A sociable species, the birds may be found in pairs or small groups, but usually congregates in larger flocks of up to several hundred birds, particularly where food is abundant (2) (3). However, within these large groups each cockatiel tends to maintain its own space, with perched birds not coming into contact with each other (3). The cockatiel is a swift, powerful flier (3) (6), and flocks often make long flights between foraging grounds, watering holes and roosting sites (3) (5).
The diet of the birds consists primarily of seeds (2) (3) (4) (5) (8), although it also takes berries, other fruits and sometimes nectar (3). This species also feeds on crops such as sorghum, wheat and sunflowers, and is considered an agricultural pest in some areas (2) (3) (4) (8). The cockatiel typically forages on the ground, but also in shrubs and trees (3) (5). It uses its strong beak and muscular tongue to manipulate seeds and remove their husks (3).
Although the birds may breed at any time of year after heavy rains (3) (5), breeding usually occurs between April and July in the north of its range, and August to December in the south (2). The cockatiel’s nest consists of a hollow in a tree (2) (3) (5), lined only with wood dust (2). This species’ long tail prevents it from turning around in the hollow, so it enters it tail-first (3) (5).
Cockatiel pairs form strong bonds and may mate for life (3). The female birds lays up to 7 eggs (2) (3), which are incubated by both adults for 17 to 23 days (3). The young cockatiels leave the nest at about three to four weeks old, and remain with the adults for about another month (2). Male cockatiels develop their yellow facial markings at about six months old, but this species does not reach sexual maturity until about two to three years old. The cockatiel may raise up to 2 broods a year, and potentially lives for up to 20 years in the wild (3).