Cockatiel chick development

The next picture chart shows the development of a normal grey cockatiel chick from the age of just hatched till two months. Please note that the pace of development is affected by many genetic and environmental factors, so development is always individual. The following pattern, however, tells commonly, how the development takes place and in what order.

Note that these pictures are for teaching; you should not handle the chicks daily if you are not familiar with their stress limits. In most cases, you can detect the health state of the chick by just looking it.

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Just hatched cockatiel chick is very small, maybe about half of a man’s thumb, and weighs about five grams. The down is still wet, and the skin is translucent pink. The chick is totally blind and helpless. At this stages, it can be detected through the eyelids if the chick is one of the red-eyed colors. Chick’s eyes are initially closed, but their color is shining through the eyelid. Daily weight increase is about five grams. The voice is a soft chirp.

Day 1 – The chick has rested and starts to move. It begs eagerly for food. Down has dried and is soft fluff now, head still bald. The eyes are still closed. The crop seems likely plumper because the parents are feeding the baby regularly. Weight 6-8 grams.

Day 2 – The chick has doubled its size. The down is in it’s fluffiest and most yellow stage.


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Day 3 – The skin starts to turn lesser lucid. The baby down starts to turn paler and thinner. (The whiteface chicks maintain the white color.) The egg tooth is still visible.

Day 4 – The difference compared to a couple-days-old chick is obvious. At the age of four days, the chick has grown to look more muscular. The egg tooth is still visible.

Day 5 – The baby down gets thinner and thinner. The shape, size, and muscularity of the legs and feet are developing stronger. The egg tooth starts to look a bit softer.


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Day 6 – If the cockatiel chick is grey, the color can be discovered by watching closely to see translucent grey point areas on the skin of the wings. The egg tooth is clearly much softer and begins to blend into the beak. The chick starts to keep its’ head more in an upright position. The feet will take a grip on any material that they can cling.

Day 8 – The feathers are pushing through the skin as spikes. The grey color is clearly visible now. Over the cere there’s a little grey spot: that will become the crest. The color of that spot tells about the color of the bird: birds with no melanin will have a yellow spot. The eyelids are starting to open carefully but the chick often still prefers to keep the eyes closed. At this age, the chick knows how to hiss.

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Day 9 – The eyes are a bit more open. The crest is growing upwards. This is usually a good moment to band the chick.

Day 10 – The eyes are fully open. This is usually the last day to put the closed band: after this, the feet grow remarkably and the closed band won’t fit anymore.

Day 11 – The feather pins are growing fast. The chick looks like a spiked dinosaur. Two toes from the edges of the feet start to bend back, to form the back toes.

Day 12 – The chick starts to behave more like an adult. It has fully open eyes and a sharp look.


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Day 13 – The tail has started to grow longer. The back of the skull is starting to show its color a bit better.

Day 14 – The chick looks more and more like an adult. It can for example lift it’s wing, or even sleep like adults, head behind the wing.

Day 15 – Some of the pin feathers on the wing start to open from the tip, showing the head of the feather as a little tassel. The body coordination has improved. The chick will start to try to perch if given the opportunity, though it’s still uncertain and shaky with the position. The cheek patch starts to show it’s color.

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Day 16 – The chick can sit a bit better. The other wing feather pins start to open.

Day 17 – The cheek patch is clearly visible. The tail feather pins start to break.

Day 18 – The body and feathers are growing evenly. If the chick is touched the breaking feather pins will leave “dandruff” on your clothes.



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Day 19 – The wings are almost fully feathered. Only the roots contain a bit of the pin material.

Day 29 – The crest pins start to break from the tips, so does the belly and breast pin feathers.




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Day 21 – The face and rib feathers are starting to come from the pins. Those feathers already broken out from the pin will increase the size and seem at first somewhat ragtag. The gray parts look very dark because the chick’s feathers have not yet developed powder dust.

4 weeks – All the feathers are now visible though not yet fully grown. The vocalization reminds a lot more adult voices. Males often begin to show signs of singing practice. A healthy chick’s weight is close to 80 grams.


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8 weeks – The chick looks almost just like an adult. It reaches its final size, however, until several months later. The youngling is curious and imitates it’s role models, usually the parents. Like a human child, it starts to taste everything that comes against.

11-13 weeks – Males are clearly starting to learn to sing. The cockatiel is now ready to move to new home.