How Long Do Cockatiels Live?

An important factor when deciding what type of pet you want is knowing how long that pet can live.  If you are thinking of getting a bird as a pet you will want to know approximately how long that particular bird can live.

So how long do cockatiels live?  How long do budgies live? How long does an Amazon parrot live ?  All these birds have vastly different life expectancy.

how long do cockatiels live
how long do cockatiels live

For example a budgie’s average life expectancy is only between 5 and 8 years, while a cockatiel’s life expectancy can be 16 to 25 years and an Amazon Parrot can live up to 70 years.

Now there are exceptions to all of these.  There have been cases where cockatiels have been known to live until their thirties.  In fact records show a cockatiel living until the ripe old age of 36.  The thing that will determine how long your bird will live is their diet and if they are getting enough exercise.  Your bird needs interaction on a daily basis to keep him physically and mentally fit.

Proper Diet For Your Cockatiel

Used to be when we fed our birds it was mostly a seed diet.  Our birds, not knowing any better, ate the seeds with gusto.  Seeds however have a high content of fat which over time is detrimental to your bird’s health.

A healthy diet for your cockatiel consists of more than just one item. You are looking for a balanced diet.  Years of research by Avian experts have come up with the following diet:

  • 25% cockatiel seed mix, vitamin enriched  

    pellets for birds
    Pellets for bird

  • 25% pellets for cockatiels
  • 25% vegetables dark leafy greens and fruit
  • 15% cooked rice, pasta, corn and bean mix
  • 10% table foods, grain, cereal, bread, pasta, cheese, meat, eggs etc
  • Fresh drinking water

As you can see from this diet there is a lot of preparation on your part.  Because of this many people will not be consistent with this type of diet.  Also if you are giving your cockatiel this diet in his cage his dishes will have to be clean frequently as you do not want your bird to be eating spoiled or moldy food.  It doesn’t take long for the food to spoil.  I have put lettuce in my bird’s cage and within a couple of hours it has wilted.  So be careful when giving your bird food that can spoil.

Another diet that is recommend is a mix of seeds, pellets, fruits, vegetables and nutritious table food.Recommended amounts:

  • 60%-80% pellets

    bird eating fruit
    Bird Eating fruit

  • 20%-40% fruit, vegetables and table food
  • Small amount of seeds

Also make sure your cockatiel has a cuttlebone and a mineral block.  This will give them the calcium needed in their diet, something that is lacking with pellets.

When you first get your new cockatiel it is important to know what they were being fed.  Changing a cockatiel’s diet can sometimes be difficult.  I had a female cockatiel years ago and she was about 3 years old when I got her.  She had been on an all seed diet. I had another cockatiel at the time and she was on a mix of seeds and pellets.  It took me months to get my new girl to even look at a pellet.

For some reason cockatiels love seeds a lot better than pellets and switching them from seeds to pellets will take time and patience on your part.  This has been my experience with owning cockatiels anyway.  

Cockatiels can taste what they are eating and they do have some foods that they prefer.  We sometimes have popcorn for a snack in the evening.  We always make sure to set some aside for Binkie(my cockatiel) before putting the salt and butter on it.  However if you give him a choice he will take the buttered popcorn every time.

One thing about a cockatiel they will only eat what they need to maintain their energy level.  So if they eat a lot of food from the table then they won’t eat as many pellets.  So you need to be careful as to the amount of food you do feed off the table.  Many of the foods that we consume can be safely eaten by our cockatiels.  However some food is not good for them.  Before giving your cockatiel any food from the table make sure you check it out to make sure it is safe.  Following are a list of foods that are toxic to your bird:

  • Avocado
  • Rhubarb
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Chocolate
  • Nutmeg
  • Sugary food
  • Salty food
  • Greasy food
  • Tobacco
  • Leaves & Stems from potato plant, bean plant, tomato and eggplant
  • Apple seeds
  • Pear seeds
  • Orange seeds
  • Cherry pits
  • Peach pits
  • Etc.

This is just a partial list, as I said earlier check before feeding it to your cockatiel.

Many people are of the belief that your cockatiel needs grit to aid in his digestion.  In fact just the opposite is true.  Grit can cause a digestive impaction.

All the above information on diet will help your cockatiel live a longer life.  Try to give your feathered friend as much a variety in his diet as possible.  It may seem like a lot of work but isn’t he worth it?

