Cockatiels in wild
Cockatiels are originated in Australia. Excluding the coast and Tasmania, they are widely spread to the whole mainland. They have adapted to the dry climate of the in-land. They are commonly met as flocks or pairs, colonizing large eucalyptus savanna and desert-like grass plains. They avoid dense forest. The flock sizes commonly vary from 10 to 50, but during the dry season, there has been seen even flocks of thousand members near to the river basin and water systems.
They are considered to be the fastest flyers in Australia. Cockatiels are hardy and agile and can fly even 70 km/h. They travel long journeys in search of food and water.
Wild cockatiel’s diet consists of for example different grains, seeds, and berries. Cockatiels are ground eaters: they tend to land to the ground, searching seeds and grasses. They don’t have to compete much with other species, although the starlings form a threat during the nesting season, destroying cockatiel nests. Other threats are birds of prey – and a bit surprisingly, domesticated home cats. Luckily, the grey plumage offers an excellent camouflage. Thus, cockatiels favor dead trees. Photo: Shutterstock/Judy Whitton
Wild cockatiel flocks can be destructive to plantations. Since the species is quite common, cockatiels are often killed by the farmers. Outside the hunting season of Queensland, the cockatiel is protected everywhere in Australia.(Lantermann, 2006)
The breeding season of southern Australia happens in spring, between August and December. Then the days are longer, and there’s plenty of food. In northern Australia, the breeding season is after the rainy season, around April. In other parts, such as in-lands, the specs of breeding are set by weather conditions and cockatiels can breed around the year. When the breeding season is near, cockatiel pairs start to search for a suitable breeding place. The pair can part from the other flock, but they can also form small colonies.
First, the male checks out the potential nesting hole and decorates it by chewing. If the hole is suitable, male introduces the place to the female. Both becoming parents chew wood and leave to form padding to the nest hole’s floor. The urge to chew nesting material also reflects in pet conditions: pet cockatiels that are in the nesting momentum will chew everything near to the “potential” nesting place.
The cockatiel hen usually lays 4-5 eggs, sometimes more. Both parents co-operate and participate taking care of the eggs and chicks. In the wild, males take a turn in incubation from early morning hours until the late noon. Females are responsible for the evening and night. Chicks are hatches after 18-20 days of incubation and leave the nest at the age of 4 to 5 weeks. After that, they keep following their parents for a while. Cockatiels mature at the age of 8 to 10 months.
Wild cockatiels are a bit smaller than the pet versions that are slightly affected by captive breeding. Wild cockatiels are a bit sleeker, and their crests tend to be less massive. It has been in discussion that the purpose should not be to create something such as the British budgerigar. Instead, to keep the species healthy the cockatiel should be maintained as it is, as close to the natural version as possible. At the moment the changes are small – but already big enough to list the cockatiel among the domesticated pet species. Photos: Shutterstock / BildagenturZoonarGmbH.