How Our Cockatiels Raised Their Chicks

The cockatiels that raised the chicks
A couple of months ago, we had 3 cockatiels. Two adults – Terry (male) and Busby (female) – and their daughter, just over a year old. Now we’ve got 6.

Busby is one of our original birds from the beginning of the aviary in 2013 and has laid several clutches of eggs, some fertile, some not. So far we’ve had a few chicks die on us before they were fledged due to infection, I think. There was one chick that fledged but later sadly died of starvation after our African Grey parrot attacked it and broke its beak.

The cockatiels that raised the chicks
Terry (top), Busby (right) and their daughter (left)
Female cockatiels feeding
Busby and her daughter eating seeds before going on to feed the chicks.

I’ve got to come right and and admit it – I’m not sure which of the females laid the eggs. As unpalatable as it may be, Terry may have mated with his own daughter because we had observed over the past months courting behaviour between the two. Once the chicks were hatched, both females helped with the feeding, but a couple of potential mutations in the chicks may suggest inbreeding but I’m not expert enough to know for sure.

The pictures and videos below show the progression of the chicks from just a few days old to when they came out of the nest box. The main points of interest are:

i) The first chick to hatch turned out to be an albino.

ii) The last (fourth) chick to hatch died a few days after hatching as it was not getting fed by the adults.

iii) The third chick to hatch is, I think, blind or very badly sighted. Although she made it out of the nest alone she has never flown up to a perch like the other chicks have and spends all her time on the ground. I’ve seen her walk into walls etc. Also, she displays a strange head movement I’ve never seen before which you can see in one of the movies below.

1) A few days after hatching

Hatched Cockatiel Chicks
The four hatched cockatiel chicks. Just a few days old.
Newly hatched cockatiel chicks.
Here you can see the chick that hatched last is not growing and will soon die.

2) A few days later….

Cockatiel chicks one week old.
Cockatiel chicks one week old.

3) A few days later still…

Cockatiel chicks, feathers emerging.
The oldest chick at the back is an albino. Its feathers are emerging first.

4) A few more days later…

Cockatiel chicks, feathers emerging.
First feathers visible on all 3 chicks now. At this point they are growing very quickly and need a lot of food.
Healthy cockatiel chick.
The orange patch on the cheek is already visible although the albino never develops one.

5) About three weeks now…

Cockatiel chicks at three weeks
More feathers coming out and still growing fast!
Cockatiel chicks at three weeks old.
Notice how the floor has changed from sawdust shavings to a carpet of dried droppings. It hasn’t done them any harm.

6) Nearly ready to leave the nest!

Cockatiel chicks ready to leave the nest.
The most precarious period of their lives is over. They are ready to leave the nest.

Points of Interest

In the video below we see Busby – one of the adult females – feeding the chicks.

In the video below, one of the chicks is displaying a strange head-bobbing action. This chick has never been seen flying up to a perch and I’m pretty sure it is blind or severely badly sighted.

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