Lutino Cockatiel Bird – Personality, Diet & Care Guide (With Pictures)

Last Updated: January 21, 2021

Cockatiels are remarkable creatures with highly sociable personalities. Many bird lovers adore having a cockatiel in their home because they are small, friendly, and pretty simple to care for. They are socialites who love spending time with both their people and other bird mates—and they get very lonely if they have neither.

You might be able to pick the Lutino cockatiel out of a lineup because of their perfectly round, rosy cheeks and fancy head feathers. Most of them will let you pick them up on your finger and they love getting neck rubs. So, if you’re considering a cockatiel, let’s learn more about the loveable little Lutino.divider-birdcage

Species Overview

Lutino Cockatiel
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Common Name: Lutino Tiel, Moonbeam cockatiel
Scientific Name: Nymphicus hollandicus
Adult Size: 12-13 inches
Life Expectancy: 16 to 25 years

Origin and History

Lutino cockatiels didn’t form in the wild. This mutation came directly from breeders and has been a favorite ever since for both looks and temperament. Pied cockatiels came first, Lutino came after. They haven’t been around too long, gaining recognition in 1958.

The first Lutino was owned by Cliff Barringer of Florida. They stem from the gray cockatiel that is found in Tasmania and parts of Australia. These tropical cuties have come so far since their original domestication.

Initially, the Lutino was prone to developing with a bald spot behind their head feathers. But with proper breeding, this genetic defect has been bred out almost completely—though it is still possible.

Temperament

Lutino Budgie
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Lutino cockatiels are generally very mild-tempered and easy to keep. They love affection, company, and a variety of playthings. Your Lutino will be a highly social creature to both their humans and other bird friends.

Lutinos, like most birds, can get very depressed if they’re left alone for long periods. They thrive on interaction with other creatures. Loneliness can cause a wide range of health and behavioral problems. Proper socialization is an absolute requirement when you own one of these amiable parrots.

They’re usually very agreeable, although males tend to be slightly more aggressive than females (blame it on the hormones). You should have lots of available time to spend with your cockatiel, involving affection, training, and playing.

These parrots have extremely high intelligence, so they need to be mentally stimulated regularly. You can find lots of fun DIY projects and bird toys on the web that your cockatiel is sure to enjoy. They also love puzzles that get their little thinkers moving.

As you may naturally suspect, they love the outdoors. Of course, it’s not advised to let your cockatiel loose outside in the elements, but they will love a good window seat or trips to the porch so they can vocally interact with other birds.

Pros
  • Highly social
  • Intelligent
  • Interactive
  • Friendly
  • Affectionate
Cons
  • Can be needy
  • Sometimes aggressive
  • Particular

Speech & Vocalizations

Lutinos don’t have extensive vocabularies in the human sense, but they do have highly communicative vocalizations. In their natural habitats, cockatiels use a variety of different pitches and sounds to communicate with their flock.

All parrots are more vocal in the early morning or early evening—cockatiels are no exception. That doesn’t mean they won’t let out chirps and chatters throughout the day, they will communicate anytime they feel the need.

Males might be more apt to sing, showing incredible joy and happiness anytime the mood strikes. Females tend to be a little quieter, but they still sound when they’re happy, sad, lonely, or excited.

Main vocalizations include:
  • Alert—something is going on!
  • Search—where did mom or dad go?
  • Happy—coos of love
  • Bothered—they don’t like what’s happening
  • Tired—it’s time for bed!
  • Curious—what on earth is that thing?

You can tell a lot about what your Lutino wants to communicate by watching their body language and listening to their noises.

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Lutino Cockatiel Colors and Markings

Lutino Cockatiel_kikumin_shutterstock
Credit: kkikumin, Shutterstock

Lutino cockatiels have very distinct features that set them apart from other cockatiels. Both the males and females have the same color scheme—which is white bodies, yellow heads, and bright rosy circles on their cheeks.

The Lutino cockatiel has an extremely high head crest and long tail feathers. They grow roughly 12 to 13 inches, crest to tail tip. They have impressively bold features with eye-catching color.

Lutinos usually have the same overall look. But, they can sometimes have pied markings, which means they have noticeable gray spots on their wings.

Caring for the Lutino Cockatiel

Proper Cage Size 

For a happy cockatiel, the right sized cage is absolutely vital. If your cockatiel has too small of a cage, they will get depressed, pent up, and nervous. It can cause all sorts of behavioral issues and negative effects for your Lutino that you can easily avoid.

While Lutinos may be smaller parrots, they still have very long tail feathers and a tall crest. For one single Lutino cockatiel, you should have a cage that is at least 24” x 24” x 24” or larger.

