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How Much Does a Cockatiel Cost? 

Cockatiels are easy to recognize and fun to communicate with. These medium sized parrots are members of the order Psittaciformes, which is where all parrots – from macaws to lovebirds – descend from. They are the second-most popular pet bird after budgies. 

Cockatiels are native to the wilds of Australia. They prefer areas with abundant food and shelter, such as scrub, bush, and wetlands. You can see wild populations on the continent along most of the east coast, north, and inland western territories. Here, they live in small flocks or mated pairs.

In this article, we’ll discuss the ongoing costs of maintaining a cockatiel and the one-time funds you’ll spend when purchasing the bird itself, it’s cage, food bowls, and toys. You’ll need to keep a running tally so that you know what to budget for. 

Read on and discover what it’s like to become the proud owner of your very own cockatiel! 

Key Takeaways: 

  • Cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus) are social and intelligent parrots that wear their emotions on their crest. 
  • A cockatiel is a big investment. These parrots’ average lifespan is 15 years, but captive birds usually make it to their early 20s. 
  • The up-front costs for purchasing a cockatiel average about $450. This includes the cost of the bird, the cage, accessories, a first vet visit, and basic toys. Ongoing monthly costs hover at about $15-$45. 

How Much Does a Cockatiel Cost? 

Two cockatiels resting
Two cockatiels resting | Image by wasi1370 from Pixabay

Cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus) are a species of parrot that measures about 1’ tall and weighs about 3 oz. They are bigger than other common pet bird species like budgies and canaries. 

You could potentially get a cockatiel for free if someone local is surrendering their pet. These situations often include a cage, food, accessories, and everything the bird is accustomed to. Before saying ‘yes,’ ask to see the bird. There is a reason this owner sought to give their cockatiel away. 

Getting a cockatiel from a pet store or a reputable breeder is a better option for people who would like to be the bird’s only owner and the person it bonds to first. It is easier to train and socialize a bird if you don’t have to first break it of bad habits. 

Pet stores usually sell cockatiels for between $100 and $250. The credentials that accompany a pet store cockatiel aren’t as good as that of a breeder. Unless you plan to show or breed your cockatiel, it’s unlikely that you’ll need a breed history. 

Cost of Keeping a Pet Cockatiel
Activity/Item/Fee Cost Type of Cost
Animal Purchase Fee $25-$250 One-time
Cage, Cover, & Liner  $175-$350 One-time
Food  $20-$35 Ongoing 
Food/Water Bowls  $10 One-time
Toys/Enrichment Materials  $10-$15 Ongoing
Initial Vet Visit & Vaccination  $100-$200 One-time
Subsequent Vet Visits $25 Ongoing 
Pet Insurance  $10 Ongoing 

How Much Does a Pet Cockatiel Cost Per Month? 

A pet cockatiel’s required monthly expenses center around three aspects: food, toys, and vet maintenance. Food is clearly a necessity, and it cannot be leftover human foods or birdseed. It’s best to feed your cockatiel an 80% pelleted diet so that it can obtain all nutrients it needs. 

The remaining 25% should come from fresh fruits and vegetables. You can place out small cut up chunks of melon, berries, and bananas, for example, for them to forage on. Remember to never give a cockatiel avocado, since it’s toxic to birds. 

Toys are easy to construct yourself if you’re on a budget. They love paper: paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, shredded paper, crinkled paper, and cardboard are all like catnip to cockatiels. 

Otherwise, set aside about $10-$25 a month to purchase some toys for your bird. The more colorful the toys, the better.

If you can get things that the bird can play with independently, it will help the bird entertain itself when you’re not around. Ladders, wooden swings, and strings of beads are all great options in this category.   

Is Buying One Cockatiel Enough? 

Cockatiel perched
Cockatiel perching | Image by Timothy_Gd from Pixabay

Unlike many other species of small parrots, cockatiels are content on their own. They can be kept as pairs, but one cockatiel will usually be perfectly healthy even if it’s the only bird in the house. 

Remember that the more isolated a bird is during the day, the more interaction it needs at night. If you’re away for work most of the day, consider purchasing two birds so that your pet has someone else to talk to and play with. 

Can Cockatiels Talk? 

Yes, cockatiels can ‘talk.’ They have a diverse vocabulary if properly trained. While it will never approach the complexity of larger parrots like macaws and conures, cockatiels are still pretty smart. 

If you want your cockatiel to be a conversationalist, it’s imperative that you hold discussions with him or her. If you can’t be around all the time, play the radio for an hour or two. Offer phrases daily that will help the bird communicate greetings or what it wants. 

Cockatiels can be trained to associate words with things like toys, food and water, and the ability to exit their cage. They recognize their owners upon sight and sound. 

Here are some tips to increase the vocabulary (words-wise and sound-wise) of your pet cockatiel: 

  • Have ‘conversations’ with your bird. 
  • Play music. 
  • Whistle and wait for the bird to repeat it. 

How do You Play with Cockatiels? 

Cockatiels playing
Cockatiels playing | image by fresnel_chick via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Cockatiels are very social. It’s easy to begin a game that helps the cockatiel let off some steam and bond with you. Toys are an essential part of playing with your cockatiel. 

This wild instinct shines through in games that require finding and retrieving objects, solving simple problems, and cooperation. Fetch is a foundational game that will keep a cockatiel occupied for hours. Other activities include: 

  • Giving a cockatiel crumpled paper.
  • Putting them on an activity mat (baby activity mats are actually great for this). 
  • Showing them a mirror.
  • Putting wooden beads with different shapes and textures on a string. 
  • Letting them pluck at securely fastened buttons on felt or fleece. 

Cardboard mazes are a great option for the engaged bird owner. Place the bird in the maze and let it hop along until it finds a treat. Time spent with you along with the intellectual challenges help the bird develop socially and bond with you, its owner. 

A great asset of the cockatiel is that it is naturally quite smart. These birds are able to play many games with their owners.

They are easy to entertain and involve in daily activities. Their enrichment doesn’t have to be a chore or something that takes away from regular events in your life. 

For example, you can do something as simple as put on music and have a ‘dance party’ where the bird bobs its head up and down in time with the music. Over time, the bird will learn to recognize songs. If it has the vocabulary for it, it may even be able to ask you to play music. 


The novice or advanced beginner bird enthusiast can benefit from keeping a cockatiel. There are several color options, a multitude of toys, and plenty of different ways to enrich and deepen your bird’s connection with you. 

These parrots are more affordable than others because they have a wide following in the United States and abroad. They come in several colors and live for over 15 years. A cockatiel is a loyal, friendly, and clever parrot that’s sure to enrich your life.