male vs female cockatiel behavior

Cockatiel, also known as ‘Quarrion’ is a member of the ‘Cockatoo’ family generally found in Australia. This small parrot-like bird is widely popular as a household pet and a great companion worldwide. Although these birds are relatively smaller, they live up to 20 years on average. The specialty of this bird is its whistle, cuddly and friendly behavior which made it the no.1 pet bird in the U.S.A. as well as some other countries in the world. In this article we are going to talk about male vs female cockatiel behavior.

As a companion and pet, cockatiels are fun to have around. They are prone to create a strong bond with their owner. While this bird is popular for its friendly nature, the behavioral traits of a male and a female cockatiel differ to some extent.

First, we must know about a cockatiel’s standard behavioral features. One of the general behavioral features of this bird is whistling at their companion or even their own mirror reflection. Another part is snuggling and cuddling with their owner. They also tend to fly off their cage and stay on the floor, so you must watch your step while walking if you own a cockatiel. When excited, they seem to flap their wings and keep their crest high. A relaxed cockatiel is found grinding its beak and its body feathers relaxed.

While these traits are common in male and female cockatiels, this small Australian slender parrot also seems to have specific traits based on gender differences. Before we can examine the differences in male and female cockatiel behavior, we must first be able to identify the sexes of these birds. Cockatiels younger than 6-9 months cannot easily be sexually distinguished as males or females. The gender difference can only be distinguished after the bird is an adult. 

Adult males and females will stand out by the following features:

Adult maleAdult female
Colorful featherDull, greyish head
Bright yellow headWider pelvis
Grey tail feathersStriped tail
Narrow pelvisSpots on their wings

Now that we’ve distinguished between a male and a female cockatiel, let’s talk about the difference between the behavior of a male and a female cockatiel.

Male vs Female Cockatiel Behavior

Male Cockatiel Behavior:

male cockatiel behavior

A male cockatiel’s behavior can be categorized into two separate categories: General and Reproductive behavior.

General behavior:

Let’s talk about the general behavior of a male cockatiel. The behavior of a male can be described as more vocal, mimicry and showing off, a tendency to seek the attention of their owner or companion.

Vocalizing and seeking attention:

Males like to socialize and seek attention in every way possible. They will try to get close to the part of the cage closest to humans or hop in excitement to get to their owner. They whistle at the sight of their owner and mimic various sounds, knocking or hop to get attention.

Male birds are very expressive with their likes and dislikes. For example, if it dislikes something, it will make a sound in a complaining tone, whining about it. Males commonly make a group of whistles, short ones as a general call to the other birds, preferably females, and long, elaborated complex whistles with no particular reason. The specialty of a male cockatiel is that it can mimic sounds and even learn some words or phrases to an extent, hence called ‘talkative’ sometimes. They also tend to mimic random sounds such as door or window closing sounds, clicks and beeps, and even doorbell sounds.

Friendly behavior:

Male cockatiels are curious and more active than females. Male cockatiels are friendlier and will enjoy spending time with their owner. Male birds are often seen calling out to their owner as well. If a mirror is kept near the cage or inside, males will show off to their own reflection and even be fascinated by it. 

Reproductive behavior:

The males have various behavioral characteristics such as singing, strutting, knocking, and wing flapping as a sign of courtship. This series of behavior helps them to attract females and bond with them. If by doing these, the male can get a female’s attention and the female bird is responsive, mating will happen. The mating process for males is straightforward; if the female is responsive to mating, he will stand on her back, tuck his tail under her tail, and transfer genetic material to fertilize the egg.

 Males also help with egg incubation and baby care. Males start searching for holes, corners and similar suitable places for nesting the egg. After the egg has been laid, the male takes part in incubating and defending it the same way as the female would, by sitting on it, hissing and screaming at objects approaching it and even biting if provoked. Upon reaching adulthood, a male will carry out the mating behavior due to the activation of hormones.

If he doesn’t have a female partner, he will carry out the mating behavior on toys, bowls, and even on human hands. He’ll tuck his tail down and rub his vent/bottom area over it when he’s feeling exceptionally cozy. If this behavior is seen excessively in a male, it indicates that the male is not stimulated enough by other activities and needs more activities in his life.

These characteristics help to distinguish a male cockatiel by judging his behavioral patterns.

 As we’ve discussed about the male cockatiel’s behaviors and characteristics regarding its personality and reproductive activity, let’s talk about the behavior of the female cockatiel.