Toys & Activities 

Your Lutino will spend a lot of time fooling around and having fun. The more colorful, textured toys they have, the happier they’ll be. You can buy your cockatiel toys designed for parrots, or you can try your hand making some of your own.

Cockatiels are very stimulated by bright, shiny colors and objects. Make their cage an exciting one with lots of activities, noisemakers, and pops of color.

Cage Mates

You should never keep your Lutino in solitude. They absolutely thrive on companionship. So, they make excellent cage mates. If two cockatiels haven’t been raised together, they might take a minute to warm up—but they should be best buds before long.

If you have an aviary, Lutino cockatiels pair very well with other species of bird, too. They seem to match well with budgies, parakeets, and finches. They live very harmoniously alongside others—even though bad moods are possible sometimes.

Grooming

Lutino Cockatiels benefit from regular grooming to keep them their healthiest.

Bathing

Since cockatiels have a build-up of feather dust, you should offer them a lukewarm to cool bath twice every week. Bathing will help reduce this dust and keep their exteriors clean. Cockatiels will adore bath time. They get to dip in and splash around—it’s usually one of their favorite activities.

Wing clipping

To protect your bird and prevent injury, it’s very crucial to trim a few long flight feathers so they can’t try to fly away. Unless you’re very experienced in wing trimming, you shouldn’t ever attempt to do this on your own. Trust a vet or professional instead.

Beak and Nail Filing

Lutino cockatiels have continually growing beaks and nails. So, they will need to be filed down to an appropriate level. It won’t be a frequent need, but when it does happen, your vet can do it at the same time as wing clips.

white lutino cockatiel_Wirestock Creators_shutterstock
Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock

Common Health Problems

Cockatiels require specific conditions to thrive. If their environment is lacking something special—like the right temperature, diet, or cage size—it can have any effects on their health.

Many illnesses will mimic the same symptoms. And often, your cockatiel won’t show signs until the sickness is pretty advanced. So, staying on top of any concerns can improve the odds of overcoming whatever the problem might be.

Signs of illness that need attention:
  • Respiratory problems
  • Discharge
  • Bleeding
  • Lumps and bumps
  • Swollen eyes
  • Weight loss
  • Abnormal feathering
  • Lethargy

Specific diseases and illness in cockatiels include:

  • Lutino cockatiel syndrome
  • Malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies
  • Arthritis
  • Liver problems

Diet and Nutrition

Your Lutino will benefit from high-quality birdseed and pellets designed for cockatiels as their primary diet source. But it doesn’t stop there! Lutinos can enjoy a large variety of foods.

You can offer delicious fruits and veggies among other snacks every other day. For especially sweet snacks, they can be enjoyed in moderation.

Here are some favorites:
  • Leafy, green veggies
  • Melon
  • Papaya
  • Kiwi
  • Berries
  • Honey sticks
  • Apple
  • Mango
  • Orange
  • Apricot
  • Cantaloupe

Always make sure to piece everything out in small, edible portions. You will want all fruits and veggies to be easy to pick apart and digest.

Here are some dangerous foods to avoid:

  • Avocado
  • Fruit pits and seeds
  • Dairy
  • Chocolate
  • Mushrooms

Exercise

Exercise is absolutely crucial to the overall wellbeing of your bird. You need to make sure they have plenty of time outside of their cage to roam, glide, and fly. Working with your bird to do tricks and learn new skills also count as exercise.

Do your best to create challenging mazes, puzzles, and other activities so your cockatiel has to use their brain and body strength to complete them.

Make sure that your cockatiel stays safe in the process, especially if they’re gliding or flying around a room. Make sure to turn off any ceiling fans, remove mirrors, and pull the blinds to prevent injury during flight.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Lutino Cockatiel

If you’re ready to buy a Lutino cockatiel, it raises the big question—where do you look? There are plenty of cockatiels at many pet chains, which can be a one-stop-shop if you buy all of their supplies, too.

Some feel more comfortable buying from a private breeder. You have more control over knowing where your cockatiel came from and what kind of environment they have been raised in     .

If you buy a Lutino cockatiel from a pet shop, you can expect to pay roughly $80 to $150. At a breeder, the price may fluctuate a little more depending on markings, mutations, and quality. You can pay anywhere between $80 and $250.divider-birdcage

Conclusion

If you’re a bird lover, a Lutino cockatiel is an ideal companion. They will love every moment spent with you and bond well in pairs and trios. You can get them out to relax with them while you watch TV or teach them some pretty cool tricks. They might even sing a tune they hear often.

If you want an agreeable bird that isn’t frisky like some spirited parrots, the Lutino cockatiel should be at the top of your list.


Featured image credit: Nicky Jacobs, Shutterstock