COCKATIEL (Nymphicus hollandicus)

The Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) is a medium-sized grey and white long-tailed parrot and my Australian Bird Guide book describes it as “sadly familiar as a cage bird“, but when one turned up at my younger brother’s farm-house in the country and refused to leave, it became a much-loved family pet.

They advertised locally to see if someone had lost one, but no one answered.

Except when it was returned to its large cage with a covering at night, the Cockatiel was left free to fly all around their enormous lounge/family room all day or rest in its cage or on its perch and seemed to be quite happy with its new home – my SIL just had to keep an eye out for any poop piles.  Luckily, when they built their large open-plan farm-house, they made the ground floor with a concrete highly glazed surface (for ease of cleaning in the event of children bringing in mud or other debris from the fields).

Bird poop does not go hand-in-hand with healthy humans.

The male has a dark-grey body contrasting with a broad white shoulder patch, bright yellow face and throat, with a scarlet cheek patch.  It has a distinctive long yellowish grey crest.

The female is much duller, with little yellow on its head and fainter cheek patches.  This parrot feeds largely on the ground in the wild, is gregarious and often with other parrots.

I took the following photos in Melbourne Zoo’s Great Aviary, but didn’t see these parrots often on my many Zoo visits over the years, so presume it was indoors or hiding among the tree top canopy.

In the wild, it is found on open land, scrub or farmland and is widespread.  Can’t say that I’ve ever seen one in the wild, but I don’t get out in the country these days now I don’t have a car.

The only really close shot in the Great Aviary was from underneath (below).

I’m a little paranoid about photographing a bird from right underneath as back in 1976, when I was living in London, a flat-mate had just stepped out the front door with freshly washed hair and received an enormous dollop of bird poop all over her head.  We never knew what bird has chosen B’s hair as an open-air toilet, but she had to go back indoors and wash her hair all over again (making her late for work that day)………………and I became a little apprehensive about standing under great flocks of birds in the wild.



10 thoughts on “COCKATIEL (Nymphicus hollandicus)

    1. We’re pretty sure that it was originally a family pet from the area, as it seemed so happy indoors, Terry. Perhaps the original owners let it go free outdoors and never intended to recapture it?

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  1. Did I ever tell you about the cockatiel named Nikki? He belonged to a friend, and was quite a character. He lived a long, long life, which came to a tragic end because of his insistence on taking walks through the house.

    The good memories outweigh the bad, for sure. He loved “talking” to people’s feet. He’d find a perch, spread his wings, and cry out, “I’m an eagle!” And he could whistle “Yankee Doodle.” Oh — and he loved to come in when someone was taking a shower and sit on the shower curtain rod, steaming his feathers. I sure do miss him!

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  2. That’s a great story! How interesting that your brother adopted the cockatiel ! Bird poop, yes. I have gotten bombed a time or two by a giant karasu (raven) here. Or are they crows? Not sure -but they are huge.

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      1. They are scary sometimes. They are incredibly intelligent. They never forget faces. There are many stories here about people who have chased them out of vegetable gardens and such. The crows chased these folks around town on several occasions. In some cases even attacked!


    1. I agree with you Tanja, but at least, in this case, the bird is free to fly around and the feral cats and dogs can’t get at it (like they did my SIL’s chickens).

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