The Lutino Cockatiel is a color mutation of the common grey cockatiel and is not found anywhere in the wild. Due to its beautiful plumage, which includes crested head feathers, it has become one of the most popular cockatiel mutations among pet bird owners. Possessing a low voice, striking good looks and a sweet personality, these small parrots can make wonderful pets.
Overview Of The Lutino Cockatiel
The cockatiel’s scientific name is Nymphicus hollandicus, and these birds are native to Australia. According to parrots.org, they favor semi-arid areas and tend to not be found in wetter coastal areas. Wild birds in the north of Australia are nomadic, with their southern cousins being seasonal migrants. Their native diet consists primarily of Acacia and wheat seeds.
Cockatiels are medium-sized companion parrots. All Lutino Cockatiels are descended from a single male bird bred in Florida by a Mr. Barringer in the late 1950s, according to animal-world.com. The bird’s popularity spread after the breeding stock was purchased by a former curator of the Florida Parrot Jungle, Mrs. E. L. Moon. She gave them one of their common names, the Moonbeam Cockatiel. They are also known as the Lutino Tiel.
These birds measure about 12 to 13 inches (30-33 cm) in length and weigh between 3 and 4.4 ounces (85-125 grams). They have yellow/white bodies with orange cheek patches and a yellow head and crest. Babies have red eyes which darken as they age. The Lutino mutation of cockatiels cannot be visually sexed, so you need to resort to DNA testing to be sure of your bird’s gender.
Vocalizations And Appearance Of Lutino Cockatiels
One of the most distinguishing features of Lutino Cockatiels is their yellow crest. Unlike many other crested parrots, cockatiels have long tails that comprise about half of their body length. Some Lutino Cockatiels have a bald patch on their head behind the crest. Selective breeding is minimizing this trait and in any case, it is not a sign of problems with your bird.
The crest is a window into your cockatiels emotional mood. A raised crest shows interest and excitement. When held tight to the head it is a sign of stress, and while just relaxing the crew will be between these two extremes.
Cockatiels can learn to mimic some human words and the males are expert whistlers. They use this talent when attempting to attract mates. The video above shows off some of their vocal skills. Petcha.com lists 5 types of vocalizations that you will hear from your cockatiel.
- Cockatiel Scream – Due to their high-pitched voice this scream is more subdued than a larger parrot. They may make this sound when scared, lonely, excited or upset.
- Whistle – These expert whistlers will mimic sounds they hear and may be trying to connect with you when they are making this sound.
- Chatter – Talking or chattering can be the way your bird tries to fit in with its human companions and can also be a sign of boredom.
- Hiss – When they are afraid or feel threatened your bird will hiss. This is a sign to stay back and let the bird calm down before reaching out for it.
- Contact Call – This distinctive call will vary from bird to bird. It is how they call their companions, including you! Once you learn this call, repeat it back to your bird to start a dialogue.
How Do Lutino Cockatiels Behave?
Cockatiels are high-energy birds and enjoy a roomy cage and regularly rotated toys to keep them occupied. Avoid plastic and rubber toys as they can be ingested and cause serious health problems. They are friendly and curious birds with a sweet temperament. Young birds and some females may bite, but this tendency lessens as the bird ages.
If kept solo your bird will need some bonding time daily, as they are social birds. Daily interaction can form a very strong bond between you and your bird. Pairs will become very self-sufficient and you can simply observe them and they will maintain good mental health. When courting, the male will often sing with outstretched feathers while the female hangs upside down from the top of her cage. Whether kept solo or in pairs, your bird should have some time out of the cage to fly and exercise daily.
Mixing cockatiels with small children can be problematic, as the birds startle easily and may resort to biting in these instances. Older children who can be relied on to minimize quick movements around the birds will do much better.
Cockatiels are reasonably intelligent and can learn some tricks and behaviors. The key to success is time and patience, as it may take months for your bird to fully grasp what you are trying to teach it. Positive reinforcement with a treat, especially millet sprays, will aid in training your bird.
How Do I Care For My Lutino Cockatiel?
Cockatiels should be kept at temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Their cage should be kept free of drafts and sudden temperature changes. The minimum cage size for a single cockatiel is 25x32x35 inches with 5/8 to 3/4 inch bar spacing. You want a cage with a wide door for your bird to exit through so it can extend its wings as it leaves its cage. Opt for the biggest cage you can provide. See our more detailed guide to cockatiel cages here.
Ample toys are recommended and if kept alone, a mirror may make the bird feel safer. Cockatiels sometimes suffer from ‘night frights’, as described by goodbirdinc.com. Having a small night light near your bird’s cage can minimize this problem. Cockatiels like to forage on the ground, so access to the cage floor is advisable, as your bird may prefer that to its perches at times.
Your bird should be fed a commercial cockatiel seed to pellet diet supplemented with green vegetables and fruits. A cuttlebone and a vitamin block will help ensure your bird’s health. Females can be prone to excessive egg-laying and need calcium supplements. Cockatiels enjoy baths and should be given the opportunity frequently. Here’s a video of one enjoying its first bath.
Cockatiels will experience their first molt at around 6 months of age and will molt 2 to 3 times a year for the rest of its life. Though a rough perch may help, cockatiels’ nails grow quickly and you may need to become skilled in trimming them.
You can breed cockatiels and the best time is between spring and early fall. The hen will lay 2-8 small white eggs about once every 48 hours. The presence of a nest box is required if you plan to breed your birds. Clip your bird’s nails to avoid injury during mating.
Are Lutino Cockatiels Healthy?
With proper care, your bird can live for 10 to 20 years. They are hearty birds but can develop vitamin deficiencies that lead to health issues. They are also prone to excessive egg-laying and egg binding. They can also develop respiratory diseases and suffer from chronic depression if kept alone and neglected by the humans in the house.
How Much Will Lutino Cockatiels Cost?
Lutino Cockatiels can cost anywhere from $150 to $250. Some rarer-colored mutations may cost you a little more. You need to provide a proper cage, toys, perches, and cuttlebones. Healthy food also needs to be factored into the total cost of owning these birds. For further prices for other varieties of cockatiels, check out our guide to them available here.
Is A Lutino Cockatiel Right For Me?
These are lovely birds that make great companions as long as you don’t have very small children. There is flexibility in how you keep them, solo so they’ll bond with you or in pairs where they demand less attention. With their subdued voices and pretty songs, they will make a nice addition to your family.
Original image source can be found here.