Pigments are responsible for producing color on Cockatiels. Melanin pigments produce darker colors such as blue and grey. Lighter colors like yellow and orange are produced with the help of carotenoid pigments. Cockatiel mutations occur when a pigment gene is changed in some way or muted altogether. Pigment mutations can be passed down from generation to generation, and because they are the only cockatoo species that can begin to reproduce within their first year,1 it makes it easily possible for breeders to create specific colors and designs when producing Cockatiels for sale. Here are the most common cockatiel colors and mutations that you should be aware of:
The 9 Cockatiel Colors & Varieties
1. Gray Cockatiel
Gray cockatiels are considered “normal” parrots because they do not display any pigment gene mutations. Their bodies are grey with white markings on their wings and tails. They typically display orange patches on their cheeks too. Female adults develop yellow specks on the head when fully grown, while the males tend to develop completely yellow heads. This is one of the most common cockatiel colors.
2. Yellowface Cockatiel
These cockatiels are a lot like the “normal” grey ones, but the patches on their cheeks are yellow instead of orange. They may also feature yellow feathering on the top of the head. But their bodies should be grey and white with color mutations displaying nowhere but on the head.
3. Whiteface Cockatiel
These birds retain their grey and white bodies like the yellowface, and gray (normal) do, but they do not have any yellow or orange color markings on their cheeks. Adult males feature white heads, sometimes with gray markings. Females usually have a completely gray face.
4. Pearl Cockatiel
Pearl cockatiels are unique in that they display a series of spots on their bodies, wings, and heads. These spots are referred to as pearls, hence their names. Pearl spots are typically white. These cockatiels typically have orange cheeks and sometimes show light yellow coloring on the face.
5. Silver Cockatiel
These cockatiels carry multiple pigment gene mutations that affect their originally gray coloring. Their mutations make their grey feathers look silvery. They do have some white markings on the wing and tail feathers. Their cheeks are usually yellow or orange and their head feathers tend to take on a yellow hue.
6. Fallow Cockatiel
Fallow or cinnamon cockatiels have a yellowish-brown body that looks muted or dull. They may still show some grey coloring on the wings and underside. Their eyes may display a slight red hue, and their white heads may display some yellow coloring.
7. Pied Cockatiel
These cockatiels feature random white patches on their bodies where pigmentation has been completely muted. These white patches can be any shape or size, and they can be positioned anywhere on the body. Therefore, no pied cockatiels ever look exactly the same. The pied cockatiel does have orange cheeks and yellow top feathers too.
8. Lutino Cockatiel
The Lutino cockatiel produces no melanin and therefore produces no gray coloring. This cockatiel color has their bodies typically all white, but they sometimes feature light yellow coloring around their wings. Their cheeks are orange, their eyes are red, and their faces typically feature a yellow hue.
9. Blue Cockatiel
Blue cockatiels are white all over, but they have black wing markings and blue coloring on their tails. They do not have any colored patches on their cheeks, and they typically do not display yellow coloring on the head as many other cockatiel variations do. These birds are considered one of the rarest types of cockatiel in captivity.
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!
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.
- Related Read: How to Tell the Age of a Cockatiel (with Pictures)
Our Final Thoughts
There are lots of different cockatiel colors and mutations to choose from when buying a cockatiel! It is important to remember that no matter the color or mutation variation a cockatiel has, every one of them is the same species and has the same health and care needs over time. So, you do not need to learn anything special about the particular color cockatiel you want. Just make sure that you understand how to properly care for cockatiels in general. Which cockatiel color or mutation is your favorite?
Featured Image Credit: Didgeman, Pixabay