Cockatiel Lifespan: How Long Do They Live in Cage & Wild?


The cockatiel is also known as a weiro or quarrion (Nymphicus hollandicus). These birds are regarded as some of the best singers. But what is the lifespan of cockatiels on average?

In the wild, cockatiels’ lifespan ranges between 10 – 14 years. In captivity, the actual lifespan has not been officially established. There are reports of some having lived for as long as 36 years with factors such as exercise, diet and reduced predatory risk being noted as major determinants of their final age.

Being cuddly, funny, warm and outgoing, cockatiels are the number one pet bird in the United States. For these reasons and many others, you may be considering to bring one into your home as a companion.

Before you do, it is important that you know a few facts about the bird. Most importantly, the average life expectancy and lifespan of cockatiels. Before we get to this, here are a few interesting facts you should know about your new pet.

Facts about cockatiel birds

Being described generally as small parrots, these members of the family Cacatuinae grow to a maximum of 14 inches long.

They are native to Australia and are found in abundance in their natural wild habitats. However, due to their personality, these small parrots are very popular pets around the world.

  • These parrots are very good at imitating voices and other sounds.
  • Being social birds, their temperament is sweet and even. They will generally exhibit their curiosity and will easily bond with their owners.

Their common colors are yellow, grey and white. There may be small variations and additional diverse colors. Some may be found to have a small bald spot at the rear part of the head. This does not affect their health or lifespan.

The general lifespan is known to be between 10 and 20 years. However, this depends on factors such as whether they are in captivity or roaming in the wild.

Life and age

The actual oldest age has not been established yet. The birds are known to be able to live to the age of 20 years or even longer.

The Guinness Book of World Records had previously listed Pretty Boy as the oldest cockatiel who died at the age of 29 years in 2004. The record has since been updated at the time of this publication.

As of now, the oldest age recorded so far is that of Sunshine. He was 32 years old as of 27th January 2016. “Sunshine lives with his owner, Vickie Aranda (USA) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.”

Lifespan in the wild

The life expectancy of parrot cockatiels is up to 30 years according to Parrot Secrets. However, when in the wild, they grow to the age of between 10 and 14 years on average.

These birds die slightly younger when in the wild compared to when they are in captivity according to research by the University of Michigan.

Lifespan in captivity

Captive cockatiels may enjoy an optimum diet and better environmental conditions. These factors can help them live longer.

Their life expectancy as pets is around 25 years. However, there are known records of cockatiels that have lived longer than this.

How long they will live may, therefore, depend on the care provided to them by the pet owner. Food and veterinary care may have a major influence on how long the bird may live.

Getting a cockatiel

Many stores in different countries have cockatiels. If you cannot find one on sale in your nearest store, try going to a larger pet store especially one that is avian-specific. You may also opt to adopt one from a bird rescue center.

If you opt to adopt, it is important that you go through its history to determine whether it is fit to be brought into your home. Checking for phobias and behavioral issues is a good place to start.  Make sure the parrot has been seen by a veterinarian before you buy it.

Some of the signs you should look out for in a healthy and well-kept bird include:

  • Clean and vibrant feathers.
  • The bird is jovial.
  • No runny discharge from the nostrils.
  • Bright eyes etc.

Note that it is normal to find your cockatiel sneezing a little. This is usually an adaptation for clearing out dust and dander from its respiratory system. A slightly clear discharge may follow but it should not last for long.

If the bird sneezes for long and consistently, there may be a more serious problem that needs to be checked by your vet. This is more so when its discharge is not clear. With such signs, it may not be wise to buy the cockatiel as a pet.


So, how much should you pay for the bird? The average cost of a cockatiel is between $80 and $100. You may need to spend a little more for its food, cage and care equipment.

Remember, to enhance your cockatiel’s lifespan, ensure you take it for a veterinary exam at least once a year. Healthy parrots are jovial and friendly, serving just the purpose of a companion you hope for.