Also remember your little buddy needs a cage that is appropriate for his size.  A healthy diet and a friendly environment will help your cockatiel live a long healthy life.

cage for a cockatiel
cage for a cockatiel



    • B. A. Scott
    • March 9, 2017

    Wow! I had no idea a bird’s diet had to be so diverse. Particularly surprising, to me anyway, is feeding them table scraps such as meat. I’m wondering if feeding them fruit nectar is another source of nutrition. I went to a bird sanctuary and people were feeding the lorakeets fruit nectar in little paper cups. They’d fly over and land on your arm, head, shoulder and proceed to lap up the nectar with their tongues like a dog drinks water. Too cute!

      • Brownie
      • March 15, 2017

      Feeding birds fruit nectar does seem to make sense as that is what is basically put into hummingbird feeders. The fruit nectar is probably one of the birds favourite treats and by using it the people get to interact with the birds. Birds need variety in their diet to keep them healthy. If you left it up to your cockatiel he would probably eat nothing but seeds and this could cause some serious health issues. Cockatiels are a lot like people – they like junk food!

    • Lidia
    • March 9, 2017

    What a great page about cockatiels! My sister owns two and they are amazing little birds. Very relational and friendly although sometimes they have an attitude too. I see her feeding her little ones lettuce and other greens and they love it. Rice seems a favorite of them too. I will definitely forward this page to her as I think it has great information regarding the best balance diet for cockatiels.

      • Brownie
      • March 15, 2017

      Hi Lidia Thanks for your comment. My guy likes a variety of things also. Stuff off the table they seem to eat with great gusto! They certainly do like to cop an attitude sometimes though. They are like a spoiled kid that doesn’t get their way. I think it just adds to their charm.

    • Jackie
    • March 9, 2017

    I’ve never owned a bird as a pet, but oh my, i’m so glad I happened on your post just in case I do. I probably would have just assumed seeds were enough! I’m curious, what do you like best about having a bird for a pet? Do you need to let them out of the cage for exercise? And if so, do they poop around your home? Also, gosh, I had no idea Amazon parrots lived so long! 70 years! At this point, the bird would out live me! haha

      • Brownie
      • March 15, 2017

      Hi Jackie I think the thing I like best about having a pet cockatiel is how engaging they can be. I am retired so I am home all day. I let Binkie out of his cage around 10 a.m. most mornings. He usually heads for his playstation and spends some time looking out the window with his stuffed bear by his side. As I go about my day he can usually be found on my shoulder.

      They are messy. A lot of dander(that white dust)comes off of them, more so than some other birds and yes they do poop a lot. I am usually carrying paper towel so I can do a quick clean up. Some cockatiel owners have been able to train their bird to go in one spot.

      I find them to be a great little companion!

    • Rachel
    • March 9, 2017

    Hi Maureen,
    We found our cockatiel sitting on a window ledge looking in the window at us! I thought he would fly away when I went outside but when I put my hand near him he walked along the ledge and onto my hand, so he was obviously very tame! As a family we had never had a pet bird so it was a steep learning curve finding out what to feed him and how to care for him but well worth it – he’s a really lovely little character.

    One of our big challenges was of course not knowing what food he normally eats, or how old he is. He likes seeds and finely chopped broccoli and carrot (I got a fright one day when he had an orange chin until I realised it was from the juicy carrot in his bowl!)

    Are there any particular indications that the birds diet is lacking something? He always seems happy and looks bright eyed and interested so can you suggest anything to watch out for that might show me if he’s missing anything?
    Many thanks,

      • Brownie
      • March 15, 2017

      The problem with cockatiels or any bird for that matter is when they show signs of illness it may be too late. They hide their illness, as this is a sign of weakness and weakness is what their predators look for. Here are some signs to look for:

      weakness, trouble breathing, bleeding, collapse,
      seizures, sitting low on his perch, loss of balance, trembling,
      lack of preening, dull eyes, droppings smell unusual,
      wings drooping, decrease in the number of droppings
      change in the size of the droppings, discharge around the eyes/nares,
      lameness, breathing with an open beak, inability to exercise,
      increase or decrease in eating or drinking, etc

      These are some signs of illness to look for. Once you get to know your bird you will know when something is not right. Just remember they will occasionally have an off day just like you and me.

      I like it when they get food all over their face like yours with the carrot. They can be such clowns!

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