keep its cage clean.

  • Daily: The liner in the cage should be changed every day, and the food and water bowls and bottles should be cleaned in warm and soapy water. This also includes the birdbath.
  • Weekly: You’ll need to wash out the bottom tray and grate and clean any perches and platforms.
  • Monthly: You’ll need to scrub the entire cage every month, which includes the bars.

Hygiene is paramount for keeping your cockatiel in good health and this, of course, means a longer life.

Parakeet Cockatiel
Image Credit: ariesa66, Pixabay

How Old is Your Cockatiel?

If you’re not sure how old your cockatiel actually is, there are some physical signs that might give you a better idea. Of course, a good aviary vet might be able to estimate your bird’s age, but if your cockatiel is still young, the following are some ways of helping you determine your bird’s age:

  • Males tend to sing more than females, but very young cockatiels will not sing, or they won’t sing too clearly.
  • Males will only start exhibiting courting behavior when they are approximately 6 months old. Females don’t become broody until they are about 1 year old.
  • Before a young male has its first molt, he will actually resemble a female. The male’s face will be gray in color instead of yellow. The first molt typically occurs after they are 6 months old.

There are very subtle signs on the cockatiel’s face and feet that can also give you an idea of the age, but you’ll need to be pretty experienced at spotting these signs.

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Conclusion

It’s incredible what a difference living in a home instead of the wild can make for a cockatiel’s lifespan! These beautiful birds make loving companions, and as long as you take very good care of your cockatiel, it will be with you for quite a long time.


Featured Image Credit: Jenifer Kramer, Pixabay

Kathryn Copeland

Kathryn was a librarian in a previous lifetime and is currently a writer about all things pets. When she was a child, she hoped to work in zoos or with wildlife in some way, thanks to her all-consuming love for animals. Unfortunately, she's not strong in the sciences, so she fills her days with researching and writing about all kinds of animals and spends time playing with her adorable but terribly naughty tabby cat, Bella. Kathryn is hoping to add to her family in the near future – maybe another cat and a dog.