how to tell how old a cockatiel is

As a pet owner, you want to determine the age of their cockatiels I know that. It is essential for the pet owner to know the age of their cockatiel for various purposes like determining their lifespan and food habits and providing them with required needs according to their age. So, how to tell how old a cockatiel is? 

A cockatiel’s age can be determined in several ways. A leg band with pet information will come with a fully grown adult cockatiel. Expect the hatching date. The bird’s beak, feet, body size, and feathers can also help determine its age. Baby birds have smooth feet, while adults have scaly feet. Immature birds have pin feathers. Adults have full feathers. Adult cockatiels are 12–13 inches long, but young ones are smaller. These facts can help you age your cockatiel.

But there are other things you might want to know. I will discuss everything from my experience regarding a cockatiel age. So without wasting time with some fluff, let’s jump into the details.

How To Tell How Old A Cockatiel Is?

Determining the age of a cockatiel is a tough job. The reason behind this is the maturation period of these birds is very short. They mature rapidly in a very short time. During this period, they show drastic physical and mental changes but once the process is done and the bird is mature, they don’t show any significant changes anymore. So, it is very difficult to determine the age of a mature cockatiel. A cockatiel’s lifespan is between 10 to 25 years. 

The changes in young cockatiels during the first year while maturation is dramatic, which makes it easier to distinguish between young and adult birds. Once matured, there is not much change observed, which makes it really tough to determine the age of an adult cockatiel. However, there are still a few ways to find out the approximate age of your pet cockatiel. So, if you own a pet cockatiel and are wondering, ‘how can I tell how old my cockatiel is?’ then the answer is right here. Here are the ways to determine the age of a cockatiel: 

how old is my cockatiel

Check Their Beaks Out: 

The primary option to find out the age of a pet bird is to look at its beak. The face of a pet bird can also be useful. A young or immature cockatiel will have a baby face. A young cockatiel will have an exposed beak due to fewer feathers on the face, which make the beak looks bigger. An adult cockatiel will have a more mature face with feathers. The beak of an adult cockatiel will also seem small due to the feathers covering most of the beak. 

The Difference In Body Size: 

Mature adult cockatiels will have a bigger body structure than young cockatiels. An adult cockatiel is almost 12 to 13 inches in size. On the other hand, a young cockatiel will be smaller than 12 inches as it still has to grow bigger as it gets older. The cheek patch also plays a vital role in determining age. The cheek patch grows noticeably larger with age. A bigger cheek patch means an older bird. Young birds have smaller cheek patches, while adults grow larger cheek patches with age.

The Difference In Sleeping Schedule:

Another way to tell if your pet cockatiel is young or old is by checking how long they sleep per day. To be specific, adult or older birds tend to sleep longer than younger birds. It is because younger birds are packed with energy and hormones, whereas the older a cockatiel gets, the weaker and less energetic it becomes. So how to tell how old a cockatiel is by noticing its sleeping schedule? An old cockatiel tends to sleep up to 17 to 18 hours every day. A young cockatiel will sleep the usual 10 to 12 hours a day on average. Longer the sleeping time, the older the cockatiel. 

Check Out The Vocal And Speaking Ability: 

how to tell how old my cockatiel is

Cockatiels are widely popular for their speaking, mimicking and singing ability. Well, what about it? This ability can also be a useful piece of information to determine the age of a cockatiel. As we all know, male cockatiels are more vocal and active in nature. This fact can also be used in gender determination.

A mature male cockatiel will sing, mimic sounds and speak as a way of communication and courtship behavior as it is in their nature. But females and baby cockatiels rarely use their vocals unless they are provoked to do so. So, a mature male cockatiel will have the potential to sing but a baby cockatiel won’t. This is another way to find out if your pet cockatiel is mature or not.

Difference In Body Feathers And Tail: 

Body feathers and tail also tell the age of a cockatiel. However, it is very hard to determine the age of a cockatiel just by looking at its feathers because after the one-year mark, there is no significant change in the feathers of a cockatiel. Adult cockatiels have colorful and mature feathers. Young cockatiels do not have colorful feathers. A young cockatiel’s tail is almost equal in size to its body, whereas an adult cockatiel has a longer tail. An adult cockatiel will have a more prolonged tail which is bigger than its body. 

Nails And Scales: 

Birds naturally have nails and scales on their feet. This is a useful piece of information to determine the age of a cockatiel. Young cockatiels have very smooth skin and very few scales are present, even though there might not be any scales seen on their feet. But an adult cockatiel’s skin will be rough and there will be plenty of scales present that can be seen on their feet. Older cockatiels also have very long nails being cracked and bent inwards. This also tells the difference between a young and an adult cockatiel because young cockatiels will have smaller nails.

Eyes And Crest: 

Cockatiels are very beautiful birds with exotic physical features like crests over their heads. This makes them special birds. This crest is also a way to determine how old a cockatiel is. How? Well, a baby cockatiel will have a short and straight crest, whereas an adult will have a long crest on their head, being bent slightly backward. This crest gets stiff when they’re excited or angry. 

The eyes of a cockatiel can also vaguely represent the age of a cockatiel. A cockatiel that is old will have smaller eyes because the eyes get smaller with age. In the same way, a baby or immature cockatiel will have bigger eyes.

Energy And Attitude: 

The fact that how energetic a bird is can vaguely tell the age of a cockatiel. Younger birds are always full of energy and curiosity. They will jump, scream and be excited at new things. They will always welcome you and play with you or toys. The older a bird gets, the more tired it becomes. An older cockatiel will tend to sleep longer, be less engaged in activities and be less curious. They will, however, still interact and play with you but the playfulness that is found in younger cockatiels will differ from the adult cockatiels.

Posture, Movement And Body Language: 

Just like human babies, birds also find it difficult at first how to use their legs and wings. It takes them a particular time period to learn about the uses of legs and wings. So, if you see your pet bird having a hard time walking or flying and it is still figuring out how to use them, you can say that this is a young, immature cockatiel. However, they can also find difficulty walking or flying due to an injury. So, be sure to check up on your bird once in a while.

how to tell how old your cockatiel is

Younger birds also tend to sleep by fluffing their feathers and crouching very low on the perch. Adult birds also fluff their feathers but they usually stand on one foot while sleeping. The fluffy feathers can also be a sign of sickness too. Contact a veteran if your bird seems sick or any abnormality in behavior or food habit is seen.


Cockatiels mature very dramatically. Before one year, the appearance of a male and a female cockatiel is similar. The difference between a male and a female cannot be distinguished while immature. However, when matured, the difference between a male and a female can be distinguished. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

How long does it take for a cockatiel to mature? 

The first condition or sign of maturity is being old enough to breed. When a cockatiel is old enough to mate with another of its kind and reproduce, it is called a mature adult bird. Cockatiels are able to breed when they are about 10 to 12 months old. However, to reach sexual maturity, they are required to be 15 to 24 months old. A cockatiel is considered mature when reaching one year after the hatching date. A cockatiel reaches its full potential when it is one year old and all features are present when it gets one year old. So it takes a year from the hatching date for a cockatiel to become an adult. 

How long does a cockatiel live? 

Although it varies individually, cockatiels can live up to 10 to 15 years on average. The lifespan of a cockatiel depends on the condition, whether they are wild or being held captive. When in the wild, many cockatiels don’t live up to even adulthood. But pet cockatiels, most of the time, live up to 10 to 15 years on average as they are given proper nutritious food and care. Also, while being held captive, these birds are safe from a lot of dangers like predators or natural calamities. So, pet cockatiels tend to live longer than wild cockatiels and the lifespan is 10 to 15 years on average. 

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