Saturday, 2 February 2013

Cockatiel

order : Psittaciformes      Genus & Species : Cacatuidae     Family : Nymphicus hollandicus

Extremely faithful, the cockatiel is noted for its touching concern for an injured comrade; if one member of a flock is hurt, the others will hover about the bird to protect it. The swift and powerful cockatiel reaches incredible flight speeds of up to 44 mph, and is easy to spot with its rosy-orange ear coverts. They found in throughout Australia; especially numerous in the northern regions. 

Habitat : Cockatiels prefer open, lightly timbered country close to a source of freshwater, such as open woodlands and savannahs, threaded with waterways or bordered by water holes. Flocks also live in more arid parts of Australia, foraging for food in one place and flying some distance for water. Cockatiels prefer large, dead eucalyptus trees, on which they perch on the stout outermost branches. Cockatiels are able to endure extreme temperatures as low as 42ºF and as high as 110ºF. This ability to endure extreme temperatures enables the cockatiel to inhabit areas where other cockatoos or parrots usually cannot survive. 
Food & Feeding : Cockatiels prefer to forage on the ground, searching for small sun-dried seeds from grasses and plants, but they will also perch in trees and shrubs to look for food. The bird husks seeds by rotating them with its tongue while the beak and strong jaws effortlessly crack the seed. The cockatiel also enjoys fruits, berries and the nectar of some flowers. Large flocks may raid, and often completely destroy, crops of ripening sorghum, wheat and sunflowers. Powerful fliers, cockatiels will often take several long flights throughout the day from foraging grounds to water holes. Cockatiels are cautious when coming in to drink and will usually circle an area several times before descending.The bird drinks by immersing its bill into the water, raising its head and allowing the water to flow down the esophagus. 
Behavior : Cockatiels can be found in pairs and small groups, but more often congregate in flocks numbering well into the hundreds. The birds living in the more arid regions of northern Australia are highly nomadic and constantly on the move in search of favorable feeding grounds. Their flight call, weel, weel, is often heard before the birds are seen, and the cockatiels zoom through the sky at speeds up to 44 mph. In spite of their gregariousness, each cockatiel prefers to maintain its own space: when large flocks perch together, they will not come into contact with one another. However, caring cockatiels will surround an injured bird in order to protect it from further harm. The bond between mates is extremely strong. A cockatiel separated from its mate may “grieve” for as long as six months, during which time attraction to the opposite sex may appear absent. 
Breeding : Cockatiels are picky when choosing a mate and form strong bonds that last for life. Breeding usually occurs following a heavy rain, when food will be plentiful for the chicks. During the rain, many of the birds will sit with their tails and wings outstretched to bathe. Males then make displays with their wings, and the females posture in return. Once the rains have passed, the breeding pair searches for a nest hollow, usually about 15" deep in a dead eucalyptus tree about 5' above ground. About four days after nesting, the female begins to lay a clutch of 4–7 eggs, laying one egg every other day. Incubation lasts 17–23 days, with the male and female sharing the duties. Upon hatching, the chicks are fed immediately, and the parents attentively guard them for the first five days. Then, they leave the chicks unattended as they forage. The young leave the nest at about 4–5 weeks and males develop their yellow facial mask at about 6 months of age. 


Bill : The strong, hooked bill manipulates and cracks small seeds. 
Crest : The 2"-long, wispy gray-yellow crest is generally raised during periods of alarm, curiosity and excitement. 
Ears : The orange-red ear coverts, composed of modified contour feathers, protect the ears from the turbulence of flight. 
Wings : Strong, agile wings allow the cockatiel to fly at amazing speeds of more than 40 mph. 
Plumage : The cockatiel is gray; males have a brightyellow face mask and orange ear coverts. 
Feet : The feet are adapted for perching; the bird has a slow, waddling gait. 


Weight : 2.8–3.5 oz.
Length : 10-13"
Wingspan : 20"
Sexual Maturity : 2-3 years
Breeding Season : After heavy rains

Travelers in arid regions of Australia have been able to follow the flights of the cockatiel to find water.