Female Cockatiel Behavior:

female cockatiel behavior

The female bird’s behavior is also categorized into two categories: General and Reproductive behavior.

General behavior:

The female cockatiel is not as vocal as the male. The females are quiet, very shy, seem more reserved than the males, seek compassion from favorite people rather than greeting them, and are very wary of people and new activities.

Vocalizing and seeking attention:

The females are less vocal than the males. They don’t sing very often, are usually quiet and might screech more. The females don’t mimic sounds or speech in any case. All they do is make only one call, which is basically a ‘wheep’ sound. This sound is used as a response to another cockatiel, human or whistling from other birds. Female cockatiels are also specific to whom they call or respond to.

Friendly behavior:

The female cockatiels are shyer and reserved, just the exact opposite of the male birds. Unlike the male birds, females are less expressive, less active and less aggressive. Female cockatiels are very observative and will flee, sensing possible threats. Female birds are generally shy and afraid of new people and will try to get away from them. But this may also vary. Not all female birds are shy. We can call the female cockatiel as a ‘more passive character.’

Reproductive behavior: 

Unlike the male birds, female birds don’t take part in strutting or any kind of show-off in that matter. Females will drop their wings, raise their tails, and make soft sounds such as ‘chirping’. 

As cockatiels are native birds from Australia, they tend to reproduce when there is enough food to feed their babies. For instance, they tend to reproduce when there is sufficient water to grow plants, so an adequate amount of food can be found. As a result, pet cockatiels, especially females, tend to reproduce when given sufficient food and water. Fun fact is, when given enough supply of food and water, it inspires the female to reproduce despite a male partner and the female bird will lay eggs without the help of a male partner. But without a male, those eggs won’t hatch.

The females self-stimulate without a male partner by masturbation and lay unfertilized eggs. While in the process, the female may allow a weight from a toy or hanging objects as a substitute for her male partner during reproduction. The females seem to be seeking cuddles from a favorite person or people without a mating partner. 

If there is a male partner, the female will seek attention from her partner by body-to-body contact and other methods such as ‘preening.’ The females will lay an egg after every two days until there are about five, although the maximum number of eggs is not certain. After laying and finding a nest for the eggs, the female bird will sit on the eggs to incubate them.

If the eggs are taken away immediately, female birds will try to replace them by laying more eggs. This behavior tends to be risky. In order to decrease this self-laying of eggs, some methods can be followed, such as reducing daylight time, rearranging cage furniture and reducing possible objects which can be used as preferable nests for egg laying.

The female incubates and defends her eggs. While defending, she tends to hiss or scream at anything approaching the nest. The bird will flap her wings and puff her feathers to make herself look somewhat bigger to scare away possible threats. Further provocation may result in a strike of her beak or even a bite.

Upon learning all the traits and characteristics of a male and female cockatiel, male vs female cockatiel behavior can be shown like this:

Male cockatielFemale cockatiel
Whistle, sing and mimic sounds and even vocals to some extent.Quiet, might screech.
Outgoing and active.Gentle and shy.
Will come forward when there is an activity.Aware of strangers and strange activities.
Seeks attention.Seeks compassion from favorite person/people.
Puffs out chest, struts and sings as an invitation to mate.Droops down wings, raises tail and makes a gentle coo sound.
Has a bright yellow face with colorful feathers.Greyish head with spots on wings and striped tail.
Fascinated by their own reflection in the mirror.Not interested in mirrors.

When choosing a male or female cockatiel as a pet, these facts will help you select the right pet. The ideal pet relies on the individual’s preferences and requirements. For example, if you want whistling and vocal abilities, a male cockatiel is perfect as it loves to whistle and mimic sounds, even mimic vocals. Male cockatiels are much more talkative and energetic than females. However, you will need toys for the male as it likes to strut around.

The female cockatiel is gentle and friendly. It is likely to snuggle up on your shoulder as it requires compassion. But the downside is that the female will need a lot of your time for her as it seeks understanding.

Both male and female cockatiel require a giant cage as well as toys. If the criteria are not met, both parties may become aggravated. However, proper care and compassion make them one of the friendliest pet birds.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are male or female cockatiels more affectionate?

In this case, female cockatiels are more affectionate than the male cockatiel. Male cockatiels seek attention whereas female cockatiels are much more obedient and sweeter.

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