Cockatiels are originally from Australia and are the smallest bird in the native cockatoo family in Australia. Wild cockatiels can be find in Australia's Ouback where they inhabit wetlands, scrub and bush lands. Cockatiels are prized pets around the world. In fact, the are the second most popular pet birds after Budgerigars or Budgies. They are affectionate birds with sweet temperaments. They rarely talk but they are great whistlers! They can even learn to whistle specific tunes! Cockatiels are known for the distinctive crest on the top of their heads. Cockatiels use the crest to express their state of being. He or she raises the crest when startled or excited and flattens is when angry or defensive. You'll know your cockatiel is flirting when the crest is flat but protrudes towards the back! Males and females both have crests but slightly different coloring. Males have yellow or white faces while females have gray or light gray faces. Both have the characteristic round, orange cheek patches on the sides of the face. However, the orange is generally more vibrant in males and muted in females. There are some temperament differences between the two as well. If you want an affectionate pet, females tend to be more loving. On the other hand, males tend to be better whistlers and are more likely to learn words. Cockatiels can live 15-20 years in captivity with the right diet and exercise. The oldest recorded cockatiel lived to a ripe old age of 36! For this reason, you need to be ready for a commitment before you get a cockatiel. Cockatiels generally make good pets. As with other pets, they all have different personalities as well as qualities based on how they were raised. Some birds are very sociable while others can be shy. If handled often by a patient owner, cockatiels tame very quickly compared to some parrot species. To check the temperament of a cockatiel before you buy him or her, put your finger out near the bird. If he or she hops on your finger, they were likely hand raised. If the bird refuses to get on your finger or bites at you, move on. This is very important since a cranky cockatiel is not good for you or your family. Well raised cockatiels love people. Once they are used to you, they'll crave a scratch on the head or ride on your shoulder. Cockatiels can live alone but will need more attention from you. They will begin to see you as their mate and will want to be with you a lot. Its not uncommon for a cockatiel to call out if you leave the room. This is a way to find out where you are and if you're okay. Many owners will whistle back just to let their pet know they are okay. If you can't spend a lot of time with your cockatiel, seriously consider getting a pair for companionship. Cockatiels need large cages that give them room to fly and climb. Dimensions should be 20 inch in width and length and 26 inches high - at minimum. As with all bird cages, bigger is better. The best cages will have horizontal bars making it easy to climb. Most importantly, bars should be no more than 3/4 inches apart to avoid accidents and injuries. You should also include a variety of perches with different lengths and widths for exercise. Placement of the cage is also important. Cockatiels don't like strong smells like air fresheners, cleaners, smoke, etc. Cockatiels have very sensitive respiratory systems, so some of these can actually kill your bird. One thing to always avoid is exposure to Teflon pans. They give off a gas at high temperatures that can definitely kill a cockatiel. To keep your cockatiel healthy, clean the cage once a week with a cleaner made specifically for bird cages. Once a month, you need to disenfect the entire cage using 3/4 cups of bleach mixed with 1 gallon of water. After, rinse the cage thoroughly and put it in the sun to dry. Toss out any toys or perches that you can't clean thoroughly. If you're considering a cockatiel as a pet, these tips should help you make your decision. Talk to other people who own cockatiels about their experiences as well. Cockatiels are great little birds for the right owners.